Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Spring Has Sprung…

As you begin your quest for the perfect garden, don’t overdo it! It’s probably been a few months since you gave those muscles and bones a good workout, so start out slowly and avoid that Monday morning backache.

Because the world has such a multitude of microclimates, it would be impossible to create a list of gardening tasks that would cover everyone. Therefore, this monthly list is based on general weather patterns for the northern United States (zones 6-8). Much of the information may also be useful for other areas of the world in coming months.

Here are a few April garden projects that you can do to help keep your garden looking its best the rest of this season.

Shrubs and Trees

There still is time to plant trees and shrubs. However, by mid-month it will be a little late to transplant large trees or shrubs, so do them now.

The months of March, April and May are ideal for pruning evergreens. So if you have a Juniper, Cypress or conifer that need shearing or pruning this is a good time to accomplish this task. Remove all dead, diseased, and undesirable wood. However, do not prune back into the bare wood part of the plant.

Prune your Forsythia after it finishes flowering and remember that broadleaf and needle leaf evergreens benefit most from lightly spreading a high nitrogen fertilizer around their bases.

Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs

April is the month for planting summer flowering bulbs like, gladiolas and lilies. Mix bulb fertilizer, processed manure and peat moss into the planting soil. Tuberous Begonias and Canna should not be set outdoors until all danger of frost has passed, so wait until next month.

Plant annual seeds of asters, cosmos, marigolds, zinnias in the garden.

When all frost danger has passed you can move your stored fuchsias and geraniums outdoors. Trim them back, feed and re-pot if necessary. Water them well.

When they have finished blooming, you should deadhead your spring flowering bulbs. Do not cut off the green foliage yet! These green leaves continue to grow for a few weeks, and provide the bulb with food for flowering next year.

Divide perennials like day lilies, 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.

Hybrid Tea Roses should be fertilized prior to buds beginning to bloom. Using a systemic fertilizer will help prevent insect infestation later in the summer, as it feeds your rose.

Plant new rosebushes before growth starts and buds swell.

If you have a pond or pool you should set aquatic plants any time after the middle of the month.

The Lawn

The application of a spring type of 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 that has the moss-killer included, so you can do both jobs in one easy application.

Spring is also a good time to thatch and over-seed 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. Over seeding will help fill-in the lawn and deter the re-growth of moss and weeds. Use about one pound of quality grass seed for every 300 square feet of lawn area. Apply a light compost or soil over the seed to keep it moist and in place.

Aerating the lawn will allow water to penetrate deeper into the lawn soil and reduce the need to water during the dryer months ahead. Use a garden fork and punch holes over the surface of your lawn.

As mowing becomes necessary, be certain that the blade is sharp to prevent tearing the grass tips. Set the blade on your lawnmower to cut the grass at 2 1/2 inches to avoid scalping. (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.)

Publishers Note: Many thanks to the contributors to for providing this month’s Urban Garden.

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