Spring is in the air for gardeners, and April is a busy month in Zones 6-8. Much like the birds are flitting around and prepping their spring nests, gardeners are eager to dive into preparing their yards and gardens for new life.
Check out our April garden checklist for things you can do in the garden this month to ensure a phenomenal growing season full of bountiful crops and beauteous blooms.
Spring Garden Planning
Spring has officially sprung, and it is time to time to put all of that winter planning and dreaming to work in the backyard. Keep your garden journal and your April garden checklist handy, and transform your garden dreams into realities!
- Keep a garden shopping list in your garden journal and jot down any supplies that you still need at the garden center.
- Attend a Horticulture Show! Nothing is more inspirational than seeing a whole arena filled with a gardening extravaganza.
- Use your sketched-out garden design plans and dream boards to figure out where your newly acquired plants and seedlings will go.
- Use landscaper chalk to sketch out new garden spaces.
- If you constructed new raised garden beds over the winter, now is the time to set them up and fill them with raised bed soil, compost, and lots of organic matter. Calculate the amount of soil that you will need to fill up your garden beds.
- Decide what you still need to fill gaps in your garden. This is best to do before you head to the store.
- Plan your companion plant pairings.
Visit Your Local Extension Office
April is the perfect time to visit your local extension office before the gardening season gets underway. Each State Department of Agriculture has offices set up within local counties to help gardeners and farmers find local garden resources.
These specialized agencies are staffed by experts on garden and landscaping topics who are eager to answer your questions, troubleshoot problems, provide local guidelines, and provide advice and support to all who seek some help in the garden.
- Soil Test: Obtain a sample of both your garden soil and your lawn soil. Bring them to your local garden extension office or nursery for a soil test to assess your pH and soil quality. Experts can help you identify the quality of your native soil and provide recommendations for amending.
- Before going to your local extension office or nursery, brainstorm some questions ahead of time. Bring along your garden journal and as you ask gardening questions, jot down suggestions and expert advice.
- Find out about native plants and what grows best in your region.
- If pests were a problem for you in past seasons, they could give you some insight on organic pest control measures.
- Discover what plants and flowers will attract beneficial pollinators to your garden.
- Gain valuable planting information detailing when you can start thinking about getting new plants and seedlings in the ground.
Stock Up on Garden Supplies
It’s a thrilling time to go shopping for garden supplies! Garden centers and nurseries should be putting out this year’s gardening tools, supplies, summer bulbs, dry root fruits and vegetables, hanging baskets, and bedding plants. Peruse the aisles and snatch up some of the most sought-after items on your April garden checklist while the shelves are fully stocked.
- Pick up some organic fertilizer for your lawn and garden beds.
- If any tools were beyond repair, have gone missing, or you have longed to acquire, now is the time to do it!
- Purchase irrigation supplies such as hoses, timers, and drip irrigation systems.
- Once you get your soil test results, you can gather some of the amendments that you need to boost your soil’s performance.
- If you haven’t acquired seeds yet or need more, you can be sure to have them on time by purchasing them at your local nursery or garden center-the same goes for seed starting supplies.
- Summer bulbs such as Gladiolus, Elephant Ears, Cannas, Lilies, and Dahlias will be fully stocked on store shelves now. You can start planting them this month!
- Bare root plants are also most plentifully stocked at this time. You’ll have the best options to pick from this month. This includes roses, strawberries, rhubarb, berry bushes, fruit trees, and other favorites.
- Plants and shrubs will be starting to fill nursery shelves. If they are grown in greenhouses, be sure to keep them in a sheltered environment and harden them off until all danger of frost has passed.
- By mid-to-late April, you can start buying your hanging baskets filled with annual bloomers.
How To Prepare and Maintain Your Spring Garden
It is best to have garden beds prepped and ready to go so that you can plan what plants you want to fill the space. Be aware that the ground is waking up, and if rain has been prevalent in your area, avoid walking or driving on your garden when the soil is saturated. Compressing the soil with weight will result in soil compaction, leading to a plethora of problems in the garden bed.
Here are some housekeeping items on the April Garden Checklist Zones 6-8 that will boost your spring gardens.
- Proactively set out sticky traps to catch common insect pests like Whiteflies, Aphids, Leaf Miners, and Thrips.
- Pull up early weeds before they establish themselves or use organic weed control methods to eliminate them.
- If you planned to use a drip irrigation system, begin setting things up, but don’t start introducing water into hoses until after the danger of frost has passed.
- Don’t forget about your lawn. Keep it thriving by aerating and overseeding grasses. Have your lawn soil tested for pH and fertilize accordingly with an organic fertilizer.
- Divide and transplant perennials that have overtaken their space in the garden beds.
- Assess if your spring bulbs will need dividing. Make a note in your garden journal. Digging up and division of bulbs should only be done after the foliage has withered and browned.
- Plant your summer flowering bulbs and dry root plantings.
- Wash out your planters and containers and fill them with premium potting soil.
- Spread an organic fertilizer around shrubs and perennials. Be sure to use an organic fertilizer to treat the soil and microbial life rather than just the plants.
April Garden Pruning
- Prune flowering shrubs after they have finished blooming.
- Do a hard pruning of overgrown shrubs.
- Pull out any partially dead shrubs or do a hard prune in an attempt to rejuvenate the plant.
- Cut back spring ground covers like carpet phlox after they have finished blooming.
- Check plants regularly for signs of pests and disease. Prune damaged limbs and dead portions of shrubs.
Mulching and Amending the Garden
It’s a great time to start mulching and amending, so don’t forget to include it in your April garden checklist. Just as mulch insulated your garden beds over the winter, it will keep your plant roots cool as the temperatures begin to heat up. Adding a couple of inches of mulch to your garden beds can also help stomp out reseeding weeds and regulate moisture.
Once your soil test results are in, add compost and any other necessary amendments to help build healthier soil. Support microbial life by using organic fertilizers and mulches. These actions will bolster your soil and prevent propagating spring weeds from overtaking your garden before your gardens are in full swing.
Take Care of the Wildlife in Your Yard
Don’t forget about the wildlife throughout the month of April. One of the most enjoyable parts of spring for many gardeners is watching the birds darting around and hearing their sweet songs. Inviting birds to your backyard helps create a wildlife habitat significantly helps control the insect population, which can protect your plants.
- Fill up some bird feeders or hang some suet and watch the array of birds that flock to the feast.
- Do a thorough cleaning of bird feeders and birdbaths.
- Fill birdbaths with clean water.
- Add a birdhouse or two to help provide a safe new home for nesting.
Indoor Garden Planting
Before we discuss starting seeds indoors on our April Garden Checklist Zones 6-8, it is always important to identify your grow zone’s last frost date. This date varies with each zone and is just an estimation. The last frost date is essential because this is how you will calculate what you can start planting indoors by counting the seed maturation days backward from the last estimated frost date so they will be ready for outdoor planting. Check with your local extension office for the last frost date for your region and consult with them on what to plant and when.
It’s time to start seeds for:
- Brussels Sprouts
Flower seeds can also be started indoors at this time to give them a jumpstart on the planting season. Consider adding some great companion flowers to your April garden checklist like:
Outdoor Spring Garden Planting
Always check with your local extension center for the best planting times in your area. Once you have prepped soil with amendments and weeds have been pulled, you can start sowing some seeds outdoors.
Sow vegetable seeds such as:
- Swiss Chard
Additionally, by mid-April, after your last frost date, you can begin to harden off tender annuals and tender vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and more. Place them outdoors gradually in a protected location for at least one week before planting them outdoors. Always pay close attention to the forecast, as spring weather can be unpredictable at best. Be prepared with row covers or protective plant domes if frosty temperatures are predicted.
Harvest Winter Garden Vegetables
If you planted for a late winter or early spring harvest by using cold frames or hoop houses, you could enjoy a healthy yield of plenty of cooler weather varieties of vegetables and herbs. When it comes to our April Garden Checklist Zones 6-8, you can be growing some of these cool-season vegetables if you have some provisions in place. Winter and early spring harvests always depend on the time of planting.
Gardeners in these zones can continue to harvest things such as:
- Brussels Sprouts