|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|April Lawn & Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· April is a great time to select and plant fruit trees and berry plants. Fruits and berries do best when planted in full sun.
· Plant perennial vegetables like asparagus, horseradish, etc. It’s also time to plant peas, carrots, beets, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. Root crops like radishes, parsnips and onions can still be planted. Late this month, you can plant beans and corn. Warmer weather crops like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers should not be planted until next month unless you like to gamble with the weather.
· As your direct-seeded crops sprout, be sure to keep them thinned out to avoid crowding.
· Begin transplanting warm-season seedlings outdoors, at the end of April when the soil has warmed and night temperatures stay above 50o F.
· Continue to plant zinnia seed at intervals to have cut flowers until frost.
· Plant chrysanthemums for fall color.
· Put impatiens in shady areas.
· Plant begonias, coleus, ageratum, salvia and vinca in light shade (five to six hours of sunlight).
· Overplant bulb beds with annuals from seed or transplant. (Be careful not to injure the bulbs.)
· Try some night-blooming annuals: moonflower vine, angel’s trumpet, night phlox, night-scented stock and four-o’clocks.
· Start seeds of statice, strawflowers, globe amaranth and other everlastings for dry flower arrangements.
· This would be a good time to select and plant to replace those killed during winter. Since most plants are now grown in containers, they can be planted into the garden at any time.
· You can now overseed your lawn (using about one pound per 300 square-feet) to help fill in bald patches and fight the return of weeds and moss.
· Broadleaf and needle leaf evergreens benefit most from lightly spreading a high-nitrogen fertilizer around their bases.
· Hybrid Tea Roses should be fertilized prior to buds beginning to bloom.
· Always apply any recommended lime several weeks before planting to allow enough time to adjust soil acidity.
· Certain vegetable crops require additional nitrogen during the growing season. Some of these vegetables are tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, cabbage, squash, okra, beans and peppers. Split fertilizer treatments into three equal applications: 1/3 in early April, 1/3 in June or July and 1/3 in September. This will produce more uniform growth and minimize leaching.
· Feed asparagus with a nitrogen-containing fertilizer to encourage production of large ferny growth.
· The application of a spring-type lawn fertilizer should perk up the lawn and improve its over-all color and appearance. If there is moss growing in the lawn, use spring lawn fertilizer with moss-killer included, so you can do both jobs in one easy application.
· Give your bulbs some food once they finish blooming and allow the foliage to remain until it begins to turn yellow.
· Feed fruit and nut trees and bushes.
· Aquatic plant fertilizer tablets should be used on bog plants when new growth appears.
· Feed hardy water lilies once a month with aquatic fertilizer tablets pushed into the soil when water temperature is above 70o F. Keep tablet about two inches from the rhizome or tuber.
· April and May are ideal months for pruning evergreens. Remove all dead, diseased and undesirable wood. However, do not prune back into the bare wood part of the plant.
· Thin blackberry canes to about five to seven per plant. Prune side branches on remaining canes to about 12 inches or 12 buds, then tie the pruned canes to your trellis or fencing. You can prune broken, dead, diseased or infested canes at any time of the year, the sooner the better.
· If you have nandinas in your landscape, you know they grow like bamboo, with long canes and leaves at the tops of the branches. Prune them by cutting one-third of the canes at one-third of the plant’s height. Prune another third at two-thirds of its height, and leave one-third alone. Mahonia and aucuba can also be pruned this way.
· Finish pruning roses. Remove dead and diseased wood first. Hybrid teas can be cut back hard, to a new shoot.
· Wait until spring-flowering plants, like azaleas, camellias, forsythias, quince and spireas, have finished blooming before pruning them. When you do prune them, you shouldn’t shear these plants. Selectively remove branches to maintain the beauty and shape of the plants.
· After flowers fade from spring-flowering bulbs, cut off flowers to prevent seeds from developing. DO NOT cut or remove leaves, allow them to die naturally. The leaves provide nutrients for next year’s flowering. If you want to move bulbs, mark where they’re growing and then transplant them after the foliage dies back.
· Although we think of this as a rainy month, it can fool us. Keep transplanted flowers well-watered during dry spells. As you do your spring planting, be sure to plan how you will water this summer. Place those plants requiring the most water closer to the house.
· With water rates the way they are, it will be worth your time to take a critical look at your irrigation system. Turn on the water and check for leaks or plugged nozzles and make needed repairs. Check all drip emitters for efficient flow. Clean and repair the plugged ones and their filters.
· Measure the rainfall with a rain gauge posted near the garden so you can tell when to water. The garden needs about one inch of rain per week from April to September.
· Be sure to take a little time to check the plants in containers and those under the eaves of the house and under tall evergreens to see they are getting enough water.
· Don’t let your garden dry out before it even hits full stride. Get into the rhythm of watering regularly early in the season to ensure happy, healthy plants.
· Set up a watering system to minimize the work of regularly watering your garden bed. Make sure a hose or watering can is accessible in areas you will water often throughout the growing season.
· In container gardens, make sure your geraniums, pansies and other container plants are getting enough water.
· Read the label of any pesticide three times – where you buy the product, at home and before applying — to ensure proper use.
· Many pest problems begin to appear in April. If you have plants you suspect may be facing a pest problem, bring in a representative sample to your local Co-op store. They can diagnose the problem and recommend the appropriate control. Don’t let pests enjoy the fruits — or vegetables for that matter — of your gardening labors.
· Remember, the best way to control pests in your garden is to plant resistant varieties.
· Handpull winter annual weeds like common chickweed, henbit and wild geranium to prevent them from reseeding. A shallow layer of mulch will suppress them.
· Especially now, after planting tender seedlings, make a slug-and-snail tour armed with a saltshaker, or bait slugs with shallow bowls of stale beer.
· Put a birdhouse in the garden to attract insect-eating friends.
· Record in your gardening journal where and when plants were planted or transferred; when, where and type of fertilizer (including lawn); what, when and results of insecticides, fungicides, weed control, etc.; bloom dates; condition of flowers, leaves and overall health of plant; even weather conditions; basically anything affecting your lawn and garden to be able to track efficiency.
· Be prepared for cold snaps at night. Use row covers, newspapers or sheets to protect seedlings.
· If you receive mail-order plants or can’t resist the urge to pick up a few perennials before you are ready, make a trench and heel them into the ground in a protected area.
· To keep cauliflower pure white, loosely tie the long outside leaf onto the flat, open head when it is one-two inches across. Hold leaves together with a rubber band until the head is ready for harvesting.
· Harvest asparagus until the spears become thinner than a pencil.
· Control weeds and aerate the soil by cultivating between the rows of plants.
· As mowing becomes necessary, be certain the blade is sharp to prevent tearing the grass tips.
· Spring is also a good time to dethatch the lawn. Thatch buildup can smother your lawn and provide an environment for diseases. Remove thatch with a brisk raking, or with a dethatching machine.
· Remove sticks, rocks and other debris from your lawn to prevent damaging your lawnmower or injuring yourself when mowing. Check your lawnmower and other lawncare equipment in preparation for the coming season.
· Even beginning gardeners can brighten up a terrace, patio, deck or windowsill with containers tumbling with flowers. Use hanging baskets, pots of all sizes and planter boxes — or ask the kids to help you paint old pails or coffee cans — for clusters of color.
· If you wish to attract butterflies, add plants providing lots of nectar, like butterfly bush, lantana, coneflower and summer phlox. Also include host plants for caterpillars to feed on. Choices include parsley, dill and milkweed.
· To keep your Easter Lilies blooming longer; place them in indirect sunlight in a cool room. When the flowers open up, pinch off the yellow anthers. Once your blooms have faded and all danger of frost has passed, remove the lily from its pot and plant it in a sunny spot in the garden. Easter Lilies like lots of water and good drainage. Be sure to mulch the roots of the plants over winter and remove the mulch again in spring.
· Start cranking up your mowing schedule and put those grass clippings to work! Adjust your mower to cut only 1/3 the length of the grasses’ blades, then leave the clippings on the lawn. They’ll feed the growing grass much-needed nitrogen as they break down.