In the British garden calendar, March is a time to buck up your garden design ideas and step outside to begin tidying your outdoor space. With the days getting longer and the temperature rising gradually, your garden is bound to be starting to grow with a vengeance this month. This means that there is plenty of gardening work to be done if you want your summer garden to be blooming with bright flowers – in beds and planters – and a table filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables when the British Summertime rolls around.
With the arrival of the notoriously ferocious March winds, you’ll want to keep an eye on your plants – anything growing in exposed areas of your garden, particularly young plants and climbers will need to be well-supported to prevent damage. And, while this weather may put you off wanting to step outside into the garden, it’s time to spend a little time on lawn care and garden clearance.
Whether it’s trimming unruly hedges, giving your lawn its first mow of the year or removing weeds from grass and flower beds, the idea of spring cleaning is not restricted to your indoor space! A little landscaping and work in the greenhouse now will save you extra effort later, so with that in mind, here are a few of the essential garden maintenance jobs you need to get to grips with in March.
With the chance of a late overnight frost still possible, continue to sow seeds under glass – if you can – for now. The warmer conditions are ideal for sun-loving summer plant, and now is the time to plant these bulbs if you want to see them bloom come summer.
Sow as many annual, half-hardy and tender perennial herbs and flowers as possible this month. Some plants will need transferring into flower beds later, but if you plan for beautiful planter displays, you can house these in the greenhouse for now, too.
Similar greenhouse frame
If your lawn is in need of a trim (it probably is after a winter of being left to the elements) give it the first mow of the year. Choose a dry day to do this, or you’ll end up doing more harm than good! As well as mowing the lawn itself, be sure to trim or strim the edges, re-cutting where necessary, using a spade or special edging tool – make sure you have all the tools you’ll need before you begin, so you can complete the job!
Towards the end of the month, you should lift and separate winter perennials, such as clumps of snowdrops. The purpose of this is to achieve an even better yield and display of the pretty petals next year.
While you’re doing this, it’s a good idea to carry out some slug and snail control, as these can be a real pest to perennial plants.
Weeds are most troublesome to gardeners in spring and summer, so start the year as you mean to go on by getting to grips with the weeding.
Choose a dry day to hoe vegetable plots (this means the seeds will dry out on the surface of the soil, rather than re-rooting in the damp ground) and handweed borders and containers – trying not to disturb the roots of garden plants. You can also use a weed knife to hook weeds that grow between paving slabs and along lawn edging, and keep those neat and tidy too.
Use deep wood chips or bark to mulch the earth around your plants, and manure or compost the ground around fruit trees and bushes. Keep an eye out for weather conditions that might damage your flowers, and your future fruit crop – we’re talking about late frosts, really.
Hold off from using your topiary skills to clip back or trim hedges and bushes for as long as possible – this means that birds can continue to nest safely and in peace.
Enjoy the informal, more organic appearance of the year’s shaggy new growth while you prepare to clip hedges from August onwards.
After a winter of bad weather and the only ‘cleaning’ coming from the rain, garden paths can end up looking a bit grubby and moss-covered by March.
Return stone and slate paving to its original glory by scrubbing it down with a stiff-bristled broom and water. Combined with those newly mowed lawns and neatly trimmed edges, your garden will look instantly refreshed.
Use the grass clippings and prunings from your other March garden activities to boost the contents of your compost bins. Ideally, have at least two bins on the go so that you can be using the contents of one to mulch and fertilise your soil, while the other, newer one breaks down into compost.
Material suitable for composting should be dry in the main – vegetable and kitchen waste, weeds, small prunings, grass cuttings, some shredded paper and cardboard – with no meat, fish or cooked food to attract vermin. Put it into the bin in layers, and turn it all regularly.
The compost is ready to use when the mixture turns brown and crumbles well. If your bin has a tap at the bottom, you can drain off the liquid that will accumulate over time, and use it as a liquid feed.
If you’re talking about garden maintenance in March, then it’s worth taking a closer look at the condition of your fencing, walls and outbuildings after a winter of weathering. Now is the time to fix any damage caused over the winter months.
It’s also worth planning ahead to think about climbing plants – in particular, where and how they are going to grow. Form there, you can begin to put the necessary wires, trellises or supports in place ready for planting later in the season.