To Do in the Garden – April

04 2013-03-21 Spring Flowers 001In between April showers, take advantage of those sunny days and get outside into the garden!  Clean up your yard, add compost to beds, and lay down mulch now to control weeds.  The soil is thawed, but shrubs are still dormant, and it is a great time to transplant them.  Shrubs that will bloom in late summer can be pruned now if needed.  It’s also time to start working on your lawn.  This is a great time to start or rejuvenate a lawn.  Come see us for advice on lime, fertilizer, weed control, and seed.

 

 

 

Your Entire Property

  • Let the ground dry out a day or two after rain before working in your yard and gardens to avoid compressing the soil in the lawn and beds.
  • Remove all debris left from winter storms.
  • Apply mulch to all beds and around trees and shrubs.  Mulch helps to reduce weed seed germination, to control fluctuations in soil temperature, and to retain moisture in the soil later in the season.
  • Inspect trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials, and lawn for storm, snow, or pest damage.  Bring in photos and ask our experts for the best solution.
  • If needed, apply repellents for moles, voles, and deer.

 

Lawn

  • Rake up debris such as sticks, leaves, dead grass, etc.
  • Soil in New England tends to be acidic, and most lawns benefit from two applications of lime each year – once in the spring and once in the fall – to help neutralize the acidity.  Do a quick pH test first to be sure you need it.  Calcitic lime is recommended for lawns.  If you have a lot of dandelions, your soil is probably calcium-deficient.
  • Apply a slow release organic fertilizer for late winter/early spring such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – Spring Lawn Booster.  (Can be applied from February to April.)
  • Apply ¼ inch layer of compost to improve soil conditions.
  • Apply crabgrass preventer/pre-emergent while forsythia is in bloom.
  • Another good way to prevent weeds in your lawn is to overseed occasionally so that your turf grass crowds out weeds.  Now is a good time to overseed your entire lawn.
  • For new seeding, filling in bare areas, or overseeding, if you have used a crabgrass preventer, leave that in place on top of existing soil, put a buffer layer of soil or compost over that, and spread the grass seed on top of this buffer layer.  The crabgrass preventer will prohibit germination of the crabgrass seeds left over from last summer, and the buffer layer of soil/compost will allow the desired grass seed to germinate.  If you are unable to spread a buffer layer of soil, wait six weeks after applying pre-emergent before sowing grass seeds.
  • Alternatively, use a crabgrass preventer and new seeding lawn fertilizer that prevents crabgrass from germinating and allows you to apply grass seed on the same day.
  • With any method of seeding, keep the soil moist until grass is established.

 

Trees and Shrubs

  • Transplant trees and shrubs while they are still dormant.  Backfill hole with a mix of the soil you removed and some compost.  After planting or transplanting trees or shrubs, water every other day for about three weeks.  (If there is a lot of rain, you can water less frequently.)
  • Plant a tree for National Arbor Day (the last Friday in April).
  • Mulch around newly planted trees and shrubs to reduce weeds, control fluctuations in soil temperature, retain moisture, and prevent damage from lawn mowers.  It looks nice, too.
  • Make sure not to pile up mulch against the trunk of the tree/shrub, as this can encourage pests and diseases.
  • As buds open and your plants leaf out, check for insects.  Winter Moth caterpillar eggs hatch at the same time as when trees and shrubs first leaf out. Trees such as Cherry, peach, apple, crabapple, japanese maple, maple, birch and shrubs such as blueberry and rose bushes are susceptible.  This insect is tiny when it first hatches so you will not see it blending in with green foliage and often they hide inside the bud.  Click below for more info and treatment options.
    Winter Moth Caterpillar

 

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Cut back grasses and herbaceous perennials to the ground.
  • Cut back woody perennials including nepeta, perovskia, Montauk daisies, and agastache three to six inches above the ground.  Cut in a rounded shape to encourage an attractive mounded form for the plant as new growth comes in.
  • Cut back non-climbing rosebushes to 18-24 inches from the ground.  Climbing roses should not be cut back, but can be thinned out if necessary.
  • To rejuvenate, aggressively cut back woody portions of flowers like chrysanthemums.
  • Divide and transplant grasses and summer- and fall-blooming perennials, including daylilies, yarrow, echinacea, rudbeckia, asters, and sedum.  Avoid crowding when planting or transplanting.  Take into account the size of the plant at maturity, and allow enough room for air circulation between plants as they grow.
  • Divide and transplant hostas as soon as they start to emerge, before the leaves unfurl.
  • There is no way to transplant a plant without incurring some root damage.  To reduce stress on transplants, divide and transplant on overcast or rainy days.  Add compost to holes as you re-plant.  Apply three to four inches of mulch around the base of transplants and water well.  Check on the plant every few days; if the top few inches of soil are dry, water again.  Be careful not to overwater.
  • Cut flower stalks (not foliage) back to the ground on daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring flowering bulbs as the flowers fade so that the plant’s energy does not go into seed production. Do not cut the foliage until it dies naturally. The leaves are necessary to produce strong bulbs capable of flowering again next spring.
  • Add compost now to improve soil structure and revitalize soil biology by establishing beneficial microbial populations.
  • Apply a weed preventer such as corn gluten meal which also serves as an organic fertilizer.

 

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Add spring color to your entryway or beds with our huge selection of pansies, osteospermum, nemesia and other annuals that can withstand cooler temperatures.

 

Houseplants and Tropicals

 

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Direct seed cold season crops such as peas, lettuce and other greens, beets and other root crops, and kale and other cole crops in the garden.
  • It’s not too late to start seeds indoors (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, winter squash, basil, etc.).
  • Install a rain gauge in your garden so you can tell when to water.  The garden needs about one inch of rain per week from April to September.
  • Start checking your asparagus and rhubarb – they’ll be ready to pick soon.