March In The Garden - Enjoy the longer, lighter days

Cut back hardy perennials.

Cut back hardy perennials. - Credit: Amanda Armstrong

By Amanda Armstrong

The weather’s changeable and with a busy month ahead in the garden, you’ll need to make the most of the drier days.  

There’s lots to be getting on with so, as Monty Don would say, here are some important tasks to tackle over the coming weeks:

Finish planting bare-root trees and shrubs. Leaves are opening and they’ll struggle to establish if planted after March as they’ll start to lose water through their foliage.

Move evergreen shrubs. It’s easier for them to take up water in warmer soil so they’ll re-establish better.  Lift them with a large rootball to give the best chance of survival.  Keep plants well-watered until established.

Finish pruning group 3 clematis. Prune to around 30cm above ground level, just above a healthy bud.

Finish pruning bush and shrub roses. Create an open goblet shape, cutting to an outward-facing bud and thin overcrowded growth to allow in light and air.

Most Read

Tidy last year’s perennials. Any left for winter interest need to be cut back now.

Plant new hardy perennials. They’ll settle in well as the soil warms up.  Water well whilst they establish.

Protect emerging shoots. Slugs are out in force.  Popular deterrents include: copper tape around pots; grit, coffee grounds or broken egg shells around the base of plants; beer traps; grapefruit halves or, if you’re brave, a nightly patrol with a torch, a strong constitution and an ingenious method of disposal.

Lift and divide snowdrops. This is the best way to increase them.

Start mowing. Lawns are actively growing so it’s time to get out the mower.  Towards the end of March you can apply a lawn feed.  Remember to keep lawn edges tidy, it makes a huge difference to the overall look.

Sow vegetable seed outdoors. Lettuce, spinach, peas, turnips, cabbage and beetroot can all be sown outside now. Chitted potatoes can also go into the ground or containers.

And finally, weed, weed, weed!  They’ll romp away this month so catch them early to keep them at bay.