April Garden Notes
Spring has definitely sprung and it’s time to attack the garden outside to ensure that everything is up and running ready for a beautiful summer. Spring flowering shrubs such as Japanese quince and viburnum plants are coming into flower. Shrubs, lawns and the vegetable areas need attention and you need to keep an eye on weed growth to ensure your hard work isn’t all in vain.
Beds and Borders . . .
Now that warmer weather is encouraging new growth it’s time to remove the old flower heads from the ends of hydrangea stems to tidy up the appearance of the bush and to encourage more flowering buds to form. Buddleia bushes and hardy fuchsias also appreciate hard pruning at the start of the season to encourage fresh growth and plenty of flowers in late summer and autumn.
Many gardeners see this first trimming back of hardy fuchsias and buddleias as a green light to trim back all growth of deciduous shrubs and climbers. But that really isn’t what’s needed, especially if they are late spring or early summer flowering plants. Using secateurs in spring will inevitably remove most of the flower buds that are preparing to emerge as beautiful and fragrant blooms. Instead, most shrubs, trees and climbers need nutrition rather than pruning, which can wait until after flowering.
If your shrub, tree or climber needs to be trimmed back into shape please wait until it has finished flowering before you take out the secateurs to give it a haircut. This is especially true of spring flowering types such as forsythia, calluna heathers, kerria and winter jasmine.
Slugs and snails are a particular nuisance in spring when their voracious appetite can quickly ruin emerging shoots and new foliage from plants such as delphiniums, hostas, dahlias, sweet peas and tulips. Knowing slugs move and feed at night many gardeners go out with a torch at dusk to pick up and destroy these nocturnal plant destroyers. I prefer to use the natural Nemaslug Nematodes, they get to work beneath the surface and love showery weather.
After pots of spring flowering bulbs have finished flowering plant the whole compost ball of root growth out into the open garden where the plants can continue to grow ready for a second display next year. This will save you regular watering of the pots and provide the bulbs with steady moisture from the surrounding soil.
Patio areas usually make great positions for sun-loving fruit and vegetables as well as decorative flowers and shrubs. Figs, peaches, apricots and cherries can now be found that are suitable for patio containers, including some varieties of vegetables have been bred with smaller crops that are both decorative and productive on a sunny patio.
It really must be spring, increasingly you can hear the sounds of mowers and smell one of our favourites, the scent of new cut grass. For a great lawn this summer cut your grass frequently, but not too short.
To bring your winter lawn back to dark green lushness and to eliminate ugly weeds such as dandelions, buttercups and white clover it’s worth putting down a spring lawn feed. Choose one that will feed the grass with the added benefit of controlling moss and killing weeds. Building a thick, green lawn with strong roots helps protect your lawn against heat, drought and other stresses.
As soon as warm weather strikes then lawns grasses and weeds will start to grow strongly, meaning that grass cutting will become a regular necessity. Mowing becomes a weekly ritual as grass starts into its maximum growth spurt as soil temperatures rise and sunshine increases. A quick whiz with a sharp and well-adjusted mower only takes a few minutes if you do the job every week. Mowing as often as you are able will encourage the grasses to thicken up, the trick is not to cut the lawn too short. No more than a third off in any one cut.
Some people are devoted to their lawn, providing love and devotion beyond mowing. They regularly dig out weeds, water regularly and over seed with fresh seed to ensure that perfection is personified.
Most of us ordinary gardeners are very happy with a decent looking lawn for family and friends that demands as little work as possible. We appreciate that there are some simply-applied lawn treatments available that give us a great looking lawn with minimum effort, or employ the services of professional lawn care companies like Greener Gardens to provide personalised lawn care programme.
Use edging shears after each mowing to keep the edge of the lawn looking really sharp.
Grow your Own…
April is the month when it’s all systems go and sowing seeds is at its peak. If March was colder than average you can always catch up with sowing of parsnips, peas, onions, summer cabbages and cauliflower as soon as possible. Later in the month you can sow seeds of leeks, Brussels sprouts and autumn cabbage in short rows in a seedbed ready for transplanting to their final position later.
For all sowings in soil it pays to improve the soil structure of the seedbed with a soil conditioner. Rake a narrow drill and add the organic matter which should then be raked into the soil. After watering the row, sow the seed thinly and fill in to level the soil and pat down.
Strawberries will now start to flower ready for a May crop and the open flowers will need protecting against hard frosts with layers of newspaper when severe cold weather is forecast.
Greener Gardens are taking a pro active part in dealing with the COVID-19 / Corona Virus. Given we work in the outdoors, we feel fortunate that we can mitigate risks with a few small changes and have amended our working practices to ensure that along with our staff both new and current customers remain safe, especially those who are most vulnerable.
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