April prepares her green traffic light – and the world thinks go!

“April prepares her green traffic light – and the world thinks go!” Christopher Morley

If there’s one word that sums up this month in the garden it’s the word ‘busy’ because that’s what you can expect to be as we enter the growing season and one of the busiest and most rewarding times of the gardening year. All the hard work you’ve put in over the winter months planning, preparing the soil, tidying away last year’s growth and keeping the garden pest-free, clean and tidy has paved the way for Spring and the new growth that will shape your garden this year. Plus, of course, the days are longer, the weather is improving and you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your efforts with a chance to spend more time relaxing outside and enjoying the garden itself.

Probably the most important job you’ll be doing this month is planting – whether you’re updating the flower borders, starting from scratch with a new garden or working in the vegetable plot. Before putting any new plants out, it’s crucial you check them all first to make sure they are disease and pest-free and of course, in good shape and healthy looking.

You’ll need to feed the lawn which is about to spurt into new growth by sprinkling fertilizer or a good quality turf conditioner and it’s a good idea to trim lawn edges now and stay on top of that job through the growing season. You can further nourish the lawn with organic matter by removing the box from your lawn mower so the grass cuttings themselves spray out on the lawn as you cut. This is also the month to plant out your colourful annuals which will bring additional vibrancy and colour to the garden through the coming months. Check the plants have strong root systems before you plant them out. Deadhead the last of the early Spring flowers (daffodils, primulas etc) and stake perennials before they start their growth spurt too.

This is your last chance to prune later flowering shrubs and also your last chance to really get on top of the weeds that you don’t want ruining your borders – leave it another month and they’ll be harder to root out. You can start spraying roses now to help prevent rust and blackfly infestations and if you grow dahlias, now is the time the tubers you’ve brought indoors for winter will start shooting so again, check these are healthy before you plant them out again.

These new dahlia shoots are delicate and will damage easily so place them in a shallow hole (don’t dig too deep) and cover with coarse sand which will help prevent them from rotting and which will also act as a good slug repellant.