April can be a busy month in the garden. The weather is starting to get really nice, the last cobwebs of winter are nearly gone, and it’s time to get your yard ready for the summer ahead. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with so many things to do this spring, aren’t sure when to do certain things, or are new to gardening, our April gardening checklist for the Quad Cities metro area can help you stay on track.
It’s organized into tasks for early in the month, mid-month, and late in the month. And the list includes when and what you can plant in your garden or containers this month.
Early April Garden Tasks
Early April is all about getting a jump start on the season with your yard. There’s some potting, some pruning, some fertilizing, and mulching to do. Try to get these garden tasks done in the first 10-14 days of the month.
- Prune your evergreen shrubs such as junipers and yews. Pine, spruce, and fir don’t usually require pruning, but you can prune out pieces that were winter-killed.
- Begin fertilizing your houseplants. Start by applying liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength every two weeks. Continue on this schedule for your first three applications before switching to full-strength fertilizer, applying according to the label on the product. Be mindful of your houseplants’ needs; some are likely to be heavier feeders than others.
- Plant trees and shrubs once the soil is workable. Never plant when the soil is extremely wet. Saturated soil can cause root rot in your new plant, and it’s also less stable. Even with staking, your tree may still get tilted or blown over if the soil is soaked.
- Once they have about 6” of new growth, you can divide perennials like hostas, daylilies, chrysanthemum, lungwort, coneflowers, Joe-Pye weed, ferns, yarrow, bee balm, and ornamental grasses.
- Fertilize your garden beds and borders when perennials and groundcovers begin actively growing and spread a weed preventer like Preen.
- Top dress your mulched areas as needed. Don’t go more than 3” deep, and taper down at the base of trees and shrubs. Do not pile mulch up around the trunk of trees or shrubs, or you may cause rot to set in, which can kill your trees.
- Pot up summer bulbs such as cannas, dahlias, and caladiums to get a head start on May planting.
April Mid-Month Garden Tasks
Mid-April is all about rejuvenating your lawn and adding color to the yard with tough annuals that can take a little frost.
- Apply pre-emergent herbicide to lawn areas for crabgrass control. You should do it before the forsythia blooms are finished for the year.
- If your lawn is thin, overseed with an appropriate type of grass seed. Two pounds of grass seed per 1000 sq. ft. should have your yard looking lush in no time. Postpone applying any herbicide until the grass seed has germinated.
- To compliment blooming spring bulbs, plant cool-weather annuals now, such as alyssum, dianthus, pansies, petunias, dusty miller, snapdragons, violas, and calendulas for early floral displays. These tough flowers can tolerate temps as low as 28ºF.
Late April Garden Tasks
Late April and early May have lots of perennial pruning opportunities. It’s also a great time to add new perennials to your landscape.
- It’s almost time to prune your roses, but do not start until you see new growth.
- Tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs should be finished flowering now. Trim off their flower stalks, but leave the foliage to soak up more energy from the sun for next year’s blooms. The foliage will yellow when the bulb goes dormant; you can trim them off then.
- Begin planting perennials once the soil is workable. Blooms on newly planted perennials may be damaged by frost, so keep an eye on the forecast and cover your plants when the temperatures are expected to dip. Trim off any frost damage when you see it.
- Once you start to see new growth, you can prune lavender plants back to 4-6”.
Have some questions about yardwork for April, or need some tools and supplies? Stop by the garden center; we’ve got everything you need to get your yard in ship-shape this spring.