by Mary Kay Woodworth, executive director of the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council (UAC)
Spring is in the air! Garden centers will be full of beautifully blooming annuals and vegetable plants, but plant with caution—April weather is fickle, and there’s always the possibility of an early spring cold snap. A good rule of thumb is to wait until after April 15 to plant summer veggies and flowers.
What To Plant
- Get the kids involved in vegetable gardening! Let them each pick a vegetable, and give them their own container to plant it in—tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are great choices.
- Choose summer annuals that will provide beautiful color from spring through hot summer days. Fertilize with a granular slow-release fertilizer when planting, and feed with a water-soluble fertilizer regularly (following label directions).
- Mix it up in your flowerbeds and containers—add herbs to your garden. Parsley, rosemary, basil, dill, lemongrass and fennel are easy additions that require almost no maintenance.
- Perennials and ornamental grasses can be divided and transplanted now. Fertilize perennials monthly (ornamental grasses don’t need fertilization) with a 10-10-10 or a six- or nine-month slow-release fertilizer instead. Make sure to water!
- April is the time to fertilize warm-season grasses (zoysia, bermuda and centipede). Wait until about 50% of the lawn has greened up. Repeat in May and June.
- Fescue can be fertilized in late April—then hold off until September.
- When mowing the lawn, raise the mowing level to reduce water needs. If mowed regularly, grass clippings that remain on the lawn (not caught in mower bag) will help mulch and prevent thatch!
- If you have an automatic sprinkler system, it’s a good idea to have an annual audit performed by a certified irrigation contractor. They can calibrate the system for maximum efficiency and suggest retrofits to ensure water isn’t wasted.
- Mulch well to conserve water and cut down on weeds—mulch also helps prevent soil-borne disease from infecting plants.
- 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 drip line of the shrubs now.
- Once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees, houseplants can be moved back outside. Make sure that they don’t get ‘sunburned’ by being in too much direct sun.
While you’re at it, check out these cool new landscape products.