Monty Don's hack for checking your soil is ready for planting in March – don't plant anything before you do this

This is the one thing you need to do

Monty Don wearing navy jacket and smiling
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

It’s the beginning of a new month, and with it brings a fresh list of gardening jobs to tackle. March is the month when you can start to think about planting things outside, but according to Monty Don it is important to check your soil is ready for planting before you start digging any holes.

If you’re in the process of gathering flowers, fruits and veg to plant in March - as this is the perfect time to get planting in the garden - you should first and foremost make sure the soil is warm enough for your seeds and plants to germinate and grow. 

You don’t want to make the mistake of planting when the soil is still too cold and frosty and risk your plants never establishing roots and dying. But if you're unsure about how to know when the soil is ready to start planting Monty Don shared a handy tip In his March blog.

Monty Don wearing navy jacket and smiling

(Image credit: Getty / Colin McPherson / Contributor)

Monty Don’s advice on how to check soil before planting

Monty Don is our go-to gardening guru thanks to his no-nonsense and easy-to-follow advice. Not to mention his garden is packed with stunning garden ideas like Monty’s garden flower table display.

In his latest blog post for March, Monty Don shared exactly how to make sure your garden soil to the right temperature to start planting.

‘If your soil is ready then March is a good time to plant and move things around,’ he wrote. ‘But ‘ready’ means, above all, warm enough. The only way to know this is by touch.’ 

A garden with a gardening table and a house in the background

(Image credit: Future PLC)

He went on to describe the all-telling technique, ‘Pick up a handful of earth. If it feels cold and clammy to the skin then seeds will not germinate and roots will not grow. If it feels warm, holds together when squeezed and yet can easily be crumbled then it is ideal.’

The latter usually happens ‘towards the middle/end of March, as this is when we finally start to see the weather warm up in time for spring,’ says Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. But checking your soil before planting is the best thing you can do to protect your plants from frost and cold ground.

Steve adds, ‘In January and February, we have more chances of frozen ground, however March can often have freezing temperatures too, which is why it's important that you check that your soil's ready for planting before you actually plant anything.’

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

A vegetable patch in the garden with a basket full of veg

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘I recommend picking up soil in all of your planting spots. Chances are that the locations with the most sun will get warmest first, and areas in the shade will take longer to be ready. You should check it in the morning as well as the evening, as this is likely the coldest time in terms of outdoor temperature. If your soil is too cold to the touch at night, then your plants won't survive,’ he warns.

So whatever you do, please check your soil before planting your seeds. You’ll thank us (and Monty) later.

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.