March Garden Prep

Some of us might find ourselves staying closer to home during the days and weeks to come, so I wanted to pass along some great ideas so that you can begin prioritizing the preparation needed to get your garden and flower beds ready for spring. Now is a great time to evaluate the outdoor projects you have wanted to tackle for quite some time and create your own checklist for how you plan to make your outdoor spaces spring ready. Let’s get started! 

1. Start cleanup near the house. Tidying beds along the most-traveled front walkway early reminds me that I can do this, a little at a time. Walking past a mess every time I go out: not so inspiring. Work outward from your home.

2. “Spot clean” key areas–again, working on first things first. In the edible garden, why prep the tomato row when you haven’t even planted the peas or spinach? “Spot clean” targeted areas so that the earliest crops can get sown, then double back later when all extra-early goals are met.

3. Similarly: Gently remove matted leaves to uncover early spring ornamentals first, such as emerging spring bulbs and ephemerals, spring-summer perennials, even if you can’t stop to clean the whole bed. Start cutbacks by trimming battered leaves from semi-evergreen perennials, such as hellebore, salvia, ajuga, and ornamental grasses.

4. Stay on track with seed-starting. Make a chart of what to sow when, indoors or out, or organize packets week-by-week, in an accordion file or recipe-card box. Move any packet that’s best sown a little at a time ahead two weeks in the filing system after you use it, to plan for a staggered supply of salads, carrots, radishes and such.

5. Make space in the compost heap for incoming debris you’ll be generating fast. Extract finished material from the bottom to top-dress beds as you clean them.

6. Order mulch now—buying bulk or bags is a matter of choice. Choosing which mulch to use in your landscape will take a little research. Color, texture, and nutrients are all key factors. Choose from pine, hardwood, cedar, cypress, rubber, and many others.

7. Empty nest boxes of old nests, and maybe add more birdhouses. I actually do that even earlier to encourage early lease options.

8. Muck out water gardens, get those pumps running again.

9. While doing all that: Never walk, or work, in mucky soil. I stay off soft and wet lawns preventing tracking damage, delaying some chores. I can do the tasks in another week, but I can’t easily fix damaged lawn areas.

10. Treat yourself to a little color—again, for encouragement. I like big bowls of pansies, dianthus, and snapdragons, for instance, to cheer me on towards April, because the list can feel daunting, especially in years when winter can seem longer than last.