April In The Garden

“April is the kindest month.  April gets you out of your head and out working in the garden.”   ~ Marty Rubin

April in the garden is a welcome busy month!  Everything is just that much brighter.  The days are longer, birds have returned home from their winter vacation, spring bulbs are blooming and there is a definite change in the air!  Floral Acres is in high gear, working hard to bring you the best home- grown plant selection in the province!  Easter will be here before we know it, confirming a reawakening of nature and giving us the energy to get gardening!

Like March, April weather can be variable.  On rainy days, gardeners can be inside repotting houseplants that have outgrown their containers.  Tropical plant soil has come a long way in quality offered and new tropical soil has enough fertilizer in the mix to last approximately three months.

April is also seed starting month for many annuals and vegetables.  Petunias, zinnias, cosmos, kale, kohlrabi, and tomatoes to name just a few. 

Now is the time to buy any garden tools, lawn and garden fertilizers, pots, planters, water features, and to ‘window shop’ for the upcoming season.  Don’t forget your list and spend an enjoyable afternoon or two with friends and family at Floral Acres.

Repair broken arbors, trellis or pergolas.  Make sure any fountains and pond pumps you own are working and hoses are not leaking.  Have extra hose repair supplies at the ready.   Sharpen pruners and spades.  Get the lawn mower serviced and blades sharpened. 

Once the snow starts melting on our lawns, rake the north side lawn to distribute any remaining snow and remove any winter debris. Later in the month you can rake, de-thatch and aerate your lawn to allow air into the grass root zone and avoid compaction issues.  Topdressing after aeration will fill the holes with new soil as well.  A small amount of grass seed can be mixed into the topsoil before you apply the soil to your lawn.  For established lawns, fertilize in the later part of April with a high nitrogen lawn fertilizer. 

Watch for snow mold which is a lawn disease that may appear in spring after the snow melts. Neglected lawns are more prone to diseases.  There is gray and sometimes pink snow mold.  Gray snow mold forms on grass and resembles dense grey/white spider webs (fungal mycelium).    The patches of grass may merge to form one large patch.  Pink snow mold appears in patches that are tan, salmon or yellow in color.  Outer edges of the patches are usually pink and are about 20 cm. in diameter.  To treat snow mold carefully rake the snow mold area to loosen the grass blades, allowing air to dry the soil beneath the grass.  Snow mold usually disappears on its own when drier conditions occur.

You may also need to reseed the area.  Clean the rake with anti-bacterial soap or an alcohol / water wash after use.

Spray dormant oil on fruit trees before leaf buds break.  Prune or pull off any suckers at the base of the trees and prune out any crossed, dying, or dead branches.

Prune early spring flowering shrubs right after they bloom.  These include forsythia, double flowering plum, ornamental crabapples, ninebark, purple leaf sandcherry, nanking cherry, mock orange and lilacs.  I also recommend not to use pruning paint or paste on large pruning cuts.  Trees naturally create a barrier between live and dead wood – they compartmentalize their wounds. 

Shrubs that bloom on new wood (this year’s future growth) such as most roses, panicle hydrangeas, and potentilla can be pruned now.  Remember to check each of your yards’ tree/shrub/vine’s pruning requirements.  As you know, there are exceptions to every rule!    Now is the time to heavily prune dogwoods with colorful branches.  New woody growth is always more colorful than last years branches and twigs.

Remember that April 1 is the beginning of the elm tree pruning ban in Saskatoon.  This is in effect until August 31.  During this time the elm bark beetle is most active and fresh pruning cuts attract the beetles that carry Dutch Elm Disease.    

Warm up vegetable beds by covering the area with frost blankets.

As soon as the ground can be worked sow seeds such as cabbage, Kale, peas, spinach, swiss chard, sweet peas, nigella and godetia.  Keep the frost blankets handy in case of late spring frosts. 

Around the middle or end of April, weather permitting, divide perennials such as daylilies, asters, sedums and hosta.   

Clean perennial beds of any debris and old foliage. Create new beds or at least stake them out once the snow is gone. 

And have a Happy Easter!!!

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