When the calendar hits March, an urge to jump into the garden often strikes. After cold, gray, and sometimes snowy months of winter, it is perhaps only natural to long for some sunny spring flowers to brighten our days.
Fortunately, there are indeed some gardening tasks that can be tended to at this early point in the new-garden season. They may not bring about flowers right away, but they will help indulge your urge to be outside–and they’ll make the gardens look much better.
Stacked stone walls and stepping stones often get pushed around thanks to snow and ice–or children and pets! Repositioning stacked stone walls usually doesn’t take much time or effort (unless the stones are large or plentiful), but it will make a huge difference in the aesthetics of the garden.
Adjusting stepping stones will probably take a bit more effort and elbow grease. You will need to actually remove the stone from the ground and add some soil or gravel beneath to get the stones level with the surrounding ground again.
Eliminating Pest-Made Tunnels
Pests such as gophers and moles can create hazardous conditions in the lawn (as anyone who has ever turned an ankle while tripping over a tunnel can attest). Such tunnels are also unsightly. To fix, level with a rake and tamp down the soil. Reseeding may be necessary if the grass doesn’t tend to spread on its own.
Be sure the tunnels aren’t live, meaning that the pests that created the tunnels aren’t still living there. If they are, take some exterminating measures before leveling the tunnels. Call an exterminator or use commercially sold pest control measures.
Most gophers and moles survive on slugs and in the north we put down lawn applications on April 1 (and then in the fall), to kill them.
Helping Feathered Friends
If the property includes birdhouses, birdbaths, and feeders, this is a good time to give them all a good cleaning. Also, be sure to check the mountings to make sure they are secure.
Take Stock of Early-Blooming Bulbs
Once the bulbs have begun to bloom, this is a good time to make a quick sketch of where the bulbs are located on the property. Later in the season, when you decide to plant perennials and annuals, you’ll know where the bulbs are and can take care not to dislodge them during planting.
This is a great time to check the condition of mulch. In all likelihood, you’ll want to order new mulch, because last year’s mulch will likely have decomposed or washed away.
When you re-mulch, be sure to provide at least a 2-inch thickness. This will hold in warmth and moisture as well as keeping out weeds. It will look more attractive, too. However, don’t put it down until the ground has warmed up.
Pruning & Other Things
Haven’t pruned trees and shrubs yet? There’s still time. This is an ideal time to take care of those essential parts of the landscape.
It’s also a good time to…
- Cut back ornamental grasses (to about 6 inches)
- Cut back perennials (to nearly ground level)
- Remove dead wood and suckers from trees and shrubs
- Plant and move dormant trees and shrubs
- Divide emergent perennials as needed
- Clean tools and clay pots (if you didn’t do this in the fall)
- Remove leaves from water features and gutters if you don’t have gutter guards
- Uncover fountains, clean them out, and check the motors on the pumps
- Be the first to order those special plants from the garden center for planting later
- Cleaning out the fist pond
- Edging sidewalks and driveways
Now is the time to check all the cushions and condition of the lawn furniture….does anything need repair, replaced, reconditioned, or painted? Those warm days will be here before you know it. And of course outdoor entertaining will be a must!