March is here and we welcome the first month of spring, a very happy time for most gardeners! There are a lot of jobs to keep us busy in the garden such as pruning your winter shrubs and pinching out your spring-flowering plants.
1. Prune winter flowering shrubs
The general rule with shrub pruning is to reduce by one third once a year just after flowering and then to give it a hard prune once every few years (or when it starts to look too dense).
First, remove all dead, diseased or very old wood, crossing/rubbing branches or inward growing branches. Deadwood is brittle and often already broken in places. A gardener’s rule for testing on less obvious wood is to carefully scrape back a small fragment of bark either with a knife or with your fingernail – if it’s green underneath it’s alive if it’s brown underneath it’s dead.
Removing old wood is necessary for all types of shrub: Hypericum, Spirea, Rose, Viburnum or Lonicera to name just a few. It opens up what could be a densely packed shrub into a lighter, more airy plant that not only looks a lot better but keeps the plant healthy by giving the young, more promising growth room to grow and put on a good show throughout the year.
2. Removing rubbing/crossing branches
Always remove the branch that is smaller, weaker or less attractive. If the branches have been rubbing, one may be more damaged than the other in which case that is the one that should be removed.
The ideal shape for any shrub or tree is to imagine what it looks like from above. It should be circular with evenly spaced branches all the way around without any growing across each other.
When removing any large branches from a tree always make your first cut up to 12” away from the main stem/branch. Also, make a small cut on the underside of the branch slightly further in towards the trunk.
If the weight of the branch breaks as you’re cutting it, instead of tearing down the length of the trunk it will only tear until the cut on the underside. The stump left behind can be sawn off safely afterwards.
3. Lawn care
In case there wasn’t an opportune time in February to mow your lawn, March might look to be a better bet.
The lawn may be looking a little tatty after the worst of the weather has passed and may be littered with fallen twigs and the remainder of last year’s leaves.
On a dry day start by picking up the larger debris by hand and then run the mower over the lawn on a high setting. Edges of the lawn on pathways and borders may also need a trim and you’ll be amazed at how this improves the entire appearance of your garden.
Trim use edging shears to cut any tufty edges around beds, borders, paths or patios.
This is especially good for trees planted within the last five years. Apply either well-rotted manure or leaf-mould around the base of the trunk (avoiding contact with the trunk if possible). Once the mulch is applied soak with water to carry some of the nutrients down to the roots straight away.
5. Provide support for perennials
It’s a good idea to provide supports for your perennials to grow into while they’re still small.
One effective method is to position stakes around tall-growing perennials and weave twine around them to create a ‘web’.
As the perennials grow they will become entwined within the web, holding them together and supporting them. Any that become loose can be tied in as and when needed.
6. Pinch out spring bedding plants
To ensure your Spring bedding plants grow into healthy, bushy plants with lots of flowers they need to be pinched out.
It’s easy to do, simply pinch off the growing tip above a lower down node (where the plant branches out) about half way up the stem. This can be done with your thumb and forefinger.
7. Apply mulch to roses
Roses need plenty of feed to give maximum display through the summer and applying a good layer of mulch to your rose beds is a great way of giving them all the nutrients they’ll need.
Either put a layer of mulch over the entire bed or just apply a smaller amount around the base of each rose. Once you have applied your mulch, give your roses a generous helping of water so they can start absorbing some of the nutrients straight away.
8. Dead-head daffodils
As soon as the flowers on your Daffodils start to look past their best, pull them off by hand. The energy the plant saves by not having to ‘die-back’ and produce a seed head will be put to good use in the bulb, giving you a bigger display next year.
We hope this guide has provided lots of ideas of what to do and plant in the garden in March. Why not get started by looking at our fantastic range of Spring bedding plants.