Essential Garden Tasks in March
March is a wonderful time in the garden. First growth has already begun in this time of transition and transformation, while buds and early blooms are a welcome treat after the winter. Whether you are expanding your garden and your planting schemes, or you are blessed with a mature garden the days are now warmer and the garden is simply a more tempting place to be.
Depending on your garden’s soil, climate and planting schemes your garden will need different things at different times. Individual Plants respond to treatment according to their own encoded schedules, and on top of this our lives are increasingly busy. That is why it’s doubly important to use your time wisely, and to structure your gardening to the rhythm of your garden and the rhythm of the season.
Here is a general round up of the most common things that really must be done in the garden this month:
Tidy Flower Beds and Boarders - (Weeding is very likely necessary), cut back perennial growth that was left over the winter, even if it still looks attractive. Keeping on top of your boarders at this stage will give you the start you need to keep things in order for the months to come. This isn’t quite a head start, but definitely best tackled now before spring growth truly comes into its own.
Mulch Bare Soil - Now that your boarders and beds are tidy apply a mulch such as compost, chipped bark or spent mushroom compost. This will enrich the soil, help the soil from drying out and help keep weeds down. If the soil is dry remember to give it a good dose of water first, and be careful to choose an appropriate mulch near acid loving plants like azaleas.
Prune Late Flowering Shrubs - Shrubs that flower in late summer or Autumn can generally be pruned hard in March or April. Just be careful not to prune your early flowering shrubs or they won’t flower for you! (they flower on last year’s growth). Correct pruning will encourage flowers (in some cases fruit), ensure your plants remain healthy and vigorous, as well as keep them in the desired shape and size. Another good rule of thumb here is that most evergreens rarely need to be pruned but most deciduous shrubs will benefit from the attention.
Prune and Feed both Bush and Shrub Roses - while the specifics of Roses are beyond the scope of this article lets just say it’s time to dust off those secateurs!
Begin to Mow the Lawn Regularly - Don’t forget to switch your lawnmower to a higher setting. Where possible avoid mowing in the wet, especially if there is “give” in the turf. Never mow when it is slippery underfoot as you will damage the turf, and possibly annoy someone by tracking mud back into the house!
Feed Fruit Trees - use potash.
Divide Overgrown Summer Flowering Perennials - anything 3-5 times the plant’s original size will benefit from this. Generally, Perennials need dividing every 2-3 years. Remember to give it a good soaking the day before digging up and dividing.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but, no matter what type of garden you have, these are what you should be focusing your energies on for the next couple of weeks.
I’ll be listing Optional March Tasks in my next instalment, and these are generally best done during the latter part of the month. If perhaps you haven’t done much in your garden for the last few months make sure to take it easy. It really is best not to go from the winter armchair to suddenly tackling everything all at once. It’s far more important to find a little time to simply enjoy being in your garden!