|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|March Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· Visit your local Co-op for vegetable seed and Bonnie’s cool-season vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, spinach, lettuce and other greens.
· Sow seeds of warm-season annuals indoors or in a cold frame.
· Seeds which were started indoors last month may be transplanted from the flats into peat pots and given diluted fertilizer.
· Plant asparagus crowns about 6" deep and 1½’ apart, cover with soil and mulch well. Raised beds are preferable to ensure weeds and grass cannot encroach.
· Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors.
· Plant or transplant frost-tolerant perennials.
· Plant bare-root roses, trees, shrubs and vines.
· Set out summer-flowering bulbs.
· Direct seed outdoors any cool-season greens and root crops like beets, carrots, onions, radishes and turnips.
· Beware of close-out sales on bare-root trees and shrubs. The chance of survival is rather low on bare-root plants this late in the season.
· Select gladiolus corms for March planting. Plant at two-week intervals to prolong flowering period.
· Don’t fertilize newly-planted trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only very lightly the first year.
· Most lawns will need a spring feeding, but, if thatching or liming needs to be done, do those jobs first.
· Test your soil for pH to see if any amendments are necessary. A general rule of thumb is to add four lbs. of lime per 100 sq. ft. of garden for every pH point below 6.5, or one lb. of sulfur per 100 sq. ft. for every pH point above 7.5. Sawdust, composted oak leaves, wood chips, peat moss, cottonseed meal and leaf mold lower the pH while ashes of hardwoods, bone meal, crushed marble and crushed oyster shells raise the pH. The best way to adjust pH is gradually, over several seasons.
· Pansies and violas planted last fall are blooming, blooming, blooming. An application of fertilizer now will give them a boost and you will be rewarded with even more flowers until temperatures heat up. Dried blood meal is also an excellent source of fertilizer for pansies.
· Buy your slow-release lawn fertilizer now and be ready to apply it during the upcoming season.
· As camellia and azalea plants finish blooming, fertilize them according to label directions with azalea-camellia fertilizer. Then feed them again in six weeks. If lace bugs have been a problem in the past, feed them with systemic azalea foods.
· If you’ve got pecan trees and didn’t feed them in February, do so now.
· Fertilize asparagus, berries, grapes and figs.
· Fertilize roses once a month from now until the end of September. Roses are heavy feeders.
· Feed growing or blooming houseplants.
· Fertilize shrubs and trees if not done in February. Use an acid-type rhododendron fertilizer to feed evergreens, conifers, broad leaf evergreens, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.
· Use an all-purpose fertilizer to feed deciduous trees and shrubs. If you use granular type fertilizers, be sure to water it in thoroughly.
· Fertilize any bulbs that have finished blooming with bone meal or bulb booster.
· As hosta and other shade perennials send up new, tender foliage, watch for hungry slugs. Slug baits used early in the season will help protect the tender new foliage. Good garden clean up is also helpful-check under containers, garden art and other garden structures, removing and destroying these slimy creatures.
· Remember, once weeds go to seed, you could be fighting them for years to come.
· Keep an eye out for aphids and cutworms.
· Get dandelions while it’s early.
· Prevent damping off, a fungal disease killing seedlings, by starting with clean containers and sterile soilless mix. Wash previously-used flats, cell packs or pots with a 1:10 solution of bleach and water.
· Apply dormant spray to fruit trees. Spraying should be done on a still day with the temperature above 40o F.
· Begin to spray roses for blackspot.
· Spray apples, peaches and pears affected with canker problems.
· Spray for peach leaf curl, peach leaf blight and canker.
· Prune azaleas after the bloom season. Try not to prune more than one-third of the bush.
· Prune grape vines to no more than four fruiting canes with 7 to 10 buds each.
· Prune roses (when temperatures remain above freezing).
· Pinch off tips of sweet pea seedlings and mums, when they are four inches tall.
· Get your garden journal, calendar or notebook ready to record bloom times, timing of tasks, successes and failures, and valuable information from catalogs or seed packets.
· Continue to protect tender plants from frost. Caution is the keyword this month. It may look warm and inviting, but, if you try to plant before your last frost date, you could be courting disaster.
· Check with your local county agent for the average last killing freeze date for your area. Killing freezes can and do occur after this date, but it will be a good indication.
· There is often a strong temptation to start removing winter mulches from your flower beds.... WAIT!!! Pull the mulch off gradually as the plants show signs of new growth. The purpose of winter mulch is to act as a protector from sudden changes of temperature and chilling winds, so keep in mind it is still winter.
· Avoid walking on wet soil in the garden.
· Check the plants under the eaves of the house and under tall evergreens to see they have sufficient moisture.
· Prepare beds and garden area for spring planting. Use completed compost for bed preparation-use partially completed compost as a top-dressing mulch or return to compost pile. The addition of well-rotted manure, processed manure, peat moss and compost are good additives for building compost humus in the soil.
· Turn the compost pile.
· Mulch all bare soil
· If you haven’t gotten around to it, clean out all of your birdhouses now, so they will be ready when the birds return.
· Check your lawn mower, especially sharpening the blades, before starting to mow.
· Remove winter coverings from roses when forsythia is in full bloom (still watch weather for cool nights).
· Finish your winter cleanup, including floating debris from the surface of water gardens.
· Check supports on newly-planted trees.
· Check any over-wintered bulbs and plants (including aquatics) to insure they are still healthy and haven’t dried out or rotted.
· Mist or spray your houseplants to clean away the winter’s dust, prevent spider mites and add a little humidity. Water containerized plants only when needed and not by the calendar.
· Repair any fencing, arbors or trellis work weaken or broken over the winter...before you get too busy!
· March is a good time to note areas of poor drainage. If there are pools of water in your yard that do not drain, fill in the low spot or scoop out a channel for the water to drain away.
· If you have a greenhouse, it is time to take cuttings of ‘wintered-over’ plants like coleus, chrysanthemums, geraniums and other perennials.
· If you had strawberries and mulched them this past fall, be sure to remove the mulch when growth begins. If you don’t have established strawberries, this is the month to start a bed.
· Remove the winter mulch from existing roses and prune as needed.
· Aside from walnut, maple and birch trees, which are best pruned after leafing, March is a good month to prune your trees. Remove suckers and water sprouts, too.
· If you choose to mulch trees and shrubs, do so at a depth of between two to four inches, but keep the mulch away from the trunks. If you have younger trees wrapped for the winter, remove the wraps for summer growing.
· Cut down ornamental grasses before they sprout anew.
· Clean, oil and sharpen tools.