Hort Report: “To Do” List for March and April

Thanks to Kevin Tepas for alerting us to this spring chores list from Horticulture Magazine!

Start your winter cleanup of the lawn and planting beds. But limit walking on the lawn as much as possible. The earth is soft and wet and too much foot traffic can damage shallow roots as well as the structure of the soil by excessive compaction.

  • If you let your compost rest over the winter, you may want to get it started again. Remember not to add any yard waste from diseased plants to the compost pile.
  • Remove burlap wraps and other winter protection by the second half of the month.
  • Pruning can begin in earnest but only for perennials that are not early spring bloomers. You can remove broken or diseased branches from any plant now.
  • Resist the urge to start digging in your flowerbeds too early. You can damage the soil’s structure. If you pick up a handful of soil, it should fall apart, not stick together like glue. When it’s dry enough by that test, you can start to dig beds and add compost or manure in preparation for planting.
  • As soon as the ground thaws you can begin edging your beds.
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs in late March or early April.
  • Wake up your roses around the middle of the month. Remove winter protection, fertilize, prune, and water.
  • Now that the ground has thawed it is a good time to get that soil test you’ve been thinking about.
  • All spring bulbs should be up and growing now. When you see the flower stalk emerging from the foliage, it’s time to fertilize. Use a complete fertilizer such as 20-20-20 or a special bulb formulation. Fertilize all perennials but nutrition demand here is generally low so be careful not to overfertilize these.
  • Transplant shrubs, trees, and divided plants before they leaf out.