April: To-Do List

Illustration by Kathleen White

Illustration by Kathleen White

1. Explore Fairmount Park
There are beautiful spring ephemerals like rue anemone, bloodroot and twinleaf to be found, so get yourself a guidebook and take the family for a wildflower walk.

2.  Reprogram your thermostat
You might not need your heating system at all anymore, but at the very least make the switch to lower programmed temperatures as the weather warms.

3.  Clean out the gutters
One of the best ways to ensure that water isn’t going to wreak havoc in your house is to make sure everything can drain as designed; make sure storm drains are functioning, too. 

4.  Add mulch to your beds and pots
Mulch isn’t just wood chips, and it’s not just for making the garden look neat and tidy. Mulch is any kind of organic ground cover, such as compost or shredded leaves, that will help keep weeds away, retain moisture and provide nutrients to keep the soil rich and productive. Don’t forget to add some to your potted plants as well. Two inches of high-quality mulch will do.  

5. Get back into the habit of going to your farmers market
Everyone is itching for spring greens, but the real sight for sore eyes will be your favorite farmer behind the stand. 

6.  Repair and clean your winter gear
Now is the time get your boots and shoes scrubbed of corrosive salt and minerals, and to make any basic repairs—such as reheeling—that will keep them going another season. And before you throw your hats, gloves and scarves in the bin until next year, give them a good wash so they’re fresh and clean when the cold sets in again.

7.  Prune your trees and shrubs
Plants that will flower from mid to late summer should get a visit from your pruning shears this time of year. Roses, hydrangeas, butterfly bush, holly firethorn and ornamental grasses are among the plants that benefit from being cut back in the early spring.

8. Install your screens  
Install your window and door screens and enjoy those first spring days when you can finally throw open the windows and let fresh air float through the house. 

9.  Check for mosquito breeding grounds
Take care of standing water in tree holes, puddles, storm drains, water troughs and birdbaths. A bottlecap is enough for breeding!

10. Get rid of old goods in the fridge and pantry
The green of fresh asparagus and leafy lettuce is about to replace the root vegetables that reigned over the winter. Take a moment to get rid of expired spices and condiments—like the leftover preserves hiding in the fridge door.