1. Wash used pots and planters to prevent disease problems later in the season. Use 1 cup of Javex to 9 cups of water. Scrub with a good brush.
2. Plant some seeds early—spinach, leaf lettuce, radishes all do fine in cooler temperatures. The soil needs to be fairly dry. Then later in May plant another crop that will be ready for early summer.
3. Divide warm season ornamental grasses as soon as you can dig these up in your garden. These are the grasses that will be maturing during the late summer and fall. Cut back any dead grass on top.
4. Spread compost. Early on, before the grass starts to really show through put a 1/2” layer of compost on your lawn. This will improve the organic content of the soil and feed your lawn with some nitrogen. The grass will grow through the compost and you will be amazed at how little compost shows. Put a thick layer of compost on your flower and shrub beds –2-3 inches.
5. Prune your rose bushes and any summer blooming shrubs. Avoid pruning spring flowering shrubs like forsythia and lilacs. By pruning in the spring you are removing the branches where flowers will show.
6. Fertilize spring flowering bulbs. As the bulbs poke out of the ground in April and May, apply a perennial or bulb fertilizer. Bonemeal can also be added into the soil. Once the bulbs have bloomed apply another application of fertilizer in mid to late June.
7. Rake and aerate the lawn. This removes old dead grass which can choke out new grass. Aerating the lawn is important for maintaining the health of the lawn and allowing air to be more accessible to the root system of the plants.
8. If you grow dahlias, gladiolas, cannas, lilies – pot these up and start watering the bulbs. Keep in a warm place with sunlight and in late May or early June when the chance of frost is gone, transplant into the garden. This early start will help get these plants blooming earlier in your garden.
9. Got a willow tree? Take some cuttings and place in damp potting soil for the summer. By late June or July you will have cuttings ready to plant in a new location on your property.
10. Start a garden journal. This is a great way to keep track of what you plant, what plants work and don’t work. You can make sketches of changes you want to make and have a location for storing plant tags and notes on varieties that you really like. Adding pictures as the season progresses also gives you a good record of what changes you may want to make and ideas you have about future gardens. Keep clippings from magazines on gardening ideas that you really like or plants that catch your fancy.