April Garden Maintenance Jobs
Of all the months April is the one in which the garden changes most dramatically. Things suddenly begin to look green and vibrant and the warmer days and lighter evenings gladden the heart of every gardener. So, it’s time to shake off the winter blues and get stuck into the shrubbery. This is the busiest month of the gardening year – make the most of it!
The sound of a whirring lawnmower once signified the start of spring but because of the mild weather we’ve experienced this winter, you may well have started cutting your grass already. For now, while the grass is young, keep the blades raised quite high. Lower the blades later on this month as the growth quickens. Always try to cut when the grass is reasonably dry.
Now is the time to do some work on the lawn after the winter damage. The first thing to do is rake it vigorously with a spring tine lawn rake. Leaving winter debris on your lawn will make it difficult for the young grass shoots to emerge. Once it has been raked, give the lawn a dressing with a special spring food, available in garden centres now.
The days are warming up, but nights can still be cold so be aware of sharp frosts. It’s tempting to put out tender young plants, but be careful; don’t buy bedding plants until next month, unless you have a greenhouse. With the warmer weather and spring rains, now we will almost certainly see an increase in the gardener’s chief foes – slugs and snails. They can cause enormous damage to young plants so if you are not gardening organically, the easiest way to protect vulnerable new growth is to spread a few slug pellets around the base of the plants that are likely to be affected. There’s no need to do this for all plants, but the enemy does have its favourites: Delphiniums, Lupins and Scabious make a very tasty meal for a slug! There are several organic ways of dealing with these little pests. I sink a jar of beer in the ground with the lip just proud of the surface. In the morning I find it filled with an amazing number of drowned snails and have no compunction about disposing of the corpses. It’s life or death in the battle for my Delphiniums and every year I get a fantastic display, without the use of chemicals.