Spring has finally sprung, which means it’s time to trade in the snow shovel for the pruning shears! But April, particularly on Cape Cod, has a way of surprising us. A bright 60-degree day can mysteriously be followed by a pop-up snowstorm with freezing temps. With that in mind, there are still plenty of tasks that can be tended to in the garden that will satisfy your urge to dig AND get your yard in tip-top shape for summer! Here are 10 tasks to tackle this month.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Nobody said it was fun, but it’s the first and most important step towards a beautiful finished product. Use the early days of Spring to get rid of debris, leaves, branches, even leftover snow. This includes weeding – a thorough removal of the weeds now, while the roots are still small, will reduce your weeding woes down the line. A good raking will also expose your lawn to the sunlight and air, something it will thank you for!
Prep Your Tool Shed
Having good tools in tip-top shape is half the battle when it comes to the garden! Take inventory of your collection, toss what’s beyond repair, and clean and sharpen those that need it. Also, get your lawnmower in for a tune-up and blade sharpening now so you’re ready for long mowing season ahead.
Mulch is a critical component for keeping plants and shrubs healthy and for creating an aesthetically pleasing yard. It locks in moisture, fights off weeds and improves the health of your soil and thus, your plants. With the huge variety of colors and textures available, choosing and spreading mulch is a quick way to yield satisfaction!
Be Wary of Frost
Warm days mean that some plants, like our beloved Cape Cod hydrangeas, may begin to bud. However, nightly frosts can threaten their vitality. Keep an eye on the forecast and cover any budding plants if frost creeps in.
It’s finally time to transplant those seedlings you’ve been nurturing indoors all winter, particularly if you read last month’s blog!. Again, keep an eye on the temps and take advantage of the permanent arrival of warmer weather to put them in the ground. There’s something incredibly rewarding and special about watching the seedlings you began indoors take root and sprout in the garden!
Plant Trees & Shrubs
Early Spring is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. This will allow them plenty of time to get well-established. This is also a good time to transplant large trees or shrubs, but don’t delay. Mid-April is generally the cut off for transplanting.
Start Loving Your Lawn
Once it has come back to life (once it “greens up”), consider aerating the lawn to allow water to penetrate deeper into the lawn soil. This is also the time to apply your Agway Stage 1 fertilizer and crabgrass preventer (a good rule of thumb is to apply this after Easter). When mowing, set the blade to cut the grass at approximately 2 ½ inches. Experts recommend only removing one-third of the grass blade length in each cutting.
The time you took to sharpen your tools in step 2 will pay off now! Remove all dead, diseased and undesirable wood from woody plants. Pruning fruit trees, roses and ornamental grasses now will also ensure optimal growth.
Planting new seeds – it’s what you’ve been waiting for! Early spring is an ideal time to plant new annuals like roses, pansies, aster, cosmos, marigolds and zinnias. It’s also a fantastic time to plant frost-resistant vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, carrots, onions and potatoes.
If those April Showers elude us, take it upon yourself to keep your plants well hydrated! As we know, April weather is predictably unpredictable!