April Tips

I love going out in the yard in early spring to start removing all the old flower stalks, cut back the ornamental grasses and rake up the remains of last year’s growing season. I figure it’s also a good time to go over some garden tips for April with you.

· As the tulips are emerging, just a reminder if you have had a deer problems, it’s time to put on a deer repellent to keep the deer from devouring your tulips. To help put energy back in the bulb, we like to dead head the flower after it is done to keep it from going to seed. Letting the foliage wither away and die back on its own will also energize the bulb for next season.

· If you are planning on pruning some of your trees, oak trees and elms should not be pruned between mid-April and mid-July according to The Morton Arboretum. so it’s a good idea to take care of them soon, or wait until fall. The Arboretum also reminds us to plant a tree to celebrate Arbor Day, April 24. Our state tree is the white oak, Quercus alba.

· This time of year is the best time to plant the trees and shrubs you have been thinking about during the long winter, as long as the soil is workable. Do not plant if the ground is still soggy, you will compact your soil. I know Shirley has a long list of plants she wants to put in and others to be moved around the yard. That list never seems to end.

· It is not necessary to cut back the branches of a newly planted tree to promote root growth. In fact if you only prune to train for future growth or remove any damaged branches, it has been found the newly planted tree will establish a fuller root system with minimal pruning

· I see many newly planted trees staked and thought it prevented the tree from moving in the wind which would promote good root structure. The International Society of Arboriculture, however, says that unstaked trees tend to move and develop more extensive root systems than staked trees. Another drawback when staking a tree is that care must be taken not to damage the tree where the wires or ropes come in contact with the tree. Sometimes if a tree is large, it must be staked though so it won’t fall over in the hole from high winds. But if you can, you are better off not staking trees. If a tree has to be staked, remove the stakes the following year.

· Should a newly planted tree trunk be wrapped to prevent sun scalding and insect entry? The ISA says that studies using the common tree wraps have shown that they do not prevent extreme fluctuations in temperature on the bark and in some cases can make the temperatures worse. Also, tree wraps are not effective in preventing insect entry as some insects like to burrow under it.

· The old plant material you gather up from the beds and yard should be put in the compost pile or shredded up so you can use what Mother Nature gave you as mulch for the garden. You should have a good three to four inches of mulch around existing plants. Please, no volcano (mounding) mulching around the trees–keep the mulch away from the trunk.

· As your perennials are emerging is the time to separate and divide them, especially if they have been starting to get overcrowded.

· Radishes, beets, carrots and many other vegetables can be planted for an early crop as soon as you can work the soil. Check the packages of the seeds for the best time to plant.

· Clean up the remaining leaves and winter debris from the lawn. If crabgrass was a problem last year, crabgrass control can be spread on the lawn early before the weed germinates.

Posted in Joes Tips