A Moseley Garden (April 2017)

Saturday, 8th April 2017

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No excuses now Moseley gardening folk, it really is time to tend to your gardens. I am appealing to those ‘part time’ summer gardeners, knowing full well that the ‘full timers’ who live and breathe gardening all year round would have been out preparing for the approaching summer season as far back as last autumn. But for the rest of us, and I include myself – my own garden is inevitably left until last.

April is the perfect month to get cracking. Great work can be achieved if you know which tasks to undertake.  Use the lighter evenings, weekends and the upcoming Easter break to get a head start. Starting now rather than in May and June will leave you more time this summer to simply enjoy the garden.

Most of you will have lawns and my simple advice to you is to feed them every 5-6 weeks with simple granular Growmore fertilizer. Lawns can grow quickly from April onwards and need nutritional support especially as new roots are formed.  One large tub from Homebase costs about £10. When first cutting the lawn ensure you set your blades on a high setting. Gentle trimming will encourage root growth without putting the grass plants under stress. If you leave the first cut too late and then cut too short in a vain attempt to regain order, you are essentially scalping the lawn; this will put your grass under strain and regrowth can be pale and wispy, Once the first few cuts are done I suggest regular weekly cutting – little and often means lawn mowing will be quicker.

My biggest tip for April, and it will save you all lots of time in May and June, is to deal with the weeds. Hoe and pull out the small annual weeds before they start to flower and shed more seed later in the season. Dig out the difficult perennial weeds such as Couch grass, Ground Elder and Bindweed or use glyphosates such as Roundup.   Nettles, Brambles, Buttercup and Dock however are easier to dig out and therefore there is no need to use herbicides. Try targeting a small section at a time if you feel overwhelmed, and trust me when I assure you that it is worth the effort. Not only do you make more bed space to plant your chosen new ornamental flowers and shrubs but it’s cleansing for the soul and saves major work later in the season.

Dandelion Buttercup BrambleCouch Grass
When you start to plant your summer colour make sure you buy to last the long summer season. Buy in or swop perennial flowers such as Sedum Spectabile and Shasta daisy. Fill other spaces with half hardy annual treasures such as Cosmos Sonata mixed (York Supplies in Kings Heath have them from May and incidentally it’s a treasure trove for plants in from April to September). Cosmos come in pink, carmine and pure white. They are a doddle to grow especially in full sun. It is best to wait until the end of April before planting them out in case of a late frost. With dead heading they can flower until the first frosts in October.

Another easy way to get some summer colour is set aside a weed free area for hardy annual/perennial wildflower mixes. Amazon UK has lots of wild flower seed mixes and they can transform an area within weeks. They usually include favourites such as Poppies, Cornflowers, Calendula (pot marigolds) and Camomile. The good news is they flower better on poor soil so no need to buy in lots of mulch or soil conditioner. The city council is doing more of this in their urban spaces and it’s dead easy for people short of time. It is also helping insects and other wildlife in the food chain.