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Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips Regions

Rake or remove mulches from all flower beds.

Plant rosebushes. They often do best if planted before growth starts and buds swell. And if you want to increase their fragrance, surround them with parsley.

Broadcast lime, wood ashes, or a mixture of the two over alkaline-loving perennials such as delphiniums and dianthus. Bring color outdoors to patios, porches, and even the garden with pansy plants, which don't mind cold nights. To encourage constant flowering, routinely remove spent blossoms and keep them from getting bone-dry.

Plant lilies-of-the-valley, violets, and garden lilies. Divide summer- and fall-blooming perennials, including delphiniums, irises, chrysanthemums, daisies, and phlox.

Although we think of this as a rainy month, it can fool us. Remember to water your plants more frequently as the weather warms up and the days lengthen.

When danger of frost has passed, uncover strawberry beds and keep them well watered.

Plant blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and fruit trees.

Start seeds indoors for heat-loving crops such as eggplant, tomatoes, and squash.

To determine whether your garden soil is ready for seeds, grab a good handful of it. If you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet. If it crumbles through your fingers and reminds you of chocolate cake, it's ready for planting.

If you got your peas in last month, be sure to give them a good fence for support, made of chicken wire, twine, or stubby branches that are at least three feet tall. Otherwise, plant them this month as soon as you can.

Feed your trees. As soon as the frost goes out of the ground, give them a well-balanced slow-release fertilizer. Scatter about six good handfuls per each 10x10-foot area. Store leftover fertilizer in a small plastic trash can or a covered plastic container, and label it.

Rake your lawn to remove all leaves, dead grass, and small twigs. Sow seed for a new lawn, or fill in bare patches by first covering the area with compost or other organic matter. Roll the lawn if the ground isn't soggy.

Don't fertilize strawberries in the spring. This is when the leaves are developing, and you'll get lush growth and meager, soft berries. Wait until blossoms appear and use a light hand.

Don't set tomato plants out in the garden too soon. They hate cold soil and cold nights (under 55 degrees F).

Apply organic matter, compost, and manure to soil.

Seed cool-season vegetables outside, such as beets, peas, lettuce, collards, turnips, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprout, Swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi, onions, parsley, parsnips, radishes, and spinach. (See our Best Dates to Plant chart on

Cover tender plants if late frost is in the forecast.

Start tomato seeds indoors.

Plant broccoli plants and early cabbage outdoors.

Sow your cool-season vegetables in succession so you can have a steady harvest throughout the growing season.

Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames.

Sow seeds of hardy annual flowers (larkspur, California poppy, sweet pea).

Plant pansies.

Begin fertilizing houseplants again.

Clean up your garden. Rake up any leaves, remove winter mulch, remove any dead plants, and mix in compost in your garden soil.

Fertilize the lawn.

Fertilize roses, raspberries, and woody plants.

Plant potatoes.

Mow your ground covers to remove any winter damage. Fertilize and water the ground covers to encourage growth.

Cut back flower stalks on your spring-flowering bulbs as the flowers begin to fade.

Finish pruning fruit trees, roses, raspberries, grapevines.

Start looking for tent caterpillar nests in fruit trees and remove.

Plant new trees for Earth Day.

Apply horticultural oil to trees and shrubs that had insect issues last year.

Prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as forsythia, after they have finished flowering.

Divide perennials that are overcrowded.

Thin out crowded seedlings of cool-season vegetables, such as beets, carrots, and lettuce.

Begin setting out transplants of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

Remove any winter-damaged branches or plants that have not begun to grow yet. You can prune spring-flowering plants when they finish blooming.

Transplant citrus trees, ideally 2 to 5-year-old trees.

Thin fruit to 6-inch spacing for better fruit size. Also, remember to provide adequate soil moisture for your fruit trees during April and May for good fruit size.

Continue fertilizing established roses.

Warm-season lawns can be established in late April from sprigs, plugs, or sod. Start mowing established lawns.

Begin fertilizing Bermuda and warm-season grasses this month.

Annual flowers can be seeded now. You can sow the seeds directly in the flower beds, but remember to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.

Thin out flower seedlings so that the plants have enough space to grow. You can transplant the extra seedlings to another area.

Prune winter damage on your herb plants. Look for new growth developing on the lower part of the herbs, and cut the plant back by 1/3 to 1/2 to the healthy new shoots.

Remember to water your plants more frequently as the weather warms up and the days lengthen.

Continue planting vegetables, such as beans, carrots, cucumbers, melons, peppers, squashes, and sunflowers.

Plant okra toward the end of the month, as it does better with warmer soil.

Plant vegetables in successive plantings so that you can have a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.

Remember to thin out your vegetable plants so that they have enough room to grow. If they are too crowded, the plants will become weak.

Beware of insects and other pests in your garden. Keep an eye on your garden for aphids, spider mites, etc., and take action when necessary to eliminate the pests.

When preparing to transplant seedlings, it is important to harden them off. Water the seedlings less for a week prior to planting. Set the seedlings outside in a wind-protected place when temperatures are above 50 degrees.

Have you considered raised beds? They're a great way to get your garden started faster in the spring. See for articles on how to build a raised bed.

Avoid planting seedlings until you've passed the last frost date for your area. See our Best Dates for Planting Seeds.

Have you tested your soil to see if it's nutrient rich and will allow plants to thrive? Contact your state's cooperative extension service for free or low-cost soil tests.

Once the garden soil is workable, give it a good stirring and let it sit for several days. Then top-dress it with compost or well-rotted manure.

Plant cool-season vegetables outside, such as beets, peas, lettuce, collards, turnips, carrots, broccoli (transplants), brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi, onions, parsley, parsnips, radishes, and spinach. See our Best Dates to Plant chart on

Cover tender plants if late frost is in the forecast.

Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames.

Plant perennials and shrubs early in the season to make sure they are established by summer. Divide perennials that are overcrowded.

For overwintered geraniums, cut back 4 to 6 inches and remove the bottom leaves.

Fertilize your trees with a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer.

If scale or aphids have been a problem on trees and shrubs, spray the branches with dormant oil when temperatures are above 40 degrees.

If you have dead spots in the lawn, plan to patch them before the summer heat. Loosen the soil and work in some good-quality compost, sprinkle grass seed, rake lightly, and tamp to assure good seed-to-soil contact. Mulch with a thin layer of straw. Water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist until the grass sprouts.

If you left your ornamental grasses intact last fall, you can go ahead and prune them back to a height of about 6 to 12 inches now, higher for larger clumps.

Time to fertilize lawns, roses, raspberries, and woody plants.

Do you have animal pests? Be sure you put the proper fencing in place before you start the garden. See for our pest pages.

Apply horticultural oil to trees and shrubs that had insect issues last year. Spray when temperatures are over 40 degrees F.

Check your apple trees. If new shots seem blacked, you may have blight disease. Prune infected areas several inches below the damage. Dip your pruners in a weak bleach solution between pruning cuts to avoid spreading the disease to other trees.

Remember to provide adequate soil moisture for your fruit trees during April and May for good fruit size.

Once ground thaws, divide any crowded rhubarb stalks. Dig up the whole crown; break off the young side shoots and plant in a full sun location.

Plant bare-root asparagus crowns as soon as the ground thaws. Choose a sunny spot!

Inspect trees and shrubs for broken limbs and prune damaged branches back to unaffected wood. Cut branches back to a branch or bud that's facing outward.

Begin fertilizing houseplants again.

Prune your deciduous trees and shrubs. Also, thin out spring-blooming shrubs after the blossoms fade.

Spray apple and pear trees for scab when buds appear, to avoid disease.

Once dangers of hard frost have passed, prune roses. Remove all damaged wood, spindly canes, crossing branches, and blind shoots without flower buds.

Fertilize your berry plants. Spray insecticidal soup on strawberries if you spot aphids.

Fertilize any spring-blooming bulbs and ornamental plants that were not fertilized in March. Fertilize spring-blooming shrubs after they finish flowering.

Fertilize your lawn. Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Plant beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, peas, and potatoes.

If soil temperature is above 60 degrees, you may plant beans and sweet corn.

If you have transplants in the yard, be sure to protect them from any late spring frosts with a cover.

If you’re planting, keep an eye out for slugs. Clean up weeds and hiding places quickly. Avoid insecticides that kill beneficials. Use slug control products with iron phosphate.

Reduce insects and disease in your garden by providing your plants with proper ventilation and removing all weeds.

Use floating row covers to keep insects such as beet leaf miners, cabbage maggot adult flies, and other insects away.

Start annuals, such as marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos, indoors.

Let foliage of spring-flowering bulbs brown. Once died down, divide if desired.

Consider planting drought-tolerant flowers, such as coneflowers, iris, and sedums.

This month is good for tender vegetables, such as beans, sweet corn, squash, melons, and cucumbers. Plant two or more rows of corn for better pollination.

Continue planting warm-season crops: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and cabbage. Plant okra, too!

Mulch your garden well to preserve moisture and keep down weeds.

Ensure that your garden receives 1 inch of rain per week. Set out an empty tuna can to measure the amount of rainfall.

Watch out for insects such as aphids and use an insecticidal soap spray if needed. See for our Pests & Problems page.

Plant an herb garden. Basil, parsley, oregano, chives, sage, rosemary, and thyme are good choices.

Remove any weeds in your garden, as they compete with your plants for water and nutrients.

Plant new annuals and bedding plants, such as coleus, geraniums, impatiens, marigolds, phlox, salvia, and zinnias.

This is a great time to plant many bulbs such as: canna, caladium, blood dilly, and iris.

Divide herbaceous perennials, clumps of bulbs, and ornamental grasses if the garden looks too crowded. Replant or give away!

Remove any dead flowers from plants to encourage new growth.

Apply new mulch around your plants, shrubs, and trees, if needed.

This is a great month for planting shrubs and trees.

Prune spring-flowering shrubs after they finish blooming. Fertilize azaleas, camellias, and any other shrubs that need fertilizer.

Remove any leaves from your lawn, and then fertilize it with a slow-release fertilizer.

Mow your lawn at recommended heights (St. Augustine and Bahia: 3 to 4 inches; Centipede: 1.5 to 2 inches; Dwarf St. Augustine: 2.5 inches).

Ensure that your lawn is getting enough water (1 inch per week).

Divide and repot houseplants. Fertilize if necessary.