4 Spring Garden Chores to Do in April

Chores to keep a gardener busy when temperatures lag behind the calendar.

gardener hosing down trowel
Shutterstock
By Virginia M. Wright
From our April 2020 issue

1) NURTURE

Put up birdhouses for bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, purple martins, tree swallows, wrens, and other birds that nest mid-April through May. The UMaine Cooperative Extension offers guidelines.

Robins perched on a wooden birdhouse
Shutterstock
cleaning garden tools
Shutterstock

2) CLEAN

Disinfect garden tools as a precaution against spreading plant diseases. Spray or wipe blades with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or soak for 30 minutes in a 1:9 bleach-water solution.

3) PLANT

As soon as the soil is dry enough to be worked, sow seeds for beets, carrots, lettuces, peas, parsnips, radishes, shallots, spinach, and turnips. Indoors, under lights, start broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, and tomatoes. It’s also time to prune butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, roses, and other summer bloomers.

spring chores: sowing seeds
Shutterstock
browntail moths
Shutterstock | Muddy Knees

4) DESTROY

In mid-April, a new generation of browntail moth caterpillars creeps from winter webs to shed microscopic, rash-inducing hairs that drift in the air and settle onto brush, remaining toxic for up to three years. Prevent this by clipping infected branches and burning the webs or soaking them in soapy water. The Maine Forest Service has a helpful FAQ.

May 2024, Down East Magazine

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