March is first month of spring has arrived and your garden really begins to come alive after the long winter. But remember that March is a tricky month – it is possible to get a sunshine one day which is likely to be followed by hard frost next morning. So do not be tempted to put out any tender plants yet! Now the ground is warming up and so over this month and next month a lot of the spring planting, moving and dividing needs to be done before the hotter, drier weather sets in.
What to do in March?
Mulch soil after weeding and tidying it first. Mulch has many advantages – helps to retain moisture, prevent soil erosion, control weeds and it adds nutrients to the soil; but also makes your garden look neat and clean. As mulch you can use well-rotten farmyard manure, cocoa shells, chipped bark, mushroom compost or garden compost (the best one comes from your garden compost bin!). Apply generous layer of mulch using a spade; layer should be about 2 in deep; an important thing is to do not spread mulch too close to plant is stems, as it may cause rotting.
Rose pruning – now is the traditional time for pruning bush and shrub roses. The main reason for pruning roses is to build a healthy framework of shoots that will produce a good display of flowers. Thinning overcrowded growth allows in light and air, so it will make them less prone to pests and diseases and encourages strong healthy growth.
Firstly, remove any dead, damaged or diseased wood. Secondly, cut out any shoots that are crossing and rubbing against another. Now you are ready to prune flowering wood-the method varies depending on the rose type; always prune to outward – facing buds.
Buddleja davidii, dogwoods, shrubby willows, ornamental Rubus – prune all these shrubs hard, to about one or two buds of last years growth.
Prune group 3 Clematis-like Clematis Jackmanii or Clematis Madame Julia Correvon- late flowering climbers (from late summer onwards). Prune them hard, cutting all stems about 25 cm (10 in) above ground level.
Always use clean and sharp tools for pruning, by doing so you prevent spreading of many fungal diseases.
Get your mower ready for new season! Make sure the blade is sharp and clean-there is nothing worst than lawn treated with a blunt mower.
Start mowing regularly: for the first few cuts set the blades at the highest settings. Do not leave grass clippings on the lawn.
Feed the lawn with spring time fertilizer this type of fert contains more nitrogen than autumn one. If the spring is cold, wait until next month, as grass needs to be actively growing in order to make the best use of fertilizer.
Remove thatch if you did not scarify last autumn, rake out the moss and dead grass using a spring tinned rake.
Reseed the lawn if your lawn was very mossy, there might be a need to reseed bare patches in the lawn. Cover newly sown seeds with thin layer of compost or netting to prevent birds having a feast on your seeds!
Now is a good time to divide perennials, like summer flowering herbaceous perennials ( Hosta spp, Aster spp, Carex spp) plants that need dividing are usually quite easy to see: there is young growth on the edge of the clump while centre dies out. This is the stage at which they should be divided.
To divide, dig up the whole clump, and divide into smaller pieces. Either tease the clump apart or cut using a spade. Replant in groups of three or five for good displays the following year.