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Our top 10 gardening tips for April

Our top 10 gardening tips for April

Now that we are well and truly into spring, April is perhaps one of the most exciting months of the gardening year.

Plants and flowerbeds begin to look green and vibrant. Also, the clocks moved forward on the last Sunday of March, so there’s plenty more sunshine in the day to tempt you out into your garden!

Having said this, the weather in April can be famously temperamental. In just one day you can have beautiful sunshine in the morning and then significant rain in the afternoon – and then it’ll all have cleared up again by dinner time! But as the old saying goes, April showers bring May flowers.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice green-thumbed enthusiast, there's always something new to learn about gardening. In this blog post, we're sharing our top 10 gardening tips for April to help you make the most of this beautiful month.

There are two ways to approach reading this blog: You can either start at the beginning and work your way down to the end, or you can click on the section in the list below that most appeals to you and you'll be directed to it immediately.

Cut back lavender

At the start of spring, prune the tips of all lavender shoots with secateurs or shears.

Once your lavender plants reach the size you desire, it's recommended that you trim them. Neglecting to prune them can result in sparse growth at the centre of the shrub, making the plant look unsightly overall.

Additionally, older wood pruning is not preferred by lavender plants. Therefore, it's best to trim them annually in the springtime to maintain their bushy and compact appearance.

Plant hedging plants and trees

Planting new hedging plants and trees can be a great way to add colour and interest to your garden.

And you’re in luck as spring is the best time for planting them! It's when the soil is warm enough for their roots to establish. Choose a sunny spot so that they can grow quickly in warm weather and flower at their best.

Evergreen hedging plants

This is the perfect time of the year for planting evergreen plants, including both conifers and various broad-leaved plants that make excellent hedges. These plants can be pruned into shapes or left to grow naturally and trimmed only when they become too large.

By planting evergreens during this time, they are less likely to be harmed by cold winter winds. However, strong winds can also cause damage during spring and summer, as they can draw water from the leaves more quickly than the plant can replenish it from the dry soil. If this occurs frequently, it may be necessary to install more windbreaks or screens to shield your garden or consider replacing the damaged plants with ones that are more tolerant of wind and drought.

Container-grown trained fruit trees

It's too late to plant bare-root fruit trees and bushes in April, but there are still many container-grown options available, including different varieties trained in attractive shapes. Container-grown plants have the advantage of being plantable any time of year since their root systems aren't disturbed. They can even be purchased in flower and may produce some fruit in the first year of planting, but it's best not to take too much fruit during this time. Instead, focus on letting the plants establish themselves now so that they can produce even better yields in the future.

Plant strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries

Spring is the ideal time to plant delicate fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

It's important to get them into the ground as soon as possible after purchase. When planting, select a sunny spot with well-drained soil, and avoid planting them in containers or pots as they won't receive enough sunlight or water if kept indoors.

For strawberries, it's essential to avoid planting them too deep in the soil; half an inch beneath the surface is sufficient. Additionally, don't plant them too close together, as this will result in competition for nutrients and water beneath the leaves, which can lead to disease problems when the fruit begins to grow on top of these leaves rather than inside each individual berry. This might seem complicated, but it's important to follow these guidelines for optimal growth and fruit production!

Use fertiliser to give your roses and trees a boost

It's recommended to fertilize roses with a high-potassium fertilizer, such as rose food or blood, fish, and bone, during early April. If you're unsure which brand to use, seek advice from your local garden centre or nursery to find the most suitable product for your area. Follow instructions carefully when using chemical products, wear gloves when handling them, and keep them out of reach of children.

For fruit trees, it's important to feed them with a suitable fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer in spring when buds start to appear, but before they open. Doing so allows the tree to absorb the nutrients before producing leaves that may block sunlight from new growth. It's also important to avoid damaging the roots by applying the fertilizer in a manner that minimizes the risk of root burn.

Sow annual climbers

Although we love sweet peas, we also love seeing some variety when it comes to annual climbers!

Try something different on garden trellises and obelisks this summer by sowing an alternative fast-growing annual climber.

Apart from sweet peas, other climbing plants grown from seed each year are often overlooked. However, there are many other climbing plants with exciting features, such as colourful foliage or beautiful flowers, which you can grow. The best part is that they can be changed every year, making it a fun and creative experiment.

Most of these plants are half-hardy, and it's best to sow them in late March or April in the warmth of a propagator or on a windowsill. Once they have germinated and been potted, the young plants can be taken outside at the end of May, after the risk of frost has passed.

Cobaea scandens, also known as the cup and saucer vine, has trumpet-shaped, purple flowers that sit in a green sepal 'saucer' and blooms from late summer to the first frost. It looks great on a rusted metal arch, especially when planted alongside its white version, Alba.

If you love fiery colours, Ipomea lobata or Spanish flag, with its red, yellow, and white flowers, is perfect for you. You can try growing it on obelisks in a hot border or let it rampage through bright pink dahlias, similar to what is done at Great Dixter.

Rhodochiton atrosanguineus has interesting flowers, a maroon-purple bell with an almost black 'clapper' hanging from the center. It pairs beautifully with the peach-toned flowers of Thunbergia alata 'African Sunset.'

Plant an alpine trough

Alpine plants that bloom in spring are varied, vibrant, and charming.

It is unlikely that you will have a proper place in your garden to grow alpine plants in the ground – unless of course your soil is incredibly well-draining or you have a dedicated rockery.

A better idea is to plant them in a dedicated trough or container, where they can receive the freely-draining soil they require, allowing you to appreciate these detailed plants up close.

You will need
  • An assortment of pretty alpines; choose plants that flower at different times for a show throughout the year
  • A shallow trough or container
  • ‘Alpine mix’ gritty compost
  • Broken pots and coarse gravel

Step 1

Purchase or repurpose a visually appealing container, such as a stone trough or an antique butler sink, for your plants. Any type of container can be used, as long as it is shallow and has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom to ensure proper water drainage.

Step 2

To promote proper drainage, put a layer of coarse gravel followed by pieces of broken pots at the bottom of the container.

Step 3

Prior to planting your alpines in the container, spread a layer of alpine compost with a gritty texture over the coarse gravel layer. Next, arrange your plants in the container, filling in the gaps with more compost mix, and finally water them in.

Step 4

Complete the process by applying a layer of small pebbles or grit around the alpines. This will enhance their appearance, prevent the growth of weeds and safeguard the plant bases against heavy rainfall.

Start mowing your lawn every week

As the temperature rises and the grass starts growing, it's important to start mowing your lawn regularly again. If left too long, it can become much harder to cut back.

Keeping the blades of your mower set high to start with is a good idea. For some gardeners, mowing the lawn is just another chore, while for others it's a satisfying task that enhances the beauty of the garden.

A well-manicured lawn with light and dark stripes and neatly trimmed edges is a wonderful addition to any garden. To maintain a healthy lawn, it's best to keep the grass at a length of 30-40mm, allowing it to stay smart and resist periods of drought. Leaving some parts of the lawn unmown from late spring can help attract insects and create a decorative effect. Expect to mow once a week when the grass is growing strongly.

Give borders a tidy up

Although not the most fun of tasks, giving your borders a tidy will make a big difference to how your garden looks.

Allocate a day to attend to the minor tasks in your garden, which can have a significant impact on its overall appearance.

Use a garden fork to loosen the soil and remove any weeds. Trim any plants that are overcrowding or growing over others to maintain their neatness, but be careful not to cut off any blooms that may appear this year.

Also, make sure to install plant supports while you work to give a helping hands to plants that are struggling.

Sow annual grasses

Sowing annual grasses can add delicate foliage and attractive seedheads to your borders, providing a naturalistic look.

Briza maxima, Lagurus ovatus, and Hordeum jubatum are popular annual grasses that can be sown directly into the soil or in drills.

To prevent confusion with weed grasses, sow them in drills and label them accordingly. Scratch shallow drills in the soil with a stick and water them if they seem dry.

After covering the seeds lightly, thin out the young seedlings and transplant them among your plants when they are big enough. You can even dry the seedheads and use them in flower arrangements.

Buy bedding plants as plugs

To avoid the hassle of sowing seeds early on and taking care of them until they are ready to be planted out, many people now prefer buying bedding plants as plugs, which are becoming increasingly popular.

This method is especially convenient for those who have space under glass to bring on the young plants, and it eliminates the time-consuming process of seed germination.

Furthermore, buying young plants is easier than sowing difficult seeds like busy Lizzie. Most bedding plants are available in small modular trays, with one plant per cell.

When the young plants arrive, they can be potted up into 9cm pots with peat-free compost and grown on in a cool greenhouse or conservatory, without too much heat.

Towards the end of the month, plant up hanging baskets, allowing the plants to fill out before they are put outside in early June, after the threat of frost has passed.

Plant summer-flowering bulbs

Summer-flowering bulbs should ideally be planted in April, as this gives them time to establish themselves before the warm summer weather arrives.

Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil for your bulbs. If your soil is heavy or tends to hold water, you can improve drainage by adding some grit or sand to the soil before planting.

When planting bulbs, make sure to dig a hole that is roughly three times the height of the bulb itself. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end facing upwards, and cover it with soil.

Space your bulbs out according to their planting depth and size. Generally, larger bulbs will need to be spaced further apart than smaller bulbs.

Water your bulbs after planting, and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until the bulbs have established.

Once your bulbs have started growing, you may need to stake them to keep them upright. This is especially important for taller bulbs like gladioli.

Many summer-flowering bulbs are not frost-hardy, so if you live in an area with late frosts, it's a good idea to protect your bulbs with a layer of mulch or horticultural fleece.

To prolong the flowering season of your bulbs, you can plant them in batches over a few weeks, rather than all at once.

After your bulbs have finished flowering, allow the foliage to die back naturally before removing it. This allows the bulb to store up energy for next year's growth.

Some summer-flowering bulbs, like dahlias, can be lifted and stored over winter to protect them from frost damage. If you plan to do this, wait until the foliage has died back completely before lifting the bulbs, and store them in a cool, dry place.


So there you have it, our top 10 gardening tips for April. We hope they've inspired you to get out there and get planting! If you want more advice on how to get started with your own garden or just want some inspiration, check out our blog where we post regular articles on all things green-fingered.

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