In April there is now so much more to see in the garden.

There are many classic landscaped gardens where you can see flowering trees and shrubs, such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Magnolias at their best.  Many species and varieties will remain so until late in May.

Lawns

No doubt, most of you will have cut your lawns for the first time by now. If you have clumps of coarse, undesirable grasses in your lawn, they will frequently escape being removed by mowing by lying down flat. Go over them after mowing with a lawn rake, so that they stand up, and then mow the patches again. If you do this frequently, they will be gradually removed.

Now is a good time to apply a lawn fertilizer. Slow-release ones are available, if a little expensive. However, these cannot be washed away by rain (leached) as soon as you apply them and can last for the whole season. Preventing leaching in this way also avoids ground water from being polluted by plant nutrients, which can in turn lead to an increase of algae in watercourses and consequent ill effects on fish and other aquatic creatures and other creatures that prey on them.

New lawns can be planted from seed or turf now. Should you wish to improve your soil before sowing lawn-seed or turfing, consider using mushroom compost to do this.

Spread the mushroom compost on the new lawn area and rotovate this in. The mushroom compost has several benefits. It can improve the soil structure, reduce surface “capping” and compaction and promote drainage. It also increases soil microbial activity and provides nutrients to lawn grasses. These improvements promote faster turf establishment, better turf density and colour and increase the rooting of the seed and consequently reducing the need for fertilisers and watering.

Mushroom compost is best used as fresh as possible. The Mushroom Compost we sell has been steam sterilised and so does not contain weed seeds or pathogens and is supplied loose bulk loads, in bulk bags or in 75 litre bags.

Vegetables

My father always liked to start his vegetable gardening in earnest at Easter and this seemed to work for him (I suspect it had something to do with Easter being the first long weekend of the year); despite the fact that the date of Easter changes by more than a month. It is at the beginning of April this year, so if you do get out and sow your seeds, be wary of subsequent frosts causing plants to bolt (run up to seed). This happens because most vegetables are biennials and the cold can lead them to believe that they have undergone a winter and that the season to set seed has arrived. The secret is not to sow all of one thing at the same time, but stagger the planting which will not only mean that the later ones miss the frost, but that you have a succession of the crops to harvest.

Plants

Rose pruning should have been completed by the end of March and mulching with manure should now be done before the new shoots get too large and brittle. The ideal mulch is Horse Manure. The Shredded Horse Manure is much easier to spread and gives an even covering. It should be applied to a depth of 50-75mm.

This is an ideal time to plant shrubs and climbers, as soil temperatures are beginning to rise, leading to more root activity. Mix composted bark with the soil that has been removed prior to planting. This should be a ratio of 1 part bark to 4 parts soil. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and back-fill with the prepared mixture. Heel in.

Evergreen trees and shrubs can be planted later than deciduous ones, but both will require adequate watering after planting.