March-ing to the Garden
Posted in Monthly Landscape Tips on March 3, 2014
March in the Landscape and Garden
The time is upon us! What time, you ask? Time to get our landscapes in shape. Spring is the time we grow just about everything imaginable in our gardens! From fruits, veggies, herbs to flowers, trees and shrubs. Preparing now for BBQ Season! But there’s much to think about and prepare for. Pests. How are you going to combat them? What plants do you want to grow?
Here are some tips on how to get things going in the landscape.
As long as the danger of frost is past, it’s safe to plant container-grown shrubs, trees and perennial flowers, herbs and ground covers. If you’re unsure about last-frost times, check out this online resource for your area.
Likewise, if you’re not quite sure what to plant, we recommend the following:
Fantastic Fruits – March is the perfect time to plant fruit trees if you’re planting in climate zones 8-9 & 12-24. Dwarf trees (half the size or less than standard trees) make excellent additions to a landscape/garden. A word of advice: Check the label and make sure the tree was grafted onto “Flying Dragon” rootstock; otherwise, you may end up with a much larger tree than planned. If you’re working in zone 11, the High Desert zone, March is the time to plant bare-root nectarines, peaches, plums and other stone fruit. USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Finder for information.
Tasty Herbs – Herb gardens are a must-have for good cooks; nothing is as good as fresh! Even if you’re not a culinary genius, the beauty and fragrance of an herb garden is an undeniable joy. Some super seedlings we suggest are parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (now that song’s stuck in everyone’s head), chives, savory and tarragon. Herbs to grow from seed include chervil, cilantro, dill and arugula.
Beautiful Flowers & Yummy Veggies – Marigolds, petunias and similar flowers are ready to liven up any landscape in March. Tomatoes and peppers join in to add a nutritious balance. If the soil is at least 60⁰F, green beans, cucumbers, corn and squash can be planted, too. Hint: If you can comfortably go barefoot in your garden, the soil is ready. Alternatively, you can wait two weeks beyond the last frost date.
Super Succulents – Drought not only makes for higher food prices, it increased the risk of fire. Using some of these natural defenders in a well-planned fire-scape can minimize risk and damage. Succulents have a lot of water in their leaves, which makes them more difficult to burn. Not only that, but they’re an excellent sculptural addition to any garden/landscape, adding beautiful foliage and sturdiness for ease of care. We suggest planting cotyledon, crassula, sedum, echeveria, and aloe.
Wonderful Windowboxes – Most of these warm-season wonders are also perfect for windowboxes and container gardens (though we don’t recommend trying to walk in your containers…). Simply work in a slow-release fertilizer when you plant for best results.
Brave Bugs – Gardens attract pests. However, pests have natural predators. Plant marigolds, feverfew, scabiosa, yarrow, cosmos, aster, chamomile and coreopsis to call in the cavalry. Ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, parasitic wasps and other pest predators love these plants.
Last but not Least, the Lawn – Don’t neglect lawns. Keep mowing as it’s the best way to keep grass healthy and weed-free. Cool-season grass (bluegrass, ryegrasses, fescues) should be mowed at about two inches. Once temps start hitting the 90s, raise the blade and mow at three inches. Warm-season grasses (St. Augustine, zoysia, Bermuda) should be mowed at about two inches during the entire growing season.
March is also a good time to do some maintenance on garden plots, such as deadheading and dividing perennials. Hydro-Scapre carries the supplies you’ll need for all your landscape maintenance needs.
Grateful Deadheading – It sounds brutal, but flowers will love you for this bit of maintenance. Remove the dead/dying flowers to redirect the plants’ energy to the root systems which helps spring-blooming bulbs recharge for their next bloom.
Divide By… – Perennials can safely be divided when they’ve reached at least a couple inches in height. Reasons to divide: Overcrowding, evidenced by dead spots and reduced blooms or just to have more plants.
Add Some Acid – For blue-flowered hydrangeas, they like an acidic soil, so add some aluminum sulfate. Be sure to follow the package instructions.
Tips on Tending
Now that the plants are planted, what next? Tending to them, of course! Here are our tips on how to tend a garden:
Avocado & citrus trees like fertilizer now and during the warmer months of the year. Don’t forget to fertilize your container plants; use half-strength fertilizer, though.
Manage mulch: Put it down in new beds & add to old ones; the goal is two-three inches deep. Learn more about the benefits of mulch.
Prune any frost-damaged plants after the last frost and wait a couple weeks after that to fertilize them.
Harvest early-growing cool-season crops (peas, spinach, lettuces) to aid in great production. Also, plant successor plants.
Want bushier fuchsias? Pinch the tips and watch them grow. Once they’re done blooming, prune subtropical hibiscus and camellias.
Give your houseplants some fresh air by bringing them outside. Give them a shady place to sit to avoid sun scald.
No matter what you do, they’re bound to find the garden. Here are some things you can do in addition to attracting their natural predators:
Sneaky snails – Find their daytime lairs (typically strap-leafed plants such as agapanthus and daylilies) and use Sluggo® (organic) or Metaldehyde based on the label and needs . Copper bands placed around the trunks of citrus trees or the base of bed-raised edibles deters snails, too. They get a mild – but uncomfortable – shock from touching the copper!
Spider mites are on the move – They love dry times like these. If you see them, a strong daily blast of water – especially to the undersides of leaves – is a great control method. It also works double-duty by controlling aphids. Safer® Insecticidal Soap (organic) or available pest control products from Bayer® are good solutions if water isn’t keeping these pests away.
Rascally rabbits & dastardly deer – Liquid Fence® is an all-natural deterrent that is sprayed on the leaves that Bugs and Bambi love to eat. It deters them because it stinks; as in, garlic-and-rotten-eggs stinks. It’ll train the critters to stay away, though. It might take more than one seasonal application and people swear by it. If you have these pests, give it a try.
Tis’ the season where weeds start to pop up everywhere. Perfect temperatures and possibly enough rain create the ideal environment for weeds. Use RoundUp® ProMax® or QuickPro® in non-selective areas that’s areas that you are not worried about surrounding plants being killed as well; RoundUp kills them all.
Use a combination fertilizer & herbicide such as BEST® Dimension® in lawns and listed ornamentals before weeds germinate. That means now! Don’t wait too long. Once weed seeds have germinated, it’s too late. Although for crabgrass, BEST Dimension also works as a post-emergence herbicide up to the four-leaf stage. For other weeds, a good post-emergence lawn weed killer is Bayer® Season Long Weed Control.
For vegetable gardens and flower beds, DeWitt® Weed Barrier Landscape Fabric is a good option before you plant to prevent weeds from coming up at all.
As always, read and follow the label directions for any product you are using.
You’re now well-armed to get gardening. What are you waiting for? March!