April gardening chores

Daffodils are beginning to bloom.

Daffodils are beginning to bloom. (Credit: AP / Al Behrman)

Happy National Gardening Month! After the winter we’ve had, this really is occasion to celebrate. And I’m sure you share my excitement to be digging holes for annuals and perennials instead of digging cars out of the snow. It’s not all fun and games, though: In Apri, while we enjoy the emergence of pansies, daffodils and tulips, we’ll also start tackling weeds, insects and diseases. Here’s a chore for every day of the month to help you stay on track.

1. Trick large planters for April Fools' Day: Fill them one-third to one-half with packing peanuts before adding potting mix. You'll save money -- and your back.

2. Are seedlings getting leggy indoors? Pinch off tips to make them stockier.

3. No need to water your established lawn until next month.

4. Plant bare-root roses and prune established ones.

5. Prune rose of Sharon.

6. Plant brambles like raspberries and blackberries.

7. Plant strawberries in a sunny spot, but not where tomatoes, peppers or potatoes have grown in the last three years.

8. Install a drip-irrigation system; it's the healthiest way to water your plants.

9. Till a generous helping of compost into prepared garden beds to add nutrients and improve drainage.

10. Uncover fig trees on the next cloudy day, and welcome them back with a nice drink of water.

11. Divide crowded bog plants.

12. Divide late-blooming perennials, like asters and Joe Pye weed.

13. Aerate the lawn and rake up debris, but don't lime unless a pH test indicates it's necessary.

14. Passover begins at sundown. Start parsley seeds indoors and plant horseradish root cuttings directly in the garden.

15. It's tax day and you know what that means? It's the average last frost date on Long Island so it's safe to plant perennials.

16. Time to plant grapevines!

17. Scratch one-half cup of Epsom salts into the soil around roses to boost flower production and make plants fuller.

18. Resist temptation to remove leaves from spring bulb plants before they wither and brown. Bulbs need them to store food for next year.

19. Harden broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and lettuce seedlings by gradually increasing daily outdoor time over the next week.

20. Happy Easter! Remove yellow anthers from gift lilies, and they'll bloom longer and won't stain your tablecloth.

21. Want fuller vining houseplants? Pinch back stem tips now.

22. It's Earth Day! Start a compost pile. Get my instructions at newsday.com/gardening101.

23. Plant annual seeds directly into the garden.

24. If there's moss in your lawn, your garden is telling you it needs lime.

25. It's Arbor Day, the best spring day to plant trees. Celebrate, but know that tomorrow and next week are just as good.

26. Plant hardened cool-season vegetables into garden beds.

27. Prune flowering shrubs immediately after blooms fade.

28. When forsythia blooms, it's time to apply pre-emergent crabgrass control like corn gluten meal.

29. If garden mums are three or more years old, dig up and divide them when new growth is four inches tall.

30. Start mowing when grass is 3 inches tall, but don't fertilize until Memorial Day.