16 things to add to your garden checklist this April

Now that the clocks have sprung forward, and we’re enjoying longer, warmer days – we can officially put winter behind us. After a difficult year, many of us will be feeling more grateful for our green spaces than ever before; so what better way to welcome the spring season than by giving yours some TLC?

During April, bulbs begin to bloom and herbaceous plants will start to leaf out, and it can be wonderful to watch as gardens and green spaces come alive again.

To help you get the most out of your garden, not only now, but in the months to come; we’ve put together a handy gardening checklist for April. From tying in climbing roses to sowing tomato and melon seeds indoors, here are 16 gardening jobs to do this month.

1. Feed fruit bushes and fruit trees

Fruit trees and bushes (such as raspberry canes, and apple and lemon trees) will be just beginning a new phase of active growth.

Over the winter, many plants’ available food sources will have been washed away. So feeding fruit bushes and trees from late March onwards, will mean that they can begin drawing on essential nutrients as soon as they start growing again – giving them the best chance at growing healthy crops for the season ahead. You can buy liquid fruit and vegetable fertilisers that contain all the necessary nutrients needed for balanced plant growth from Amazon, or at your local garden centre.

In mid to late spring, you can also add mulch (a thick layer of material) to the soil around newly planted fruit trees to prevent interference from weeds and grass, and to retain the soil’s moisture. For tips on how to make your own mulch, check out this article from Grow Veg.

Or to learn more about feeding and mulching fruit trees in general, have a read of this advice from the RHS.

2. Sow sunflower seeds

To encourage your sunflowers to grow tall, and to produce beautiful blooms between June and September, it’s often best to plant them in March or April (though this can depend on the variety, so it’s always best to check). You can sow sunflowers in pots indoors while there’s still a risk of late frost, or straight into garden borders once the weather gets a bit warmer.

Sowing your sunflowers indoors in early to mid spring can give them the best chance at becoming established and building strength before they are planted outside – as here, they’ll face changing temperatures, insects, and a range of different weather conditions.

You can buy different varieties of sunflower seeds on the Crocus website – and if you want to learn more about how to grow and care for sunflowers, have a read of this article from BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.

If you don’t fancy sowing sunflowers, then other flowers that you can sow this month include cosmos, poppies and nicotiana!

3. Sow new grass or tend to bald patches

A long hot summer followed by a harsh winter can really take its toll on your lawn, so you might have noticed some baldy bits. This can be caused by general wear and tear, pet urine and pests and diseases. But it can also be caused by the soil becoming very compacted – as when this happens, the grass becomes waterlogged, and air and water can no longer get into the soil to oxygenate and hydrate grass roots. To learn how to relieve this problem by aerating (or spiking) your lawn, check out the video below.

Once you’ve aerated your lawn, you might want to add some grass seed to any bald spots to encourage new growth. If you want to find out more about how to repair your lawn with grass seed; including how to choose the right seed type, check out this quick guide from Turf Online.

April is a good time to lay new turf too, because of the frequent rainfall. Have a read of this article on How to lay turf from BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine to find out exactly how to do this.

As mentioned, in our March gardening checklist, spring is also a good time to keep on top of weeds before they enter a new growth season and really start to spread. To learn more about how to tackle lawn weeds, including moss and coarse-leaved grasses, check out this helpful guidance from the RHS.

Tip: Avoid removing dandelions if you can, as these are one of the earliest food sources for bees!

4. Check roses for aphids to prevent a major infestation

Your roses will need you to be on the lookout this month, as aphids start multiplying in numbers! Aphids (including greenfly and blackfly) are tiny flying insects that feed off plant sap, damaging and sometimes destroying them as a result.

Unfortunately aphids have a particular affinity for roses, so it’s important to check yours regularly for any signs of infestation. The earlier you do this in your roses’ growth cycle, the better, because aphids can damage rose buds, and prevent them from developing. Aphids can also cause wilting (or death) of young shoots very quickly.

There’s no need to use nasty chemicals to get rid of aphids, as a strong jet of water, or a weak solution of washing up liquid and water in a spray bottle, can usually do the job! To find out more about how to keep aphids under control, check out this article from Hayes Garden World – or have a watch of the video below.

5. Plant out sweet pea seedlings

Sweet peas are plants that produce gorgeous, delicate-looking flowers in a range of different colours, from vibrant pink to sky blue, through to mauve and white. They are also highly-scented; producing notes of orange, jasmine and honey! Native to Sciliy in southern Italy, these plants are intrepid climbers and can usually be trained to weave up and around a frame to create a beautiful display.

Sweet peas are usually sown between October and March undercover or indoors. Then, once the risk of frost has passed (which can be anytime from late March to mid May depending on which area of the UK you live in), they can be planted out in a sunny spot in your garden. If you didn’t sow sweet peas in autumn or winter, then you could consider buying some sweet pea seedlings to plant straight out in your garden this spring instead. It’s important not to plant out sweet peas too late, or they won’t have much time to flower.

For advice on how to plant sweet pea seedlings, have a watch of the video below – or check out this article from The Sunday Gardener.

6. Sow tomato and melon seeds indoors

March and April are great months to sow tender plants indoors. This will give them time to become established, before they are planted out when the risk of frost has passed. Two types of seed that we’re particularly excited about sowing this month are tomatoes and melons!

Sowing tomato seeds indoors

Tomatoes are an all round great food because they can be enjoyed in so many different ways; for instance, chopped up in summery salads, or added to chilli con carne or pasta dishes. They also have an impressive nutritional profile; as they’re high in beta carotene (an orange-red pigment that converts to vitamin A when eaten), vitamins B, C, E and K, calcium, and magnesium. Their red colour is also contributed to by a compound called lycopene, which scientists believe might lower the risk of heart disease.

So how do you grow tomatoes? During March and April, tomato seeds can be sown in containers indoors; with the optimum sowing time being 6-8 weeks before your estimated last frost date. However, it’s possible to sow tomato seeds anytime up until the end of April and still grow a decent crop – just be sure to pick a quick or early maturing variety if you’re planting towards the end of the month. To find out more about how to grow tomatoes this spring, check out this advice from the RHS.

Sowing melon seeds indoors

Melons are surprisingly easy to grow, yet few people consider doing so at home. There are many different types of melon, but the RHS advises that cantaloupe melon is the easiest to grow in the UK.

Melons generally are very low in calories and high in water and fibre, which can help to promote a healthy digestive tract. Of the melon varieties, cantaloupe melon is often rated highly because it offers all you need for your daily intake of vitamins A and C.

You can sow melon seeds on a sunny window sill or in a propagator from mid to late April. Then, in early summer, when the weather is warmer, they can be planted out in a well lit location in the garden. To find out more about how to sow and grow melon seeds, have a read of this article from LoveThe Garden.

7. Keep on top of weeds

During April, many of us will see our gardens start to come alive, and unfortunately, this means we’ll also see an influx of weeds if we don’t keep on top of them. One way to help get control of weeds is to make sure that you can recognise the different types, and understand how they grow. For example, some weeds, like bindweed, can be deceptive because they produce beautiful trumpet-like white blooms. However, bindweed will quickly smother your garden and outcompete shrubs (and even small trees) for light, causing them to weaken.

For tips on how to identify common weeds – such as Japanese knotweed and ground elder – and learn more about how they spread, check out this guide from the RHS. Or, for five different ways to remove weeds from your garden, have a read of this article from Gardeners’ World Magazine.

8. Tie in climbing roses

Much like sweet peas, climbing roses can be trained to grow in a way that transforms even the dullest expansive wall or fence into a stunning feature. Training involves tying roses to a sturdy structure, such as a wire, fence or arch, to guide the direction of growth.

Spring is a good time to start training climbing roses, as they will still be waking up after the winter and preparing to grow again (as during the winter they are dormant). Not only does training give you greater control over how your roses grow, but it also encourages better flowering, as when the stems bend and twist, the flow of sap slows down, allowing lots of new shoots to form.

If you don’t currently have any climbing roses in your garden, and you want to plant some, then the type you go for will often be down to personal taste – but we think Icebergs, or Hardwells or Beadevils are attractive options. It’s important not to plant roses if the ground is frozen or waterlogged, and to give them some time to become established before training begins. You will usually be able to tell when your roses have become established, because they’ll start to show signs of growth.

Training your roses is quite straightforward, though you will need to decide what sort of structure you want to use to train them – and you’ll need to be patient! To find out more about how to train your roses, have a read of this guide from Jacksons Nurseries, or check out the video below.

9. Sow vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, leeks and lettuce outdoors

There are plenty of herbs and vegetables that can be sown from seeds outdoors this month, so it’s really up to you to take your pick. Beetroots, broad beans, coriander, early carrots, leeks and lettuce are to name but a few! You can also plant onion sets, potatoes and summer cabbage. If you’re in need of some inspiration, then you might want to check out our article; 8 superfoods that you can grow from home or this BBC Gardeners’ World article; Vegetable seeds to sow in April.

Two things that we’ll be growing this month are coriander (because it’s rich in Vitamins C, K, and protein, and can add so much flavour to so many dishes!), and broad beans (which are an excellent source of protein and fibre). This article from Garden Focused offers some expert advice on how to grow broad beans, while this guide from LoveTheGarden will show you how to sow and grow coriander.

Before you get sowing and growing your veg, it’s important to check that the weather conditions in your local area are right – as this will vary considerably across the UK. You’ll need to make sure that soil is warm and moist, with good drainage. Avoid sowing or planting anything in soil that is frosty or waterlogged, as it will struggle to establish itself.

If you’d like to grow some vegetables, but you’re short on space, then you might find it helpful to read our articles; How to apply for an allotment and 10 things you can grow in a window box at home.

10. Stake plants that will grow tall

Some plants – mainly those that are set to get particularly tall – might need to support as they do so. This can help to prevent them from snapping, or growing in an unfavourable direction (such as off to one side, rather than up!).

Examples of plants that might need staking at this time of year, include top heavy houseplants, like pothos and philodendron; fruit or vegetable plants that are set to have heavy produce hanging from their branches, young saplings (which might struggle to stay upright in windy conditions), and perennials with tall brittle stems and large blooms (like delphinium).

Bamboo stakes are a great go-to for plants that have a single stem, and the cane needs to be about two thirds higher than the plant will eventually reach. Trees, shrubs and roses might need sturdier wooden stakes, to be able to take the weight of the plant, and provide it with the support that it needs.

It’s important to tie plants to stakes in a way that isn’t too tight, as this can damage the plant as it grows. Some gardeners swear by using old tights as ties, while others might use eco-friendly soft string or twine. Plants should also always be staked before flower buds appear, as the weight of these can put extra pressure on the stem. Staking a plant earlier on, when it’s young, can also prevent any very developed root systems from becoming damaged when you push the stake into the soil.

To get more tips on how to stake your plants this spring, check out this page from BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. Or to learn more about other supports that might help your plants to grow, such as a trellis, have a read or this advice from House Beautiful.

11. Protect fruit blossom from late frosts

Many fruit trees and bushes can withstand harsh temperatures over the winter in Britain. But once the spring arrives and they start to produce new blooms; they might need some protection from late frosts (which are every gardener’s bugbear!) to prevent them from becoming damaged.

It’s best to keep the area around the trunk of fruit bushes and trees bare. Having grass in the area traps warm air in the soil, preventing it from radiating upward. If you can’t help but have grass in the area, then it’s best to keep it cut short.

As a general rule, it’s also a good idea to avoid planting soft fruit bushes and small fruit trees anywhere in low spots in your garden, for example, at the bottom of a slope, which ends with a fence or a brick wall, where cold air can collect. Ideally, fruit will be planted in a sunny, south-facing position, which provides some shelter.

However, if this isn’t possible, or you’re still convinced that your fruit blossoms will be susceptible to frost damage, then you can cover them with fleece to protect them. You can find out more about the pros and cons of fleece covers and how to choose one on the RHS website here, or you can buy fleece covers over on Amazon.

You might also want to read more about how to protect fruit blossoms from frost, which you can do by checking out this article from Grow Veg.

12. Add aquatic plants to ponds

Aquatic plants make for a valuable addition to any pond because they help to control algae, and act as a natural filter for a pond – ridding it of sediments and pollution.

While you can add plants to a pond at any time of year, spring through to early summer is the best time, as the water will be warming up, so plants should find it easier to become established.

If you’re wondering what sort of plants you could add to your pond, then it’s worth having a look at this article on Five ponds plants from BBC Gardeners’ World – which includes water forget-me-nots and brooklime (newts use the leaves of these to lay their eggs in spring!).

You can buy pond plants on the Crocus website, or you might prefer to visit your nearest garden centre.

13. Feed hungry shrubs, hedges and roses

Shrubs, hedges and roses will often benefit from a spring feed, as many of their reserve energy stores will have been depleted over the winter – and as they wake up and start to grow again, they’re sure to be hungry! When plants need feeding, their leaves might become yellow (a sign of nutrient deficiency), and they might grow at a slower rate than normal.

To feed your shrubs, hedges and roses, you’ll need to apply a fertiliser directly to damp soil – after it’s rained is a good time, as this helps the fertiliser to move through the root system. You can get fertilisers specifically for roses and shrubs, or you might want to stick with an all purpose fertliser.

After their first spring feed, roses will benefit from being fed every month, while shrubs and hedges shouldn’t need to be fed again until late winter, or next spring. For more tips on choosing a fertiliser, have a read of this article from best4hedging. Or you can browse a range of different fertilisers on Amazon.

14. Wait until daffodils and tulips have finished flowering and dried out completely before cutting them back

After daffodils and tulips have finished flowering (usually six to eight weeks after they first appeared, which can be as early as January!),  it’s important not to cut them back straight away if you want them to produce blooms next year. 

While it’s okay to remove the flower head, it’s best to wait until the leaves turn yellow and/ or dry out, before pruning the plant itself. It’s at this point that the nutrients (which would have gone into seed production), will have moved back down into the bulb where they will be stored ready for next year. During this time, between the end of flowering and the plant drying out, you can also feed bulbs with an all purpose fertiliser, to help them store as many nutrients as possible.

If you’d like to know more about how to look after your spring bulbs when they’ve finished flowering, then have a read of this advice from Hayes Garden World.

15. Keep putting out food for birds, as they're busy raising their broods

Between March and August every year birds will be busy building nests and brooding chicks – and with a clutch of chicks to care for, they’ll be many more mouths to feed. If you want to help birds keep their strength up and have easy access to food for their chicks, then you could consider installing a bird feeder in your garden, and leaving food out at regular times. For tips on what you can feed birds during spring and summer, check out this advice from the RSPB. Peanuts, fat and bread should generally be avoided at this time of year, as these can be harmful for chicks.

When tending to your garden, also keep an eye out for active nests, to make sure that you don’t damage or disturb them. For more advice on how to protect active bird nests, it’s worth checking out this page from the RSPB.

Or, if you’d like to learn more about bird behaviour and which birds to look out for in your garden this spring, then why not consider reading our introductory guide to bird watching?

16. Find creative ways to add splashes of colour to your garden

As springtime is generally a time for revitalisation and starting a fresh, you might also want to think about some creative ways that you can add some more colour to your garden year around. There are plenty of ways you can do this, aside from planting flowers.

Beautiful pots, bright garden furniture, and painted patios are also great ideas for adding splashes of colour. Have a read of this article; Nine ways to add colour to the garden for more inspiration.

A final thought…

We hope that the warmer, bright days are bringing you a renewed sense of hope for the year ahead – and that, in the meantime, you’re able to make the most of your green space.

If you’d like some further gardening ideas and inspiration, then you might want to check out our articles:

We’d love to hear from you!

Do you have any additional tips that you’d like to share? Or perhaps you’d like to share a photo of your own green space? Why not share with others on the community forum or leave a comment below.

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