Gardens can look desolate in March, despite the valiant efforts of spring sunshine and blooming snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses. Lawns can look ragged, pale and full of moss, flower and vegetable beds bare, and the ravages of winter storms are on full display. Even so, March is also an exciting time for anyone with a garden. The days are longer, there’s some warmth in the sun, and it’s time to get started on creating a beautiful (but practical) living and entertaining space for the summer. Here are some top tips for spring gardening jobs.
1. Hold back on the seeds
With shops full of seeds, the temptation is to get planting immediately. But don’t start sowing too early in March. We’re still likely to have some frosts, especially in Scotland and northern England, and you should wait for the ground to warm up. But there are plenty of projects to start instead, and you can also start planting some veg in the greenhouse or indoors.
2. Go on pest patrol
Take action against slugs, which could ravage new spring shoots, especially hostas. Whatever your preferred methods – physical, organic or chemical – for protecting your garden against slugs, it’s time to deploy them. Onto more spring gardening jobs.
3. Your lawn needs you
Early spring is the time to get the lawnmower out of storage. If you have a few rain-free days, and the grass is dry, do a gentle mowing session, with the lawnmower on its highest setting. If the lawn is particularly long you might want to consider cutting it one day on a high setting, then the next day going over it again on a slightly lower setting (trying to cut a long damp lawn on a low setting could stress the lawn mower and wear you out too). The RHS website has lots of advice on cutting lawns in early spring.
4. Be nourishing
Top dress containers with new compost, ready for the growing season, and consider adding some plant food or bonemeal to help and sustain healthy growth. You can also tidy borders, and mulch them with compost or manure. If you have a wood burning stove you can add your wood ash to beds and the carbon will help invigorate the earth. The soil has a hard summer ahead, and needs all the nutrients it can get.
5. Deal with weeds
It’s useful to tackle weeds early in the year before they get out of hand. It’s also easier to spot them if beds and borders are relatively empty, and remember to check cracks in patios and paths for weeds too.
6. Get busy in the greenhouse
Before your greenhouse gets too cluttered with seedlings, or festooned with summer tomatoes, take a good hard look around you, and notice the dust, cobwebs and dirt. It’s a dirty job, but one of these essential spring gardening jobs.
Cleaning and disinfecting benches, floor, windows and even pots and seed trays will help get rid of any diseases or bugs that have wintered in your greenhouse. Jeyes Fluid is widely recommended, or garden centres may recommend other products. Make sure everything dries and ventilates thoroughly before you start planting seedlings and cuttings.
7. Get the really boring jobs over for the year
Repair post-winter fences and trellises; clean and sharpen gardening tools; and tidy the garden shed so that you can reach the lawnmower without falling over two spades and a sunshade. Maybe make a shopping list of all those things that you regularly need throughout the year, such as buying some extra compost (if you don’t make you’re own), plant food, new tree stakes and ties, and pest control pellets. Much better to do these jobs now and have supplies read when you need them.
8. Make plans for your garden
Although the site of snowdrops and late frosts make it too early for some planting, it’s not too early to plan. Get looking at catalogues, websites and the like, and try something new. Check out our garden design ideas and inspirational photos on Pinterest. If you leave this until June or July, you’ll just be kicking yourself that all your amazing new discoveries needed to be planted out in April.
9. Think big
The emptiness of a March garden makes this the best time to dream up a project. Look around you with a fresh but harsh eye. Do you really like those shrubs in the corner? Has that beloved forsythia actually grown far too tall? Has the buddleia taken over a favourite corner? Would the end of your garden become much usable if you installed a summerhouse? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to work in a garden office this summer?
10. More advice on spring gardening jobs
Without further delay, get browsing, whether it’s a seed catalogue; a social media site with ideas for patios; or a collection of garden buildings or summer houses. Your plans may turn the Easter break into a gruelling 72-hour DIY or gardening marathon, but they will set you up for a wonderful garden summer.
For other good ideas on spring gardening jobs, there’s some great advice at:
The weekend newspapers (or their archives) are also a good source of seasonal gardening advice and spring gardening jobs. A word of caution though – national newspapers may well be geared towards readers in southern England. If you live in a colder, northern area, you may want to delay their advice by a fortnight or so.