Outdoor

Your April gardening to-do list

Discover the best spot to plant spring bulbs, how to prep your soil for winter and keep those pesky pests at bay with this April gardening guide

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Your April gardening to-do list

+ Autumn is the best time to clean up gardens in preparation for winter. This isn’t as essential in warmer climates, but wherever you live, it will help to reduce pests if you remove weeds as well as any diseased foliage from trees and shrubs. Don’t compost diseased plant material as spores may be encouraged to spread.

+ Snails and other pests like large clumps of perennials so cutting up and dividing these will give you a chance to clear out their homes, as well as rejuvenate the plants.

+ Tidy up ageing annuals as these too can harbour pests. Bin past-it plants as there’s no point nurturing those with a limited lifespan. To fill gaps and pots, sow seed or buy seedlings that prefer cooler conditions such as primula, pansies and polyanthus.

+ Mulch frost-tender plants with a thick layer (6-8cm) of organic matter: try fallen leaves, untreated sawdust, chopped-up twigs and other woody garden clippings, bark, well-rotted home-made compost or stable manure.

+ The fallen leaves of deciduous trees make excellent mulch and are great for compost.

+ Some grasses and flowering perennials such as coneflower (echinacea) and sedum have lovely seed heads, so consider leaving these on the plant during winter to add interest.

+ There’s still time to plant spring bulbs. I grow them in pots so they can be hidden when foliage dies down – essential if you want healthy bulbs and plenty of flowers next season.

+ If you have the space, you can allow bulbs such as daffodils and freesias to naturalise around the root zones of deciduous trees. Choose a spot that doesn’t need to be mown and that suits their preferred growing conditions. Those from warm countries such as South Africa (freesias, babiana) like sunny spots, whereas bulbs from cooler areas need protection from the sun.

+ To avoid powdery mildew on roses, try hosing their leaves a couple of mornings a week (never in the evening) to raise humidity and stop the spores from maturing. Also for rose-lovers: experts recommend leaving the rosehips on plants rather than deadheading.

+ Autumn is a good time to take cuttings of woody shrubs such as roses, lavender, box, hebe and hydrangea. Remove most of the leaves and dip end of cutting into rooting hormone before placing into a sandy, well-drained soil mix. Keep moist and wait for cuttings to take root and produce leaves in spring.

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography byninamalyna / 123RF Stock Photo.

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