As the plant life around us starts to leaf out and bloom, we're feeling the urge to rush into the garden again. Fortunately, we don't need to wait until the risk of frost has passed before we can return outdoors. As long as there's no risk of compacting the soil, there's plenty to get done in the garden—starting today!
Clear Garden Beds of Debris
Before you flex your garden rake to clear out your beds, determine if your landscape can tolerate your footsteps. If the soil can be easily squeezed into a ball, you're best to wait until it has dried a little more. If the material is slightly crumbly, you can safely walk on it and start your work by removing any unwanted leaves, dead annuals, or debris that have collected over the winter.
Prune Your Shrubs
If you didn't prune your shrubs in late winter, now—before the bushes have started to regrow—is the ideal time to prune. Of course, many shrubs have different pruning calendars. Generally, with spring bloomers that set their flower buds in the previous summer, reserve your pre-season shearing to damaged and dead branches. Prune other species that haven't set their blossoms into shapes that are optimal for productivity and your landscape needs.
Plant Trees and Shrubs
Welcoming new trees and shrubs into your gardens is some of the most satisfying work of the year. Whether planting a privacy screening, backyard orchard, flowering trees, or for any other reason, April is high time to make use of the spade and settle in your trees before the new season of growth.
If you wish to rearrange your backyard Eden, now is also the season to transplant shrubs. They will appreciate the upheaval much more while they're still resting than when they're trying to unfold flowers, grow leaves, or drink in water during their active months.
Spread Compost and Mulch
Your plants will generally appreciate a new layer of compost or mulch any time of year, but now is an especially good time to attend to your soil health. If your soil is ready to withstand some compaction, you can layer nourishing manure and compost, add mulch to areas that washed away over winter, or spread a new dressing of mulch where you had none before.
Trim Ornamental Grasses
You likely left your ornamental grasses to add color and texture to your winter garden. Before their shoots start reclimbing through the old stalks, trim them down to the ground, along with the dead growth of any other perennials that you missed in the fall.
Repair Trellises and Fences
Is your soil still too wet? You're not off the hook yet! In fact, now is the best time to repair infrastructure before the plant's foliage is in your way. This means repairing trellises before your vines have started to grow, fixing fences, rebuilding raised beds that may have collapsed, and once again thinking of ways to deer-proof your property.
Clean the Greenhouse
Before you've transplanted any seedlings, it's best to take out the power hose or wash bucket and scrub away the grime on your greenhouse walls. Proper greenhouse maintenance reduces the breeding ground for disease, extends the life of your structures, and ensures your new seedlings have a healthy environment. If you don't have a greenhouse, it may be time to consider adding one. You're welcome to contact our garden center in Allentown for more information or on any topic of spring gardening.
While our Pennsylvanian winter has given us ample time to envision the garden season, now your plans can finally spring into action. There is no shortage of work to do before our plants fully reawaken. In fact, April is an ideal time to prepare our garden beds, shrubs, and infrastructure for the grand rebirth that is already underway.