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April's Chores PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bakker Company & Parag Nawathe   
Feb 04, 2006 at 08:59 AM

You will be itching to get started in the garden again, but as there is still a risk of night frost, we can't really go for it just yet. However, with some care and some luck the garden can look very pretty this month. And after the little bit of hard work that you can do now, you can still sit back in the early spring sun and enjoy the fabulously flowering spring bulbs.

Garden general

  • Regularly remove weeds, but take more care now. Last years seedlings might already have come up. So look at what you pull up.
  • Check that young trees, standard shrubs and Standard Roses have a sturdy stake for support. And check the ties regularly.
  • In long dry and/or frosty spells water newly planted plants regularly to prevent them from drying out.
  • Roses can be fertilized once a month until mid-June.
  • Spring bulbs with heavy flowers like Hyacinths or 'Darwin' Tulips need some support to prevent them from blowing or falling over.
  • Remove overblown flower heads from bulbs. They might otherwise seed, which will take up so much energy from the bulb that the following spring flowering will be less abundant or perhaps even totally absent.
  • The perennial border can be fertilized with compost, manure and/or moist turf.
  • Check last years Dahlias or other summer flowering bulbs and tubers for mould or rot. Affected bulbs can be thrown out.

Planting

  • This month is ideal for planting all your deciduous and non-deciduous plants.
  • Container grown plants can be planted all year round but April, when the ground starts to warm up, is perfect for planting.
  • If you have not been able to plant Roses or shrubs in autumn, then now is your chance. Your Roses will even flower this summer.
  • Summer flowering bulbs and tubers can be planted now. The choice is enormous and they are an ideal addition to your perennials and annuals.
  • You can sow seeds of perennials and annuals straight in the garden.
  • Lathyrus, in particular, needs to be sown quite early on.

Lawn

  • Remove patches of course grass and seed them again.
  • Check the lawn for diseased patches.
  • For a quick-fix cut the diseased area out in a square and replace it with a cut-to-size piece of turf.
  • Treat large areas of moss with iron sulphate.
  • If the lawn is riddled with moss, it needs aerating.
  • Aerating is also a good way to remove old and dead grass. However, never use an aerator on a wet lawn! This will have the opposite effect.
  • After aerating and seeding go over your lawn with a roller, if necessary.
  • Cut the edges of the lawn.
  • You can also mow the lawn regularly again.
  • Give your lawn a monthly treat in the form of fertilizer for an extra green result.
  • If you have puddles on your lawn or very wet patches, stick a fork in the soil and move it from side to side slightly. The water can then drain deeper into the ground.

Tub plants

  • Now is the time to move outside again those plants that have spent their winter indoors in tubs.
  • However, although it is tempting, do not do this on a warm and sunny day. The leaves can easily scorch in the sun. It is much better to take the plants out when the weather will be rainy and overcast for a few days.
  • Beware also, of cold, frost and high winds. Some types that can withstand a touch of frost in autumn will not be able to survive this in spring. After their hibernation indoors, they will not have much resistance. Acclimatize them slowly.
  • The best thing to do in spring is to move your plants in and out depending on the weather. If this is not possible make sure you have some protective material handy, like bubble wrap, to wrap the plants up with when frost is possible.
  • Clean up plant containers and check if your plants need a larger one.
  • Cut off dead twigs and branches and give plants some plant food.
  • Allow citrus and fruit trees, like apricot, to acclimatize slowly.
  • They need temperatures above 10°C, so in spring harden them off by regularly giving them some time outside but take care to move them back inside in frosty weather. If they are hardened off they will be able to withstand a slight frost for a short time.
  • Before you start to harden off your plants, consider re-potting them.
  • Replace part of the old potting compost with a soil that contains clay, like geranium compost. This retains more moisture.

Pruning

  • Cut away the old foliage of ornamental grasses and ferns.
  • Overblown flower heads of, for example Prunus and Forsythia, are best removed now.
  • Shrubs that flower on new wood like the Butterfly bush (Buddleia) and Hydrangea "Annabelle" can be pruned now.
  • Remove dead wood from shrubs. At this stage, with the new leaves just appearing, it will be very clear which branches are dead.
  • If you haven't yet pruned your Roses, do so as soon as possible.
  • Rose bushes can be cut back to about 45 cm.
  • Don't cut the main branches of climbing Roses. Side branches can be cut back to above the fifth eye. Old climbing roses can be rejuvenated if necessary by cutting one of the main branches right back to the ground.
  • Remove suckers. These are the rapidly growing wild shoots that have lots of small thorns.
  • Hedges like Privet, Taxus and Leylandii should be clipped each month from April onwards.

Vegetable garden

  • If you want to plant a Vine, this is the time to do it. They will do best on a south facing wall or fence.
  • Check fruit trees for damaged or diseased wood.
  • Clean your Strawberry bed thoroughly. Plants that have grown too large can be taken up and the younger parts re-planted.
  • If you want to plant an Asparagus bed, mid-April is the best time to start.
  • You can harvest the first Rhubarb now.
  • This is also a good time to sow in a herb garden. Herbs like Aniseed, Fennel, Parsley and Savory can all be sown outdoors now.
  • Try some Fennel, Aniseed and Dill in your perennial border. The diffuse foliage and pretty umbels will be a real asset.

Pond

  • Remove old or dead leaves from the water plants in your pond.
  • Check that your Water lilies have not become detached. If they have made it through the winter they should start to sprout about now.
  • You might want to try a different colour. The choice is surprisingly large. There are even mini water lilies that will look lovely in a large tub placed on a balcony or patio.
  • The first flowers are starting to bloom along the waterside now. The yellow Marsh-marigold is particularly eye-catching.
  • Put in new oxygenating plants if necessary.

Indoors

  • During their growing period, give your houseplants soluble houseplant fertilizer every week.
  • Consider propagating your own annuals. It is not too late yet.
  • Annuals, bi-annuals and perennials can be sown in small propagators or trays with a glass cover.
  • If you started these off in March, the young seedlings can be potted-on now.
  • To ensure you don't damage tender roots, use a dibber or a pencil to lift each seedling out together with a small clump of soil, as you put them in separate pots. Do not place the pots in too bright a spot. They will grow too fast and produce long floppy stalks.
  • Plants that form tap-roots, like Poppies, are best sown directly into plastic cups. Don't forget to cut a drainage hole in each cup!
  • Fuchsias and Pelargoniums can be hardened off and moved outside in nice weather. Remember that they have to spend frosty nights indoors, however.

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