With Spring quickly approaching and the list of gardening jobs increasing the further into the year we get, we have decided to create a list of jobs you should aim to have completed by the end of March (weather permitting of course). From cutting and preparing your lawn to protecting your newly sprouting plants from slugs and snails, here is our March Gardening Guide.
Unfortunately due to the winter weather this year our gardens may be needing some serious TLC. Somehow surviving all of the frost and snow we have endured, your lawn, plants, flowers and garden features will need some preparation to ensure they are ready for spring.
We suggest that to begin, you clean all of your paths, paving areas, patios, steps or decking with a pressure washer or with chemical cleaner to remove all dirt and mould that may have take residence over the winter. This will give you a clean base on which to continue the rest of your garden clean up. A way to be proactive against this problem is to use materials that do not rot. For example Elegrodeck & RecoDeck rot and require little to no maintenance, a quick wipe if dirty but no staining or jet washing is needed.
Be sure to also wash any cloches, frames or greenhouses inside and out you may have with soapy water to remove dirt build up and allow every bit of light to pass through the glass or plastic. If you need a new cloche or frame check out Harrod Horticultural and for a greenhouse look at Waltons.
Finally, if you haven't done so already, ensure all of your garden tools are checked over and are still working for the coming season. Discovering a broken lawn mower or hedge trimmer on the day you plan to use them is never the best situation to find yourself in.
Weeds can be a persistent nuisance if not controlled throughout the year or sprayed with harsh weedkillers but be careful as it can kill the surrounding turf or plants too. They can be controlled without chemical weedkillers but deep rooted weeds can be especially problematic and will likely have to be removed over and over again.
There manual ways of removing weeds (not always permanently), they are as follows: Hoe the ground over the entire flower bed or between plants to kill most weed seedlings, it is best to do this on a dry day to ensure the seedlings dry out on the surface and cannot re-root in moist soil. Hand pulling or weeding with a gardening fork is the best option for removing visible weeds before they set seed but weeds that have been there longer have to be pulled out with the full root or they will just grow back. It is great for use on lighter soils but should only be done where it will not disturb the roots of garden plants.
A good way to prevent weeds from growing is to use deep organic mulches such as wood or bark chip which smothers weeds around your plants and helps to stop their growth - but do be careful to keep woody stems clear of mulch to prevent them from rotting. Another is to use a Weed Membrane under the soil which allows water to naturally drain away whilst acting as a shield and stopping weeds from growing up and through the soil. To find a great weed killer look at Rigby Taylor or Wyevale Garden Centres.
Maintaining Your Lawn
The centre piece of most gardens, your lawn must be taken care of all year round and March is a great month to prepare your lawn for the rest of the year.
Provided the ground is not too wet, is an ideal time to start preparing areas for sowing in April. However, on established lawns the first cut of the season can be made but ensure that your lawn mower setting is for a higher cut. Taking just the tips of the leaves off is the result you want to aim for. If you have any issues with moss or worn areas you can use Moss Killers to remove it and use lawn repairing seeds to create hard wearing lawns where the worn areas once were. There are lots of options on the market for both so researching is the best way to find the correct products for your garden.
When mowing your lawn always make sure the conditions are correct or you may end up scalping your lawn. Avoid mowing when on soft ground (wheels may sink), with too low of a setting on the blades and on uneven surfaces with lots of bumps and hallows. You should also take care when turning, if done too fast can also scalp the lawn. For grass feed have a look at Agrigem and for lawn mowers check out MowDirect!
Bulbs & Flowers
The beginning of Spring is also the perfect time to plant your summer-loving bulbs that will flower and brighten up the garden even more once the hotter months arrive. Some bulbs require a special sitting to allow them to flower but most hardy bulbs just prefer a sunny, warm site with good drainage due to originating from warmer climates.
The method of planting bulbs can be applied to almost all, it is recommended to plant them in groups of at least 6 to create a better showing as the more grouped together, the better the end result. Dig a hole deep and wide enough for all of your bulbs, they should be buried at a depth of 2 or 3 times their height (example: bulb measuring 1 inch should be buried at a depth of at least 2 or 3 inches). Place them into the hole with their nose point upwards and space at least twice their width away from each other. Water straight after planting and continue to regularly.
There are very few issues with bulbs but you should be aware of them. Ensure that the bulbs you plant are healthy to start off, you should discard any that are soft or rotting. You should also keep a look out for pests and diseases. Slugs, snails and squirrels could eat the bulbs and there are a number of diseases that can kill your bulbs. For bulbs and flowers have a look at JParkers.
Fruits & Vegetables
March marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring and the start of the growing season. Here are just a few fruits, herbs and vegetables you should be looking to grow this Spring. You can buy the necessary seeds and plants for your growing from retailers such as Thompson and Morgan, Suttons & Dobies.
In the house:
- Start your Basil & Coriander seeds off in a container on your kitchen windowsill to protect the delicate plant from the sometimes unpredictable British spring. Ensure they are watered regularly.
- Try growing your own Watercress in small containers, be sure that the container is constantly sitting in around 2-3 inches of water. (Being on the kitchen windowsill will make sure you don't forget to keep the water topped up).
In the Greenhouse or under Frame/Cloches:
- Try sowing Lettuce and Radish under your cloches for transport into the garden later in the year. Radish may be your first salad of the season.
- Begin sowing chillies, peppers and tomatoes in your greenhouse, the indoor climate helps them when first growing.
- Starting off your salad leaves in pots and place them in your greenhouse to begin growing. When they are grown, if harvested they will continue to grow back again and again.
- Sow perennial herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano and lemon balm under cover to give yourself a constant supply of herbs through out the year.
- Lots of peoples favourites, Strawberries. These can be planted straight into the ground now but it is suggested that Strawberries are grown in hanging baskets to ensure no pests can get near your berries.
- Begin sowing carrot seeds in direct sunlight but ensure that the soil used is stone free. Sow the seeds thinly (2-3cm apart) and make sure you water them during dry periods.
- Into well prepared soil, start sowing Beetroot, cabbage and kale. All of these need well prepared soil to give them the best start. Again ensure they are watered during dry periods.
Pond Care can be a difficult and time consuming job. Many pond owners using contractors to clean their pond when needed, however if you would like to do so yourself, read the RHS Pond Cleaning Guide check out the pond cleaning products from Primrose. This guide goes over the steps taken to fully clean as well as the best times to treat your pond. Ensuring all dead plants are removed and all of your fish are well fed is a key part of keeping your pond clean.
It is well know that towards the end of Spring you may begin struggle with pond algae and weed. There are various ways to prevent these such as having a fountain or water feature that will help aerate the water and prevent the build-up or using filters or clarifiers to remove algae and other debris from the pond or putting a netting over the pond to stop leaves and other plants from getting to the water.
However, if the problem continues despite your best efforts then it is best to call a contractor or speak to a specialist, who can give you some expert advice on eradicating the problem.