Gardening Tips-March

The weather is likely to range across a broad spectrum in March: hard freezes, windy storms, rain, freezing rain and bright sunshine.  Underfoot though, it’s just too wet – you should avoid walking or working on your gardens which would just expel air, the first step in making bricks.  But there are still some late-winter tasks to help welcome the coming Spring.


Flowering bulbs can be deadheaded to save spending energy to set seeds unless you plan to naturalize them – this will give you larger bulbs next year. Also if you have winter-protected perennials with evergreen trimmings (to guard against heaving), their crowns should be exposed now to allow sun to reach new shoots.


Late winter is a good time to do major pruning of mature trees, while their framework is clear prior to leaf out. Use the three-cut method to reduce branch-weight first before trimming down to the ‘collar’.  Here is a good video from This Old House on the proper way to do the the ‘three-cut’ method

Summer flowering shrubs (butterfly bush, caryopteris, kerria) are best shaped now.  Look for swelling buds on rose canes which you can favor to grow into new stems by removing others above.

Vegetables & Herbs

This is the best time to plant peas, some will say it has to be March 17th! To lengthen the harvest season, plant several rows one or two weeks apart.  Kale, Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables can be direct sown this month. 

It’s also a good time to get a jump on those Fall weeds that are still haunting your vegetable patch.  


Best to simply remove winter debris and wait for the grass to dry out and start growing.  April is the first month to really kickoff with Lawn Care, so be patient in March.

Fig Tree

That fig tree (Ficus carica) you winterized last November can now come out of its cocoon at the end of March, when the lows are safely above freezing.


If you’re starting seeds in a greenhouse, beware of strong sunshine drying out fragile seedlings.  Have a tray available to enable you to ‘bottom-water’ your seedling container.


Check your tools to be in good condition, purchase any you wish you’d had last season (e.g. long-handled hand fork?); clean pruners from last year’s residues and sharpen.

Here’s a good video by a Master Gardner on how to sharpen your pruners.