April Gardening Tips
April is gardening month so enjoy the spring weather with these gardening tips:
- Mow your turf at the correct height. Bermuda at 1 to 1.5 inches, St. Augustine at 2 to 3 inches, centipede at 1 to 1.5 inches, and zoysia at 1 to 2 inches.
- This is the month to begin fertilizing bermudagrass and zoysia lawns. Apply nitrogen at a rate of one pound per 1,000 sq. ft. This equals 6 lbs. of 16-4-8 per 1,000 sq. ft.
- Wait until next month to fertilize centipede and St. Augustine lawns.
- Water and fertilize carefully — applying too much water and fertilizer encourages large patch, a destructive fungal disease of lawns.
- If you have not soil tested in the past two years, do so this month before fertilizing to see if additional nutrients or lime are needed. Soil tests are free from April 1 to December 1.
Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers
- Prune spring-flowering plants, such as forsythia, azalea, and spirea immediately after flowering. If you wait until summer or fall to prune, you will remove next season’s flowers.
- If your annuals are flowering vigorously when you plant them, remove at least half of the flowers to give the plants a good start on root, leaf, and flower growth.
- Newly planted trees require regular watering through their first summer. Apply 2-3 gallons per inch of trunk diameter to the root ball at least once a week if it does not rain.
- Newly planted flowers will benefit from liquid fertilization the first few weeks, in addition to slow-release fertilizer applied at planting time.
- House plants can be gradually brought outdoors by the middle to end of the month, and any overcrowded plants can be divided and repotted.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs
- Prepare garden beds before planting. Till in compost and fertilizer. Add lime ONLY if recommended by soil test reports.
- Set out young pepper and tomato plants in mid-to-late April. Wait a few more weeks before setting out cold-sensitive eggplant and basil plants.
- Keep an eye out for Colorado potato beetle larvae on potato leaves.
- Direct sow seeds of green beans, limas, field peas, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, winter squash, and sweet corn.
- Harvest garden peas, sugar snaps, and snow peas every few days.
- Thin fruit on apple, peach, and pear trees to increase fruit size, prevent limb breakage and reduce insect/disease problems. Fruit should be thinned when they are about the size of a nickel.
Jessica Strickland is an Agriculture Extension Agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.