April is a really busy time in the garden. Despite the massive variety of weather that we can get in April all the plants really spring into life and require some attention. I think that it is an exciting time in the garden as all the greens are fantastically bright and there is so much promise of what is to come. So here are my top 10 garden tasks for April.
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1: Lawn Maintenance
No matter how big or small your lawn (assuming you have one) it needs some attention right now. As the grass is growing well now you must mow it regularly to keep it growing strongly and not going to seed. This is also the time of year when you can treat your lawn. What you do depends on if you are organic or not. I usually use a lawn ‘feed and weed’ product so that it kills the weeds and moss and feeds the grass. This year I have used Westland Lawn Feed, Weed and Mosskiller and in the past I have also used Evergreen Complete 4 in 1 Lawn Feed, Weed and Mosskiller. If you are organic miss this step or look for an organic alternative. I also scarify the lawn. By that I mean remove all the dead moss and thatch that has developed over the winter. You can use a lawn rake to do this or buy an electric device to do the hard work for you. Removing the thatch allows the grass to spread and fill in the gaps. Great for all lawns including organic ones.
It is also worth tidying up the edges of the lawn using a half moon cutter. This, in my opinion, has the greatest effect on the appearance of your lawn. If you do this your garden instantly looks tidier!
You may have done all of this in March. If you did, well done. If, like me, you are part way through it at the start of April just keep going as it is not too late.
Enjoy your spring bulbs, they are stunning in March and April! Then, as they fade, make sure you remove the dead flower heads (deadheading). At the same time, make sure you leave all the foliage in place. This will feed the bulb ready for next year’s fabulous display. You can remove the foliage when it starts to die back naturally in a few weeks.
3: Split Perennials
If you have any perennials that are getting a little too large or congested then now is the time to divide them. Examples of perennials that you can divide are hostas, hemerocallis, primula (if not flowering) and heuchera. Simply dig up the whole clump and then split it either by hand or with a spade. I tend to be rather conservative and keep my clumps quite big so I only split them into 3 or 4 smaller clumps. You can be as bold as you like! Then re-plant the new smaller clumps wherever you want them to be and water them in thoroughly.
If you want some guidance on this then check out my tutorial on Dividing Perennials.
Great for getting new plants around the garden or creating a dramatic effect with many plants in one location without spending a lot of money.
4: Prune Hydrangeas
If you haven’t already pruned your hydrangea now is the time to do it. Simply cut shoots back to a healthy lower shoot. How hard you cut it back is up to you. It is often advised to cut some stems back nearly to the ground to encourage lots of new growth from the base of the plant.
If you have an unusual variety of hydrangea or a climbing hydrangea then seek further advice. I have never had anything other than shrub hydrangeas.
5: Prune Forsythia
If you are lucky your forsythia will be covered in gorgeous yellow blooms. It shines really brightly in the spring garden. Once it finishes flowering it is time to prune it. The forsythia flowers on new growth so it must be pruned immediately after flowering. Then all this years growth will produce flowers next spring. It is a personal decision how much to prune. It is advisable to cut all stems back to lower shoots and about 20% of stems near to the base. This combination should encourage bushy growth and lots of flowers.
You can cut any early flowering shrubs once they have finished flowering.
6: Water Butts
Now is the time to be setting up water butts (or equivalent) ready for the summer. The obvious reason for a water butt is to catch the rain and reduce mains water usage. If you are on a water meter that also saves money. However it can also mean that you have access to water closer to where you need it. I have two water butts connected to the guttering on my shed which is at the far end of my garden. They are slimline because of a lack of space. No more trips back to the tap on the house in the summer!
I really recommend it on environmental grounds and the practicality of it!
7: Plant Potatoes
People get very confused about planting potatoes, first earlies, second earlies, main crop, etc. I have never even tried to understand it all! However, I do grow gorgeous new potatoes every year. I grow them in growing bags on my patio and I simply plant the bags at 2 week intervals so that we can harvest them for a few weeks in the summer. They are delicious!
I buy a net of seed potatoes and chit them on the garage windowsill. That simply means leaving them out so that they grow shoots. Then I plant them in a large bag of compost (usually 2 per bag) and keep earthing them up as they grow. That simply means adding more compost as the plants grow. I continue doing this until the bag is almost full.
If you are wanting to become a serious potato grower then look for more information as there is a lot to learn!
8: Clean Greenhouse
No matter how grand, or not, your greenhouse is now is the time to clean it. It is an important task as it gets rid of pests and diseases and it allows more light in for your plants. I simply use warm soapy water on my tiny greenhouse and it seems to work okay. It is also worth cleaning out cold frames for the same reasons.
9: Remove Aphids from Roses
Now is the time to check your roses for aphids. There should not be too many so simply rub them off with your fingers. This will prevent them from becoming established and damaging your plants.
If you do have too many to deal with like that consider using a homemade spray of dishwashing soap, cooking oil and water. Chemicals should only be used as a last resort as they kill all the insects not just the aphids.
Yes, there is no doubt that April is a busy time for weeding (even if you did use a mulch in March). Keep weeding regularly to prevent them from becoming establishing and most importantly to prevent them from setting seed and multiplying. A bit of hard work now reaps rewards all summer. You really will have a lot less work to do for the rest of the summer.
So, there you have it. My top 10 garden tasks for April. I hope you find this list useful but please feel free to let me know in the comments section below if you think that I have missed any important garden tasks for April. Also let me know how your garden is looking, I am always interested.
If you would like some more gardening tips and ideas then take a look at:
Garden Tasks for March (in case you missed anything!)
May Top 5 Tasks for the Garden (if you want to get ahead)
Remember to pin this article on Pinterest so that you can find it later. You can also follow me on there (Christine’s Crafts) for lots more ideas.