In The Garden – March-April gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• Start planting perennials and water well to encourage root growth. Divide and replant perennials that are getting to large.

• Wait until spring bulb foliage dies down naturally before removing it. Fertilize bulbs after blooming.

• Don’t let weeds go to seed. Pull them now and apply a pre-emergent in your flowerbeds to keep weeds from taking over.

• When new leaves start to appear on your roses, it’s time to begin a regular fungicide treatment.

• Wait until the last frost (around April 15) before planting summer annuals in the garden. Can’t wait? Plant some cool weather annuals like pansies.

• Plant summer-flowering bulbs like iris, lilies and dahlias after the end of March. Fertilize once green shoots appear.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Plant potatoes, onions, beets, and radishes, and transplant cabbage, broccoli and similar members of the cabbage family. These vegetables can withstand a light frost without damage. Plant other transplants after the last frost.

• Plant blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and muscadine grapes in late March or April. Fertilize berry plants and fruit trees.

• You can direct seed sweet corn, pole beans, lima and snap beans, cantaloupe, cucumbers, summer squash and watermelons after April 15. Wait until the end of April to set out tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

• Wait until after the last frost to plant most herbs.


• Do not fertilize warm-season grasses like Bermuda and zoysia at this time. Wait until the grass is completely green before fertilizing. Don’t fertilize fescue in the spring as this can cause disease problems.

• Mow cool-season grass like fescue with a sharp blade at a height of least 3 inches. Don’t take more than one-third of the grass blade off when you mow. Leave grass clippings on the lawn, which return nutrients to the soil.

• Apply pre-emergent herbicides for control of weeds.

Trees and Shrubs

• Pick up the camellia flowers after they drop to prevent camellia petal blight.

• The sooner you plant trees the better chance their root systems have to grow before hot weather starts.

• Complete any major pruning of fruit or shade trees in March. Do not prune or fertilize winter or spring flowering plants such as camellia or azalea until after they have finished blooming.

• Shape up evergreen shrubs in April, but avoid shearing, which encourages dense growth on the outermost part of the plant, leaving interior branches shaded and leafless. Hand prune from within.

• Prune summer blooming plants like butterfly bush that bloom on new wood.

• Look for cool season mites on junipers, arbor vitae, other conifers, azaleas, hollies, and camellias. If present, they will be very active in March. Spray as needed.

• Watch for fire ants once the weather warms up.

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at