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March's Chores PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bakker Company & Parag Nawathe   
Feb 04, 2006 at 08:51 AM

The first signs of spring are now clearly visible, much to the joy of many a gardener. And with your gardens and patios coming alive, this is the month to get busy again, to prepare your garden for the coming season.


Garden general

  • Removing weeds is easy while perennials are still small.
  • All protective branches and leaves can be cleared away permanently now.
  • On an overcast day, winter protection like plastic bags and covers can be removed from roses and other plants.

Planting

  • If temperatures are not falling below zero every day, March is a good time for planting any deciduous or non-deciduous plants.
  • Never plant in very wet or water logged soil.
  • After nights with a light frost, give newly planted plants some water.
  • Plants that have outgrown their spots can be taken up, divided and replanted. Make sure the roots do not dry out.
  • In a mild spring you can plant summer bulbs and tubers as early as late March.

Lawn

  • Depending on the temperature you can start preparing your lawn.
  • Comb the 'felt' layer out of the lawn using a rake. This gives the grass space to grow.
  • Use an aerator on the lawn. This gives the roots a better chance to develop.
  • If the grass is too tall, do not mow it right down. A length of 4 to 5 cm is fine.
  • Spread a thin layer of compost (1 cm max) on the lawn. Rain will take it down into the ground.

Tub plants

  • New tub plants can be planted now.
  • Sensitive types, however, are better kept indoors for a while.
  • Older tub plants can still be re-potted.
  • Water sparsely, just enough to prevent drying out.
  • On nice days, open up the windows of your greenhouse, conservatory, or wherever your tub plants have over-wintered. This will prepare them for the move outside by hardening them off slightly.
  • During spells of dry weather, potted Box and your now fast-growing flower bulbs will need regular watering. In very wet spells, make sure pots with flower bulbs have enough drainage holes. Bulbs don't like 'wet feet'.

Pruning

  • Remove the very last dead foliage.
  • Roses can be pruned from end of March. Use clean and sharp secateurs. Rose bushes should be cut back to a height of about 45 cm.
  • Cut standard roses back to above the graft. Branches should be a maximum length of 40 cm, and cut back to just above an eye (sprouting bud). Weeping roses can be left slightly longer.
  • Don't cut the main branches of climbing roses. Side branches can be cut back to above the fifth eye. Old climbing roses can be rejuvenated if necessary by cutting one of the main branches right back to the ground.
  • Old privet hedges that need rejuvenating can be pruned now. Use loppers for this job. Leave only the sturdy main branches with a length between 50 to 100 cm.
  • Cut back loose hanging ivy branches. Also check for branches that have attached themselves to the woodwork or guttering and remove them.
  • Cut late-flowering Clematis right back to the ground. Snails and slugs love the new shoots so keep an eye out for them.
  • Lavender and Heather can be cut back using hedge clippers. Never cut them back to the bare wood!
  • Only Hydrangea grandiflora "Annabelle" and paniculata can be cut back to just above ground level now. All other Hydrangeas should be left until May.
  • Cut a few branches of a Prunus and put them indoors in a vase. The blossoms will soon bring the spring into your house.

Vegetable garden

  • You can now sow Peas, Broad beans and Scorzonera or Black salsify straight in the ground.

Pond

  • Remove all remaining dead plant material.

Indoors

  • Try forcing Dahlias, Begonias and Cannas indoors in bowls, trays or boxes. This way you can enjoy their flowers earlier on in the season.
  • Houseplants can be re-potted and supplied with new soil.
  • Annuals can be sown in a propagator or in a box with a glass cover.
  • Fuchsias and Pelargoniums that have spent the winter indoors can now be cut back and re-potted. Water them sparsely. Open windows on nice days to harden the plants off.
  • Don't throw away overblown spring flower bulbs like Hyacinths, Hyacinth grapes or Narcissi that have brought colour to your home in the dark months. Plant them in the garden. They will probably not flower as abundantly as they did in their first flowering period, but they will still give you a nice display next spring.

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