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Garden Ideas for April


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Looking for ideas for what to do in the garden in April? Well, look no further as we have compiled a list of garden jobs to keep you busy throughout the month.

How to grow a lily in a Container


Lilies come in a wide variety of sizes and colours and they provide a stunning display in the garden. If you would rather grow them individually or are restricted for gardening space, they will grow very well in containers.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Lily bulb, Pot, Multi-purpose Compost, Watering Can

Step One:

Lay a small piece of newspaper in the base of the pot. This stops compost falling out of the drainage hole, lets water drain out and prevents insects, like vine weevils, from climbing in. Add a layer of fresh, sterile compost.

Step 1 of 4How to grow a lily in a Container

Step Two:

Check your lily for any signs of rotting or damage. Snap off any damaged scales by bending them back away from the centre so that there is a clean break.

Step 2 of 4How to grow a lily in a Container

Step Three:

How deep you plant the bulb depends on its size. As a rule of thumb, it should be planted three times deeper than the bulb itself is high. Check the instructions with the bulb, though, as some lilies need planting at the surface of the compost.

Step 3 of 4How to grow a lily in a Container

Step Four:

Fill the pot with compost and water well to settle it around the bulb. Taller varieties of lily may need staking to support them as they grow.

Step 4 of 4How to grow a lily in a Container

How to keep a lawn drained


A lawn is a vital parts of most gardens providing somewhere to play and relax. The more you use your lawn the more likely it is that compaction will give you problems with drainage which will spoil the look of the grass.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Fork

Step One:

Where water is sitting on the surface of the lawn drive a fork down into the soil to the full depth of the tines over the entire area.

Step 1 of 4How to keep a lawn drained

Step Two:

Rocking the fork backwards and forwards as you work will open up holes down into the soil to speed up drainage.

Step 2 of 4How to keep a lawn drained

Step Three:

In severe cases you can rock backwards on the fork to lift the surface and create large air pockets underneath for drainage.

Step 3 of 4How to keep a lawn drained

Step Four:

Work from the far side of the lawn using a board if necessary to spread the weight and save causing any further damage.

Step 4 of 4How to keep a lawn drained

Hows to take Leaf Cuttings


You can increase your stock of plants like Streptocarpus by taking leaf cuttings.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Knife, Cuttings Compost, Pots, Plastic Bag, Rubber Band

Step One:

Using a clean, sharp knife carefully remove strong, healthy looking leaves from the plant low down near the base.

Step 1 of 4Hows to take Leaf Cuttings

Step Two:

Cut each leaf into sections as shown. Discard the tip of the leaf.

Step 2 of 4Hows to take Leaf Cuttings

Step Three:

Insert the cuttings point downwards into a pot or tray of fresh, sterile cuttings compost. Water gently to settle the compost and cover with a white plastic bag held in place with a rubber band. Stand on a well-lit windowsill out of direct sunlight.

Step 3 of 4Hows to take Leaf Cuttings

Step Four:

Remove the bag after three to four days or the leaves may rot. Within a few weeks the cuttings should root and can be potted up seperately to give you healthy new plants.

Step 4 of 4Hows to take Leaf Cuttings

How to: Lily Scaling


Lily scaling is a simple, easy way to increase your number of lily bulbs and still get flowers from the original bulb.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Lily Bulb, Plastic Bag, Tie, Cuttings Compost, Potting Compost, Pots

Step One:

To remove the scales bend them gently outwards away from the bulb so that they snap off right at the base. Discard any damaged outer scales. You can remove up to 60% of the scales from a bulb and it will still flower.

Step 1 of 4How to: Lily Scaling

Step Two:

Mix the healthy scales 50:50 with moist, fresh, sterile cuttings compost.

Step 2 of 4How to: Lily Scaling

Step Three:

Place the mixture in a plastic bag, tie the top loosely and place in a warm, dark spot such as cupboard. Check weekly for any signs of mould and remove scales as necessary.

Step 3 of 4How to: Lily Scaling

Step Four:

The new bulbils will resemble grains of rice as they develop. When you can see new roots emerging the scales are ready to be potted in fresh, sterile potting compost.

Step 4 of 4How to: Lily Scaling

How to prick off


Sowing seed, like these tomatoes, in a pot or seed tray is space-efficient, but there will come a point when the young seedlings need to be moved into individual pots so they have the room to continue growing.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Pots, Multipurpose Compost, Dibber or Pencil, Seed tray, Watering Can

Step One:

The first leaves produced by a new seedling are called 'seed leaves' and usually look different to the later 'true' leaves of the plant. Once the seed leaves have fully expanded, you can safely begin to repot them.

Step 1 of 4How to prick off

Step Two:

Use a dibber or pencil to gently ease the seedlings out of the compost. Only ever handle them by holding a leaf. Break the leaf and it will grow another: break or bruise the stem and the seedling may die.

Step 2 of 4How to prick off

Step Three:

Still holding the seedling by a leaf, lower the roots into a hole in the new compost. Do not press the compost down around it, simply tap the side of the pot gently with the flat of your hand.

Step 3 of 4How to prick off

Step Four:

Water gently to settle the compost around the roots and get the seedlings off to a good start.

Step 4 of 4How to prick off

How to protect against wind


If your garden is in an exposed position, then getting new plants established can be a problem. Strong winds can scorch the foliage, dry the plant out and cause wind-rock (where the tender new roots are sheared off as the plant is blown from side to side). A simple windbreak will reduce the wind, whilst still allowing vital light through for the plant to grow.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Canes, Horticultural fleece, Twist ties, String/Wire

Step One:

Push four canes into the ground around the plant to form a square. They must be taller than the plant by about 30cm.

Step 1 of 4How to protect against wind

Step Two:

Draw the tops of the canes together and tie with string or wire to form a wigwam.

Step 2 of 4How to protect against wind

Step Three:

Take a large piece of horticultural fleece and tie it at intervals down the length of the first cane with twist-ties.

Step 3 of 4How to protect against wind

Step Four:

Cover the whole structure with the fleece, tying the top together with string. On calm days, the sheltered side can be opened to increase air-flow around the plant and keep it healthy. You can weigh the bottom of the fleece with large stones to stop it lifting.

Step 4 of 4How to protect against wind

How to take Dahlia cuttings


Dahlias are magnificent plants for summer colour in the garden and are excellent as cut flowers indoors, too. You can increase your stock of dahlias by taking cuttings as new shoots are produced in spring.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Dahlia tuber, Knife, Pot, Compost, Large Water Bottle

Step One:

Take a plant with healthy, firm tubers and pot it into fresh, sterile multipurpose compost. The point where the stem meets the roots should be at the surface of the compost when you finish.

Step 1 of 4How to take Dahlia cuttings

Step Two:

Within weeks, new shoots should start to grow. When one reaches about 10-12cm, clear away the compost from the base of the shoot and remove it from the mother plant right at the base with a clean, sharp knife.

Step 2 of 4How to take Dahlia cuttings

Step Three:

Trim the cutting to remove the leaves from the lower third, as they would rot in the compost. As long as you take the cutting with a little of the pinkish root at the base, there is no need to dip it in rooting hormone gel/powder.

Step 3 of 4How to take Dahlia cuttings

Step Four:

Insert the cutting into a pot of fresh, sterile multipurpose compost and water to settle the compost around the base. Covering the cutting increases humidity, which reduces water stress until the cutting has its own roots. Here you can see a large water bottle (with the base removed) acting as a temporary cover.

Step 4 of 4How to take Dahlia cuttings

How to grow a Blueberry in a Container


Blueberries are very popular fruit, both for their taste and the vitamins they contain. They like to grow in well-drained acidic soil, so if your garden soil is unsuitable, you will need to use a container to provide the ideal conditions.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Blueberry plant, Ericaceous compost, Shredded bark, Pot, Tub, Watering can

Step One:

The plant you buy will probably be in need of potting immediately, so have everything ready. A solid rootball packed with roots is a sure sign.

Step 1 of 4How to grow a Blueberry in a Container

Step Two:

In a separate pot or tub, mix together Ericaceous compost and shredded bark in a 50:50 ratio as your potting mix for the blueberry.

Step 2 of 4How to grow a Blueberry in a Container

Step Three:

Position the plant so its original compost surface is just covered by the new compost. Firm the new compost gently around the rootball as you fill the pot.

Step 3 of 4How to grow a Blueberry in a Container

Step Four:

Water well to settle the compost and allow to drain. Use rainwater rather than tap water if you live in a hard water area, as the extra calcium each time you water will gradually raise the pH in the pot.

Step 4 of 4How to grow a Blueberry in a Container

How to control slugs


Slugs are the top problem in most gardens and it is always difficult to stay ahead of their attacks. Certain plants, like Hostas, are always a preferred target so, if you are going to protect anything, start with them. A barrier of gravel, crushed eggshells or, as here, wool pellets, around the plant acts as a good deterrent.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Wool pellets, Scoop

Step One:

Apply the wool pellets in a complete circle around the plant to be protected. These pellets are natural and harmless to pets and children.

Step 1 of 4How to control slugs

Step Two:

Water them well, as they have been compressed.

Step 2 of 4How to control slugs

Step Three:

The fibres fluff up and expand to create a collar.

Step 3 of 4How to control slugs

Step Four:

Any slug that tries to cross the barrier gets caught on the millions of tiny hooks on the wool fibres. It can be removed by hand or left for the birds to take.

Step 4 of 4How to control slugs

How to Care for Bulbs after flowering


Bulbs give a wonderful display in spring, both indoors and out. Many of the bulbs that have been indoors can be planted in the garden afterwards to continue to give pleasure for years to come. A little care and attention after they finish flowering will ensure they remain in good health.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Fertiliser, Fork, Label

Step One:

As the flowers fade and die, remove the flower head to stop seed forming and taking unnecessary energy from the plant. Leave the stem and leaves to die down, as they continue to manufacture food for the bulb.

Step 1 of 4How to Care for Bulbs after flowering

Step Two:

Feed the bulb with a quick-release fertiliser that can be taken in by the plant before the leaves die down. Water well to ensure it is available to the roots (plants cannot eat their food, they have to drink).

Step 2 of 4How to Care for Bulbs after flowering

Step Three:

Mixing the fertiliser into the surface of the soil around the bulbs will help it act more quickly and prevent any being blown away.

Step 3 of 4How to Care for Bulbs after flowering

Step Four:

Mark the position of the bulbs with a bright label if you will be working nearby after they have died down. This saves you damaging any as you work. This is also helpful if you are intending to lift and divide an over-crowded clump while they are dormant.

Step 4 of 4How to Care for Bulbs after flowering

How to prune for coloured stems


Varieties of plants like Cornus, Salix and Ribes are grown for the attractive colour of their young stems, which provide a welcome dash of interest in the winter garden. The bright red, orange, yellow, green or white of these stems is at its best on young growth formed the previous year, so it is important to prune annually to stimulate this growth.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, Pruning Saw, Fertiliser, Fork

Step One:

Start by cutting all the thinnest shoots back to their base or the lowest pair of buds.

Step 1 of 4How to prune for coloured stems

Step Two:

Reduce the remaining shoots down to about 5cm

Step 2 of 4How to prune for coloured stems

Step Three:

If the plant has not been pruned regularly, you may need to use a pruning saw to cut down old, thick stems and rejuvenate the plant.

Step 3 of 4How to prune for coloured stems

Step Four:

Apply a dressing of fertiliser around the base of the plant and fork it lightly into the surface of the soil. Water it in if there is no rain within 24 hours. Within weeks, strong new shoots should begin to grow, ready to look stunning next winter.

Step 4 of 4How to prune for coloured stems

How to Maintain a container plant


Unlike plants growing in the borders, which can send out new roots in search of food or water, those in containers are completely dependent on you for all their needs. Along with checking regularly through the season for watering and attack by pests or disease, annual maintenance is important if they are to grow well and remain healthy.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Compost, Hand fork, Gravel

Step One:

Weeds in the pot compete with the plant for water and nutrients. It may be necessary to remove the top 2cm of compost to make sure you get rid of both weeds and seeds.

Step 1 of 4How to Maintain a container plant

Step Two:

Replacing the lost layer with fresh, sterile compost helps reduce the weed problem and, if the compost contains fertiliser, feeds the plant too.

Step 2 of 4How to Maintain a container plant

Step Three:

If there is no food in the compost, you can add controlled-release fertiliser to last through the season. This only works properly if it is dark and moist, so fork it gently into the upper level of compost.

Step 3 of 4How to Maintain a container plant

Step Four:

For a long-term planting, mulching the surface with gravel, slate chips or bark will suppress weeds and conserve moisture. This will need washing or replacing when you repot the plant.

Step 4 of 4How to Maintain a container plant

How to grow cucumbers


Home-grown cucumbers taste delicious and are easy to grow from seed, especially the short, lunch-box sized varieties. Most prefer a warm, humid environment to grow well, but there are some good outdoor varieties so you can select one to suit your garden.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Cucumber seed, Compost, Pot

Step One:

Sow one seed in a small amount of moist seed compost in the base of a pot.

Step 1 of 4How to grow cucumbers

Step Two:

As they grow, cucumbers produce extra roots from the base of the stem.

Step 2 of 4How to grow cucumbers

Step Three:

By gradually adding more compost to the pot as the plant grows, you can encourage it to form a bigger and more stable root system.

Step 3 of 4How to grow cucumbers

Step Four:

This will give the plant a good start and eliminates the growth checks caused by early repotting.

Step 4 of 4How to grow cucumbers

How to sow large seed


The keys to success when sowing any seeds are reading the instructions on the pack, using good quality, fresh, sterile compost and providing the right conditions for germination. Many plants with large seeds, like melons and cucumbers, dislike being disturbed once they are growing. Cell packs allow the seedling room to grow and mean the young plant can be moved without root disturbance.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Seeds, Compost, Cell tray, Dibber, Label, Propagation case, Watering can

Step One:

Fill a cell tray with fresh, sterile compost and make a hole in each cell with a dibber.

Step 1 of 4How to sow large seed

Step Two:

Place a seed in each hole.

Step 2 of 4How to sow large seed

Step Three:

Tap the sides of the tray with the flat of your hand to knock compost back over the seeds. Label with the variety and date of sowing. Water using a fine spray and allow to drain.

Step 3 of 4How to sow large seed

Step Four:

Place the tray inside a propagation case. This traps heat and moisture inside, stops draughts affecting the tray and allows you to shade the seedlings from bright sun by putting a layer of horticultural fleece or newspaper over the top without it touching the plants.

Step 4 of 4How to sow large seed

How to grow Gladioli


Gladioli have fallen out of favour over recent years, which is a shame. They add colour and height to the border in summer as well as providing excellent cut flowers, if you wish. There are many colours to choose from, so you will be able to find one to blend in with your scheme.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Gladioli corms, Spade, Fork, Sand, Watering Can

Step One:

Make sure that the corms are healthy before you plant them. Mould can spread, so it is best to discard any that show signs of a problem. The base of the corm is flat and has signs of old roots.

Step 1 of 4How to grow Gladioli

Step Two:

Allow room between the corms for the plants to grow. If you wish to stake each plant individually for show blooms, allow a wide spacing, but if you are happy to support them together as a clump, they can be closer.

Step 2 of 4How to grow Gladioli

Step Three:

Water well after planting to settle the soil around the corms. If you may be digging in the area, mark the position of the corms with a plant label so you do not disturb them.

Step 3 of 4How to grow Gladioli

Step Four:

If your soil is inclined to hold water, put a layer of sand in the bottom of the planting hole before you place the corms. This allows good drainage in the critical area at the base of the corm and saves them rotting.

Step 4 of 4How to grow Gladioli

How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane


If you want to make your garden less work, then one place to start is by using weed-suppressing membrane over the borders. This fabric is porous, so water can pass down through it to plant roots, but is dense enough to stop weeds growing up.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Weed-suppressing membrane, knife, trowel, mulch

Step One:

Ideally, this is best laid over a bare border before you start planting. Overlap the edges if you use more than one strip.

Step 1 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

Step Two:

Cut an X with a sharp knife where you want to plant and peel back the flaps to dig the planting hole.

Step 2 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

Step Three:

Position the plant and fill in the hole, firming the plant into place. Fold the flaps of fabric back over the soil around the plant.

Step 3 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

Step Four:

Disguise the fabric (and help it last longer) with a deep layer of mulch, like bark or gravel. This also helps reduce moisture loss in summer. Leave a small saucer-shaped depression immediately around the plant stem so it cannot be damaged.

Step 4 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

How to turf a lawn


Laying turf to create a lawn gives an instant effect and laying it properly means it will be easier to look after for years to come. Seek out good quality turf, preferably from a specialist and choose a time when the weather is mild and the soil warm.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Spade, rake, turf, board.

Step One:

A good lawn is a long-term project, so start with a good base. Good drainage is essential, so dig over (if necessary) to loosen the soil, then rake to level it and remove stones. Add fertiliser and rake lightly into the soil.

Step 1 of 4How to turf a lawn

Step Two:

Starting at the furthest point, unroll the turf and lay it along a straight edge. It should be green and healthy-looking, not yellow.

Step 2 of 4How to turf a lawn

Step Three:

Lay brick-pattern, so the joints are staggered and press firmly so each roll is in good contact with the soil beneath.

Step 3 of 4How to turf a lawn

Step Four:

Use a board to firm the grass and save damaging it or creating depressions. Work loose soil into the joints to help the turves knit together quickly. Water well after laying to stop the turf drying and shrinking.

Step 4 of 4How to turf a lawn

How to: New orchids from old


Moth orchids (Phaelenopsis) vary slightly in their flowering habit. Some produce another batch of flower buds at the tip of the current flowering stem, while others produce side shoots from lower down the stem, especially if you cut the stem back. Occasionally, instead of flower buds, a miniature plant is produced, known as a Keiki (Hawaiian for baby).

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pot, orchid compost, plastic bag, rubber band.

Step One:

If your plant does not produce more buds at the tip of the flowering shoot, trim it back to just above the top stem bud.

Step 1 of 4How to: New orchids from old

Step Two:

Instead of a flowering shoot, you may get a new plant forming, known as a Keiki.

Step 2 of 4How to: New orchids from old

Step Three:

Once this has grown roots, it can be removed from the parent plant. Take a short section of stem with it, as this helps anchor it into a pot of compost.

Step 3 of 4How to: New orchids from old

Step Four:

Pot it into moist orchid compost and cover with a plastic bag, held in place with a rubber band to keep it humid while it establishes. Within a few weeks, it should begin to grow and can be treated the same as other orchids.

Step 4 of 4How to: New orchids from old

How to: Maintenance Pruning


On ornamental plants (not fruit) there are a few basic reasons why you should prune, best remembered as the 4 Ds: Dead, Dying, Damaged and Diseased. Next, remove crossing or rubbing branches, any that have reverted to green and for shape.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pruning saw

Step One:

Dead wood is easiest to see and remove in summer. Cut back to healthy, pale-coloured wood.

Step 1 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

Step Two:

Die-back is common after early pruning where a rogue frost can catch you out. Cut back to just above a healthy bud.

Step 2 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

Step Three:

Larger dead stems should be removed with a pruning saw, working very carefully so you do not damage nearby shoots.

Step 3 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

Step Four:

Green shoots on a variegated plant should be removed, as they contain more chlorophyll and are stronger. If left, they will take over and you will lose the variegation.

Step 4 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

How to care for small plug plants


Many of the plants ordered by post arrive as small plug plants. This saves on postage costs and means the plants can be pushed through your door if you are out, rather than waiting for collection at the sorting office. The quicker you can unpack and deal with these delicate little plants, the better they will grow.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Plug plants, pots, compost, seed tray, propagator lid

Step One:

Unpack your plug plants as soon as you can. Even if you canít plant them straight away, water them and leave them in a well-lit position (out of direct sun).

Step 1 of 4How to care for small plug plants

Step Two:

As soon as you can, transfer them into small pots of fresh, sterile compost to continue growing.

Step 2 of 4How to care for small plug plants

Step Three:

After potting, water to settle the compost around the roots. The earlier in the season the plants arrive, the more warmth they will need.

Step 3 of 4How to care for small plug plants

Step Four:

Covering with a propagator lid for a few days while they settle down is helpful, but not essential. Within a week, the plants should be rooting into the new compost and getting bigger.

Step 4 of 4How to care for small plug plants

How to plant larger plug plants


Plug plants delivered later in spring, when the weather is warmer and the plants slightly larger, can be planted directly into their final container, rather than being grown in small pots first.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is out of 5 and you will need: Plug plants, pot, compost, watering can

Step One:

Larger plug plants can cope with being planted in their final container, ready to provide colour during the summer.

Step 1 of 4How to plant larger plug plants

Step Two:

Use fresh, sterile compost (with added water-retaining gel and controlled-release fertiliser if you wish) and arrange the plants so that they all have enough room to grow.

Step 2 of 4How to plant larger plug plants

Step Three:

Choose a mixture of upright and trailing plants, with a tall plant in the centre to give height to the display.

Step 3 of 4How to plant larger plug plants

Step Four:

Water well to settle the compost around the plants. Keep them under protection while they establish and until all risk of late frost has passed.

Step 4 of 4How to plant larger plug plants

How to make a Herb Planter


You can use old pots to make an attractive herb planter which will provide interest for your garden and food for your kitchen.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Pots, Multipurpose Compost, Herbs, Watering Can

Step One:

Line the base of the the largest pot with newspaper to prevent compost washing out and insects crawling in.

Step 1 of 4How to make a Herb Planter

Step Two:

Fill the largest pot with compost and place the next pot within it. Sink the smaller pot so that it is half submerged within the compost.

Step 2 of 4How to make a Herb Planter

Step Three:

Repeat the previous step for the final pot and then fill it with compost. Make sure the posts are stable and level.

Step 3 of 4How to make a Herb Planter

Step Four:

Carefully pull each pot away from the herb plant. Plant them evenly within the container and make sure you leave space for them to grow. Gently water in the plants to settle them and place your new display in a sheltered part of the garden.

Step 4 of 4How to make a Herb Planter

We hope these projects have given you a few ideas and a bit of inspiration for what to do in your garden this month.

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