What To Plant in April and May

For the best results, your summer garden display should be planned and established in springtime. With that in mind, here’s what to plant in April and May.

  • Plant shrubs, trees and hardy perennials outdoors when the soil starts to warm up
  • Start sowing tender vegetable and flower seeds indoors
  • Gladiolus corms, dahlia tubers and begonias can be started off in a frost free place
  • Potatoes can be chitted indoors and planted out from mid-may onwards
  • Sow wildflower seeds directly where they are to flower
  • Move the plants from your winter container garden into borders where they will have plenty of room to grow
  • Re-turf or over-seed tired looking lawns

Spring is a deceptive time of year. Bright sunny days entice gardeners to sow seeds and put out plants only to have them destroyed by a late frost. Whilst it’s great to plan ahead and dream of crunchy fresh salads picked from the garden, it’s well worth practicing a little bit of patience at this time of year. So what can you plant in April and May to keep your green fingers busy?

Trees, Shrubs and Structural Plants

Every great planting plan has some kind of structure to it. For example, you may place a tree directly in line with your kitchen window to give you a focal point. Or, you could use a series of conifers or shrubs to “punctuate” your planting and lead your eye along a border.

A hedge would also be considered structural. Whether that’s a natives species hedge for privacy or a pretty, low growing hedge to create a garden feature, hedges are great at defining spaces. They’re also great for wildlife.

Trees are wonderful at providing summer shade and can also help create a microclimate in your garden where other plants can thrive. When planting trees, be sure to stake them well to avoid roots being damaged when the tree sways in the wind. It’s also worth investing in a tree watering bag from your garden centre. These only need refilling periodically and will make sure that your young tree gets off to a good start.

Trees and shrubs are generally frost-hardy and therefore ok to plant in April and May. However, it’s always wise to check the label or consult garden centre staff before investing. Subjecting tender plants to a late frost will at the very least scar their leaves and at worst could kill them off.

Tree watering bags

Sowing Seeds Indoors

Whilst it’s not always wise to expose tender young seedlings to the risk of frost, sowing seeds indoors allows you to extend the growing season for lots of different plants. Growing from seed offers you a wider choice of varieties than buying young plants. Most garden centres will offer the most popular species of young plants but if you want to try different flavoured vegetables or specific flowering plants, growing from seed is your best option. Although it takes up a little more of your time, growing from seed can also be considerably more cost effective than buying young plants.

What will you need for seed growing?

Your garden centre will likely have everything you need to successfully raise seedlings at home. Except of course either a frost-free greenhouse or a sunny windowsill.

Seed trays, pots, plant labels, and peat free compost are essential. You may also like to invest in an electric propagator to keep temperatures consistent. A watering can with a rose fitted to it is also worth buying, it will mean that you can gently sprinkle your seedlings with water - not subject them to a deluge!

Making your own pots from recycled newspaper is an eco-friendly alternative to using plastic. Most garden centres will have kits to help you do just that. Alternatively, you could re-use yoghurt pots and other small containers. Just be sure to put drainage holes in the bottom of them before filling them with growing medium.

Take your time when selecting seed varieties. It’s very easy to be led by impulse and end up with more plants than you can ever find room for in the garden. Old favourites such as tomato ‘Shirley’ or carrot ‘Nantes’ are good and reliable but don’t be afraid to experiment with species and varieties you’ve never grown before. Gardening should be an adventure!

Newspaper plant pots

Great seeds to Plant in April and May

Seeds for sowing indoors for planting out when the risk of frost has passed

  • Sunflowers
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell Pepper
  • Chilli
  • Courgette
  • Melon
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • French beans
  • Runner beans

Seeds for planting directly into prepared soil in early spring

  • Wildflowers such as poppies and cornflowers
  • Carrots
  • Beetroot
  • Leeks
  • Peas
  • Broad beans
  • Cabbages
  • Pak Choi

Lawn Repair Jobs for April and May

Early spring is a great time of year to repair tired looking lawns using turf or grass seed.

If your lawn is a little patchy in places, simply aerating, scarifying and overseeding will soon thicken up the sward. However, if your lawn looks dreadful and you need a quick fix, (Or if you are creating a lawn from scratch), laying new turf is likely to be your best option.

Many garden centres offer turf for sale, but because it is such a perishable product, they may ask you to pre-order it. If you are popping in to buy turf direct from an in-store display, be sure to ask when it was delivered. Fresh turf will smell divine and when unrolled the grass will be a healthy green colour. Check the rolls from the middle of the pallet too as these tend to lose quality quicker than the ones on top.

If you don’t mind a little soil in your car, collecting turf from the garden centre is normally more cost effective than buying online and having it delivered to your home. Plus, you won’t be sitting around waiting for a lorry to arrive.

Don’t forget that newly laid turf needs lots of water. Have you got a hosepipe and sprinkler at home? If not, ask your garden centre for advice on choosing the right irrigation equipment for your project.

Collect your turf AFTER you have prepared the soil, that way you can keep it fresh by laying it the moment you get it home.

You will find lots of turf laying advice online but your local garden centre will be best placed to advise you on what will work best for your soil type.

Laying turf

Refreshing Container Gardens

One exciting thing to plant in April and May is a summer container garden. As spring bulbs in pots start to fade, you can plant them outside in your beds and borders and head down to the garden centre for some new plants to adorn your doorstep and your patio.

Even if the weather outside is dismal, a cheery container full of plants viewed through the window will make you smile. Especially if you have purchased them with the National Garden Gift Vouchers you received at Christmas. Every time you look at your container garden you’ll be reminded of the person who gave you that gift card.

When choosing plants, aim for a nice, long flowering display. Perhaps a hardy fuchsia, some trailing plants and ornamental grass and a summer flowering corm such as gladioli to give you a pop of colour towards the end of the season. You may even want to leave a bit of space to insert colourful bedding plants once the risk of frost has passed.

Whatever you decide to plant in April and May, we hope that you enjoy your garden this spring.

Here are some more articles to inspire you.

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Getting creative with colour in the garden. https://nationalgardengiftvoucher.co.uk/inspiration/articles/april-be-creative-with-colour

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