APRIL - HEAD GARDENER PLANNER & CHECKLIST

Prepare to be busy.

Wakehurst Place, Sussex - image: Flickr/Dominic Alves (CC BY 2.0)
Wakehurst Place, Sussex - image: Flickr/Dominic Alves (CC BY 2.0)

May bank holiday If you open to the public, check everything is ready for what should be a busy day.

Lawns Consider spiking any hard areas of lawns and grass walkways so any rain has a chance of getting into the ground rather than being lost as run-off. Reduce mowing height on fine ornamental lawns to 12mm unless conditions are very dry. Other amenity areas can be cut between 12mm and 25mm depending on conditions, location and function.

Watering As thoughts (may) turn to the prospect of a long, hot summer, now is a good time to review how plants are watered, when they are watered and what water source is used. Top up mulches.

Shrubs Lightly trim box hedging and edging to maintain shape. Prune early-flowering shrubs such as ribes and spiraea straight after flowering.

Kitchen garden Continue successional sowings of lettuce, peas, broad beans, cabbage, carrots, beetroot, salad onions and radishes. Consider sowing Swiss chard and leaf beet. Transplant winter brassicas sown earlier. Use pheromone traps to control codling moths on apples — one trap for every three trees. Prune out unwanted shoots on raspberries. Mulch all fruit bushes.
Flower garden Consider making fortnightly plantings of gladioli to bulk up the supply of flowers for decorative purposes. When they are about 4in high, plant out the sweet peas sown last month.

Algae watch Recent warm weather has started early blooming.

Staffing levels Consider hiring seasonal staff if necessary, particularly for mowing.

Staff health Check and refill first aid kits. Consider refresher courses for first-aiders.

All staff should be up to date with tetanus inoculations and make sure everyone is aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease. Caused by a bacterium present in the digestive system of many animals — including mice, hedgehogs, foxes, pheasants and blackbirds — Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks and is now found across the UK in both urban and rural locations. In humans it affects skin, joints, the heart and the nervous system. Anyone finding a tick on their body should carefully remove it by winding cotton tightly between the tick and the skin or by lifting it off with a notch cut into a credit card. Never burn ticks off with cigarettes. Neither should they be squashed or covered with Vaseline.


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