April Gardening Chores: Zone 6
Lawns: As ground becomes workable, rake up winter debris (leaving certain areas as natural food source for birds); de-thatch lawn if necessary; fill in low spots with soil, and fertilize established lawns. Crabgrass will begin to germinate when soil temperature reaches 50 degrees (around the time the forsythia blooms). Apply corn gluten (to control weeds) at this time, or a crabgrass pre-emergent. Test lawn soil, and apply lime if necessary.
Beds: Farmers Almanac tip to determine whether your garden soil is ready for seeding – grab a handful of soil. “If it forms a ball, the soil is too wet, but if it crumbles through your fingers like chocolate cake, it is ready for planting!” Have your soil tested (CT Agricultural Experiment Station website http://www.ct.gov/caes/site/default.asp provides a form and instructions for mailing soil samples). Fertilize preferably with a fertilizer containing slow-release nitrogen. Divide and replant crowded bulbs (winter & spring blooming). As you are cleaning up your beds, bear in mind that many unwanted insects and diseases can overwinter in your garden, so you may not want to add this debris to your compost. Cut back any perennial foliage that you didn’t trim back last fall; wait until new growth appears before cutting back the butterfly bush, lavender, sage, Montauk daisy, caryopteris, and other woody shrubs. Cut back ornamental grasses before new growth appears. Prune roses and boxwoods! As our “winter soil” softens and dries out, divide and transplant! Hostas, ornamental grasses and ferns and best divided & transplanted in early spring.
Container plants: Make sure to provide sufficient water to plants that have over-wintered in containers (soil in containers dries out quickly); check the soil for mold and re-pot with fresh soil if necessary.
Set up birdbaths and maintain with fresh water for our migrating, nest-building friends!