As an idiosyncratic month, April holds not only spring weather, but also constant rain, frost and snow in store. But gardening enthusiasts and hobby gardeners need not be put off by the month’s capriciousness. For while the first vegetable seeds and plants are moving into the outdoor beds, potted plants, half-shrubs and summer flowering plants also require attention. We have summarised the most important gardening tips for April for you.
Plant ground cover
Some plants form a carpet that covers the ground over a wide area, giving even root weeds hardly a chance. Ground covers such as cranesbill, ysander or woodland stonewort also have evergreen foliage that shades the ground even in winter.
In order to quickly create a dense carpet of plants, you should plant the individual groundcovers close together and, at best, mulch them directly with bark compost. Alternatively, plant only part of the area at first and take cuttings from the edges. These can be used to extend the carpet bit by bit until the remaining area is also closed.
Loosen the soil a little, using a star tiller for example, and remove all weed roots before planting the cuttings in the soil. This method requires a little patience, but it is also easy on the wallet and can be ideally implemented from April onwards.
Divide and transplant crocuses
Most crocuses conquer new areas and beds in the garden without any help. If you still want to help propagate the early bloomers, you can divide plants with dense crowns and then transplant them.
We recommend doing this after flowering and on a mild, slightly cloudy day. First loosen the soil around the crocus and then dig up the entire clump. Make sure that all the roots of the bulbous plant remain intact. Do not remove soil that is attached to the roots.
To separate the bulbs, gently pull the tuff apart with your fingers. You can then replant the crocus bulbs in the desired spot at the same depth. Lightly press down the soil and water the crocus in its new location.
Daughter bulbs should be removed no earlier than four years after the original planting. Autumn is recommended for this project, as the bulb flowers are in their dormant phase at this time.
Thinning out faded winter and spring bloomers
By mid-April, some spring-flowering bulbs have already finished flowering. As soon as forsythia, ornamental currant and other early bloomers have faded, you should reach for the pruning shears and thin out the plants.
In this way they will not become old and will produce new flowering shoots for the next year. For the thinning pruning, generously remove all older branches so that the young shoots have a better chance to develop vigorously.
Plant out summer-flowering bulb flowers
April is the ideal time to plant summer-flowering bulbs and tubers. While frost-hardy lilies can move to their new location in the open bed as soon as the ground has thawed, the more sensitive dahlias do not really feel at home until after the Ice Saints in May.
Gypsy flowers, on the other hand, are more robust and can also be planted outdoors from April. The often tricoloured flowers add colourful accents to the summer bed from July to October. In addition, the giant hyacinth lives up to its name with a height of around 100 centimetres. It forms flower clusters of up to 30 white bells and can also be planted early.
If you plant summer-flowering bulbs from April onwards, a special gardening tip is to dig up the summer bulbs again in the autumn months. By storing the bulbs in a cool, dark place, you protect the plants from frost damage. If you put the bulbs in slightly moistened soil, you will ensure a safe overwintering.
Accustoming potted plants to their summer location
From April onwards, potted beauties can also leave their winter quarters. As soon as the days become warmer and frost-free, you can start to accustom your potted plants to the outdoor climate again. Place them in a sheltered, shady spot in the garden when the weather is frost-free.
A warm, alternating shade helps the potted plants to acclimatise and prevents sunburn on the leaves of the plants. If you also place them on tub rolls, it is easier to bring the plants back to their overwintering location. Especially in changeable weather, the change of location is easier and you effectively protect your potted plants from night frosts.
Fertilise fruit trees and shrubs
In spring, berry bushes and fruit trees are happy to receive nutrients. You should therefore start fertilising in April at the latest. You can spread about three litres of mature compost or another organic fertiliser per square metre on each tree slice.
Compost is mainly a source of calcium and potassium, which is why it is ideal for fertilising fruit trees. The plants need these nutrients particularly urgently for fruiting. Only blueberries are an exception here, as they do not tolerate fertilisation with compost as bog plants.
Cut back half shrubs
In April, pruning is no longer possible for many garden shrubs. For wild shrubs and hedges in particular, there is a ban on radical pruning or clearing from the end of February. Semi-shrubs, however, are exempt from this regulation and can still be brought into shape in spring.
Semi-shrubs include plants that become woody in the lower area, while they grow largely herbaceous in the upper area. In addition to lavender and beard flower, winter savoury, thyme and heather are also half-shrubs.
To prune the plants, bundle them with one hand and cut them back by about 30 to 50 percent. Pruning stimulates new shoots and branching of the plants. However, be careful with old specimens that have not been pruned for a long time. Often they do not tolerate pruning that reaches into the old wood.
Create new borders and prepare planting areas
The garden month of April is an ideal time to create new borders and beds. At the same time, gaps in existing beds can be identified and filled with suitable plants. If you wish, you can also prepare planting areas and mark them with sand, for example.
Before you create a new bed, loosen the soil thoroughly with a digging fork or sow’s tooth. Then remove large stones, plant debris and weeds and smooth the surface of your new bed with a rake or rake.
For light sandy soils, you can also spread mature compost or clay dust. For heavy clay soils, on the other hand, a mixture with coarse sand or leaf compost is recommended to create a more permeable subsoil.
Sow vegetable seeds and annual summer flowers
For gardening enthusiasts and hobby gardeners, April marks the beginning of the sowing season. In the vegetable garden you can sow seeds of peas, cabbage, chard, carrots, leeks, radishes, rocket, lettuce, celery and root parsley in the prepared beds. You can also plant onions and garlic cloves.
In addition, annual summer flowers are waiting to be sown in the ornamental garden. In addition to mallow, sweet pea, sweet pea and nasturtium, marigold and baby’s breath also feel at home outdoors. If you like, you can also plant perennials such as bellis, daisies, phlox or pansies in April.
Put up vegetable nets
As soon as you have started sowing in the vegetable garden, protection against pests also requires your attention. Your vegetable crops can be effectively protected against the larvae of vegetable flies such as onion, carrot and cabbage flies with the help of close-meshed nets.
By covering your plants with vegetable nets directly after sowing or planting, you prevent the flies from laying their eggs and thus spreading. Long spring steel brackets can be used as useful net supports and ensure that the nets do not lie directly on the plants. The edge area can be sealed with boards or soil so that the pests cannot slip under the vegetable nets.
In addition to vegetable beds, ornamental gardens and fruit orchards, lawns also require extensive care in April. After the first lawn cut at the beginning of the month, start with a slow-release lawn fertiliser that provides the green plants with important nutrients.
Two to three weeks later, the second mowing appointment takes place, during which you can shorten your green carpet to just a few centimetres. Afterwards, it is a good idea to scarify the lawn to remove old lawn thatch and moss cushions. With this gardening work you improve the aeration of the roots, give the individual grass plants more space and promote vital, dense growth.
Clean the garden pond
All grasses and perennials growing around your garden pond require pruning in April at the latest. Shorten the plants to a hand’s width above the ground and take care not to damage the new shoots during the pruning work.
Thanks to the water surface, you can also free the pond from floating plant remains, which can be removed with a special net. If the bottom of the pond shows a heavy accumulation of sludge, you should vacuum it out with a special pond sludge vacuum cleaner.
Be thorough when cleaning your garden pond, but do not overdo the gardening: for example, to maintain the biological balance, leave a small amount of sludge in the garden pond so that you create a stable ecosystem. If you like, compost the nutrient-rich sludge or use it directly as organic fertiliser.