In April, it really looks like spring in the garden. Although there’s still a chance of late frosts, the days are definitely warmer and everything is starting to grow again. It’s time to grab your tools and get out there. Here’s our list of the most important jobs for you to do in your garden this April.
What to sow in April
It’s still slightly too early to sow half-hardy and tender plants outdoors, but definitely, time to sow them indoors in small pots or modules. If you’re new to vegetable growing, here are a few firm favourites to sow indoors now:
- Runner beans
- French beans
You can sow some seeds outdoors now, including broad beans, wildflower seed mixes and hardy annuals such as cornflowers, love-in-the-mist and Californian poppies. You can even make a start on next winter’s dinners by sowing Brussels sprouts and parsnip seeds.
If you’ve already got tomato seedlings lining your windowsill or greenhouse shelves, pot them on into slightly larger pots, but don’t put them outside until the end of the month.
What to plant in April
April is the perfect time to plant herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. It’s also a good time to lift and divide any of your existing perennials that are in need of a boost.
In the vegetable garden, plant early potatoes. If you remembered to chit them last month, give yourself a pat on the back, as this should give you a better harvest. But if you didn’t get round to chitting, plant your spuds anyway – potatoes are very forgiving plants. Plant onion sets and garlic cloves now too, for a late summer harvest.
Weeding, feeding and tidying
As the plants start to grow, so do the weeds, so keep on top of them as they appear. A Dutch hoe is your best friend for dealing with annual weeds like chickweed and hairy bittercress, letting you cut them down at a swipe without spending hours on your knees. Sadly, perennial nasties like bindweed and dandelions will still need digging out by the roots with a hand fork.
Feed your roses and tie climbing and rambling roses back to supports. And don’t forget to mulch your borders with a 5cm (2in) thick layer of compost. Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your soil. It adds nutrients, improves the soil structure and helps retain moisture, meaning less watering needed in summer.
Prune early-flowering shrubs like Viburnum x bodnantense, forsythia and Chaenomeles (Japanese quince) once they’ve finished flowering. Now’s also the time to hard prune dogwoods (Cornus sibirica and Cornus alba) to encourage next winter’s crop of brightly coloured stems.
Give your garden a bit of attention now and you’ll reap the rewards all through summer. If you’re looking for inspiration for your garden this April, why not pop down to your local garden centre and see what’s in store?