03-March Garden Tasks

With new growth appearing within the garden, March is the month that heralds the arrival of Spring.  It also is one of the busiest months in the garden as you make the most of the warmer weather and drying ground conditions. Jobs deferred due to bad weather, cold and the gardeners general dislike for venturing out into the garden need addressing.  The positive rewards for venturing out this time of the year are the spring bulbs that add the early colour to the garden.  Early spring flowering shrubs such as Daphnes provide not only visual appeal but a wonderful scent that hangs in the air.

As mentioned in my advice on ornamental grasses early March is an ideal time to start cutting back Stipa, Calamagrostis and Deschampsia.  These can be cut back to 100 mm above the ground.

If it remains mild Miscanthus will be showing signs of new growth and the old spent flower stems can be cut back.

Ensure your hybrid T roses have been pruned back before they put on too much growth.

Prune late flowering deciduous shrubs between January and March i.e. before they flower in the summer. Some examples are Buddleja, Caryopteris, Hydrangea, Lavatera, fuchsia, and Ceanothus.

Cornus and willows with coloured stems can be cut back removing a third of the old stems back to 200 mm above ground.  This will encourage new growth.  This new growth will have better colour than the old stems which will turn grey with age.

Acid loving/lime hating plants, such as camellias, have difficulty absorbing certain iron and manganese elements from the soil if growing in a limey soil. The yellowing is a symptom of an iron deficiency and is easy overcome. Feeding acid loving plants such as camellias and rhododendrons with ericaceous feed or sequestered iron will ensure they remain vigorous and will flower well for you.

Beds can be dug over and mulched with composted bark which will help prevent the mass of weeds that appear most notably hairy bitter cress which manages to set seed rapidly.

Pests such as slugs will be appearing shortly and controls need to be put in place now to protect the tender new growths of your herbaceous perennials.

Tidy up the beds and if you like labeling plants now is the time to replace any damaged or fading labels.

Dividing overgrown clumps of snowdrops in the green is the best way to enlarge these attractive bulbs. By dividing the group you can create larger drifts that will carpet ground.

Foliage left on marginal water plants that were left on for winter protection need to be removed.

Utilise time in March to get on top of any weeding and you will find the garden less formidable in the following months.

Maintain any garden machinery getting it ready for the new season.  Mowers blades should be sharpened and pond pumps checked ensuring the filters are not blocked.



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