Now is the perfect time to lay down some rich, organic compost and rake in a high quality grass seed for a beautiful lawn come summer. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

Now is the perfect time to lay down some rich, organic compost and rake in a high quality grass seed for a beautiful lawn come summer. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

A GROWING CONCERN: Garden chore list grows in spring

SPRING HAS SPRUNG, the grass has risen, now’s the time to get down to business. And the business is your yard and garden.

This is the time of year when garden jobs sprout up faster than horsetail on a warm April day.

What to do, to what, where and in what order — these are the vital questions of the month. And the answers can plow the way for a beautiful and bountiful summer.

So, get that last cup of coffee and finish reading this column — then go to work!

Your lawn

The grass around your house or business is always a needy beast, but now this is even more true. If you have not over-seeded your lawn in the last six weeks, give it a hard, brisk rakedown today. Use a metal-tined rake to really bring up all the old thatch.

Then over-seed your lawn with a premium grass seed mix. In our Olympic region, a mix heavy in rye, fescues and bent is preferred. Little or no bluegrass should be in the mix.

Everyone should be applying lime to the lawn now. Other nutrient applications are also perfect and can be reapplied if your lawn hasn’t been fed since January.

Get your mower ready by sharpening the blades and changing the oil, spark plugs and filter.

When mowing, a shorter setting of about 2½ inches is ideal for this fast-growing month.

Plant, plant, plant

April is the ideal time to plant almost anything. Items planted today have two good months of cool, rainy weather left to develop a root ball in order to survive our annual summer droughts.

Local nurseries are filled to the rafters with new items and still have bare-root items, the most economical in stock.

When checking out the nurseries, don’t forget, you can always use a colorful fall tree.

Salad days

Now is the time to activate the produce section of your garden. Cultivate the beds by adding compost, peat moss or other organics. Then, mound your beds, edge, weed and rake in the nutrients.

Next, go out there with your load of seeds and sow April vegetables — beets, carrots, peas, radishes, spinach, onions, kales, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers, parsnips, lettuce, swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, Kohlrabi or even turnips.

Play with perennials

Perennials get bigger and better, but only with proper care. They love nutrients, so apply the correct feeds for each type of plant.

Fill in the fertilizer along with a good 2-inch-deep top dress of compost or decomposed mulch.

Next, prune out any deadwood, weak or damaged stems, remove all dead leaves and generally clean up your perennials.

No spring garden chore list would be complete without laying a nice 2-inch to 4-inch covering over all the perennial areas. Put this mulch down right after the soil has been worked and the plant has been fed and cleaned.

April also is the last time to take full advantage of ideal transplanting conditions.

Sow some ornamental seed

The warming, heavily dewed days of April are perfect for various flowering plant seed — especially wildflowers.

Prepare an area by raking very hard and in numerous directions. Then sow plants like columbine, hollyhocks, coral bells or lupines.

Next, top dress these areas with a light dusting of fine-screened planting mix. This will tack down the seed and keep it from blowing away.

Don’t forget to keep these areas wet using a fine spray apparatus.

Plant summer bulbs

Yes, April is bulb-planting month. Early this month, plant all types of lilies, even the exotic calla lily. Gladiolus are perfect to plant along with tuber roses or liatris.

At the middle of the month, get those dahlias going. Then, finish April by planting your tuberous begonias, or try tigridia (Mexican shell flower).


This is easy — especially if you have been reading my columns on pruning.

Have them pruned way down and thinned out.

Remove all old leaves and cultivate the soil.

Add a few inches of bark for weed, temperature and water control.

Slithering, slimy creatures

To get a handle on the slug population, start putting out bait, traps or beer (put an inch of beer in a shallow container).

Also, seek out and destroy potential bug and disease breeding areas, such as slimy puddles of water, piles of old leaves and areas under perennials, rotting fruit or logs.

Weed alert

Weeds are everywhere — even when you have just finished weeding.

Hoe them, pick them, chop them — whatever — but get them before their root systems expand and new crops of seeds mature to explode over the entire yard.

Stay well all and happy spring!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email (subject line: Andrew May).

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