Green Living

Use this garden checklist this April to keep your plants happy and healthy

From roses and perennials to lawns and hedges, here’s some expert advice on what you need to do to your garden this April for optimal results

Use this garden checklist this April to keep your plants happy and healthy

+ Some experts advise leaving a few flowers on rose plants at this time of year so they can produce rose hips for winter, which is part of their natural cycle.

+ If you live in warmer places, it’s not too late to trim hedges so they stay shapely through winter. Wait until spring in areas prone to hard frosts as the cold may kill any new growth that appears after trimming. Ideally, clip them while you can still see the shape and line of last year’s cut but don’t go too hard as some hedge species won’t grow new leaves on bare wood.

+ When dividing up overgrown clumps of perennials such as canna, daylilies, dietes, clivia and helleborus, split them into sections with a sharp spade. Keep newer sections from the outside of the clump and compost the tired bit in the centre. Cut stems and leaves close to the top of the clump and replant or give extra pieces to friends.

+ Lawns can be pretty worn out by the end of summer. To replenish energy levels remove thatch (dead grass) and moss with a rake, and sow grass seed mixed with planting compost into bare patches. Fork ground first to loosen soil if necessary. Sprinkle with lawn food or liquid feed the lawn with a seaweed- or other nitrogen-based product, then water well.

+ Flowering shrubs and climbers, such as abutilon, bougainvillea, bottlebrush, hydrangea, hibiscus, hebe, lavender, manuka, rosemary and vireya rhododendron, both look and perform much better if given a trim at this time of year.

+ Now the ground has more moisture and the soil is cooler, you can plant new trees or shrubs. If soil is heavy clay, add compost, sheep pellets or other organic matter to improve its structure and encourage worms. Mix fresh planting compost with soil from the hole which should be twice the width of the plant container but only a little deeper than the root ball. Too deep and you could pile soil up around the trunk of the plant, which can cause collar rot.

+ Hedges are not just green walls that give structure and privacy to a garden, they also help to cool it and filter out dust, car fumes and traffic noise. Slow-growing species such as buxus, corokia or totara (Podocarpus totara) that only need an annual trim are best if you’re not that handy with the clipping tools.

+ Frangipani, citrus and other frost-tender plants in containers should be moved to sheltered spots in colder areas. If they’re too heavy to move, mulch soil and think about wrapping the container up for the winter in sacking, old blankets or even bubble wrap – it’s not that pretty but will help to keep Jack Frost at bay.

Words by: Carol Bucknell.

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