MAKING THE MOST OF APRIL SHOWERS

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Spring has sprung, April’s 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 you plan for what could be a dry Summer by saving as much water as you can now.

After one of the driest winter 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 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 plants in your garden design that need little water such as Lavender.

Lavender is a favourite with gardeners not just for it’s drought resistant but also because of its beautiful form and fragrance attracts bees and butterflies. It’s considered a romantic flower that most gardeners get the urge to plant in their garden sooner or later and 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, lavender does not like ‘wet feet’ as it promotes root rot and ‘dampness’ is often the reason that it doesn’t perform well. It’s a tough plant though and once established only requires 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