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On your mark... Get set... Garden!

March 3, 2019 GMT

As we leave deep winter behind and look toward the warmer months, “In like a lion and out like a lamb” is an apt description for March. This is the time of year many of us are itching to play in our gardens, and the time to do so is almost here. March launches gardeners into spring by coming up with many mundane chores that need to be done prior to our gardens showcasing their wares.

Because of the extraordinary amount of rain, we have suffered this winter the first chore is to be patient and allow the ground to dry out a bit before we begin to tend to our gardens. Once that has happened it is a given that our prized areas will need to be cleaned of winter debris. Tree limbs, leaves and even the bird houses need to be clutter free before any serious planting begins.

Early March is a great time to get out and wander the landscape and plan this year’s garden. This inventory will decide what shrubs need replacing and where flowers will be planted. As plans are taking place it’s a good idea to mulch the beds so the early weeds don’t become a problem throughout the summer. One could go a step further and spread some pre-emergent weed control made especially for flower and vegetable beds.

Many folks plant seeds inside at this time of year to get a head start on the growing season. Once the weather and the soil warm up, the seedlings can be transplanted to their given beds. Many root vegetables can be planted once the soil dries; for example, potatoes are usually in the ground by or on St. Patrick’s Day to get a better yield.

It’s not too late to prune

dead tree limbs and rose bushes if done early in the month before warm weather gets us. Most trees can profit from inground time. Released fertilizer applied during March, so this is also a good opportunity to check for pests and diseases. Lots of flowers like hosta and lilies are beginning to inch through the surface of the ground and the ever-present snails and slugs are looking for those tender green shoots so get the snail baits out early.

Even though you have gotten ahead of the game and had the lawn mower serviced, the lawn probably isn’t quite ready to be cut yet. More than likely it is just waking up and should be pretty much left alone until it dries out and greens up a bit. Not so with the ornamental grasses that need to have their yearly haircut in March. Taking the lawn mower to the liriope is a good thing (just this once), and it will grow back in no time lusher and thicker than before.

How your flowers do each year depends on the soil so having your dirt tested every year is a good idea. Most state extension offices will do it for free or for a nominal fee. This way you will know whether to add lime or another additive to sweeten the soil for the summer’s bounty.

Many gardeners will find that March is the month to design the garden, build the soil, clear the debris, test the soil and provide the early care it takes to create your best garden. Spring is about to spring, so, gardeners, get your gloves on, sharpen your garden tools and be ready to launch into the season.