Welcome to your one-stop resource for gardening in March.
If you’re struggling to carve out time to stay on top of the garden, or just need some help with what to focus on each month, this is a great place to start.
You can check out my gardening jobs for every other month in this post.
Gardening in March
We’ve made it to spring, which means things are about to get busy in the garden. March is a great month to get ahead with garden jobs, before everything starts growing like crazy and you’re playing catch-up!
What to do in the garden in March
Here are my suggestions for a March gardening to do list.
Tidy up borders
March in the garden means my borders are still looking rather bare and drab, but there are signs of life starting to poke through the soil everywhere. Now is a great time to clear away the last fallen leaves, get rid of any weeds, and add a layer of mulch to your borders.
Mulching now will keep weeds down, and give your plants a much-needed nutrient boost before they start their growing season. If you don’t have your own compost you can buy bags of farmyard manure from garden centres. Large supermarkets tend to stock it too at this time of year.
If your garden daffodils have finished flowering, it’s a good idea to remove the faded flower heads. This stops the plant putting energy into producing seeds, which in turn allows it to concentrate energy back into the bulb. Avoid removing the leaves until they die back and turn yellow, as this will also help to improve bulb strength.
Dividing large perennial plants is a great way to make new plants for free. Doing this when the plant is dormant in late winter or early spring puts less stress on the plant, and gives it time to re-establish before the growing season starts. The original plant needs to be a decent size for best results. My post on dividing plants covers this job in more detail.
Move deciduous trees and shrubs
If you’d like to move any deciduous trees or shrubs to another location in the garden, this is a good month to do it. As with dividing, doing this during the dormant phase puts less stress on the plant and allows time for it to re-establish. Don’t attempt this job if the soil is waterlogged or frozen though.
Have a seed sort out
If you haven’t done it already, now’s a great time to get your seed collection organised.
Check the sow-by dates on each packet. The general rule is to throw away anything that is out of date, as the seeds will be less likely to germinate. You can however take a risk and have a go at planting them.
Once you’ve gone through your seeds, sort them according to the month you should plant them. This saves lots of time when the planting starts in earnest. A *seed storage tin with compartments comes in handy here.
Finally, make a list of seeds you still need to buy, ready for when you head to the shops.
Get plant supports in place
Your plants won’t need support right now, but it won’t be long. It’s much easier to get the supporting structures in place now, because you don’t have to work around lots of new plant growth. Plus it always looks better when the plant can grow up through its support.
Typical candidates for *plant supports are peonies, hydrangeas and lavatera (mallow), and of course climbing plants such as clematis and honeysuckle.
Start to look out for slugs and snails
As the weather warms up, slugs and snails get more active. Start to check your plants and containers regularly, paying particular attention to young plants and seedlings.
You can deter slugs and snails using physical barriers such as crushed eggshells or *copper tape. If you decide to use slug pellets, choose *metaldehyde-free ones which have less impact on wildlife and the environment.
As the weather warms up, your lawn will start to grow again. If you need to mow the grass, choose a bright, dry day and keep your mower blades high to allow new grass shoots to develop.
Your lawn may have become compacted from being walked in over winter. If this is the case, you can use a *garden fork to make holes in the surface at regular intervals. This will improve drainage. You can also make the whole lawn look neater by using a *lawn edger to tidy up the edges.
Prepare vegetable beds
If you grow your own vegetables, you can prepare the soil this month. Remove any weeds, then rake over the bed to remove stones and get some air into the soil. Finally, add manure or *general purpose fertiliser, and rake it into the surface of the soil.
When pruning this month, be mindful of nesting birds. If you suspect birds are nesting in a shrub, hedge or tree, leave it alone.
If you’ve left the stems on your deciduous grasses over winter, you can cut them back hard now. Use *secateurs to remove all of last year’s dead stems and leaves, to tidy them up and make way for new growth.
If you grow shrubs with colourful stems in winter, such as cornus, cutting them back this month will encourage new growth. Cut the stems right down to the base.
Last summer’s side-shoots on wisteria can be cut back to 2 or 3 buds. Buddleia can also be pruned hard, reducing last year’s growth to a few buds. Hydrangeas can be deadheaded and reduced to roughly one third of last year’s growth.
Summer-flowering clematis (the ones that flower on the growth they produce this year, as opposed to last year’s growth) can be cut back to a pair of buds around 30cm above ground level. If you’re not sure which type of clematis you have, this pruning guide will help you work it out.
You can also tidy up rose bushes this month. Remove any dead, damaged or crossing stems, and cut branches back to just above a bud. This video has a good guide to doing this:
Avoid pruning any spring-flowering shrubs that are yet to flower, otherwise you risk removing the buds.
What to plant in March
Getting started on the planting is a big part of gardening in March. For a full list of flowers, fruit and vegetables you can grow, head over to my post on what to plant in March.
What jobs have you got on your March gardening to do list?