Out­door di­ary

April’s check­list

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Carol Buck­nell. Il­lus­tra­tions by Pippa Fay.

+ Some ex­perts ad­vise leav­ing a few flow­ers on rose plants at this time of year so they can pro­duce rose hips for win­ter, which is part of their nat­u­ral cy­cle.

+ If you live in warmer places, it’s not too late to trim hedges so they stay shapely through win­ter. Wait un­til spring in ar­eas prone to hard frosts as the cold may kill any new growth that ap­pears af­ter trim­ming. Ide­ally, clip them while you can still see the shape and line of last year’s cut but don’t go too hard as some hedge species won’t grow new leaves on bare wood.

+ When di­vid­ing up over­grown clumps of peren­ni­als such as canna, daylilies, di­etes, clivia and helle­borus, split them into sec­tions with a sharp spade. Keep newer sec­tions from the out­side of the clump and com­post the tired bit in the cen­tre. Cut stems and leaves close to the top of the clump and re­plant or give ex­tra pieces to friends.

+ Lawns can be pretty worn out by the end of sum­mer. To re­plen­ish en­ergy lev­els re­move thatch (dead grass) and moss with a rake, and sow grass seed mixed with plant­ing com­post into bare patches. Fork ground first to loosen soil if nec­es­sary. Sprin­kle with lawn food or liq­uid feed the lawn with a sea­weed- or other ni­tro­gen-based prod­uct, then wa­ter well.

+ Flow­er­ing shrubs and climbers, such as abu­tilon, bougainvil­lea, bot­tle­brush, hy­drangea, hibis­cus, hebe, laven­der, manuka, rose­mary and vireya rhodo­den­dron, both look and per­form much bet­ter if given a trim at this time of year.

+ Now the ground has more mois­ture and the soil is cooler, you can plant new trees or shrubs. If soil is heavy clay, add com­post, sheep pel­lets or other or­ganic mat­ter to im­prove its struc­ture and en­cour­age worms. Mix fresh plant­ing com­post with soil from the hole which should be twice the width of the plant con­tainer but only a lit­tle deeper than the root ball. Too deep and you could pile soil up around the trunk of the plant, which can cause col­lar rot. + Hedges are not just green walls that give struc­ture and pri­vacy to a gar­den, they also help to cool it and fil­ter out dust, car fumes and traf­fic noise. Slow-grow­ing species such as buxus, corokia or to­tara (Podocar­pus to­tara) that only need an an­nual trim are best if you’re not that handy with the clip­ping tools.

+ Frangi­pani, cit­rus and other frost-ten­der plants in con­tain­ers should be moved to shel­tered spots in colder ar­eas. If they’re too heavy to move, mulch soil and think about wrap­ping the con­tainer up for the win­ter in sack­ing, old blan­kets or even bubble wrap – it’s not that pretty but will help to keep Jack Frost at bay.

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