Perennials: Carefully remove mulches from perennial beds, keeping some handy in case of a freezing spell. Spray emerging tulips and day lilies with deer repellent to prevent nibbling. Keep a journal and photographs of location and bloom time of bulbs as an aid for planning new bulb beds next fall. Begin weeding as soon as the weeds appear, being careful not to damage emerging plants.
Flowers: Purchase pansy plants for instant color in planters or among blooming bulbs.
Vegetables and fruits: Fertilize rhubarb and asparagus. Cut back raspberry canes that fruited last summer and thin and top off the new canes. Continue pruning fruit trees and grape vines. In the lower parts of the Lower Hudson Valley, start seeds of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower to set out in 5-7 weeks. Wait a week or so in the north.
Trees and shrubs: A light layer of leafy mulch to a depth of 2 to 4 inches around shrubs preserves moisture and keeps roots cool. Apply deer repellents as new growth appears, using a variety of products. New ones continue to appear on the market, but none works as long as they claim. Prune hydrangeas and buddleia and other late summer blooming shrubs. Prune the older canes of red osier dogwood to encourage the beautiful red new stems to come up.
Lawns: Rake vigorously to remove winter debris and thatch. Reseed bare spots. Control wild onion, chickweed and dandelions with spot treatment. Fertilization is not recommended at this time. The lawn wise gardener waits until Memorial Day for the first application of the year.
Houseplants: Continue fertilizing on a regular schedule. Check carefully for insect infestations. If a south-facing window is too hot move plants to a west or east window. Repot if needed.
General: Collect information on invasive plants so that you can recognize them and prevent them from getting a foothold in your back yard.