In The Garden: April

30th March 2012

Making The Most Of The Showers…

Tips for this month's gardening from National Garden Gift Vouchers

Spring has sprung, April’s (almost) here – and so long as the weather is good it can be a brilliant gardening month. It’s also the perfect time to look ahead and make sure that you plan for what could be a dry summer by saving as much water as you can now.

After one of the driest winters on record, water restrictions in parts of the UK are set to become a reality. However, a recent survey by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) reveals that keen gardeners are twice as likely to save water with 65% saving rain and waste water for use in the garden. Over half (51%) also said that they had reduced the amount of water that they used over the last year.

Simple tips from the HTA will help you keep gardening as usual during the dry season. If showers are forecast then don’t water your garden, and if you need to water then do so early in the morning or late in the evening when evaporation is minimal. Be sure to deliver water directly to the base of plants and provide shelter by planting in a spot that is protected. For container plants mix water-storing granules in with potting compost when planting, and use a bigger pot and more compost to cool the soil and conserve moisture. With just one £50 National Garden Gift Voucher you can become more water efficient by investing in a water butt that collects rainwater and a couple of watering cans that can be used for transporting grey water from the bath or sink to water plants. You should also think about incorporating in your garden design plants that need little water such as lavender.

Lavender is a favourite with gardeners not just for its drought resistant qualities of course, but also because of its beautiful form and the fragrance that attracts bees and butterflies. It’s a romantic flower that most gardeners get the urge to plant in sooner or later, and it can add real value with its scent and shades of blue flowers and silver leaf backdrop. To successfully grow lavender, it needs to be planted in a warm, well drained soil with full sun and can also do well in a container. It is often planted as an edging plant with roses or grown as an informal hedge. However, note that it does not like ‘wet feet’ as this promotes root rot; ‘dampness’ is often the reason that it doesn’t perform well. It’s a tough plant though and once established merely requires a regular pruning after flowering in the Autumn.

The number of tasks to be carried out in the garden in April is considerable – top tips include…

• Plant evergreen shrubs and pot grown climbers out in the garden

• Watch out for sudden frost and fleece plants if necessary

• Keep an eye out for pests – snails and slugs love new foliage as do aphids

• Start feeding plants in the garden from now to the end of the summer

• Sow seeds directly into the soil so they can flower in the summer

• Plant summer flowering bulbs

• Prune shrubs and trees

• Apply mulch or manure to flower beds and pots

• Prepare hanging baskets

• Add new plants to ponds

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