Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Nice spring weather encourages gardeners to get outdoors

APRIL 07, 2013 12:00 AM
The sound of leaf blowers permeated the neighborhood on Saturday. The excitement of spring and all it promises is palpable. It’s time to come out of hibernation and start working on our yards, but just like junk food, too much too soon is a bad thing.
I had to enlist some help from some colleagues for this article to ensure accuracy. Here is a list of the things that I hope to get done in my yard this month and a few things that should wait until May.
April to do list:
• Plant pansies in pots by front door and in front flower bed
• Jazz up the pots with branches, curly willow or dogwood in the center
• Add trailing English ivy
• No other annuals should be planted this month
• Trim off winter snow and wind damage. Don’t prune flowering shrubs (i.e. lilac, potentilla or crabapple)
• Remove winter protective wrap from trees -- depending on weather
• Apply a systemic insecticide according to directions -- Bonide Annual Tree & Shrub Insect Control is a very good one -- on trees that were particularly infested last year
• Deep water trees if ground is dry
• Spray dormant oil and lime sulfur on deciduous trees and shrubs before leaves unfurl
• Divide and or move perennials before they break dormancy -- pull back winter mulch
• Fertilize and water as new growth emerges
• Amend soil with compost
• Acclimate (harden off) newly-purchased perennials before planting
• Amend garden beds with compost
• Start cucumber, melon and squash seeds indoors
• Plant radishes, carrots, beets, peas, sweet peas, lettuce, chard, onion sets and spinach directly in the garden
• Plant bare root trees, shrubs, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, asparagus and horseradish
• Plant certified seed potatoes on Good Friday -- later is OK too!
• Watch for new growth on tender roses
• Begin removing mulch, about a third at a time at 10-day intervals
• Trim shrub roses only
• Wait until May to prune hybrid roses
• Mow and trim, aerate and/or power rake if needed
• Apply balanced formula fertilizer after first mowing
• Clean outdoor pots and fill with fresh soil/compost mixture
• Clean out rain gutters
• Fill gas cans for mower, weed eater and blower
May 1st
• Plant summer flowering bulbs, gladiolas and dahlias
May 15th
• Plant remainder of vegetables in garden
• Plant tomato plants with a plan to COVER if necessary
• Put out hanging baskets on front porch
• Add annuals to pots and perennial beds for extra color
So, there it is. A great big list of things to do for those of us who think that May 15th is just too far away!
Jim Gainan is president of Gainan’s Flower and Garden Center in Billings.