Make the Most of the Month

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April in Southern California is perfect for playing in your garden. The days are longer and warmer, and there’s always something to do. Plant every chance you get.

Flowers: Asters, coleus and zinnias are showing up in garden centers now. April is one of the months with the largest selection of flowering plants available. Be creative and make your own hanging baskets and potted patio plants using some of your favorites. Roses should be at their peak now. Continue to deadhead and feed flowering plants with a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Fruits, herbs and vegetables: Plant citrus, bananas, avocados, guava and other frost-sensitive fruit trees this month. Fertilize existing fruit trees to help promote good fruit production. Additionally, thin excess fruit from young trees before the fruit reaches the size of an almond. This will prevent undue stress being put on the tree. Peaches should be thinned to every 5 inches on alternate sides of the branch with plums, nectarines and apricots spaced at every 3 inches.

It’s also time to put in vegetables such as beans, corn, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes if you haven’t done so. Also plant melons, squash and gourds.

If you would like to grow herbs and vegetables but don’t have a large space, consider establishing a container garden. A variety of inexpensive pots in various shapes and sizes can be used to cultivate a patio garden. Be creative in the amount of space you have. For example, group tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro together (in pots or in the ground) for a salsa garden.

Lawn: If you have a problem with crabgrass, apply a pre-emergent herbicide before it gets out of control. Mow your lawn every week. To keep a healthy lawn, never cut more than one-third of the length of grass blades. Fertilize regularly. Your lawn needs between 3 to 5 inches of water in April. Make sure it gets about 1/2 inch of water twice a week. In most sprinkler systems, it takes about 20 minutes to get 1/2 inch of water.

Perennials: It’s not too late to divide perennials such as agapanthus, moraea and daylily. Make sure they’re planted immediately after division. Divide and transplant grasses too. For bushier flowering shrubs, pinch new growth to encourage fullness at the base of the plant.

Pests: Treat aphids, spider mites and whitefly with insecticidal soap or a brisk spray of water.

Irrigation: Keeping an eye on the weather, set your irrigation for the longer, warmer days. Check your system to make sure that everything is working efficiently. Deep watering encourages roots to go deep, which will benefit the plant later this summer.

Staking and Pruning: Stake taller growing plants now while they’re smaller and easier to manage. Sheer formal hedges and prune evergreens in preparation of their spring growth spurts. Prune and fertilize groundcovers to remove dead patches and encourage new growth.


Alissa Adams-Simmons
Briggs Tree Company Inc.

Categories: Gardening