04-April Garden Tasks

The warm weather in March has meant a very early Spring.  My Quickthorn hedge over a few days has transformed rom bare branches to vibrant green with the emerging foliage.  It certainly lifts the spirits and encourages more hours within the garden.  My Cercis is showing signs of new flower buds ermeging from the bark and I look forward to seeing their flowers.

April is an ideal time to start applying lawn fertilisers selecting a moss and broad leaf weed killer as a complete treatment will help kick start the lawn into life.  It is also worth considering applying a turf dressing if you have any dips within the lawn.  If like me and you have a dog you will be able to prepare and over seed the bare soil within the lawn where he has churned and torn the grass sward over the winter.

Cutting the grass requires patience and it is worth setting your mover blades slightly higher than you intend for the first few cuts lowering the blade height once we are into May.  I find this encourages the sward to thicken and the lawn recover better following the winter.

Weeding takes most of my energy throughout April ensuring I catch the hairy bittercress before its explosive seed heads disperse more seed for following years.  I am amazed at how quickly this weed can set seed and it never pays to overlook even the smallest plant for within a week it will be flowering and setting seed thereafter.

Late flowering woody shrubs can be cut back and my buddleia has been reduced considerably to promote strong new growth and better flowering later in the year.

Applications of a slow release fertiliser to the plant beds will help stimulate new healthy growth.  I have applied a pelleted poultery fertiliser to my garden but find I am constantly calling my dog out of the beds as he finds the smell irresistible.

Check for slugs and snails under any decaying leaf litter or dark shady locations as they will be increasing greatly and looking forward to feasting upon your newly emerging herbaceous perennials.

Cut back Clematis viticella to 300 mm above ground level to promote new growth training the new shoots up a suitable support.

Place Herbaceous perennial supports in place now as they will help identify locations of plants avoiding any damage by standing on them and will be in place ready for the new growth.  With the herbaceous putting on vigerous growth you will not have to witness these supports for long.  Nematodes can be used to control these pests.  If you wet the soil before applying the nematodes you will obtain a better result.

Mulch your beds once you have weeded them – With the potential threat of water hose pipe bans it is important to conserve as much moisture in the soil.






weed  garden is now erupting into life and the work load during the next few weeks will pay dividends providing you keep u

As mentioned in my advice on ornamental grasses early March is an ideal time to start cutting back Stipa, Calamagrostis and Deschampsia.  These can be cut back to 100 mm above the ground.

If it remains mild Miscanthus will be showing signs of new growth and the old spent flower stems can be cut back.

Ensure your hybrid T roses have been pruned back before they put on too much growth.

Prune late flowering deciduous shrubs between January and March i.e. before they flower in the summer. Some examples are Buddleja, Caryopteris, Hydrangea, Lavatera, fuchsia, and Ceanothus.

Cornus and willows with coloured stems can be cut back removing a third of the old stems back to 200 mm above ground.  This will encourage new growth.  This new growth will have better colour than the old stems which will turn grey with age.

Acid loving/lime hating plants, such as camellias, have difficulty absorbing certain iron and manganese elements from the soil if growing in a limey soil. The yellowing is a symptom of an iron deficiency and is easy overcome. Feeding acid loving plants such as camellias and rhododendrons with ericaceous feed or sequestered iron will ensure they remain vigorous and will flower well for you.

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