Jobs for April

As the days get longer and warmer, April showers will keep newly established plants watered. There’s still a risk of frost until the end of next month, so it’s too early to plant out tender seedlngs.

1 Get sowing! In mild areas, many hardy annuals can be started off outdoors in April. Sow them directly where they are to flower in a well prepared seedbed, or sow in pots or modules inside to transplant next month.

2 Apply mulch around perennials. A deep layer of well-rotted organic matter (5-8cm/3-4in) will help nourish the soil and hold moisture in. Remember that garden compost and rotted farmyard manure may not be completely weed free so watch for germinating weeds and hoe them off on a dry day.

3 Add plant supports. Floppy herbaceous perennials may need staking in the border, so add supports now so the plants can hide them as they grow. It’s far easier to stake now than later. Tie in whippy new climber stems to trellis too.

4 Repair bare patches in the lawn. Prepare the bare soil by scuffing it over with a hand fork, then sow a handful of fresh grass seed on top. Cover with a light sprinkling of compost. Keep the area just moist to help the seeds germinate and protect the seed with an upturned hanging basket or similar to keep hungry birds off.

5 Look out for signs of pests and diseases. It’s better to spot pest damage now and take preventative measures before the problem builds up. Where possible use an organic solution – removing aphids and slugs or caterpillars by hand (wear a rubber glove) rather than using pesticides, which can harm pollinating insects and beneficial wildlife.