The Growing Season Gradually Returns in April
by Don Janssen, Extension Educator
April is the first full month of spring . As you know, in Nebraska, it can be more like winter than spring in April. So proceed with caution when considering yard and garden activities!
In addition to temperatures, soil conditions dictate what can and cannot be done in early spring. Wait until soils are dry enough to work before doing anything. Digging and turning an excessively wet soil can spell trouble for the remainder of the season.
Assuming soils can be worked, some early season vegetables may be planted. Vegetables in this very hardy group withstand freezing and hard frosts and may be planted as early as April 10 and throughout the month. Crops in this category include asparagus, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, onion (sets or seed), peas, potato, rhubarb, rutabaga, spinach, and turnip.
Lawn work can begin in April. Rake away debris as the lawn dries out. Seeding may be done the second half of the month. Most likely the unsightly appearance of lawns will drastically improve as the weather gets warmer, so be patient before reseeding areas. It is best to wait until late April (or early May) for fertilizing. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilizer in spring; apply about 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Mowing frequency should be based on the rate of grass growth that depends on temperature and rainfall of April.
April can also be a good time for planting trees and shrubs. Once again, soil conditions must be dry enough to allow digging. Bare-root stock is often shipped in April, as it is best to plant before the tree or shrub breaks dormancy.
April can be a good time for pruning. If the apples have not yet been pruned, do it early in the month. Many shrubs may be pruned. Early blooming shrubs are best pruned right after they flower; unless flowering this spring is not a concern. Those that bloom later in the season may be pruned now.
So enjoy the growing season as it gradually returns in April. Remember winter may still linger, however, so avoid activities that may suffer should snow and cold resist leaving us.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office