Early spring is an ideal time to plant herbaceous perennials, such as Geranium, Astrantia and summer-flowering bulbs. Anemone coronaria tubers need particularly well-drained soils. Cut back ornamental grasses and other perennials to encourage new growth. Cut off old leaves of hellebores to expose new blossoms and remove possible foliar diseases such as hellebore leaf spots. Divide hellebores and polyanthus-type primulas after flowering. Propagate perennials which are showing new shoots.
Continue to deadhead winter-flowering pansies and other winter bedding. Deadhead daffodils as they fade, but allow the foliage to die down naturally. Clear up weedy beds before mulching. Lighter soils can be mulched now, but heavier ones require warmer soil. It’s important to mulch with a deep layer of organic matter to condition the soil, suppress weed growth, insulate plant roots from temperature fluctuations and conserve soil moisture during the summer. Improve the drainage of heavy soils by working with lots of organic matter. Don’t forget to keep pots moist (not wet) and don’t let them dry out.
In mild areas, you should remove winter coverings and wait until the risk of frost would pass in cold ones. Watch out for downy mildew and black spot on winter pansies. Remove any infected leaves and eliminate badly affected plants. Remove dead leaves from the basal rosettes of alpine plants to prevent rotting.
Primarily, look round for BOX TREE MOTH, because they can completely defoliate box plants. It’s relatively NEW insect to Britain.
Continue to plant deciduous hedging plants, shrubs, trees and climbers in your garden. March is the best time for planting roses in heavy soils or in cold areas. Avoid planting in areas where roses were previously grown to avoid replant disease. At the end of the March, you can plant evergreen shrubs and trees. Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced fertiliser over the root area before hoeing into the soil surface. This will particularly favour young, weak, damaged or heavily pruned plants.
Prune established shrubs and standard roses as they start growing, but before any leaves unfurl. Many summers or late-summer flowering deciduous shrubs can be pruned between January and March. Examples include Buddleja davidii, Caryopteris clandonensis, Ceratostigma, Hydrangea paniculata, Leycesteria, Lavatera, Perovskia, hardy fuchsia and deciduous Ceanothus species.
Wait until spring-flowering shrubs have flowered for pruning, otherwise, this year’s display will be lost. To prevent reversion taking over remove any reverted green shoots on hardy variegated evergreens. Support wall shrubs and climbers from wind damage.
Prune winter-flowering jasmine once the flowers have faded. Remove any dead or damaged shoots, tie in new shoots to the main framework, You should feed and mulch after pruning. Summer-flowering jasmines may also be pruned (if necessary). Overgrown climbers can be renovated this month. Check tree ties and stakes. Replace, tighten or slacken them (where necessary).
Remove weeds from around the bases of young trees. After pruning mulch and feed shrubs, trees, hedges and climbers to give them energy for the extra growth. Put rabbit guards around newly planted trees and shrubs to protect the bark.
Inspect sick looking box and holly trees for signs of blight. Beware of BOX TREE MOTH.
Bracket fungus on trees can be visible this month. Phytophthora root rots can cause dieback on mature trees and shrubs. Check for damage or cankers on deciduous trees. Be aware that pests emerge when the weather gets warmer. You can manage early infestations by hand removal.
Turf can be laid, if the soil is not too wet or frozen. Don’t walk on the newly laid turf and leave it undisturbed for several weeks (establishing new roots). Mow the established lawns if the weather is mild enough and the grass shows growth signs. Prepare the ground for lawn sowing by cultivating, levelling and firming the soil. In late March apply a high nitrogen spring/summer lawn fertiliser to encourage strong growth and help lawn to recover after winter. Fusarium patch, snow mould and algae may continue to be a problem. The best way to improve airflow and light over the lawn is pruning back any overhanging trees or shrubs.
Start feeding the fish. Little and often is best. Frogs, toads and newts begin to spawn, so please remove pool heaters. Clean out pond filters, replace pumps, water features and lighting systems (after checking if they are in working order). Remove netting coverings, cut back old marginal vegetation from around the pond. Tidy up plants in the bog garden and mulch with composted bark (or similar material). New or recently-cleaned ponds can suffer from algae problems. Shade can help to reduce this problem.
You can treat timber structures with wood preservative and stain in dry spells. Make sure you use appropriate products. Remove dirt and algae from walls, paving and patios with a pressure washer. Check and repair pergolas, arbours and arches. Take an action to remove algae from paths if they start to become slippery. Go through your shed and remove any old, out-of-date garden supplies.