Home Ownership

Marching Into Spring – What to Do with Your Garden Right Now

The trees are budding, the crocuses are blooming and the days are getting longer. Everywhere you look, spring is showing.

Winter usually loses its grip on the Northern Hemisphere in early March, so this is the traditional start of gardening season. Your seasonal break from the yard work is just about over – but you may not be sure exactly where to start. 

What you do now sets the stage for a healthy garden and lawn for the rest of the season, so let this be your guide. Here’s how to get started:

Clean and Tidy Up

Take advantage of the next warm day or weekend and get outside with your rake. This is the ideal time to take stock of what happened to your yard and garden over the winter and do a little early cleanup. 

Start by removing fallen leaves that escaped earlier purges. Include all the dead plants that didn’t survive the winter and any debris that might have collected in your garden bed or at the edges of your property. Then, rake the soil around your plants and loosen any thatch that’s collected on your grass. Raking the soil not only aids in eliminating compacted areas but also encourages better water absorption and nutrient distribution when you fertilize.

Check for Bare Spots and Overseed

Do you have bald patches or thin spots marking up your lawn? Heavy foot traffic and pets can take their toll on your grass. This is a great time of year to lay down new grass seed. While you can concentrate your efforts on any areas where the wear-and-tear on the lawn is obvious, over-seeding the whole yard will help you achieve that lush, green look that everyone admires later in the summer.

Once you’ve seeded the lawn, don’t forget to apply a little slow-release fertilizer to the yard, especially in problem areas.

Check and Prune Your Trees

The snow and ice of winter can do some damage to your trees, so now is the time to check them out and do a little pruning. Remove any dead or damaged branches to promote healthy growth and shape your plants for the coming season. 

Perennials, too, that made it through the winter standing tall should also be pruned back, allowing space for new shoots to emerge. This includes rose bushes that have come out of their dormancy and most non-blooming shrubs.

Divide Your Flowers

Perennials often benefit from division to maintain their vigor and promote better flowering – and it can be the only real way to keep your garden under control. 

Seize the opportunity to divide clumps of plants like hostas, daylilies and ornamental grasses. Not only does this prevent overcrowding in your flower beds, but it also provides you with the chance to expand your garden’s diversity. Replant the divided sections strategically throughout your garden (or share them with neighbors who need some new plants).

Add Cool-Season Plants

Despite lingering cool temperatures in some regions, March is mild enough that avid gardeners can sow cool-season vegetables directly in the garden. Cold-hardy crops such as lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots and peas can be planted, taking into account the last expected frost date in your specific area. 

You can also get a head start on your flower planting by adding violas, pansies or snapdragons to your garden for a bit of early color – or you can put them in pots on your porch to brighten your home’s appearance.

Get Your Seeds Started

Are you determined to embrace sustainability this year? Use this time to get plants for your vegetable garden started indoors so that you’re ready for summer.

Get some biodegradable seed trays and some soil and start a mini garden right in your kitchen window. Popular choices for indoor sowing in March include tomatoes, peppers, and other warm-season crops. When the time is right, you can transfer the fledgling plants directly to your garden with a minimum of effort.

Mulch and Manage

Mulch is the “multitool” of gardening. Beyond providing an aesthetically pleasing finish to your garden beds, mulch helps retain moisture, suppresses weeds and regulates the soil temperature. In March, apply a layer of organic mulch like straw or bark chips to create a protective blanket that will support your garden’s health.

This is also a great time to inspect your trees, shrubs and other plants for signs of pests and diseases. If you see any, early intervention with either organic or chemical treatments is crucial to prevent the spread of problems that could impact your garden’s overall well-being during the rest of the growing season.

Make Plans for Change

Finally, this is the best time of year to take a step back and look at your yard as a whole. What do you want to change? While everything is still relatively bare, you may be able to envision the changes you’d like to see. 

Is it time to add a pathway through the front garden? Do you want a patio in the back? Should you add a line of shrubs at the edge of your property for privacy? You may want to embrace some of the newest trends in landscaping, like vertical gardening or hardscaping, and now is the best time to consult with a landscaping company.

When you navigate the transition from winter to spring, let the rhythm of nature guide you. Nurture your garden carefully, and it won’t be long before you have a vibrant haven that reflects the beauty of the changing seasons – and your own personality.