March Into Spring
This past January was one of the warmest on record and the effects are noticeable — plants blooming unusually early, maple trees producing less sap, and a general restlessness to get outside and work on the yard. I saw crocuses and snowdrops, normally early spring flowers, were beginning to bud — in early February! We might as well bid an early farewell to winter and get down to business for spring.
Although the weather may be warm, it##Q##s not completely guaranteed to stay that way as we could tell from that first week-end this month, so before you start planting your annuals and mowing the lawn, there are a few things you can do to prepare.
Remove mulch – Pull the winter mulch off gradually as the plants show signs of new growth. The purpose of winter mulch is to act as a protector from sudden changes of temperature and chilling winds, so keep in mind that it is still winter. Acclimatize your plants by removing the mulch over a period of days, allowing the light and air to reach the new growth slowly. It is much better to remove the mulch a little later than to remove it too early.
Divide and Transplant – Start dividing and moving your summer blooming perennials and fertilize established ones as soon as new growth appears. Late March and early April is a good time to transplant shrubs and trees. As soon as the soil is workable, but before buds have swelled or broken open, you can move shrubs and trees.
Prune & Clean-up – Finish pruning any fruit trees this month. Make sure to complete before the buds swell. Remove all dead blooms from bulbs.
Repair – Repair damaged areas of the lawn. De-thatch, rake or aerate. Most lawns will need a spring feeding but if thatching or liming needs to be done, do those jobs first. Over-seeding can be done as the last step, after the lawn has been fertilized.
Fix Drainage – March is a good time to note areas of poor drainage. If there are pools of water in your yard that do not drain, fill in the low spot or scoop out a channel for the water to drain away.
Moisturize – Check the plants under the eaves of the house and under tall evergreens to see that they have sufficient moisture. Water all bulbs during times of growth and especially during foliage and bloom development. Irrigate summer-flowering bulbs during dry weather. Keep water off foliage and blooms.