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The Garden Awaits: April Gardening in Alachua County

April is Almost Here

Bees are buzzing, flowers blooming, and many plants are awaking from their winter-time slumber. Although many of us are cooped-up and getting a little stir-crazy, the garden awaits. Gardening is one of our most powerful tools we have for reducing stress and anxiety while improving our overall health. Last weekend, I, like many others spent much of their time outside. Our nice weather gave everyone an excuse to pull weeds, trim hedges, or catch-up on your general yard work for the season.

April is around the corner and it begins a prime landscape period for many Floridians. To get you prepared for the upcoming month this weekend’s article will help you prepare and organize your landscape to-do list.

What to Plant
Herbs and Vegetables

Every backyard gardening enthusiast should have an herb garden. A basic herb garden brings a culinary pizazz into your kitchen. Additionally, herb flavor in foods is a healthy alternative to salt in cooking. Due to our summer heat, we recommend planting the heat-loving herbs, such as rosemary, tarragon, and sage. You may also plant plenty of vegetables or fruiting trees in your landscape too. Before it gets too hot, try planting cantaloupe, corn, or tomatoes. Regarding fruit trees, the ideal time to plant them is between December and January, but anytime during their dormancy is adequate.

Ornamental Plants

If you are wanting to bring lots of color to your landscape, April is an ideal time to plant bulbs. If you have a shadier landscape, consider planting caladiums. The endless varieties of colors provide any landscape with a show-stopping appeal. Other bulbs include blood lilies and canna lilies (canna x generalis). April is also primetime to introduce perennials and annuals to the landscape. You may also plant new shrubs, but always remember to follow Florida-Friendly Landscaping Programs’ first principle, “Right Plant, Right Place.”

Chinese Fringe Tree

The Fringetree (Chionathus virginicus) is a wonderful native tree. During the spring, this tree explodes in showy and fragrant white flowers. Place this shrub against a dark backdrop and watch the colors pop.

Preparing for Maintenance

We can fill our landscapes with beautiful plants, but they also require maintenance. If we follow the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program’s principles, we know homeowners can significantly reduce water, pesticide, fertilizer, and maintenance requirements in their landscapes. This time of year, our regular landscape maintenance kicks into high gear because our plants are beginning to grow.

Ornamental Plant Maintenance for April

If you have and perennial grasses or bulbs, April is a great time to divide them. Ornamental grasses, like Florida’s native Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) can be divided into multiple clumps and replanted in your landscape. Shortly after dividing and replanting your ornamental grasses, they will quickly begin with fresh new growth.

Our turfgrasses are coming out of their dormancy too. Wait until April 15th to fertilize your turfgrass and only apply one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per application.

Irrigation Calibration

If we continue with minimal rain, many of your plants will require supplemental irrigation. Therefore it is important that you calibrate your irrigation system to ensure uniform application of water across your landscape. A catch-can test for your irrigation system is easy and very effective. Many of us may increase the size of our ornamental landscape beds. This could be a great opportunity to install micro-irrigation systems too.

Weed Management

For the pesky weeds that like to pop-up in our landscapes, maintaining two to three inches of mulch will help reduce weed pressure in your landscape beds. Hand pulling or cutting back weeds can be a great stress reliever too. If weeds in your landscape get too bad, please reach out to your local extension office for the best management advice.

The Garden Awaits

Overall, managing a healthy landscape is very important. By following UF/IFAS recommendations the principles of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program, you will have a resilient and strong landscape that is beautiful, attracts important butterflies, and is calming.

As you go about your week and during a time of anxiety and stress, take solace, your garden awaits. And as always, I’m rooting for you.

If you would like to get more information about managing your landscape or garden, reach out to UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County’s Master Gardener Help Desk. Currently, email contact is the most direct at mag@alachuacounty.us. You may also follow us on our Facebook page, UF/IFAS Alachua County Extension Master Gardeners for relevant gardening information and upcoming programs.

Interested in more gardening-related blogs or following Alachua County’s MGVs on Social Media? Check out the additional links from Dr. Clem.

Taylor’s Blog Homepage

End Your Summertime Gardening Blues

UF/IFAS Alachua County Extension Master Gardeners, Facebook Page

2 Comments on “The Garden Awaits: April Gardening in Alachua County

  1. I am looking for a grass to replace my St. Augustine which has been eaten by chinch bugs. I have both full sun and full shade areas. My yard is now almost completely covered by sand burs. Is there one grass for both shade and sun? I am a disabled vet and mowing the grass is about the limit of the yard work I can do.

    • James,

      There are different types of turfgrass species, but finding a specific species that are good for sun and shade is difficult. Seville St Augustine and Empire Zoysiagrass are the most shade-tolerant turfgrasses, but they still need a good amount of sun. Areas directly under trees won’t typically develop a good turf stand. The best strategy for managing turfgrass is following IFAS recommendations for growing turf in shadier conditions. If you would like to get more information, email me at taylorclem87@ufl.edu. Also, we have an upcoming webinar on turfgrass management on April 23 from 4 – 5:30pm. You can register and see more information here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/turfgrass-in-alachua-county-tickets-102293845646

      Thank you very much,
      Taylor Clem
      Environmental & Community Horticulture Agent
      UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County.

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