The Glory of Spring
April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. – William Shakespeare
The sight of spring-flowering perennials and the arrival of warmer, sunnier days will undoubtedly put you in the mood to garden this month and there is much to be done. “April showers bring May flowers”, but April temperatures and rainfall can vary from year to year so you may need to alter the following recommendations accordingly.
Gardening combines art with science. Consider how you will “paint the picture” in your garden this season. While long blooming perennials such as Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and ‘Going Bananas’ daylilies provide continuous color all season long, you may want to experiment with planting a sequence of flowering perennials that bloom at different times during the growing season and return year after year. Scroll through the Perennial Encyclopedia and make a wish list of your favorite perennials. Remember to bring this list to your garden center or landscape designer so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
It’s time to review Building Your Garden. The information you’ll find here will walk you through all the steps of building your garden, from deciding what you want to how to make it happen. Get ready for some action–Spring is here!
Things to do in Early April
- Pressure-wash patio, walls, and paths to remove dirt and algae. Repaint fences and trellises when temperatures are above 40 degrees.
- Prepare your containers. Clean used pots with one part bleach to nine parts water and rinse thoroughly. Be sure the pots you plan to use have drainage holes in the sides or bottom. If not, drill them now.
- If you have not set out your birdhouses yet, do it now. Choose a sunny location facing away from wind currents. Do not cluster birdhouses together in the landscape; most birds are territorial creatures.
- If you haven’t done your spring cleanup yet and the weather allows it, do it now. Remove winter protection (evergreen boughs, mulch, etc.) gradually as growth appears, but be prepared to protect tender plants in case of a sudden April frost.
- Look for sprouting Convallaria (Lily of the Valley) pips, emerging shoots of hostas, and other emerging perennial plants. You should see them start to emerge soon if they haven’t already.
- If the ground is no longer frozen, you can begin to make soil amendments and fertilize perennials with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Never add more than the directions on the back of the package advise.
Things to do in Mid-April
- Thin, divide, and transplant overcrowded perennials, herbs, and groundcovers. Daylilies, irises, hostas, ornamental grasses, and other perennials can be divided when they reach 2” to 3” in height.
- Pull weeds as soon as they begin to appear. Weeds are smaller and easier to pull during the rainy season. Be careful not to disturb perennials coming up in the garden. If you’re not sure if something is a weed, let it grow until you’re sure.
Things to do in Late April
- Cut woody perennials such as Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) and Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub) back to 6” to 8” from the ground.
- Begin to harden-off pots of the things you grew from seed earlier this spring. Put them outside for a few hours every day in a shady but bright location and bring them in at night. Gradually introduce them to more sunlight. Do this for at least one week before planting them in the garden.
- Stay on top of the weather forecast for your area and be ready to protect plants from sudden frost using row cover material or mulch.