April is National Garden Month, a designation with roots dating to 1986, when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation for a national gardening week. In 2002, the National Gardening Association extended the “holiday” to cover the entire month beginning in 2003, and for good reason: April is when the soil begins to warm, seasonal rains quench thirsty seeds, and trees, shrubs and perennials awaken from dormancy. April is a miraculous month — as well as a busy one. Here are 30 tips and chores to help you gain the most from it.
1. Researchers have developed grass that needs no mowing, watering or fertilizer. April Fools!
2. To plant asparagus, till the soil well then dig a trench that’s 18 inches wide and deep.
3. Prune roses.
4. Prune rose of Sharon.
5. Deadhead pansies as their flowers fade.
6. Water the lawn only if you’ve seeded. Otherwise hold off until next month.
7. Plant raspberries and blackberries.
8. Plant potatoes and sweet potatoes.
9. Plant bare-root roses: Mound soil at the bottom of a hole and spread roots over it before backfilling.
10. When forsythia blooms on your side of the block, it’s time to apply pre-emergent crab grass control. Corn gluten meal is an organic option.
11. Uncover the fig tree, but only on a cloudy day (to avoid sunburn), then water deeply.
12. Divide bog plants if they are crowded.
13. Plant grapes and install a support.
14. If there’s moss in your lawn, apply lime. Otherwise, it’s not necessary unless a pH test registers below 6.3.
15. It’s Tax Day, a good day to plant perennials. Why not spend your refund at the nursery?
16. One-half cup of Epsom salts scratched into soil around each rose bush now will reward you with more blooms this season.
17. If vegetable seedlings are leggy, pinch off tips. If they are tomatoes, move into a larger pot, burying the bottom third of the stem.
18. Divide fall-blooming perennials.
19. Passover begins at sundown . In the spirit of the holiday, start your parsley seeds indoors.
20. Increase outdoor exposure for broccoli, cauliflower and kale seedlings by one hour daily for a week, then plant outdoors.
21. Happy Easter! Enjoy gift lilies, hyacinths, daffodils and hydrangeas until they fade. Plant them in the garden afterward.
22. In honor of Earth Day, resolve to recycle more by starting a compost pile. Instructions at newsday.com/gardening101.
23. Resist the urge to mulch; the soil isn’t warm enough yet. Hold off until next month.
24. Repot houseplants into the next-size pot (no more than 2 inches larger) now, especially if planning to move them outdoors for summer.
25. Aerate the lawn.
26. It’s Arbor Day in New York (the date varies by state, as it’s determined by the ideal local spring planting time for new trees).
27. Prune azaleas as soon as their flowers fade.
28. Whether you have clay soil or sand, compost will improve it. Till a generous helping into prepared beds.
29. Deadhead rhododendrons immediately after blooming.
30. Snake soaker hoses through flower and vegetable gardens and around trees. It’s the healthiest way to water them.