April Garden Calendar | Midwest Living
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April Garden Calendar

Spring has sprung! Get out there and revel in the pleasure of gardening.

Create new beds

Dig new beds and borders as long as the soil isn't too wet; you can ruin the texture of the soil by creating muddy clumps and clods. If your soil isn't very good (too much clay or sand, for instance), create raised beds (left) that you can fill with commercial topsoil. They're the smartest solution to problem soil.

How to build a raised bed

Prune and feed roses

Prune roses once they send out tiny red buds that will turn into stems. Once the stems are about 1/2 inch long, the rose is pretty well out of dormancy and you can tell what wood is alive and what has been killed by winter cold.
Give roses their first feeding at pruning time. If you like, use a combination granular-type fertilizer/insecticide.

Flower garden tasks for the northern Midwest (Zones 4 to 5)

Plant cool-season annual flowers, such as pansies, violas, lobelia, snapdragons and more, about six to eight weeks before your region's last average frost date. They thrive in cool weather and tolerate frost well. They're especially good in pots.
Divide and transplant most summer- and fall-blooming perennials. They'll have plenty of time to get established by bloom time. Wait to divide spring-bloomers until fall.
Continue to plant trees, shrubs and roses. You can plant both bare-root and container-grown types now.

Pictured: Spiky Dracaena, puckery coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), coralbells (Heuchera spp.), pansy blossoms (Viola spp.) and geranium leaves (Pelargonium spp.) create a lush springtime combination.

Veggie garden tasks for the northern Midwest (Zones 4 to 5)

Plant cool-season annual edibles, such as parsley, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, Brussels sprouts, perennial herbs and more.
Plant radish and spinach seeds as soon as the soil is thawed and you can work it easily.
Plant or transplant perennial edibles now, including strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb and asparagus.
Plant potatoes. Good Friday is the traditional planting day in this part of the country.

Chores for the southern Midwest (Zones 6 and 7)

Plant just about anything outside after the last average frost date, including tender perennials such as marigolds (left) and tomatoes. In the southern half of the Midwest, your last average frost date will be in the middle or end of the month.
Continue to plant trees, shrubs and roses. But don't plant bare-root types after the middle of the month. They need cool, wet conditions to take off.
Divide and transplant most summer- and fall-blooming perennials. They'll have plenty of time to get established by bloom time. Wait to divide spring-bloomers until fall.
Plant gladiolus corms, canna rhizomes, tuberous begonias and other summer-blooming bulbs.

Lawns: Wake up turf with fertilizer and care

Consider aerating your lawn (pictured at left). For most lawns, it's helpful to do this every two or three years, depending on foot traffic, soil and grass type.
Apply a preemergent fertilizer on lawns with cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, when you see the bright yellow forsythia bushes blooming.
Treat warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass and zoysia, with preemergent fertilizer if you live in the northern half of the Midwest. (In the southern half of the Midwest, late March is the ideal time to do this spring "weed and feed" with warm-season grasses.)
Sow grass seed in patchy spots, keeping the areas well watered with daily waterings, if necessary.

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