April Gardening To-Do's

With the warmer than normal weather I know that we've all been itching to get out into the garden. So now that April is almost upon us, what garden tasks should we be doing to get our hands in the garden?

April is a great time to dig up and divide perennials. You'll want to make sure to plant them again right away. With perennials such as iris, wait until they are done blooming and hold off dividing peonies until September. Make sure to clean up any left-over plant debris from the previous year and cut back ornamental grasses before they begin to show growth for the season.

If you're like me you might have leaves that are still on the ground from last fall and are being used as winter mulch for extra protection on plant. Go ahead a remove that extra winter mulch and consider tossing those leaves into your compost pile.

Consider adding compost to your garden. If you need to till the compost into the garden make sure to do so when the soil is not too wet as it will create giant clumps and clods and damage soil structure. If you don't have a compost pile set-up, now would be a great time to plan for one.

Make sure to keep up on weeding. We are seeing plenty of weeds already with a lot of growth and some have already begun to bloom and want to get those out before they set seed. Examples of weeds that begin to flower in early spring include henbit, shepherd's purse, and common chickweed. I've seen copious amounts of henbit already in bloom. I'll be honest I don't mind weeding on a beautiful spring day, it's much more appealing than in the blistering summer sun and a great excuse to be outside.

The last average frost date for our area is mid-April so sensitive plants such as basil or tomatoes, wait until about Mid-May to plant to prevent any late frost damage. If you've ever seen Basil hit by frost, it's definitely not a pretty sight. You can seed frost tolerant plants such as spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, swiss chard, parsnip, and radishes.

Plant asparagus, rhubarb, and strawberries – all three are crops you want to plant as soon as the ground is workable. Now is also the time dig up and divide rhubarb if needed.

Prune spring blooming shrubs such as lilac and forsythia as soon as they are done blooming. Exam trees and shrubs for winter injury or damage and prune to remove damaged and diseased parts. Make sure to use proper pruning techniques.

Now is the time to plant trees and shrubs. As a tree person, I am always encouraging people to plant trees and make sure to be diverse in their tree selection and right plant, right place. Another reason I love April is that the last Friday in April is National Arbor Day! Consider seeing if your local community will be hosting an Arbor Celebration and if not see if you can get one started.

There is plenty to keep us busy in April. Here is to a successful and happy year in the garden!