Gardening In March
The days are noticeably longer in March, and when the clocks go forward, gardeners have more time to get things done.
While we can expect more sunshine, March can be bitterly cold with strong winds and significant rainfall. A smattering of snow or a late frost is also possible.
Routine Jobs Around the Garden
There are many gardening jobs to do in March, including a general tidy up, pruning, removing dead stems, mulching and lawn maintenance. It’s also a great time of year to divide perennials and prepare containers and hanging baskets with hardy plants.
Here are our top 5 jobs for March. But remember, when the ground is soggy following heavy or persistent rainfall, it is best to defer some jobs until the weather improves.
Pruning roses and shrubs
March is a great time to prune bush and shrub roses; we usually prune climbers in the autumn. Pruning promotes healthy stems and encourages new shoots that will produce a good display of flowers throughout the summer and into the autumn.
Typically, roses produce flowers on one and two-year old wood, so take the opportunity to thin out stems, especially deal or crossing, to open up the bush rose. You should aim to prune to within 2–3 inches (5–8 cm) of last year’s growth.
Shrub roses require much less pruning, so aim to thin out crowded stems and simply remove dead heads and hips from last year along with any dead or diseased branches.
Other shrubs, e.g., dogwood (Cornus) and willow (Salix), benefit from pruning in March too. These can be pruned hard back to about 6 inches (ca. 15 cm) from the ground.
Lastly, prune any climbers such as honeysuckle, ivy, and Winter Jasmin.
Lawn care and maintenance
Weather permitting, March is the correct time to start mowing the lawn regularly. When starting, make sure you set the lawnmower blades to their highest setting.
For a healthy and attractive lawn, it's important to cut regularly and to remove the clippings. Furthermore, avoid the temptation to cut the lawn too close, since this will weaken the lawn and encourage moss and weeds!
If there's any damage to the lawn, repair this now and sow grass seed to any bare patches.
Planting and dividing perennials
Perennials are starting to shoot now, so it’s a great time to split and divide large clumps for an even better show this summer. When dividing, aim to create odd-numbered groups of three, five, seven plants etc.
And when replanting, be sure to add some peat-free compost and organic fertilizer before watering.
Planting container and hanging baskets
Patio containers and hanging baskets are ideal for brightening drab corners of your garden at this time of year. However, it’s still too early for tender plants, so use hardy varieties. For instance, pansies, primrose, ivies, patio roses, and so on. Just let your imagination loose!
Finally, take time to weed and mulch your borders—taking care not to disturb or damage any spring bulbs. If you have a large garden, it is better to mulch small areas with a thick covering of mulch rather than applying a thin layer everywhere. It is particularly important to mulch shrubs and trees that were planted in the autumn.
Martin Webster, The Suburban Gardener
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