March gardening tips

Feb 24, 2020

By Dawn Matlock, Turf and Ornamental Coordinator

By the time March rolls around, you’re probably itching to get your hands back in the dirt, an activity that can brighten both your garden and spirit. Even though there are still some frosty nights in store for the next 30-plus days, here are some ideas to get your gardens going.

Flower beds
• Bring some color into your life by planting cool-season annuals like pansies, primroses, sweet peas, calendulas, dianthus, and snapdragons.
• Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlias, lilies, and gladiolus.
• If weeds occur in bulb beds, do not remove them by cultivation. Pull them by hand so that the bulbs and roots will not be disturbed.
• Don’t worry if spring-flowering bulbs are sending up green leaves. The foliage can with stand winter weather.
• Divide existing perennials as soon as they break dormancy. Dig up the entire plant and break up the clump, keeping the healthy parts of the plant. Trim off damaged roots and keep cuttings moist, and water after replanting.
• When you start to see new growth, give them a good dose of plant food. It’s also a good time to add some summer- and fall-flowering perennials, as well.
• Cut back ornamental grasses that are brown or dead, leaving a 1⁄2 to 2 inches to ensure regrowth.
• Because of their rapid growth and abundant blooms, annuals need more fertilizing than most other plants in the bed.
• Remove dead blooms from annuals to maximize flowering potential.
• Cover your beds with 2 to 3 inches of mulch to stifle weed growth. This layer also helps keep soil moist during summer’s hot, dry weather.
• If the temperature drops below freezing, cover your plants at night with a sheet, light blanket, or grow cloth.

Rose gardens
• Now’s the time to plant new roses and prune the existing bushes.
• Remove last season’s leaves from around the roses, and refresh the beds with mulch.
• As new leaves emerge, start weekly spraying for black spot.
• Feed plants with a slow-release rose fertilizer.

Trees and shrubs
• Prune shrubs and ornamental trees that are flowering before growth starts; for shrubs with buds or flowering, resist pruning until flowering is finished.
• If spring-blooming shrubs need more room, divide the plants before flowers or leaves appear.
• March is the best month to relocate crape myrtles.
• Trees like birch and maple should not be pruned until after their leaves are fully developed.
• Evergreens should be pruned to control shape and size by mid-March.

• Feed every lawn this month. Cool-season grasses like fescue and ryegrass are peaking during this time. As for warm-season grasses like Bermudagrass that are waking from dormancy, this early feeding will help them regain their deep green color.
• Don’t wait for annual weeds like crabgrass to take root. Stop them in their early growth stages with pre-emergence herbicide. Read the instructions carefully.
• Grubs become active this month, so begin treating now to minimize damage to the lawn or garden.
• Sharpen lawn mower blades and have mower serviced by mid-month.

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