Garden Planner – Tips for creating and maintaining a beautiful April garden

Champion Window & Patios

Spring is in the air! The dogwoods and azaleas are blooming, and this is the month to plant annuals and start your summer vegetables outside. Careful, though—the average “last frost” day in Atlanta is April 15th!

Garden Maintenance

•  Prune early bloomers, such as forsythia, Carolina jessamine, quince and winter jasmine after they have bloomed.

•  Azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias can be pruned after their flowers fade. Apply 16-4-8 fertilizer around the dripline of the shrubs now.

•  Fertilize bulbs again after they’ve flowered—snip off the seedheads, but let the foliage die naturally, as this helps to feed the bulb for next year.

•  The end of April is the time to fertilize warm-season grasses (zoysia, Bermuda and centipede). Wait until about 50 percent of the lawn has greened. Repeat in May and June.

•  Fescue can be fertilized in late April; then hold off until September.

•  If you have an automatic sprinkler system. Ensure that each sprinkler is properly adjusted so the lawn is evenly watered and no water is wasted.

•  Till your vegetable garden bed; add fertilizer and lime according to soil test recommendations, but wait until mid April to transplant vegetable seedlings into the garden.

•  Mulch well to conserve water and cut down on weeds.

•  Divide perennials and ornamental grasses; fertilize perennials monthly (ornamental grasses don’t need fertilization) with a 10-10-10, or a 6- or 9-month slow-release fertilizer instead. Make sure to water!

What to Plant

•  Mix it up in your flower beds and containers. Add herbs to your garden. Parsley, rosemary, basil, dill, lemon grass and fennel are easy additions that require almost no maintenance.

•  Get the kids involved in vegetable gardening! Let them each pick a vegetable and give them their own container in which to plant it. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are great choices.

•  Spring- and summer-blooming annuals can be planted in late April after the last frost threat. The old-time rule of thumb is: don’t plant annuals until Good Friday—this year, April 22.

Mary Kay Woodworth is executive director of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA). She previously ran Practically Gardening, a landscape consulting firm, and was Master Gardener Coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service. Mary Kay is a frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs, civic organizations and trade shows.

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