Jobs to Keep You Busy in the Garden This March
A profusion of spring flowers are brightening up the garden. This is the month when things are really starting to happen, when most plants emerge from their winter dormancy along with an itch for us gardeners to be outside. Signs of life are everywhere, from the increasingly noisy dawn chorus to hawthorn buds and freely flowering daffodils, fritillaries and crocus. By the end of March we are given the gift of an extra hour in the evening, so there are no excuses; now is the time to be getting on with things in the garden.
Provided the ground is not too wet, herbaceous plants and deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted out. To encourage a new plant to spread its roots quickly, dig a wide but not too deep hole. Give a generous mulch with compost over the top of the soil and water new plants in well. Keep an eye on the watering of new plants, especially in the first season of growth. They may die if they get too dry.
Winter pruning can be completed in March. Dogwood, shrubby willows, and ornamental Rubus, grown for their winter coloured stems, should be cut down hard. Prune to about one or two buds of last year’s growth to leave a stubby framework. Late flowering shrubs, such as Buddlejas should be treated in the same way to give a better display in the autumn.
Cut down all growth from last year’s perennial plants if you left them over winter. Even if the seed heads are still looking good, you need to get rid of them now to make way for new growth. Perennial plants will also benefit from an application of a good general fertiliser now.
Sowing of hardy vegetables and annual flowers can begin in earnest this month. You can bring them on in a greenhouse or cold frame to give the seedlings a better start in life, but later this month they can be sown directly into the ground. If you have a small garden, try growing vegetables among flowers. Many vegetables are attractive plants and can make wonderful contrasts to other ornamental plants in the garden.
March is the best month to mulch. This is a layer of organic matter such as compost or wood chippings spread over the surface of the soil. A good, thick layer of mulch will help to cut down on weeding, reduce the need to water and improve the condition of the soil, making for healthier plants.
Many little jobs can be done at the gentlest of paces so while having a constitutional walk round the garden, keep a look out for germinating weed seedlings and take them out with a hoe. The best time to do this is on a dry sunny day so the weeds can be left on the surface of the soil to die. If you dig out perennial weeds, for example dandelions and nettles, while they are small, they will be easier to control later in the year.