April Zone 3

What to do in the garden in April in zone 3

  • Start seeds.  Start seeds for tomatoes, peppers, annuals and perennials (about 6 weeks before the last frost date).
  • Plant perennial seeds  Seed can be sown for frost tolerant perennials as soon as the soil has thawed, dried, and begun to warm up.  This won’t usually happen in April, more likely early May.  Some seeds however will not germinate until the soil is quite warm, so check directions on your seed pack.
  • Spray fruit trees  Apply dormant spray to fruit trees before the buds swell.
  • Flush street side plantings  Flush the planting beds near the street with plenty of water to dilute the road salt that has accumulated in the soil.  Even salt tolerant plants will appreciate it.
  • Plant bare root trees  Bare root trees, shrubs and roses should be planted as soon as the soil is thawed and dried, usually in early April but sometimes even in March.
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs  Before new growth begins, fertilize shrubs and trees.
  • Fertilize evergreens  As soon as the ground has thawed, pound in evergreen fertilizer stakes or apply a slow release granular fertilizer.
  • Plant bulbs  Plant summer and fall flowering bulbs as soon as the soil has thawed and dried.
  • Sort tubers  Sort through stored tubers, roots and bulbs for dahlias, cannas, glads and begonias.  Dispose of anything that has shriveled or decayed.
  • Prune trees and shrubs  Prune trees, fruit trees and shrubs.  Don’t prune any spring flowering shrubs and trees, as the buds have already formed.  Prune trees but not oaks, elms, or walnut.  Prune off any limbs damaged over winter.
  • Plant tubers  Buy tubers for begonias and plant them in pots indoors now, they will be ready for your window box or planters by planting time.  You will save a lot of money versus buying potted plants at the garden center.
  • Stop feeding the birds  Put away the feeders, they can find food now on their own as soon as the snow is gone.
  • Tune up the mower  Beat the rush and take it in early in the month.
  • Clean tools  Clean and sharpen shovels, hoes and pruners.
  • Check hoses  Check hoses for leaks and sprinklers for cracks or damage.
  • Check stock  Check stock of all gardening necessities such as hand tools, fertilizers, rose and fruit tree sprays, and make a list of what you need
  • Divide perennials  As soon as the ground has thawed and dried, you can divide and move perennials.  Do not divide the very early spring bloomers such as bleeding heart until after blooming or in fall.
  • Clean up perennial grass  Cut back the dead top growth of perennials and perennial grasses.  Leave about 3 or 4 inches of stems that will help keep hungry rabbits out of the new growth and keep you from stepping on them.
  • Clean up  By end of the month if the ground has thawed and dried, you can check perennials for new growth.  Peak under the mulch and if growth is well underway you can remove the mulch.  Don’t rush this!  If nights are still freezing, leave the mulch in place until nights are consistently above freezing.  Most years you will need to wait until April, and sometimes even May, when growth really gets going.
  • Transplant  Move shrubs and trees after the soil thaws out and dries up, before new growth begins, and the weather is cool.  Transplant shock will be minimized.
  • Soil test  Test the soil in your lawn and gardens so you know if lime or other additives and nutrients will be necessary before the growing season starts.
  • Fertilize bulbs  Spring blooming bulbs should be fertilized in late April or early May.


  • Prep the beds  When the soil has thawed and dried and begins to warm up, usually around middle of the month, you can remove winter mulch.  Work compost or leaf mold into the top layer of the soil.
  • Make new beds  Add new garden beds now while you have time.
  • Plant container grown shrubs and trees  By end of the month, container grown trees, evergreens and shrubs can be planted (unless it is still snowing!!)
  • Prepare potted shrubs and trees  Every few years, potted trees and shrubs should be repotted and root pruned.  Top dress each year before growth begins.
  • Put out a raingauge  Take the guesswork out of how much water your plants are getting.
calendarSharon Dwyer