Spring Cleaning & Gardening in April

Carolyn Black
Adams County Master Gardener

(4/8) April is one of my favorite months of the year. After seeing the whites, grays, and browns of the winter months, a masterpiece of color is displayed in April. Beautiful hues can be observed from the spring bulbs, early perennials, dogwoods, redbuds, weeping cherry trees, and blossoming pear, cherry, and peach trees.

Frost comes to an end in late April to mid-May. The days become longer, the temperatures are typically in the 60ís and 70ís, and we are blessed with April showers. The birds serenade one another and the peepers provide a chorus of chirping to welcome spring.

April is the perfect month for outdoor spring cleaning. Plan a nice afternoon to clean your containers and hanging baskets. Wear gloves and clean them with a mixture of one part household bleach to nine parts water to clean them. Gardening accessories such as statues, stepping stones, and pathways will look fresher after they have been cleaned.

All the hard work of planting spring bulbs in the fall will come to fruition when you see the beautiful colors of daffodils, hyacinths, allium, crocus, dwarf iris, grape hyacinths, and tulips. Groups of bulbs make a strong visual statement in your garden.

April is a great month to plant hardy, spring-blooming perennials. The best selection will be found in greenhouses and nurseries in April. Some springtime perennials to consider are dianthus, columbine, bleeding hearts, and English daisy. Hellebores and creeping phlox partner well with spring bulbs.

If you have a water garden, this is a good month to remove the debris from the pond area and clean and freshen the water garden.

April is a great month to divide many perennials such as coreopsis, daylilies, dianthus, delphiniums, iris, daisies, phlox, yarrow, echinacea, blanket flower, monarda, sedum, and rudbeckia.

Donít forget to clean and sharpen garden tools in April to prepare them for a workout the next several months. Scrub any debris or soil and wipe with a cloth saturated in oil such as WD40. I prefer to clean my garden shears and clippers every time I use them with a disinfectant wipe. This aids in preventing the spread of disease.

April is a good time of the year to evaluate your gardening journal from the previous year and start the gardening journal for the current year. Documenting what is successful and what needs amended is a great way to maintain a prosperous garden from year to year.

Arbor Day is in April. It is a wonderful time of the year to enjoy trees because the leaves are budding and the flowering trees such as magnolias, redbud, and dogwood are spectacular. Consider planting a tree on Arbor Day and make the world greener and healthier. "He that plants trees loves others besides himself." ~ Thomas Fuller.

Most annuals should not be planted in April, but some that enjoy cooler temperatures are pansies, violas, and alyssum. Some specialty annuals are cold hardy also. Be sure to read the tag before planting.

A wide selection of roses can be found in your favorite nursery or greenhouse in April. Container grown and bare root roses can be planted in late April. The site you choose should receive at least five hours of sun each day.

Mulching can be done in April, but I prefer to mulch in May when the perennials are further along in their growth. Mulch should be applied one to three inches thick. Mulching reduces the need for frequent watering and is wonderful compost.

Spring cleaning your garden in April will give you a good head start to an enjoyable and gratifying growing season. "No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden." ~ Thomas Jefferson.

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