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Garden Maintenance: MARCH

Top jobs for March

1. Mow the lawn on dry days (if needed)
2. Plant summer-flowering bulbs
3. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials
4. Top dress containers with fresh compost
5. Feed all your plants with a balanced fertiliser to support new growth.
6. Cut back Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for colourful winter stems.
7. Weeds come back in to growth - deal with them before they get out of hand.
8. Start feeding fish; a little and often is best.
9. Place mulch around new plants to prevent weeds, retain moisture and improve the soil.
10. Protect new spring shoots from slugs
11. Remember garden hygiene; regularly deadhead and clear up dead leaves etc
12. Don't let pots become too dry; keep them moist but not water logged.

Lawn Care

- Don't cut newly laid turf until the grass reaches 2in (5cm) in height. Turf can be laid but be careful not to compact the spoil.
- Watch out for stones that have weathered to the surface of the lawn - they can damage your mower and regularly smash windows when flung from the mower.
- Provided the ground is not too wet mow your grass if it shows signs of growth. Don't shock your lawn by cutting it short straight away; the first cut should be higher than normal.
- This is a good time to define the lawn edges with a half-moon edger and create a 3in gutter between the lawn the flower border. This will stop the grass encroaching on the border and makes it easier to maintain the edges.

TOP TIP: If you didn't do it last autumn it's not too late to scarify the lawn; raking out dead moss and thatch. This will encourage new grass growth.

Trees, shrubs and climbers

- It's still okay to plant deciduous hedging plants, shrubs and trees.
- As a general rule, you can prune deciduous shrubs (shrubs that drop their leaves in the winter)between January and March i.e. before they flower in the summer. Some examples are Buddleja, Caryopteris, Hydrangea, Lavatera, fuchsia, and Ceanothus.
- Some shrubs such as Buddleja are usually cut back very hard (stooled) to keep them at a manageable size.
- March is a good month to plant roses especially if you live in colder areas but remember not to plant them where roses have been planted previously.
- Prune standard and bush roses as they start growing but before the leaves start to unfurl.
- Don't pruning any spring-flowering shrubs until after they have flowered otherwise you will lose this years display.
- Renovated deciduous climbers will be easy now; live stems will have buds so prune out the dead stems with no buds.
- If you have any plants with leaves that are two colours (Variegated - often green and white) cut out any branches with leaves that are all one colour or the whole plant will eventually revert to only one colour and lose its interest.

Flowers

- Cutting off the old leaves from hellebores at ground level will expose the flowers and reduce the chance of foliar diseases.
- Plant herbaceous perennials.
- Divide and/or plant snowdrop bulbs while they still have leaves on them; this is called planting in-the-green and some bulbs preferred to be moved when the foliage is just dying down.
- In mild areas you can sow Sweet peas outside.
- Cut back ornamental grasses and other perennials to make way for new growth.
- Plant summer-flowering bulbs.
- Divide clumps of herbaceous perennials that you want to propagate. Good examples are those that have grown too big or that are flowering poorly.
- Divide hostas before the leaves appear but don't Divide hellebores until after they have flowered.
- Keep deadheading winter bedding plants such winter-flowering pansies to prolong your display.

TOP TIP: If the soil is wet stand on a plank of wood rather than treading on the soil otherwise you may compact the soil.

TOP TIP: Try to protect any new growth on lilies, delphiniums, hostas and similar plants from slugs and snails.

Greenhouse and houseplants

- Deadhead amaryllis leaving the flower stalks to die down. If you keep feeding and watering them you may get further flowers in late summer as well as next winter.
- Passion flower and jasmine can be thinned out to keep them tidy. Cut last years growth back to two or three buds from the main frame.
- Prune back stems on pot-grown over-wintered fuchsias. Soft tip cuttings (these are the soft and bending stems) can also be taken from fuchsias this month.

TOP TIP: Remember to water azaleas with rainwater and not with tap water.

TOP TIP: If the leaves on your indoor Cyclamen start to turn yellow you may be over-watering it.

Pond Care

- Check that the pumps are working, clean out the filters and start to feed the fish.
- You can also divide your marginal plants if you want to spread them around or if they are getting too big.

TOP TIP: Keep an eye on the water level of your pond to make sure the frost hasn't caused any leeks.

Soft Landscaping

- Erect trellis, pergolas etc before plants start to grow and use them for support.
- Weeds will start to grow now – if you haven’t finished any new paths etc then do so before plants start to take over.
- If the weather is dry paint fences and other wooden structures with a preservative. Some products are no longer legal so buy new if your shave been stored for some time.

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