Gardening tips

In the flower garden…

• Plant lily bulbs now. Planting them in bulbs is always ideal, you can simply move them around the patio or into gaps in your borders as they come into flower!

• Apply a layer of mulch, such as chipped bark around your perennials, trees and shrubs before the warm weather arrives. This will help retain moisture as well as reduce weeds.

• Lift and divide perennial plants now to improve their vigour and create new plants for your garden.

• Divide hostas before they come into leaf.

• Continue to plant herbaceous perennials.

• Put plant supports in place for those plants that will need it so they can grow up through them. Adding supports after plants have grown is always difficult and may damage the plant.

• Tie in climbing and rambling roses to their supports.

• Honeysuckle and Clematis will now be putting on growth, tie in new stems to train the plant along its support.

• Prune back penstemons now – cut all the old shoots back to the base provided there is new growth at the bottom of the plant.

• Prune Forsythia as soon as they have finished flowering, cutting back to strong young shoots.

• Deadhead daffodils and tulips as the flowers finish but leave the foliage intact allowing it to die back naturally.

In the vegetable garden…

• Dig in a layer of compost, well-rotted manure or green waste into your beds to prepare for the growing season ahead.

• Plant your chitted potatoes outside in the ground or in potato grow bags.

• Thin your carrot seedlings to achieve good-sized carrots. (Do this in the evening when there are fewer carrot flies around).

• Many crops can be direct sown into the ground now including parsnips, cabbages and radishes.

• Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil with black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for planting.

In the fruit garden…

• Plant out strawberry beds, making sure you enrich the soil with plenty of well-rotted manure. Place cloches over your strawberry plants for earlier crops.

•  Protect your fruit blossom from late frosts by covering them with fleece on cold nights.

• Mulch fruit trees with well rotted manure or garden compost taking care not to mound mulch up around the trunk. Top-dress patio dwarf fruit trees with fresh compost and a slow-release fertiliser.

• Apply a slow release fertiliser around the base of your raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees to encourage good crops this season.

• Try hand-pollinating your peaches and nectarines with a soft-bristled paint brush for better crops this year.

Looking after your lawn…

• Sow lawn seed now on well prepared soil and keep the soil moist whilst the seed is germinating.

• For an instant lawn, lay new turf as soon as it becomes available and ensure it is kept moist until established.

•Repair any bare patches in your lawn.

• Apply a high-nitrogen fertiliser to your lawn now for a boost to the start of the season.

• Now is a good time to apply a specialist lawn weedkiller to your lawn where moss and weeds are a problem.

• Mow your lawn more regularly as required, mower blades can be lowered towards the end of the month.

• Re-cut lawn edges to straighten them up.

• Aerate compacted areas of lawn by spiking it with a garden fork.

In the greenhouse…

• If you haven’t already, give your greenhouse a thorough scrub with hot soapy water to get rid of pests and diseases and to let more light in.

• Start to sow tomato seeds indoors, ready to plant out after all risk of frost has passed.

• Continue to sow half-hardy annual seeds under cover- take care not to expose them to frost.

• Keep an eye on your seedlings, as soon as they have their first true leaves, prick them out into pots or modules for growing on.

• If your greenhouse is heated then start planting up summer pots and baskets and keep them under cover until all risk of frost has passed.

• Pinch out the tips of fuchsia and sweet pea plants to encourage bushy plants this summer.