I find March to be a very frustrating time! If you are anything like me, as the snow starts to disappear you eagerly poke around your garden looking for those early Crocus, Hepatica, Hellebore, Galanthus, Aconite, and other signs of spring. My unease, however, always begins to grow as I realize I still have some time to wait before the gardening season really begins. Although the official start of spring is days (not weeks) away, it is still too early to begin many of the garden tasks and upgrades I’ve been thinking about all winter. What is an impatient gardener to do? Here are some of the tasks that have kept me sane through many a March.
As you once again begin to see the shape of your landscape through the melting snow, it is not too late to think about how you might alter your existing bedlines or plant structure. Grab a piece of paper and start sketching out some ideas! An ounce of planning is worth a pound of planting…or something like that.
As the temperatures get warmer, March can be a tempting time to run out to clean up leaves and cut back perennials. However, many critters and insects are also starting to get active and they may rely on that debris for cover, bedding or food. Resist the temptation to head out at the first snow melt with a pair of sheers. Ideally, you’d wait until just before new growth starts to emerge which could be into April if the weather stays cold. Warmer temps do make it easier to do some last-minute dormant pruning of your trees and shrubs. Pay attention to trees that may be developing bad habits and thin out the branches on overgrown shrubs. Just be sure to wait a bit on the early spring blooming shrubs like forsythia and lilac though; you don’t want to prune off the flower buds and miss the coming show.
If you compost, head out to your pile and (try to) give it a good stir. It’s been frozen during the winter but may now be soft enough for a good turning. Everyone will thank you, as a well-mixed pile smells much better than one that just sits.
We call the vernal equinox the first day of spring but regardless of what the calendar says, March is still winter! I hope the above tips help you survive the final days of winter. The end, and the beginning, are in sight!