April showers bring May flowers: A guide to spring gardening

Discover how to make the most of April’s showers to bring stunning blooms to your garden this spring with our simple guide to April gardening.
gardening in spring

April is a perfect month to start planting a wide variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Depending on where you are in these islands, you can consider planting hardy annuals, like pansies and calendulas, as well as cold-tolerant vegetables such as lettuce, peas and broccoli – the further south you are, the more likely you are to avoid late spring frosts.

It’s always a good idea to do some research or talk with experts at your local garden centre to determine the best planting schedule for your garden. It’s also important to make sure that your soil is properly prepared and that your plants are being watered and fertilised appropriately to ensure healthy growth.

preparing soil - gardening in spring

How to prepare your soil

Before planting, make sure to prepare your soil by adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will help improve the soil structure and provide essential nutrients for whatever you choose to grow.

Remove weeds: It will help if you know what you are willing to tolerate and what you define as weeds – after all, there are many wild plants that are good for wildlife and the ecosystem of your garden. For example, nettles, thistles and knotweed are unlikely to appeal, while you might feel differently about the colour offered by calendine, willowherb and buttercups. Once you have a plan, start by removing any weeds from the area where you want to garden. You can pull them out by hand, or use a hoe or cultivator to loosen the soil and remove all the roots.

It’s also a good time to look at paved and patio areas where weeds will come through. This might seem like hard work but you’ll benefit from learning and familiarising yourself with what weed types look like. Treating the area with an organic, pet-friendly weed killer is easier but limits what you can learn, so we’d always recommend the more thorough manual approach.

Test the soil: It’s a good idea to test the soil to determine its pH level and nutrient content. You can buy a soil test kit from your garden centre or online for around £26. This information will help you determine what you need to add to balance your soil.

Add organic matter: Add compost or well-rotted manure to help improve soil structure and provide food for your plants. Spread a layer of organic matter over the top of the soil and mix it in with a garden fork. Follow 50connect organic fertiliser recipes.

Add soil amendments: Based on the results of your soil test, you may need to add additional soil amendments to balance the pH level or provide additional nutrients. Common amendments include adding lime if you live in area with acidic soil, while sulfur is added to alkaline soils to lower pH levels (Don’t worry, it’s still element no16 but sulphur is now widely spelt with an ‘f’. You can thank the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for that.). Bone meal and blood meal are also common additions and can help to boost phosphorous, calcium and nitrogen levels.

Turning over the soil: Use a tiller or garden fork to mix in the organic matter and amendments to a depth of 6-8 inches. This will help ensure that the soil is loose and aerated, which is important for plant growth.

Allow the soil to settle: After you have prepared the soil, allow it to settle for a few days before planting. This will give the organic matter time to decompose and release nutrients into the soil.

By following these steps, you can help create a healthy and productive soil environment for your plants to grow in.

Location and weather: The UK doesn’t experience huge temperature differences but it is still worthwhile considering weather conditions at this time of year. April can be unpredictable in terms of hail, rain and late frosts, so be sure to protect any tender plants if temperatures are set to drop overnight. Cover them with cold frames, cloches or horticultural fleece to help prevent damage.

Pruning - spring gardening

Prune shrubs and trees

This month is perfect for pruning any shrubs or trees that need it. Pruning now has several benefits for the health and appearance of your trees. Here are some you should consider:

Promotes healthy growth: Pruning in April can promote healthy growth by removing any dead or diseased branches, which can help prevent the spread of disease to other parts of the tree.

Improves tree structure: You can improve the overall structure of the tree by removing branches that are crossing, rubbing or growing in an undesirable direction. This can help prevent future damage and improve the appearance of the tree.

Increases fruit production: Trimming back fruit trees in April can increase fruit yield by improving the amount of sunlight and airflow to the tree, which can help encourage more fruit to develop.

Enhances tree aesthetics: If your trees/shrubs grow up against a fence or a wall it is likely they will be uneven and project forward. Now is a good time to cut back on that growth and create a more visually balanced and appealing shape.

Prevents potential hazards: Pruning can also help prevent potential hazards, such as branches falling and causing damage or injury, especially during strong winds or storms.

It’s important to note that the best time to prune a tree can vary depending on the species and age of the tree, as well as the reason for pruning. If in doubt, consult your local garden centre for guidance on when and how to prune your trees for the best health and growth.

garden tidy - gardening in spring

Tidying and maintenance

Spring is a good time to tidy up your garden by removing any dead leaves or branches, and tidying up any areas that may have become overgrown during the winter months.

Keep an eye out for pests and diseases: As your plants start to grow, keep an eye out for any signs of pests or diseases. Early detection can help prevent the spread of these problems and keep your plants healthy.

planting - spring gardening

What to plant in April

April is a great time to start planting a wide variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Consider planting hardy annuals, like pansies and calendulas, as well as cold-tolerant vegetables such as lettuce, peas, and broccoli.

It’s important to note that the best time to plant can vary depending on the specific plant and the climate in your area, so it’s always a good idea to do some research or consult with a local gardening expert to determine the best planting schedule for your garden. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that your soil is properly prepared and that your plants are being watered and fertilized appropriately to ensure healthy growth.

Vegetables: You can do your prep and start planting vegetables such as carrots, beets, peas, broad beans, lettuce, radishes and spinach. These vegetables can be sown directly into the soil or started in a greenhouse and transplanted outside.

Herbs: Plant herbs such as chives, parsley and coriander. These can be grown in pots or directly in the soil, though protect with a cold frame until the last threat of frost has gone.

Fruit trees and bushes: Fruit trees and bushes can also be planted in April, including apples, pears, plums and raspberries.

Perennials: Your daffys have probably already bloomed, but now is a good time to plant perennials such as primroses, tulips, and hyacinths.

Shrubs: Shrubs such as camellias, magnolias, and rhododendrons can also be planted this month.

With the Easter bank holidays and longer evenings, April is ideal to get out into the garden and start preparing for the growing season ahead. Happy gardening!

For more seasonal gardening content from 50connect experts, see our Gardening channel.

Tags: , , Last modified: March 30, 2023

Written by 2:35 pm Gardening, Society & Politics • One Comment