April sees the arrival of warmer weather so it’s time to head out into the garden to start sprucing things up. Give shrubs a makeover by pruning them into neat shapes and cutting out any dead wood while leaves are still at shooting stage so you can see exactly what’s going on. Give borders the hoeing and weeding treatment to tidy things up and try to do this once a week from now on. Give your lawn a feed – if you want to keep things organic (and we think this is a great idea) opt for a spray of liquid seaweed. Unwrap exotic plants from their protective horticultural fleeces. Clean out your pond and other water features, and consider investing in some new water plants. It’s also time to start planting up your hanging baskets, tubs and window boxes but you do need to keep a firm eye on the weather and watch out for late frosts. Young vegetable plants and seedlings are now well on their way but should still be kept under cover for the same reason. It’s also a good time to plant summer bulbs for a splash of colour in the garden later in the year.
Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs after flowering, before full leaf growth and while you can see their shape more clearly.
Plant up hanging baskets. Single species (like the fuschia seen here), or foliage-rich baskets a bountiful mixture of fern varieties is particularly striking are ideal for spring. To sharpen the look, add in white violas and cyclamen. Stand the container in a bucket for support and fill to two-thirds with John Innes No 3. Pack the plants together, water and leave to settle for a couple of days before hanging.
It is too late to plant bare-root shrubs and trees but April is the month to start planting annuals (try laceflowers and cosmos) and hardy perennials such as coreopsis (pictured) and agastache; Hayloft plants has a good collection of unusual varieties.
Unwrap tree ferns and exotics.
Birds will still appreciate you putting seed out for them to eat, and you should also start growing a good selection of bee-friendly flowers and shrubs; include annuals such as cosmos and sweet violets, perennials such as asters and campanula, and flowering shrubs such as Mahonia japonica and rosemary.
We would encourage you to have an organic lawn, or even an area of grassy land that is more like a meadow, rather than a cricket-pitch-perfect mono culture (the latter requires regular and considerable watering, feeding and weed control, as well as mowing to keep it in perfect condition). You can convert your non-organic lawn quickly and simply by taking your foot off the pedal and letting Nature have more free rein; you can still mow but not as frequently, and leave the clippings to decompose, thereby feeding the ground with natural nitrogen; a spray of liquid seaweed will help make your grass grow richly green.
Plant out tomatoes under cover and outside, get your garlic, onion, shallots and potatoes into the ground. While you should keep an eye on the weather forecast for sudden overnight frosts, most vegetable seed can be sown straight into the ground now. As the young plants grow, keep them safe from violent rainfall and strong winds, and harvest as crops become ready, to avoid a glut.