Wow, March is already here, time flies when you’re gardening and doing other fun things too. The first day of spring is Sunday, March 20 – why not dedicate this month to preparing your landscape for spring, summer and fall planting and flowering? After all, this month the night temperatures will rise, which will help the new plants to put down roots. Daytime temperatures are pleasantly cool, which again helps new plantings by reducing stress.
So to start, many of us have lawns and most have cool season grasses like fescue. To help your lawn get off to a good start this early spring, it can help to aerate and then rake the thatch. This process will open up the floor; your lawn roots will thank you for it. Also, after aeration, it’s time to fertilize. A product that contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – called “complete” – is ideal for your lawn. Apply every six weeks now through June; resume feeding from September to early November.
Speaking of fertilizer, it’s time to start spring feeding your trees and shrubs, using a complete fertilizer as well. However, mature trees do not need to be fertilized, but trees a few years old would appreciate a little fertilizer until their root systems are developed. Don’t forget your roses…they need food every six weeks from now until October; you can choose a rose fertilizer and a complete fertilizer, always follow the instructions on the bag.
Time for some last minute spring pruning. Trim and clean under flowering shrubs such as camellias, quinces and forsythias. Prune back suckers from trees and shrubs – these are the branches that grow directly from the rootstock under the ground. Reduce winter frost and frost damage to all perennials in your landscape.
Something that should be done this month is installing and repairing your drip irrigation system for your trees, shrubs and vegetable garden. First of all, if you don’t have an automatic irrigation system, install one in your garden this month. If you have an automatic watering system, but haven’t checked it since last year, it’s time to set your irrigation clock to manual and run all of your valves in the system. When you do this, don’t just walk away and expect everything to be perfect, but check for broken drippers, leaks, and driveway and sidewalk irrigation.
If you’re having trouble with your irrigation system, write down which drippers need to be replaced. Also, if you are watering the sidewalk and not the plants, adjust the directions of the sprinklers. Make sure your sprinklers cover the entire surface of the lawn evenly. Scatter a dozen flat-bottomed cans of equal size throughout the area as you water; then measure the water in each container.
Vegetables that can be planted from seed now include lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, Swiss chard, and spinach. You can buy spring and summer vegetable seedlings from the nursery now, but if you’re planting in the ground now, you’ll need to protect the little plants from a late cold snap. Nurseries receive a wide selection of tomato and pepper plants.
If you notice holes in the leaves of vegetables, annuals and some perennials, look for snails in their hiding places…under the fresh green leaves of low plants or under the pile of wood. It is important to clean last year’s leaf litter off the ground; this will expose snails and slugs.
There are many shade-loving summer flowers that can be planted now, including fibrous begonias and impatiens. These bloomers will continue to bloom all summer long as long as they have plenty of shade.
There are now flowering plants available for the garden that receives six or more hours of sunlight per day, including Shasta daisies, geraniums and daisies.
Alive or dead? Now is the time to walk around the yard and figure out which plants might be ready for shovel pruning. A bending shrub branch indicates that it may still be alive; it may also show some green when the bark is lightly scratched. If it breaks, that part of the plant may be dead. Sometimes just pruning this dead part will save the plant.
I hope all of these gardening tips keep you busy; and if you have any questions, text me or call me at 916-719-9020.