Spring has finally arrived and the garden needs a little love. Here are some April gardening tips and to-dos for your Pacific Northwest garden.
I can’t tell you how happy I am that Spring is finally here! I’m looking forward to spending time in the garden and my greenhouse.
April showers bring May flowers, especially in the Pacific Northwest. So put on your raincoat before heading outside because April is one of the busiest months of the year when it comes to gardening.
There is so much to do now that the garden has awoken from a long winter’s slumber, but I actually love being outdoors again so it doesn’t really seem like work.
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April Gardening To-Dos
My “gardening by month” tips for April are based on zone 8b, and my average last frost date is April 18th. If you live in a different hardiness zone, make sure to confirm the frost dates in your area, and plan accordingly.
Hardening Off Seedlings and Overwintering Plants
This transition period is called hardening off. This is when you gradually expose the plants to outdoor elements such as rain, sun, and wind.
To find out more information about hardening off your plants CLICK HERE.
Prepare Garden Beds
CLICK HERE to read more about preparing your garden beds.
TEST YOUR SOIL
Experts recommend you perform a soil test to check the nutrient and pH level before planting. This will not only give you a better understanding of how your soil will perform but what amendments are needed to be added to the ground.
There are soil test options available. You can buy an inexpensive soil test, or hire a local garden resource center to test your soil conditions.
Work the soil when it’s moist to help maintain good air porosity and soil structure. To determine if the soil is ready to work, squeeze a handful into a tight ball, then break the ball apart with your fingers. If the ball of soil readily crumbles in your fingers, the soil is ready to be worked. If the soil stays in a ball, it is still too wet to work.
Soil can be compacted over the winter so it’s important to loosen the soil before planting. Remove rocks or roots using a shovel or garden fork to turn the soil when it’s dry and crumbly.
FEED YOUR SOIL
Compost has many benefits such as improving the soil structure, enhancing soil fertility, helping to retain moisture, and providing nutrients that are needed for healthy plant growth.
Amend your garden beds with 1-3 inches of compost to add nutrients and help retain moisture in the soil this summer.
Garden Planting for the Month of April
April is a great month to plant certain fruits and vegetables in your garden. Here are some of the edibles you can plant in your pacific Northwest garden…
- lettuce and salad greens (for a longer salad harvest season, weekly sow lettuce and greens).
Rosemary, chives, oregano, parsley, and mint seedlings can be transplanted outside as soon as the soil is workable.
Start these veggies indoors:
Plant new perennials in the April garden.
Rhododendrons and azalea plants as well as bare-root trees, shrubs, and roses can still be planted this month.
Dahlia tubers can go into the ground as soon as the danger of frost is passed. Stake them at the time of planting to avoid injury to tubers.
Clematis can be planted this month in areas receiving at least 6 hours of sunshine a day. Use an organic mulch or ground cover to shade roots and keep them cool. Plant in rich, well-drained loam.
Brighten up the garden by planting flowers in containers.
When planning what you’ll be planting in your container, be sure to combine plants with similar water and light requirements.
Make sure you are planting cold-loving flowers such as pansies, violas, and primroses if you are still experiencing freezing temperatures during the month of April.
If you buy annuals from a nursery or store, make sure they are acclimated to the outdoors before you plant them.
Dividing Overgrown Perennials
April is the perfect time to start dividing and transplanting both summer and fall flowering perennials in your garden. These can include phlox, black-eyed Susan’s, daylilies, astilbe, Shasta daisies, and sedum.
Dividing your perennials will help to keep the plants healthy and prevent crowding, as well as create more plants for other areas in your garden. If you don’t divide certain plants every 3-4 years, they can die out in the center of the plant, leaving a bare hole.
CLICK HERE to read more about dividing your perennials.
Splitting Dahlia Tubers
Dahlias grow from tuberous roots and are easily propagated by digging them up and dividing the roots. This will not only encourage the plant to produce more blooms but it will be healthier in the long run by separating the healthy tubers from those that are diseased or rotted.
It’s also a good idea to divide dahlias every year because of how quickly the tubers grow. If they get too large, they will rot or become too heavy to lift and store.
CLICK HERE to read more about splitting dahlia tubers.
Prune your spring-flowering shrubs and trees after they have finished blooming, and the flowers fade. Make sure you do this immediately after flowering, so you’re not cutting into next year’s blossoms.
The dead tops of perennials and grasses should also be pruned back to make room for new spring growth.
Cutting Back Outdoor Evergreen Ferns
If you haven’t already done so, cut your fern fronds down in April to create a fresh new plant for the rest of the year.
CLICK HERE to read more about cutting back your ferns.
Pest and Weed Control
Spring in the Pacific Northwest means that slugs are in full force.
I’m noticing that my primroses are being eaten right now because I didn’t put down slug bait in time to protect them.
I use Sluggo in my garden, which is pet and wildlife safe. However, there are more natural alternatives as well.
If you see aphids in your garden, use either a strong stream of water or use safer soap products.
Monthly Maintenance in the Garden
CLEAN UP GARDEN BEDS
April is a good time to clean up garden beds.
Pick up fallen leaves and twigs, and prune dead limbs.
LABEL OVERCROWDED DAFFODILS
Label any clumps of daffodils that are getting too crowded so you can dig them up and separate them this summer. Overcrowding can slow down blooming significantly.
TURN COMPOST PILES
Turn over your compost pile to help it break down faster.
CLEANING UP SPENT SPRING BULBS
When bulb blossoms die, clip the flowering stems as close to the ground as possible. Let the leaves die gradually so they will build food reserves to support next year’s blooms.
CLICK HERE to read more about when to cut back spring bulb flowers and leaves.
Sow or plant hardy annuals in areas where spring bulbs will die back.
ADDING LIME TO THE GARDEN
Sprinkle garden lime in a circle around the base of lime-loving plants to ensure the pH in the garden will stay alkaline enough.
FERTILIZING SPECIFIC PLANTS
You can fertilize plants in April but hold off on feeding spring-flowering shrubs like azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons until after they have finished flowering.
Hopefully, you’ve found some tips you can use in the garden this April. This is such a great time in the Pacific Northwest when the temperatures start warming up and we can finally start seeing some beautiful blooms in our gardens.
CLICK HERE to see last April’s garden post to see what was blooming.
Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,