1. Get on top of weeds now before it becomes hard to identify them or to remove them without damaging the shoots or roots of other plants. We recommend trying non-chemical methods as the first line of attack wherever possible.
Annual weeds that are shallowly rooted are easily dealt with by using a hoe to lift them out of the soil, roots and all. Do this on a dry day, either gather them up or leave them on the surface of the soil where they will then shrivel up and die.
You can also use a fork and trowel to dig out any perennial weeds that may have deep tap roots, be sure to get all the roots or they will regrow. By keeping on top of weeding before they have a chance to set seed, you should see less and less appear each year and the job will become quicker.
For very stubborn or deep-rooted weeds, try using a highly targeted weed killer that is free from Glyphosates. Make sure you apply this on a calm and dry day and try to keep pets and children away from the treated area. Covering the treated plant with a well secured bag will help to protect wildlife while the chemicals are taking effect.
2. It isn’t too late to apply slow-release fertiliser or a mulch to your trees, shrubs and fruit bushes. Apply fertiliser granules around the base of plants and lightly fork in. Be sure to use the right kind of fertiliser for the plant in question. There are specific feeds as well as general purpose ones available. Things like roses and plants that favour acidic soils (ericaceous) will benefit from a specific feed due their individual needs.
Finish the job off by applying a roughly 2-inch mulch of either bark chippings or garden compost to help suppress weeds, prevent water evaporation during the summer and help the slow-release fertiliser break down and give your plants the very best start for spring. Certain plants like roses and fruit bushes would benefit from a mulch of well-rotted garden manure as they are hungry feeders
3. With the increased temperatures and rainfall, our lawns will be eager to start growing so you can give them a light mow over to keep them looking sharp. Avoid setting your mower to a short setting as this can stress out the lawn and stunt growth, leaving the lawn vulnerable to weeds, pests and diseases. Instead, just cut the tips off the grass and focus more on scarifying to remove existing moss and then apply a lawn weed and feed. This is safe to apply if the temperatures are sitting comfortably above 15oC and if the soil is moist. The perfect time to apply a weed and feed would be on a warm dry day when rain is forecast the following day.
4. You can also seed a new lawn with grass seed or repair patches in your existing lawn now. Make sure the ground is well prepared before applying the seed. Do this by removing any weeds or stones and rake it over to a fine tilth, which is essentially a lump free, crumbly texture. Apply the seed evenly to already moistened soil for the best results. Lightly rake the seeds into the topsoil and lay some twigs or branches over the top to deter birds from popping by for some lunch while your back is turned! We stock a range of seeds for all types of situations, from shaded areas to areas that might experience heavy foot traffic.
If you are looking for a more immediate result, prepare the ground as you would for seed sowing but lay some our pre-cut rolls of amenity turf instead. Lay the rolls in a brickwork pattern and use a plank of wood to stand on while you work so you don’t accidently compress the soil beneath or create sunken areas.
With any type of seed or turf laying, the critical job is to ensure the grass is kept well-watered. This will usually entail watering every day in dry spells. Once deep roots have been established, the turf will be able to cope with drought and bounce back after rain has fallen.
5. Continue to plant out summer-flowering bulbs, shallots, onions, asparagus and garlic if not done so already.
Chit and plant out second early potatoes in the first half of the month and maincrop potatoes in the second half. Plant them about 38cm (15in) apart with 75cm (30in) between the rows, add a light sprinkling of fertiliser and fork it into the base of the trench before placing the seed potatoes in. Dig your trenches in fertile, open and sunny ground and be careful to not damage the shoots as you cover them over. Water them regularly and keep the soil weed free.
Keep an eye out for the emerging stems and protect them if any late frosts are forecast, the easiest way to do this is to earth them up – a process that will need doing as they grow anyway. Keep earthing them up so that just a few centimetres of foliage can be seen above the soil level. Once the mound is around 15m high, you can stop – this will have created enough space for potatoes to be produced without the risk of sunlight reaching them.
6. If not done so already, get your plant supports in place for summer flowering bulbs and perennials that will require help in keeping their flowers and stems held high. Do this now or risk damaging the stems and flower spikes later. Plants to consider providing support for would be those with large flowers such as dahlias, peony’s, hydrangeas and lilies or those with foliage that might overhang a lawn and exclude light.
There are many different types of supports available from circular grids to singular canes or spirals. As well as serving a very practical purpose, there are many that will double up as a decorative addition to your garden.
7. Established lavender plants benefit from being pruned twice a year and April is an ideal time for the first cut. Remembering to do this is key to the success of your plant for several reasons, the most important ones being that it helps to maintain the overall health of the plant and promotes new growth and consequently more flowers.
If left unpruned, established lavender plants can become leggy and develop a bare woody base which is unsightly. As a general rule of thumb, you should not prune young lavender plants heavily, established plants you can cut back by about a third and mature plants can be hard pruned provided you cut to a pair of new leaves and not back into the woody base.
8. It should now be safe to sow the following seeds directly in the outdoor beds: sweet peas, beetroot, carrots, Swiss chard, summer cauliflower, kohl rabi, lettuce, leeks, radish, turnip, spring and pickling onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes, marrow, cucumbers, courgettes, celery, squash, pumpkins, celeriac, peas, perpetual spinach and globe artichokes.
Ensure the ground is well-prepared by removing any stones, weeds or lumps and rake over to a fine tilth – creating a crumbly texture. Protect your early outdoor sowings from late frosts with fleece and polythene.
9. It is not too late to sow some seeds indoors, you can still sow: marrows, courgettes, pumpkins, squash, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, celeriac, and salad crops. Once they have germinated, gradually accustom them to the outdoors by putting them out during the day and bringing them back in at night for a few weeks. Seedlings are very vulnerable so try to keep them out of strong sunlight and make sure they do not dry out.
10. Plant up summer flowering hanging baskets with a mixture of upright and trailing plants, around 3 plants for a 12” basket and 5 for a 16” basket. It works well to have contrasting colours or to have similar colours that create a theme like hot or cool. There are hundreds of varieties available to choose from and you can have a lot of fun trying new looks at a low cost. Some customer favourites are lobelia, geraniums, and fuchsias. Hanging baskets are great value for money as they keep flowering all summer long.
Grow them on in a sheltered place or in the greenhouse. Protect from late frosts with fleece and keep well-watered. You can start regular feeding once the risk of frost has past and sit back and enjoy a summer of flowers.