See the checklist of 10 important things you can do in March in the garden as the spring is about to come and gardening season is beginning!
1. Prepare Your Soil
Remove all the weeds and indulge in a wee bit of forking to maintain a tidy and uniform surface. The soil is workable in the spring, so it’s a good idea to add a few centimeters of compost layer or well-rotted manure into your topsoil to prepare it for the upcoming growing season. Cover the newly prepared soil with multiple sheets of black plastic to keep it warmer and drier in preparation for planting of summer-special seeds.
2. Time for Typical Summer Vegetables
As long as the soil isn’t too waterlogged and soggy, early sowing may be made by slightly warming the soil before sowing by using cloches to ensure better seed germination results. The warm and dry soil characteristic of mid-March is suitable for sowing beetroot, artichoke, brussels sprouts, carrot, cabbage, lettuce, parsley, spinach, radish and broad bean. Additionally, you can also carry out the sowing of cucumber, aubergine, and other tender vegetables in a heated greenhouse. To ensure a generous supply of parsley in the later months of the year, consider sowing the seeds in pots. Chives, on the other hand, are best grown individually, rather than clumps. Also, it’s advisable to sow outdoor varieties at the end of March, as they can grow better by taking advantage of the warmer conditions, and become ready for planting out in June. However, you don’t have to wait that long for growing seed potatoes. Just set them out in trays and place them in a cool, frost-free environment to enable the formation of new shoots. If you have a soft spot for celery, sow the seeds in pots and place them in the greenhouse so that you have plants ready for outdoor growth by May and June.
March heralds the end of the dormant winter season. This makes it an ideal time for pruning all your trees and shrubs, all with one exception- pines. Allow their new growth to expand and flourish until the young needles turn half of the full size before pruning. However, spring flowering shrubs including lilac and forsythia can be pruned now, unless you don’t want to lose the flower buds on the delicate stems you are removing. If overgrown, these shrubs may be rejuvenated by cutting all the stems to the ground level, to stimulate nascent ones to emerge. It’s important for you to perform the process now and don’t delay it until the flowering is done. Elm, birch, maple and black walnut tend to ooze sap when pruned in late February due to the effect of water pressure on the bottom layer of moist soil. While this won’t harm the plant per se, you can consider pruning these trees in the second week of March.
4. Plant Fruit Trees and Shrubs
As the pruning of established shrubs and trees should have been done by now, it’s a fairly accurate time for planting fruits. Plant apple and cherry trees in a sunny yet sheltered spot, and carry out late plantings of soft, succulent fruits such as raspberry, gooseberry, and strawberry. Cut canes of raspberry to ground level, to stimulate new canes, which will eventually go on to fruit in fall (autumn). Also, ensure to feed your blueberry shoots with ericaceous plant fertilizer. Mulch rhubarbs with a thick layer of manure to keep them healthy and reduce moisture loss from soil. It’s a good time to plant fresh rhubarb crowns, though you should ensure not to cover them up with manure. With that being said, it’s recommended to cover the crowns with used-up buckets to exclude any light and trigger the development of long, tender rhubarb stalks.
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5. Plant Bulbs
This is the time when early flowering bulbs like caladiums, dahlias, crocus and hyacinth should be taken out of storage for leaving the foliage to break dormancy naturally. Plant tender bulbs of begonia tubers in a pot containing moist compost, covering only the top. These pots should be ideally kept in well-lit spots and occasionally watered whenever the compost dries out. As soon as the shoots elongate, they should be potted individually. You can also start potting up stored geraniums. The warm, sunny days help stimulate new growth and lead to fuller plants by the time summer arrives.
6. Install Rain Barrels/Water Butts
You can also consider installing compact little water butts/rain barrels in your garden for collecting the rainfall. In addition to helping the environment, rain water is great for watering ericaceous plants like Camellias, blueberries, and rhododendrons. One thing to make sure while installing this is that it’s positioned below the downpipe, in a bid to take maximum advantage of the rainfall.
7. Eliminate Garden Pests
Eliminating hibernating pests in the early days of March can save you a world of trouble in the upcoming months of summer. It should top the list of things to do in March in the garden. Examine the crowns of your perennial plants and you will find slugs, snails, bugs and aphid colonies cowering in the closed spaces, sheltering for the winter. In case you still haven’t cleared up the former year’s pots of summer bedding, then you better do this now and watch out for the weevil larvae, which tends to thrive on compost and feed on roots. Destroy any you come across, and gear up to kill off vine weevils this year with chemical drenches or parasitic nematodes.
8. Move Deciduous Shrubs to Right Spot
If you have a poorly placed deciduous shrub or two, now is the best time to move them while they are still dormant. To prevent the roots from drying out, choose a still day. When digging them up, take a wide berth all round the shrub and try taking as much of the root as possible for the faster establishment in the new location. Also, ensure planting the shrubs at the same level as they were in previously in the soil. And don’t forget to water them generously afterward!
9. Groom Your Lawn
Nothing spoils the beauty of a well-maintained garden bed than a worn-out lawn lying alongside. Lawns suffer from the build-up of moss, debris and plant decay in the dreary days of winter, so March is probably the best time to tackle it. You can start by hauling out all the dead grass, moss and the clutter that has accumulated. If allowed to remain, they can quickly condense to form an impenetrable waterproof layer over the topsoil. Additionally, ensure to dig out the roots of perennial weeds by using a weedkiller rich in Glyphosate. If the lawn is already established, proceed to make the first cut of the season; but before proceeding, ensure the grass is not too wet.
10. Pay a Final Tribute to Winter
Get your cool-season favorites into the garden now. If you wait, the weather will get warm to grow them. Have homemade windbreaks or row covers handy to protect them on windy days and chilly nights. Early on, sow the last plantings of turnips, beets, mustard, broccoli and spinach. Then in the mid-to-late March, plant peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, and squash. Nurture young plants with organic fertilizer. Also, pull away from the mulch from shrubs, trees, and perennials to allow the soil to become warm around them. At the end of the month, plant seasonal ornamentals including daisies, marigolds, carnations and petunias.