In this area of the world April is more of a rush of garden work and blooms than usual. Due to the prolonged winter cold of this year the early flowers and all the chores condense into what is already a brief time before the warm summer starts. It is during this season that a person is happy for whatever work was done last fall.
I find myself cutting down the ornamental grasses, removing old perennial plant debris, and repairing the raised bed frames to get ready for planting. The soils are still too moist and cold to till.
There was no working in the sub zero temperatures and snowy ground over the winter months, that is for sure.
If you are like me these jobs have made the April list:
- Cut down dead plant debris from last years ornamental grasses, and perennials; cut back hydrangeas that were winter-killed; remove damaged branches from trees and shrubs. Generally clean up perennial beds and vegetable garden beds.
- Pull back mulch from emerging bulbs, lightly fertilize early blooming bulbs.
- Seed and fertilize lawns; plant wildflower meadows.
- If you haven’t put in your cool weather veggies, do it now. (Still too early for tomatoes and peppers).
- Check last frost date, in the Columbus, Ohio area it is April 18. That is just the average- but you can seed half-hardy annuals without fear.
- Begin dividing and replanting perennials that need it.
- Buy and plant new perennials, shrubs, and container trees.
- Forget to sharpen those tools? Find some spare time to accomplish this task and save yourself the grief of using a dull tool.
- Start mowing soon, are your mowers ready?
- Pull out those container pots, hoses, garden furniture.
Planting Bed Preparation
If March is a cold and snowy as it was in 2014, April is time to prepare the earth for receiving new plants and seed. It is prime planting time for perennials, and can be a good opportunity to begin a new planting area. I converted one of my raised beds to a sustainable type of area based on “Lasagna gardening” techniques.
Why this one bed? It has become infested with grasses, so tilling it would only make it worse, and hand weeding is virtually impossible. I wanted to keep this for vegetable growing, needed to suppress the grass, and can forego using it this season.
- Turned over the top few inches, pulled out excess grass roots.
- Covered area with cardboard.
- Covered cardboard with last season’s leaves.
- Put unmade compost and saved coffee grounds on top.
- Will cover temporarily with black plastic, so I can pile on some more layers and make sure that grass doesn’t surface. I only expect to needÂ it for a few months.
If you want to remove sod for making a border or a new garden, do it now. When ground is workable, dig in amendments, edge the perimeter and plant. Great time to put in your raised beds, now. May is the prime time for all those annuals and the warm weather vegetables, which this preparation work is geared towards.
If You Have Time, Take Notes on Flowers
See a blooming shrub you love? Tulips or daffodils that you want in your own yard? a great color combo or bulb and perennial effect? Time given to writing down these ideas, looking up plant names… get ready for fall by making plans for those autumn planted bulbs by taking notes now.
I take notes like that all the time, but need to remember to keep them in a notebook and not on miscellaneous scraps of paper!
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I suggested using soaker hoses, especially in a vegetable patch, which needs regular water during dry spell.
Also chatted a bit about wildflowers. Taking advantage of the fine weather here this week, the prairie patch is now planted with a mix of annual and perennial plant seeds that will help nurture bees.
Daffodils are now coming into their own and the naturalized minor bulbs have been blooming since the first of the month- one of the chores will be to fertilize lightly this week, and once flowering is over, being patient with the leftover foliage. Everything a bit late.