Down to earth advice for Derbyshire’s Gardeners - April


Summer is just around the corner, the soil should be warming up nicely, leaves will be beginning to open up and the garden will be starting to look green again.

Bulbs should be coming up in the rock garden, border or in containers by now.

Put supports in place for larger perennials before they get too large to manage this easily.

Remove faded daffodil and tulip flowers, nipping off the heads and seed pods. Deadhead pansies, Primulas and other spring bedding plants. Pansies will carry on into the spring and even to early summer, if attended to frequently.

Mow lawns when necessary - whenever the grass is growing. Add the clippings to the compost heap in thin layers.

Sowing new lawns or over-seeding dead patches can be carried out from mid-April to early May. Do not walk over or mow newly sown grass until it has reached a height of 5-7.5cm (2-3in), and then only give it a light trim at the highest setting. Apply a high nitrogen spring lawn fertiliser at the beginning of the month to encourage
good, strong growth.

If moss is a problem choose a combined fertiliser and moss-killer. Lightly rake lawns with a spring-tine rake to remove old plant debris and dead moss. Sow seed over the existing grass, around 25g per square metre. Apply an organic fertiliser and water in well. When the grass is 5cm (2in) high, cut again.

Feed hungry shrubs and roses with general fertiliser, use a hoe to gently work the fertiliser granules into the soil. Keep weeds under control don’t let weeds flower.

Hardy annuals can be sown in pots, modules or directly onto a prepared area of the border to provide colour in the garden. Modular trays are useful for sowing half-hardy summer bedding plants such as marigolds
(Tagetes), Lobelia, and Petunia. Label each seed tray, follow instructions on labels and seed packets. 

Remove any frost damaged shoots from evergreens damaged by earlier cold weather. Lightly cut back lavenders to prevent them getting too leggy and woody. Loosen any tree ties that are digging into the bark. Take cuttings of your favourite conifers.

Protect fruit blossom from late frosts by using horticultural fleece.

Now is a good time to sow herb seeds.  It is now safe to prune plum and cherry trees, keep pruning tools clean to help prevent the spread of infection from tree to tree.

You can still plant container-grown fruit trees and bushes, as long as the ground is not too wet or frozen. Incorporate lots of well-rotted organic matter (composted green waste) into the planting soil when refilling the planting hole or trench.

To encourage flowers and fruit you should add some High potassium feeds (such as tomato fertiliser) this month.   

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