April showers bring May flowers.
Gardeners have heard this for decades. However, April also brings a ton of work to be done outside; projects accomplished in April will reflect a lot of how the garden looks for the spring and summer season.
March this year was particularly brutal, as far as the rain goes, so some plants may need a little extra help.
Let’s start with the lawns.
Grass is one of the hardiest plants in the garden, but does require the most maintenance – when you consider how much time you spend cutting it throughout the season.
But grass is also the backbone of your garden – whether it be a play area for children, a frame around your garden beds or something soothing that surrounds a relaxing patio area.
Grass survives snow, hail, drought, dogs, children – you name it, lawns usually take it!
So let’s keep in mind that after a long hard winter, your lawn is in need of a little TLC.
Depending on the condition of the lawn, you should consider power raking or aerating to remove some of the dead debris/thatch below the surface, allowing the roots to breathe and rejuvenate. Power raking and/or aerating are best done in spring to give the lawns a boost.
This should be followed up with fertilizing and an overseeding (if necessary). A healthy lawn in the spring will be best able to tolerate some drought in the summer so keep that in mind.
Turning to the beds
As for those garden beds, if you have not already started, it is definitely time to clean up any debris left from the winter as bulbs and perennials are now starting to grow.
This is a great time to divide perennials if they have become too large or you want to move them.
Hostas, astilbes, ferns, daylilies, phlox, sedums – most of our popular perennials can be divided now.
Peonies, if they have started to sprout, should not be moved – they should be done in the fall when not actively growing.
Echinaceas took a hard hit this winter as they hate too much moisture – so if yours look like they are growing out of the ground on a long stem, it is simply a sign that the plant is trying to escape the moisture.
I just dug up mine, trimmed them all back, and replanted in a drier location.
Bulbs – daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and lilies – all are starting to show now.
They will grow quickly at this time of year, so once they reach about six inches tall, that is the perfect time to get some fertilizer to them as they put all their strength into growing but need some food to stay healthy.
We use a 14-14-14 slow release fertilizer on our bulbs giving them a well balanced diet (probably better balanced than we eat!)
If you have a good organic, well rotted compost, this is also a great time to work that into any areas of the garden that are looking undernourished.
Compost is a wonderful way to feed perennials naturally and also helps retain the moisture in the garden beds. (As I write this, I see monsoons outside, but I do know that when the drier weather comes, the plants will appreciate that extra compost!)
Dealing with weeds
And finally, the dreaded weeding. Yes, as our plants are growing, so are the weeds.
Now is the time to stay on top of those and pull them out before they go to seed and create more work for you in future weeks.
Look at weed pulling as a stress relieving exercise – turn on some music and pull those suckers from the ground after a hard day at the office.
It’s amazing how refreshing that can feel.
– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials in Langley and president of the Langley Garden Club