Lawn Care in April
Sow a new lawn or patch damaged areas from April onwards, dryer lawns are better for this.
Apply weed killer to established lawns according to the manufacturer instructions – aim to use products that are plant and animal friendly.
Rake established lawns to remove old plant debris – raking the lawn at this time of year not only removes last years left over leaves at the end of the winter but also helps to remove thatch which is debris that builds up on the surface. Thatch chokes the roots of your lawn from breathing and restricts water and nutrient absorption by the roots, resulting in a more unhealthy lawn. Raking the lawn and aerating the grass from the roots will enable water, air and nutrients to reach them and facilitate growing from this area so leading to a thicker healthier lawn. The Dethatcher attachment for your Mantis Tiller is excellent for this task.
Repair lumps and bumps – top dressing will work for depths of less than half an inch, by laying a thin layer of loam or sandy loam mixes, sand or organic material on the top of the lawn. However, for depths exceeding this, you will need to dig down around 2″, lift the turf back and add or remove soil as required.
Garden Care in April
Stay on top of weeding – typically the beginning of the growing season is April onwards. This is dependent on the ground remaining frost free; weeds will be starting to become a problem from here on in. Regular weeding will ensure that your beds don’t become overrun. Controlling many weeds at an early stage prevents them going to seed and spreading.
Feed soil if not done in the Autumn – a good fertilizer or well decomposed compost is essential when preparing your beds for seedlings or direct planting of hardy annuals. Many fertilisers or soil additives are seasonal, ensure you use products appropriate to the time of year.
Prick out seedlings planted Feb/Mar – once beds are prepared, you can begin to plant out the hardier young plants you have been growing during February and March indoors or under glass, however keep some fleece or cloches on hand in case of unexpected or unforecasted frost.
Harden off young plants, gradually introducing them to the outdoors, or covering them with fleece at night to acclimatise them. Simple cheap cold frames can be made using recycled UPVC double glazing units.
Sow outdoor seeds – depending on location and if weather conditions allow, you can begin planting your hardier annuals directly into the soil. The farther north you are, you may need to wait a little longer, towards the end of the month.
Feed trees and shrubs – do this by spreading compost or fertilizer such as manure around the base, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed by the soil.
Plant out sweet peas sown in Autumn – ensure you have inserted your canes so that the plants begin growing up them.
In warmer climates, hanging baskets can now go out for the summer – elsewhere, these can be hung in a greenhouse until the risk of frost has passed.
Dead head daffodils and tulips and other spring bedding plants – let the plants continue to grow until they die off as this will enable the bulbs to store up energy for blooming in the next spring.
Keep a check on pots and planters as they can dry out if not regularly watered even if it rains. Add water retaining gel granule to baskets and pots to help prevent the compost from drying out as quickly.
Top up or replace the top couple of inches of compost in pots and planters – this replaces the nutrients in the soil and will result in healthier plants longer blooms.
Fruit & Veg in April
Prepare seedbeds – if you have beds that you are going to plant spring vegetables such as cauliflower, leeks, potatoes and carrots, raking the soil to a fine tilth is important so that air and water can permeate easily through it. Carrots especially need a fine soil to a depth of around 6-9 inches to keep them growing straight and not bending away from stones that they encounter underground. The Mantis Plough and Planter attachments for your Mantis Tiller are great for getting the soil ready to sow.
Pull soil up over developing potato shoots – Once potatoes are established remember to ‘earth up’ at least three times at 2 – 3 week intervals during April/May. This involves pulling the earth up over the bottom stems of the plants, which encourages potatoes to grow farther up the plant, producing a greater yield.
Strawberries can be planted out or uncovered – keep a piece of fleece on hand in case a frost is forecast.
Add compost or fertilizer to fruit trees – spread around the base to add nutrients to the soil.
You can now start to plant salad vegetables – for example, lettuce, radishes and beetroot. Why not try something less main stream like pak choi or chicory for a tastier salad addition. Add plants of the same variety to your vegetable plot over a number of days, this will helps to establish a future crop that will be ready to harvest over a number of days/ weeks rather than all at once.
Prune raspberry bushes to around 23cm from the ground – install canes for the plant to climb as it grows.
Other Gardening Activities in April
Pinch out the tops of sweet peas – this encourages the plant to bush out and produce more flowers.
Keep on top of your composting – during the growing season, you will need to keep topping up with well-rotted compost. The Mantis ComposTumbler is ideal for keeping a regular supply for your garden.