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April to-do list for your yard

The temps are on the rise – spring is here! With warmer weather in the forecast, it’s time to get out in your yard. Here is a helpful landscape checklist for the month of April.

  1. Early April is a great time to divide established fall blooming perennials (spring bloomers best left until later in summer). Prune back any brown dead top growth on ALL perennials, and then divide if necessary, blow or rake out any of last year’s foliage from those plants in case there is diseased foliage.

  2. Freshen up mulch beds by lightly raking or scratching up the mulch and spread out evenly around your plants. Where necessary, add additional mulch to help preserve soil moisture and reduce weed growth.

  3. Prune back all ornamental and native grasses. Cut last year’s foliage down to several inches without cutting deep into the crowns. Cool season grasses will begin growing now in warmer, sunnier areas in the yard. The Warm season grasses also need to have last year’s foliage removed too, but they will not start to grow until the soil temperatures have warmed up considerably – sometimes not until early June in some areas. To view how-to video on trimming ornamental grasses click here.

  4. We get many calls each spring that go something like this: “My roses are all dead!” Most all roses will die back to the mulch line in many cases. Rose canes that are exposed to winter will die back, but remember that our own root roses will re-grow from the base. Prune back roses that will bloom on new wood down to 6” or so, and pull back the mulch away from the plants if you had prepared them properly last fall.

  5. Prune back Clematis vines down to about 12-18” now before they start to grow.

  6. Finish up renewal pruning on any older Aronia, Dogwoods, Honeysuckles, Privets, or Viburnums (removing the thickest and oldest stems down to the ground and allow the nice young stems to remain).

  7. Prune repeat blooming Spiraea varieties back to a nice tight mound of stems as they respond with much vigor and violent amounts of bloom.

  8. Prune Hydrangea Annabelle, Samantha, and arborescens types down to just a few inches and then don’t touch with the shears for the rest of the year. Prune back All Summer Beauty, Endless Summer and all other Hydrangea macrophylla types just enough to remove the dead portions of the stems, but allowing the green parts to remain and then don’t touch after that. Prune back all woody Hydrangea paniculata types (Bobo, Limelight, Little Lime, Mega Pearl, PeeGee, Phantom, Pink Diamond, Pinky Winky, Quickfire, Silver Dollar, Tardiva, Unique and Vanilla Strawberry). All of these woodier types can be pruned back by about one third of the tops. Once they start to leaf out do not touch them anymore. Woody tree form Hydrangeas should be pruned uniformly, thinned if necessary, and remove about one third of the head.

  9. Oak trees should no longer be pruned anymore this year until they go dormant again.

  10. Prune evergreen shrubs like Japanese Yews and Junipers if necessary, but not any Pine trees (Pines will be trimmed by candle pruning in May).

  11. Have your local McKay Design Pro help turn your yard into an “Ediscape” by incorporating small fruits and veggies in your shrub and perennial borders. An easily accessible kitchen garden close to the patio is a great place to plug in a few easy to grow herbs and a tomato plant or three.

  12. Small fruits and fruit trees are still wildly popular because the trend continues to have an edible landscape.

  13. Remember, planning is the key to any great landscape. Anyone can pick up a few plants and stick them in around the foundation, but creating an incredibly designed landscape calls for professional help. McKay designs with locally grown, hardy plants, sited properly to perform for years to come. Are you ready to update your home? We are ready to help. For video on planning, click here.

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