April Tips and Tricks

— Written By Kate Holt
Do not apply post-emergent herbicides to warm season lawns as they transition from dormant to active growth. At this point in the season, lawns are sensitive to herbicide damage. Meanwhile, winter annual weeds are at their most mature stage. These large weeds are more difficult to control but will quickly melt out with the onset of hot weather. So mow now to keep the weeds under control and be prepared to apply pre-emergent fertilizers proactively next fall.
Flower Beds
April is still a good time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. You can also divide perennials like ornamental grasses and other plants that bloom later in the summer or fall. Save your spring-blooming perennials for dividing in the fall.
Continue pruning to direct the shape and growth of your trees and shrubs. Save pruning of spring blooming shrubs like azaleas and forsythia until just after they are done blooming. Remember to remove dead, diseased, broken and crossing over wood first. Then step back and determine which cuts are needed to improve the shape of the plant.
Ensure that mulch is 3-4 inches deep in your flower beds. This is your first line of defense against weeds. Choose an organic mulch such as pine bark, hardwood bark or pine needles. Avoid inorganic mulches like lava rock and rubber as well as the use of landscape fabric. Landscape fabric does not prevent weeds from growing in the mulch or punching through the fabric from below but they can impede the movement of water and organic material in to the soil below. Make sure to mulch around trees as well but do not let the mulch lay against the base of the trunk. Keep it at least 6-8 inches away from the base to prevent the development of girdling roots.
Vegetable Garden
April is a great month for the vegetable garden. Most warm weather crops can be seeded or set out as transplants in April. Large seeded crops like sweet corn and beans can be planted at the beginning of the month. Wait until the middle of the month to plant tomatoes in most locations. Peppers and eggplants prefer warmer weather, consider setting them out closer to the end of the month. Okra and sweet potatoes really like it hot so hold off on planting these crops until May. Gardeners along the coast and push planting up a week or two compared to more inland locations.
Consider using a slow release fertilizer to feed your vegetables. Slow release fertilizers are less likely to burn the plants or leach out of the soil without being used. Many formulations will feed for 2-3 months or longer.