April is an exciting month for the garden! April starts feeling wintry, with trees barely budding and just a few flowers here and there. By the end of the month, however, spring is in full bloom. It’s one of the best months to start getting out in the garden to prepare for all the beauty the summer has to offer.
While April showers are inevitable, we usually see dry and warm spells throughout the month, especially after the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Nights are still cold, so you’ll want to hold off on planting out any young plants until nights warm up to an average of 10C, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get planting!
Read on to find out what garden maintenance tasks you should be doing this month.
9 Gardening Maintenance Tasks for the Month of April
1. Protect Fruit Tree Blossom from Late Frost
We usually see the back of the last frost in early April, though it does depend on where you are in the country (check your last frost date here). If you have fruit trees, lucky you! They’re going to be blooming like crazy this month, so make sure you get outside to appreciate their beauty. It’s also worth protecting your fruit trees from late frosts, especially if it’s going to be unexpectedly cold overnight. Leaving your fruit trees to fend for themselves isn’t the end of the world, but if you want to get the best from them this summer, cover them with some horticultural fleece overnight. You can use a light blanket if you don’t have fleece to hand last minute, just make sure it’s not too heavy or you may do more harm than good.
2. Sow Hardy Herbs, Wildflowers, and Annuals
Eager to get planting? While April is usually a little early to start planting out seedlings you started inside, there are plenty of hardy plants you can sow as seeds directly outside this month. Sowing plants from seed is incredibly rewarding and if you choose something like wildflowers, you’ll get a little bit of a surprise when everything grows up and blooms in summer.
Once you’ve seen the back of the last frost, weed any area you want to plant and fork the soil over to loosen it, breaking up large clumps and removing any stones. Then use a hoe or the edge of a spade to gently flatten the area, making sure not to pat it tight. You can then either scatter your chosen seeds over the soil or sow in lines (called drills). Drills are usually best since it’s easier to tell what’s a weed and what’s not, but if you’re going for wildflowers, just sow loose.
If you sow loose, cover the area with some netting until you have seedlings to protect the seeds from birds.
Some of the best seeds to sow in April are:
- Wildflower mixes
- Sweet peas
- Some crops, such as beetroot, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, parsnips, and peas
You can spend some time in the seed aisle at your local garden center or head online to find other hardy bedding plants to start sowing now.
3. Tie Climbing Roses
Your roses are going to start growing like crazy this month and in May, so do yourself a favor and tie any climbing roses to your garden structures as necessary to encourage the growth in the right direction. If you see any diseased shoots, prune them, but otherwise, try to resist pruning.
4. Get An Early Start on Those Weeds
If you’re feeling like getting out in the garden, that probably means weeds are also enthusiastic about taking root there, too. If you start getting in the habit of weeding young weeds now, you won’t have as much to do in the warm months and you’ll be able to avoid using weedkillers.
You don’t need to pluck every weed by hand – for those in beds, you can use a hoe to displace weed seedlings. If you do this on a dry warm day, they’ll usually dry out on the top of the soil and die, rather than having the opportunity to re-root.
If you have areas between paving slabs where weeds are taking root, brush out the area and fill them when the weather is dry and relatively warm to prevent it from happening again over the summer.
In other areas, you can put down barriers such as woodchips or bark to keep weeds at bay. You’ll need a depth of around 10-15cm for it to be truly effective against weeds. If you want to use gravel or slate instead, make sure you put down a weed-resistant barrier first.
5. Keep An Eye Out for the Odd Hot Day (Watering Starts Now!)
If you have plants in containers, keep an eye out for those first hot days, especially if it’s been dry for a week or so. It’s easy to get into the pattern of watering in the summer, but those plants that have overwintered may start feeling the heat and dry out or wilt. They’ve made it this far; it would be a shame to lose them so early in the season, so grab your watering can and make sure they’re not thirsty.
6. Fertilize Hungry Roses and Shrubs
Roses, shrubs, and fruit trees are all putting in some major effort to grow at this time of year, so give them a boost by feeding them with some fertilizer. Use a general-purpose fertilizer once or twice throughout the month, and pay special attention to any shrubs in containers, since they have a much more limited nutrient pool to pull from.
7. Tackle the Lawn
It’s time – the dreaded chore of lawn care is back. April is the time to do that first cut and do lawn repair. You can fix bald patches by reseeding and covering with a little netting to keep the birds away, or use some turf from another part of the lawn or with a roll of turf from a garden center.
If your whole lawn looks as though it’s been through a lot – and never really gets any better, it’s time to think on a bigger scale. Moss-ridden lawns and patchy lawns often warrant a total reseed or laying all-new turf. If that sounds a lot of work and you know it’s only going to result in the same patchy lawn because it’s in a shaded position or on lackluster soil, consider replacing it with artificial turf.
You don’t need to worry; artificial grass doesn’t look like an all-weather football pitch, or even obviously artificial, at least when you choose NeoGrass. NeoGrass is the UK’s most advanced artificial grass; it has Instant RecoveryⓇ technology which ensures the grass springs back up to a natural position, even after being used with garden furniture. It also has FeelgoodⓇ technology, which keeps it feeling cool and natural, even on the hottest of days. And, of course, the Natural LookⓇ technology ensures that your lawn looks natural from every angle. To learn more about the benefits of NeoGrass, click here. Alternatively, order your free samples here.
8. Prune Frost Damage
Once you’ve had the last frost, head out into the garden on a sunny day and check over your established plants for frost damage. Frost damage usually looks like the leaves have been burnt, but may also look as though the leaves have a rash or may look wilted as if they’ve not had enough water.
It’s a good idea to prune away any serious frost damage to encourage new strong growth. If the leaf just has a rash-like appearance but otherwise looks healthy, you can usually let it be. It’s a good idea to do a little research if you’re not sure what you’re looking at to ensure you don’t prune healthy growth or leave diseased leaves.
9. Prune Your Hedges
The birds are gathering sticks to start nesting in mid-April, so do your last trim for a few months now. Before you start up the hedge trimmer, quickly do an inspection to check if there are any active nests. Some birds start nesting as early as late March, so look for nests with baby birds and if you don’t see any, you’re good to go. The RSPB recommends you leave your hedges from April to August, so you have an excuse to tidy them now and leave them until well into the summer.
Once you’ve got all your April tasks out the way, you can start planning for May! See your list of May garden maintenance tasks here. Now really is the best time to start getting out into the garden, so dust off your furniture, prep the barbecue, replace any broken tools, and get digging!