|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|April Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· Transplant cool-season Bonnie vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks and onions (sets and transplants).
· Plant beans and corn. The warmer-weather crops like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers should not be planted until mid-month.
· Plant annual seeds of asters, cosmos, marigolds and zinnias in the garden.
· Plant perennials, flowering shrubs and vines now appearing in garden centers like artemisia, baby’s breath, balloon flower, bee balm, columbines, coreopsis, daylilies, delphiniums, lupines, bleeding hearts and roses just to name a few.
· Plant summer-flowering bulbs like dahlias, glads and lilies. Mix bulb fertilizer, processed manure and peat moss into the planting soil.
· Divide perennials like daylilies, delphiniums, iris, chrysanthemums, daisies and phlox. The additional plants you create can be traded or given to friends, or moved to a new area of the garden.
· To extend the blooming period of gladiolus, plant early, middle and late-season selections each week until the middle of June.
· Scatter annual poppy seeds in flower borders. The fine seeds need no covering. The plants grow rapidly and provide colorful flowers in early summer.
· In a sunny location with poor soil, plant nasturtiums for a colorful show. They require warm soil to sprout and start blooming in about 50 days. Too much water and fertilizer produces excess leaves and few flowers.
· Over-seeding the lawn with new grass seed will help fill-in the lawn and help deter the re-growth of moss and weeds. Visit your local Co-op for seeding instructions.
· Spring is a great time to select and plant berry plants. All types of fruits and berries do best when planted in full sun.
· Trees, shrubs and vines can be planted, but avoid bareroot stock now. Stick with container-grown plants at this late date.
· Re-pot root-bound houseplants. If plant lacks vigor, roots are coming out of drainage holes or if water drains through the plant before it can absorb the water, it is likely time to transplant. Move up in pot size by about two inches.
· If you have a pond or pool, you should set aquatic plants any time after the middle of the month. Most water plants grow well in full sun.
· As your direct-seeded crops sprout, be sure to keep them thinned out to avoid crowding.
· Fertilize your Bermuda or zoysia lawn now.
· Fertilize centipede and St. Augustine lawns mid to late-April.
· Aerate and feed lawn with high nitrogen fertilizer from April to September for really green grass. Make sure you use a spreader to ensure fertilizer is spread evenly.
· Apply bone meal to spring-flowering bulbs.
· Add bone meal and well-rotted compost to Asiatic lilies when the foliage is several inches tall.
· The month of April is ideal for pruning evergreens. So if you have a juniper, conifer or cypress that needs shearing or pruning, this is a good time to accomplish this task. Keep your pruning cuts within the green (foliage) parts of the plant. If you cut back into bare branches, it is sometimes difficult or impossible for the plant to re-grow from the old growth.
· Prune grape vines to no more than four fruiting canes with seven to ten buds apiece if you didn’t in March.
· Be sure to take a little time to check the plants under the eaves of the house and under tall evergreens to see if they are getting sufficient moisture. In some cases, plants in these locations are bone-dry and in desperate need of watering. Container plantings should also be given watering attention.
· Speaking of watering, mulching flower and shrub beds will cut down on water consumption later this summer. Likewise, aerating the lawn will allow water to penetrate deeper into the lawn soil, so it should not be necessary to use as much water to keep the lawn looking nice this summer. Use a garden fork and punch holes over the surface of your lawn or rent an aerating machine.
· Keep all transplants well watered during dry spells.
· Measure the rainfall with a rain gauge posted near the garden, but not near a building or tall plant for an accurate measurement, so you can tell when to water. The garden needs about one inch of rain per week from April until fall.
· Always follow label instructions on approved pesticides.
· Remember, the best way to control most pests in your garden is to plant resistant varieties.
· You might want to check for raised tunnels in your yard, a sure sign of hungry moles searching for grubs. Your local Co-op sells grub control products that will eliminate moles and often skunks as well.
· Spring is also a good time to thatch the lawn. Thatch buildup can smother your lawn and provide an environment for diseases. Remove thatch with a brisk raking or with a de-thatching machine.
· In your vegetable and cutting garden, control weeds and aerate the soil by cultivating between the rows of plants.
· Rotate vegetable crops to help control pests, disease and to keep the soil in good condition. For example, don’t plant cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) in the same place this year as you did last and don’t plant potatoes/tomatoes where you planted either last season (they are close relatives).
· Slugs continue to increase in size and numbers this month. Monitor slug bait levels and apply more in the garden if it runs low. Keep in mind the grey garden slug (most common in the Southeast) can begin to lay eggs when they are as young as three months. Eggs can be laid anytime during the year (until winter if you irrigate). One grey garden slug can lay up to 400 eggs per year which hatch in three to six weeks. If all 400 offspring hatch and produce 400 more eggs that’s 160,000 slugs from just one, single pest and trust me, she wasn’t alone to begin with…stay on top of it!
· Get your garden journal ready to record bloom times, timing of tasks, successes and failures, and valuable information from catalogs or seed packets.
· Before you put on your gardening gloves and get out the tools, remember to stretch a little and don’t overdo it. You’ve probably not given your muscles a good workout in a while. That way you’ll avoid that Monday morning backache common to most April gardeners.
· Remember the freeze of April 2007! If you’ve lived in the Deep South for any amount of time, you know it can happen again. Always be prepared to use row covers (sheets, blankets, etc.) and cloches (milk jugs, soda bottles with bottoms removed) or water-filled cloches available at your local Co-op store to prevent lethal damage to tender seedlings.
· Take a critical look at the plantings around your home. Are your hedges crowding the front entrance? Do any of your ornamentals need replacing or could they benefit from a good pruning? Plants have a way of gradually growing out of bounds. Take time now, before you get busy with summer activities, to decide what needs to be renewed or replaced.
· Prepare new beds by smothering grass or weeds with layers of recycled corrugated cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, then put mulch on top.
· As mowing becomes necessary, be certain the blade is sharp to prevent tearing the grass tips. (A mulching blade will eliminate the need to rake or bag the clippings, prevent thatch buildup and the clippings will provide food for the lawn.)
· 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.
· Don’t add organic matter to the soil when planting trees. It does not help the plant become established and it may create conditions encouraging the roots to stay inside the planting hole instead of spreading to surrounding soil. Do dig a large planting hole, but fill it with the original soil removed from it.
· Put a birdhouse in the garden to attract insect-eating friends.
· Harden-off summer-bedding plants. They must be slowly acclimatized to outside conditions. Do not place outside if there is risk of frost.
· Check trellis and support wires on climbers before the plants are fully developed. Winds, rain and frost can often dislodge supports during the winter. Once plants reach maturity they will become much heavier.
· Mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue more than any other color. Just something to think about while choosing gardening attire or lawn table umbrellas.
· If your compost is finished, use it. If not, turn it.
· Cover crops are planted to keep soil from eroding during heavy rains. These crops make excellent organic fertilizer, but should have been turned into the soil by mid-February to allow for decomposition. If you haven’t turned your cover crops because of the wet weather, turn them now, but don’t plant directly on top of the decaying vegetation. Give it a few weeks to rot.
· Repair dead patches in ground covers by tearing them out. Add compost and peat moss into the soil then replant bare areas with divisions taken from outer edges.
· As the sun’s rays strengthen, some houseplants like African violets may need to be moved away from a south-facing window to avoid leaf scorch.
· Spring-cleaning your houseplants will keep them beautiful and help to avoid diseases. Remove any spent flowers, dead leaves or branches, or any yellowing leaves. Rinse the dust from the leaves with the kitchen sprayer. Clean leaves allow the plant to breathe!
· If you keep a coleus as a houseplant, you can still start cuttings for transplant to the garden. Use a sharp, clean knife to cut the stem just below a leaf node. Remove the lowest leaves, dip the cut end into a rooting hormone and insert it into some fresh, sterile potting soil. These cuttings will be ready to use as a bright garden accent by early June.
· 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. You’ll enjoy your Easter lilies for years to come. Remember, once Easter lilies have established in your garden, they will bloom in mid-summer, rather than spring. If you want Easter lilies to bloom at Easter, you will need to force the bulbs.
· Feed the birds! Some have hatchlings by now and could use a hand.