Planting Annuals (Flowers and Vegetables) in the Ground in April – Most annual flowers and vegetables that we grow and enjoy in this Planting Zone should NOT be set into the ground until the danger of overnight frost has passed and the soil has warmed sufficiently that tender young roots will not be shocked when planted. For all intents and purposes this means annuals should not be planted into our beds and gardens until mid-May. The average last frost date for this zone is May 20th. There are exceptions to this rule, but for most of us, mid-May is the target date for in-ground planting of annuals. Some vegetables (broccoli, other leafy vegetables, onion sets) are hardier and can withstand frost, so they can be planted any time now. And flowers in planters (pots, window boxes, raised beds) can be planted outside as long as they are fully protected from all potential overnight frosts. At the Lawn Depot we’ve always taken the approach that we’ll NEVER offer for sale any plants that can not be planted by the customer as soon as he/she gets them home. We acknowledge that grocery stores and most big-box stores are already, and have been selling annuals for weeks, even though they are weeks from being able to be safely planted in beds or planters. We prefer not to work that way.
Planting Perennials, Shrubs, Trees in April – Go for it. All perennial and woody plants are entirely hardy and can be planted in the ground immediately. You may prefer to purchase trees, shrubs and perennials after new growth has begun in order to ascertain the health of the plant(s) you are buying, but either still dormant or actively growing perennials, shrubs and trees are safe to handle and to plant in the yard now.
Fertilizing Perennials, Blooming Bulbs, Ground Covers, Shrubs and Trees in April – All perennial and/or permanent plantings (with the exception of large trees, both deciduous and evergreen) should be fed twice each year with slow-release, long lasting fertilizers. NEVER feed perennial plants with water-soluble fertilizers; they are short-lasting and high nutrient, the opposite of what you want. For perennials, smaller shrubs, blooming bulbs, and ground covers we prefer high-organic, slow-release granular fertilizers (Espoma’s Holly-Tone, Plant-Tone, bone meal, Bulb-Tone, etc.), broadcast generously under boughs and around foliage of the plants and gently raked and watered in. For larger shrubs and trees, we prefer formed fertilizer spikes, buried 12-15” deep in the soil at the dripline of the tree/shrub. To fertilize trees, drive a long stake or crowbar into the ground to create holes that will accommodate the fertilizer spikes and drop them into holes. Use 3 spikes for every 2 inches of caliper.
Mulching Beds in April – The key with mulching in the spring is to properly prepare all beds BEFORE spreading the new mulch. You must clean all over-winter leaves, sticks and other debris from the beds; you need to prune back all perennials and overgrown shrubs before mulching, you must either remove old mulch or scarify it to break the overwintering crust and apply the first layer of pre-emergent garden weed control (to be repeated every 6 weeks throughout July) before you lay new mulch. Then spread your preferred mulch (recommended CUMULATIVE DEPTH OF MULCH: 3” for shredded, 4” for chunk) and enjoy your lovely landscaping.
Insect, Disease, and Pest Control on Susceptible Trees, Shrubs, Roses, and Perennials – As the growing season gets under way there are myriad tiny, sucking and chewing insects, and several diseases that attack many shrubs, trees, roses, and perennials unless said plants are protected. Fortunately, these days there are families of low-toxicity, broad spectrum, long-lasting and very effective systemic pesticides available for the homeowner. Most are applied at the beginning of the growing season, absorbed and held by the plant and remain effective for the entire growing season. No more foul-smelling, often-applied, minimally effective products to confuse customers and clog up shelves of garages and sheds. Stop in at the Lawn Depot and discuss your situation and walk out with the right products to best control all your garden pests.
Again, we’re all thrilled to be back and are ready for a terrific spring season! We work hard to get ready for spring, in anticipation of seeing and helping all of our friends and long-time customers with their lawn and gardening plans and needs. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you soon and often.