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Things to do in the garden in March


Depending on the weather, time is running out this month for planting bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hedging, but March is a good month for planting larger stock as rootballs. We only dig rootballed stock when dormant, ie before they start into growth in spring - the warm weather in February this year means that we will stop digging rootballs by the end of March, so be sure to get your orders in sooner rather than later.


March can be an odd month for temperatures; our gardens can be bathed in warm sunshine or buried under snow, so regularly check containers and newly planted evergreens for watering if not frozen and remember that plants’ moisture requirements will increase with their rate of growth. If warm spells induce early growth, as has been the case with February having been so mild this winter, be ready with some horticultural fleece to protect it when the inevitable frost comes.


Prune roses, ideally before the leaf buds start to open, but unless you are growing them for the show table there is usually no need to prune them as hard or as fussily as has traditionally been taught. Most, if the stems aren’t too thick, will actually perform better if simply cut with a hedge trimmer into a tidy shape. However, if Rust or Blackspot fungal diseases were a problem last year, now is the time to give them a preventative spray or two with an appropriate fungicide; if you wait until the symptoms are visible on the leaves it is already too late to get on top of it for the year.


Providing that conditions are not frozen, March is the ideal time for hard pruning and tidying many of the vigorous deciduous shrubs, such as ornamental Elders (Sambucus), and particularly those which flower in mid to late summer, such as Buddleia. This is also the best time to hard prune Dogwoods (Cornus) to promote fresh growth of vividly-coloured stems for next winter’s display.


As growth starts, early spring is a good time to feed woody plants with a balanced fertiliser, such as Fish, Blood and Bone or a good rose food, to spread any remaining usable compost from the compost bin that wasn’t dug-in earlier in the winter, and to mulch beds to help prevent soils from drying out in summer.


Spike and scarify the lawn and, if conditions are mild enough for grass growth, you may need to give the lawn its first cut of the year this month, but remember to raise the height of the blades.


Look out for weeds; dealing with them now will save a lot of work later.


Check the roots of container plants for Vine Weevil grubs and deal with them before they have a chance to pupate into adults.