Last updated on April 15th, 2022
Hello, April! This is the month when the garden requires us to move in 10 directions at once. Still, spring is too beautiful not to keep a few hours for savoring. Between planting, pruning, feeding and weeding jobs, let’s stop to enjoy the parade of tulips (that’s ‘Purple Flag’ in the photo up top), and to inhale the sweet air of hyacinths and daffodils. Afterwards we can get down and dirty with these essential garden chores:
Mulch. Consider how much you’ll need, and then obtain twice that amount. This way you’ll have plenty on hand for beds and paths. Shredded leaves or chopped straw are my two favorite mulching materials for garden beds. Shredded woodchips make a cushy paving surface for the informal paths in my kitchen garden (above).
Boxwood. Late this month or early next, hire a professional to shear and shape these enduring evergreens. I always save some of the trimmings to make new plants.
Roses. Uncover and prune shrubs. I prune my David Austin roses back by about half, and then apply a balanced, organic fertilizer beneath the drip-line of each. To conserve moisture and reduce weeds, mulch beds heavily. Here are some of the better roses I grow for their handsome form and intoxicating perfume.
Weeds. Every weed pulled now is a thousand you won’t have to confront later. I use a hori-hori tool to dig up weeds with long tap roots.
Tender Annuals. Sow these in the milk-jug greenhouses. Transplant seedlings to the open garden when frost is no longer a threat.
Perennial Beds. To avoid damaging emerging shoots, clean up beds by hand. Then apply a balanced, organic fertilizer over the old mulch. Place fresh mulch over the fertilizer.
Peony. Apply a trowel-full of wood ashes and one of manure or compost (triple these amounts for huge plants). Also, set ringed supports around plants before heavy growth makes the job impossible. If your peony refuses to bloom, it is either planted too deeply or set in a too-shady location.
Chrysanthemums. I no longer grow these in the open garden, but if you do, now is the time to lift and divide the plants. Plant the rooted divisions 18 inches apart.
Iris. Remove and destroy old leaves. Also, remove any surrounding debris in which the eggs of the dreaded iris borer may lie. As you can see in the photo above, my own iris bed is in desperate need of attention.
Winter-Sown Perennials. When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings to permanent quarters mid-month. Here’s my time-honored method for transplanting winter-sown seedlings.
And finally, don’t work so hard that you miss out on the miracle of Spring! Hungry for more? Get my email updates. xKevin