With spring about to burst forth by mid-March, and with days becoming longer and lighter, this is one of the busiest months in the gardener’s calendar. Now is the time to finish all the winter work, ahead of the growing season and start preparing for the year ahead. We have put together a list of jobs to do this month, bearing in mind that we can still suffer from frosts and harsh winds.
LAWNS Now is the time for the first cut of the year so pick a dry day, and remember to set your mower blades to a high setting. New turf can be laid this month too, provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. However, if you are sowing lawn seed, prepare the ground only and wait till early April to sow the seeds, to give the ground time to settle. Once lawn edges have been reinstated, consider installing lawn edging to keep future maintenance to a minimum.
BEDS & BORDERS New beds and borders can be marked out now. A top tip for marking out the shape is to use a bottle with sand. Pace out the shape of the new border, trickling the sand from the bottle as you go. Remove the top layer of growth before digging the ground over, working as much organic matter in as possible. Prepare existing beds by digging in at least 5cm of compost, well-rotted manure or a general purpose fertiliser like fish, blood and bone.
SLUGS & SNAILS As spring approaches and temperatures start to rise, slugs and snails will make an appearance overnight to feast on spring shoots and new growth. Organic slug pellets can be scattered round susceptible plants and will not harm other animals and insects. Alternatively, grow plants that are prone to slug attacks (such as hostas) in pots wrapped with copper banding.
ROSES March is an ideal time to plant bare root roses, which will ‘wake up’ from their dormant period just as the soil begins to warm up. Established rose bushes can be fed with a specialist rose food or a balanced fertiliser as they begin to grow, and sprayed to discourage pests. Roses can also be pruned now, to encourage strong new growth.
WEEDS Once the warmer weather arrives and kick starts new growth, this will also include weeds unfortunately! It is never too soon to start the weeding and weeds will be more easily controlled if removed young, before they become out of control and unmanageable.
SOW SEEDS Once the ground reaches an average temperature of 5-8 degrees Celsius, you can begin to sow directly into the soil. Hardy annuals such as sweet peas and broad beans can be sown now, as can mustard, rocket and cut-and-come-again salad, although these may benefit from a cloche to warm the ground more. If you prefer, sow seeds in pots or module trays indoors for planting out in late spring.
PLANT SUMMER FLOWERING BULBS Summer flowering bulbs will have started to become available to buy now and their usefulness for filling gaps in the border should not be dismissed. If you have no space in border, container grown bulbs can be positioned when they are about to flower and then moved once flowering is over. Most bulbs should be planted at between 2 and 3 times the depth of the bulb, but always check the packaging. For additional guidance, make sure to read out top 10 tips for planting bulbs.