By: Laura Miller
Those first few warm days of spring are perfect for getting back in the groove of outdoor gardening. In the Ohio Valley, there’s never a shortage of April gardening tasks to give you a jump on the upcoming growing season.
April Ohio Valley Garden To-Do List
Here’s a few ideas you might want to add to your monthly gardening to-do list.
Mowing season gets underway this month. Prepare for thatfirst lawnmowing by adding these tasks to your gardening to-do list for April.
- Pick up debris. Remove those twigs, leaves and trash which have accumulated over the winter.
- Fill in low spots. Backfill those bumpy dips in the yard with quality top soil.
- Reseed thin areas. Fill in those bare spots with a grass seed mixture suitable for your climate.
- Apply weed prevention. Tackle crabgrass and annual weeds with pre-emergent products.
- Spring equipment maintenance. Sharpen mower blades, check belts for wear and change lawn mower oil and filters.
Bulbs continue to bloom in the April Ohio Valley garden,perennials are emerging from the ground and spring flowering shrubs areblooming.
- Clean the beds. Remove plant debris, leaves and trash. Cut back dead sedum stalks and ornamental grass stems before new growth emerges. Rake out or remove winter mulch from roses.
- Divide perennials. Dig up and split ornamental grasses, hosta and midsummer or fall blooming perennial flowers.
- Start weeding. Get a jump on those weeds when they’re still small enough to tackle.
- Plant summer bulbs. Fill in empty spots in the flower garden with gladiolus, elephant ears and dahlia.
- Edge flowerbeds. Clean up the edges of flowerbeds and remove encroaching grass. Add mulch if needed.
Veggie gardening in the Ohio valley begins with working thesoil as some as possible in the spring. Take advantage of dry weather wheneverpossible.
- Amend soil. Work 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm.) of organic compost into the top 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm.) of soil.
- Sow spring crops. Plant peas, onions, lettuce, radishes, carrots and beets. Sowing early allows these veggies to mature before summer heat results in bolting.
- Transplant cool-season crops. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and bok choy are a few cool-season crops which can be transplanted into the garden in April.
- Plant perennial veggies. Early spring is the ideal time to place those asparagus crowns, strawberry plants and rhubarb in the perennial garden.
Round out your April gardening to-do list with these specialtasks:
- Make or empty compost bins. Make room for fresh organic material by emptying or building a new compost bin.
- Mount a rain gauge. Stop guessing when to water. Place rain gauges in an open area. Avoid mounting gauges under trees or drip lines from roofs.
- Examine tools. Replace broken equipment and sharpen tools.
- Survey trees and shrubs. Look for winter damage or disease while the branches are barren. Trim or treat affected areas.
- Clean ponds and water features. Provide maintenance for pumps and replace filters.
- Plant a tree. Honor National Arbor Day on the last Friday of April by adding one or more trees to your landscape.
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- Soil pH for Ohio lawns is best between 6.0 and 7.0. Levels vary in Ohio regions. Test the soil before applying any type of fertilizer
- Fertilizer mixtures of 3-1-2, 4-1-2 and 5-1-2 (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) are recommended check with a garden store specialist for advice on choosing the best product for the type of grass and its cultivar(s).
- Fertilize evenly with slow-release chemicals about 8 to 10 weeks apart
- Water thoroughly
Question: I have an old gravel driveway. I plan on digging 2 inches of gravel up and bringing in 2.5 inches of topsoil then planting grass in early April. Will it be okay to replace this old gravel driveway with topsoil?
Answer: I suggest having the dirt under the driveway tested for content and pH. Test the topsoil, too, to determine what will grow in it (soils come from different land areas) and whether it can blend with what's already in the ground. This winter has been rather mild in most areas of Ohio, thus, we may see late frosts. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts.
Question: What is a grass seed I can sow in Gallipolis?
Answer: Soil alkalinity, soil temperature, light and water conditions are key factors to determining grass seed selection it would be best to take a soil sample to your favorite garden store and see which types of cool season grasses are most appropriate. I would not be comfortable with recommending anything specific without having more information on the environment and location, however, I typically prefer Kentucky bluegrass because of its durability and versatility.
Question: I am in the midst of bringing my soil pH up from 5 to 6.5 in preparation to overseed. I tried to do this in the fall, but the process was unsuccessful. So, can I overseed now (March), and what additional steps should be taken?
Answer: Soil temperatures have a lot to do with successful seed germination, March is a crapshoot in Ohio because the weather is hardly steady. (I just saw a forecast for Central Ohio that indicates temps will be 20 degrees below normal in the beginning to the middle of the month, so it's likely to be that way around the state's regions. Wait until mid-April, at least, or the last average frost date in May). I cannot recommend steps to take for overseeding without seeing the turf, however, I typically suggest having lawn company professionals assess the turf, soil, location, hydration, and drainage before investing time, energy and financial resources.
Question: I believe that the previous homeowners may have overseeded in patches. There are areas of different types of grass. Will overseeding the entire lawn with one type of grass help to minimize these visible differences? (In central Ohio, would plan to overseed in September).
Answer: I have to assume your lawn is KBG, and from what you've described, the lawn has already been overseeded. Doing more of that won't make other types of grass go away. But in any case, the way to assure an evenly formed and "perfect" lawn is to tear out the sod and start over. Some lawn companies call that a "renovation." A lawn that is full of weeds and problem grasses may benefit more with a compete do-over -- if you absolutely cannot accept the yard as it is. I recommend inquiring of a professional lawn company for doing renovation it may be a little more pricey than do-it-yourself, but, in the long run, complete grass removal and reseeding done the correct (and guaranteed) way by professionals will give you the aesthetics and peacefulness of mind you're looking for.
Question: I just bought a house in Toledo, Ohio and the backyard has no grass at all, just dirt. When it rains, the ground becomes a huge muddy, mess. What kind of grass would be best to grow in this situation?
Answer: It sounds like the soil in your backyard doesn't drain well, that is a problem in the long run. However, Kentucky bluegrass is fairly hardy and can handle over-watering if it's in full sunlight. Test the soil for pH and draining before making a commitment to seeding. You don't mention if the yard is in full sunlight that's important for KBG, as well as ryegrass and fescues. You may want to look into a draining system.
Question: Is this a good time to sow grass seed in Delaware County, Ohio?
Answer: I'm assuming, only, that your soil pH level is between 6.0 and 7.0, and that you are using KBG, but my suggestion would be to wait until the chance for frost has passed. I woke up yesterday to snow, now thunderstorms, and more snow is possible later in the week. It's Central Ohio! Soil temperatures for seed sowing should be at 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Mid-April is a better time for more stable weather, at this point, but you can test the temperature of the soil. Still, I would wait until later in the month.
Question: I live in Coshocton, Ohio. My lawn was torn up while building an addition but now I have new topsoil raked and ready for seeding. Could I seed now as long as I make sure the seeds are covered with straw and watered, or should I wait until Fall?
Answer: I would wait until early to late September but not after October 15th. Ohio summers can get pretty hot, especially in August, and if there's not steady enough, consistent rain, we experience drought conditions that can cause grass to enter dormancy. We've had June and July temperatures in the low to mid-90s this summer, so I think autumn planting is better for seedlings to develop strong grass blade roots. A long-term weather forecast may give you a better guesstimate on rainfall. Self-watering is OK as long as the seeds are monitored continuously.
Question: Is it a bad time to sow down a new lawn in the Ohio Valley? What seed is recommended?
Answer: I do not recommend planting grass seed before the September-October window. The Ohio Valley, which is actually the Ohio River Valley, attracts weather systems. It's a preferred weather track for storms, especially. Meteorologists say moist Ohio River Valley air creates hot, sticky weather (such as the 90 degree temperatures we get in July and August). The best type of seed for your lawn depends on soil pH and temperature, also if all areas are in direct sunlight. I prefer Kentucky bluegrass for just about everything because it is so hardy, but, before you invest in the time an expense of resodding, have the soil tested to see what would grow best (contact your local extension service). Fescues may be an option (but do not mix the two). Some strains take more time and effort to maintain than others. In any case, gather your info now so you'll be ready to seed in the fall.
Question: What is the best brand of grass seed to start a new lawn (newly constructed home southwest of Cleveland) that I won't be able to plant until spring?
Answer: Sorry, but I don't recommend seed brands. However, I typically prefer straight KBG or KBG/fescue blends for northern Ohio its success depends on soil alkalinity and whether the entire lawn is in direct sunlight. Take a soil sample evaluation to your local garden store to explore your options.
Question: Is this a good time to overseed my lawn in Warren, Ohio?
Answer: I suggest that you determine what kind of grass seed to use, take the soil's temperature and monitor future weather patterns. As noted in the article, sowing or over-seeding cool-season grasses is best done when soil temperatures range between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. I know we're all anxious to get started on our gardening chores, but we must let Mother Nature take her course -- it is best to wait until after the danger of frost has passed. In Warren, you are rather close to Lake Erie and probably get a good amount of lake effect weather. For more information about specifics in your area, contact your local extension service (or the nearest one) or nursery.
Question: I have an area that the previous homeowners had as a wildflower patch. I have removed all surface debris and will be grading tonight. Can I seed the lawn in and still have it work out for me and be a healthy yard?
Answer: I suggest having the soil tested for pH and microbes. Surface debris doesn't indicate what is deep below the soil -- there maybe a lot of weed and invasive plant leftovers. I cannot tell you whether your lawn will be healthy but if you use KBG or a cool-seson seed blend in direct sunlight with well-draining soil, you have an even chance, I think.