April is National Lawn and Garden Month, and an excellent time to get planting! But what’s safe to plant in unpredictable April weather? To help you get a jump start on your spring gardening, we reached out to David Yost of the Merrifield Gardening Center in Fair Oaks, Virginia to offer you some tips, along with answers to frequently asked questions. Read through, try them out, and tweet us photos of your spring planting adventures!

What should I do about weeds right now?

Winter weeds are at peak maturity right now but they’re at the end of their life cycle and will die off within the next month or so. For that reason, weed killer won’t have much of an effect on winter weeds at this point but you can pull them out by hand if you want to get rid of them now. However, summer weeds are about to make an appearance, so we recommend investing in a weed preventer now to stop new weeds from creeping in during the upcoming summer months.

What flowers can I plant in April?

April is known for warm days and chilly nights, so we recommend planting flowers that thrive in these conditions, such as creeping phlox, bleeding heart, candytuft, pansies, snapdragons and sweet alyssum. Annuals (plants like geraniums, marigolds, and New Guinea impatiens that live for only one season) can add instant color pops to your landscape beds and pots. April weather can be unpredictable though, so keep a close watch on the weather forecast and cover your annuals with a frost cloth (not plastic) when frost is predicted.

What about edible plants?

There are a number of herbs and greens that thrive in colder temperatures like lettuce, cabbage, parsley, and cilantro, just to name a few. For tender plants like tomatoes, cucumber, and basil, it’s best to wait until May when the weather is warmer and there isn’t a risk of frost. If you do want to get a jump start on tender plants like tomatoes or basil, start growing your seeds indoors so they’ll be ready to plant in your garden next month. We recommend this to our residents with rooftop terraces (at the Berkshire Collection at Brambleton, for example) because these spaces get a lot of sunlight Bonus tip from Van Metre Homes: in the warmer months, rooftop terraces — like the ones you’ll see at the Berkshire Collection at Brambleton — are a great place to plant tomatoes and herbs because they’re exposed to lots of direct sunlight. If you don’t have a terrace or even a backyard, hanging planters can be a great option for spaces inside your home that get a lot of natural light.

What kind of mulch should I buy?

There are many different types of mulch but they all essentially do the same thing, so pick your mulch according to your own personal preferences. When exploring different types of mulch, take color, texture, and price into consideration and see which options you prefer. Shredded hardwood mulch is popular but the color fades relatively quickly. If you’re interested in a mulch that retains its color, try pine bark. It’s slightly more expensive but the color remains vibrant longer.

Is it ok to plant trees and shrubs?

Yes! Trees and shrubs are an excellent way to start your spring planting now — they’re hardy and can withstand colder temperatures if there’s an April frost. Just keep in mind that all newly planted trees and shrubs require special watering attention, so be sure to read the watering instructions carefully and call your supplier if you have any questions specific to the plant you choose. ----------- Looking for more ways to get outdoors this spring? Check out our list of 4 Virginia Vineyards You Need to Visit.