There's always something to be doing in the garden, whether it's pruning, tidying or sowing, so we've put together our top gardening tasks for April.
In the flower garden
Plant lily bulbs now in pots! If you want to get ahead with your summer lily display, start planting now! I’d always recommend planting in pots. You can simply move them around the patio or into gaps in your borders as they come into flower! Use a good, multi-purpose compost and half-fill a container at least 30cm (12”) in diameter and is sufficient for 3 bulbs. Cover with more compost and water in. Once the plants begin to shoot, move them to a sunny position. Feed with a liquid plant feed each weekly from the beginning of summer.
• Dig in a 5cm (or more) layer of compost or well rotted manure into your beds to prepare for the growing season. You can also work in a general purpose fertiliser such as pelleted chicken manure or fish, blood and bone.
• Apply a layer of mulch around your perennials, trees and shrubs before the hot weather arrives. Use organic matter such as well rotted manure.
• Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced, slow-release fertiliser by lightly forking it into the soil surface. Roses are greedy plants and will greatly benefit from feeding as they come into growth.
• Lift and divide perennial plants now to improve their vigour and create new plants for your garden.
• Divide Hostas before they come into leaf.
• Divide Primroses after they have finished flowering.
• You can start to move evergreen shrubs and trees now provided the soil isn't frozen or waterlogged.
• Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as Lilies, Gladiolus and Ranunculus into beds, borders and containers.
• Continue to plant herbaceous perennials.
• Forced flower bulbs such as hyacinths and daffodils, which have now finished flowering, can be planted outdoors in garden borders..
• Hardwood cuttings taken last year may need planting or potting on now.
• If any of your garden plants will need supporting this year, put the supports in now so the plants grow up through them. Adding supports afterwards is difficult and and may damage the plant.
• Tie in climbing and rambling roses to their supports.
• Honeysuckle and Clematis will now be putting on growth, tie in new stems to train the plant along its support.
• Check any tree ties to make sure the tie is not cutting into the trunk. Loosen any that are tight to allow the trunk room to expand.
• Prune your Penstemons now - cut all the old shoots back to the base provided there is new growth at the bottom of the plant. If there are no new shoots at the base, cut just above the lowest set of leaves.
• If you haven't done so already, finish cutting back any dead foliage left on your perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth.
• Prune Forsythia as soon as they have finished flowering, cutting back to strong young shoots.
• Trim winter-flowering heathers as the flowers disappear, to prevent the plants becoming leggy.
• Continue to remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed. This will encourage flushes of new flowers throughout the spring.
• Deadhead daffodils and tulips as the flowers finish but leave the foliage intact allowing it to die back naturally.
• Direct sow hardy annuals outside or in pots or modules.
• Check that your container plants are not drying out - warm weather will quickly affect soil moisture levels.