March Gardening Tips + To-Dos: How to Grow Your Dream Garden in 2023
INSIDE: Get your garden ready for planting. These March gardening tips will help you with all the must-do to-dos, including landscaping, pruning, and soil prep.
March can be a hard time to garden because the longer days fool me into thinking that spring has arrived.
Even though the ground is starting to warm up, March is our snowiest month, and gale-force winds can make being outside disappointing at best and irritating at worst.
Even so, March in the garden is a busy time. The time for planning is over.
It’s time to get to work in the garden.
Seedlings need to be looked after indoors…
And the second half of the month is usually calmer with less cold weather…which means we can finally start doing fun gardening things outside!
Not sure what you need to do this month?
Here’s a complete list of what to do in your garden in March.
BONUS: As a bonus for joining my weekly newsletter, download a free March gardening checklist. It’s everything you need to do in March!
March gardening guide:
- March landscaping tips
- March lawn care tips
- March garden to do list for your flower garden
- March garden jobs in your vegetable garden
- Wildlife in your March garden
- Caring for your houseplants in March
- Frequently asked questions about what to do in your March garden
- March gardening calendar: download a free checklist
Heads up: If you buy something after clicking a link in this post, I’ll earn a small commission. I only link to products I’d recommend to my best friend.
- Prepare your garden soil if it’s dry enough to work. Dig in compost and other amendments when your soil can be worked.
- How do you know when it’s safe to work the soil? When a ball of soil crumbles easily after being squeezed together in your hand, it’s dry enough.
- To avoid compacting your garden soil, wait until it’s dried out before tilling, planting, or even walking in the garden beds.
- Follow last fall’s soil test recommendations for fertilizer and pH adjustment. It’s not too late to test your soil if you didn’t do it last year. Test your soil every 2-3 years; otherwise, you’re just shooting in the dark with fertilizing and amending.
Soil testing tools and kits:
Prices last updated on 2023-12-07 at 20:02
- Water evergreens growing near your house’s foundation if the ground is dry.
- Prevent the spread of fire blight and black knot disease.
- On apple and mountain ash trees, prune off branches killed by fire blight to prevent further spread of the disease.
- Remove black knots from cherries. Make cuts 1 foot below the diseased area. Disinfect your pruners with rubbing alcohol between cuts.
- Prune dead or damaged branches from trees, shrubs, and roses.
- Don’t trim types that bleed, such as birch and maple, until after their leaves are fully developed.
- If you’ve had a mild winter, look for hosta shoots poking up their heads. Dig up clumps that need to be divided, split them apart, and replant them. Water generously.
- Patrol for scale insects. Ash, Aspen, Lilac, and dogwood are susceptible.
- Dormant oil will smother scale insects and their eggs.
- Apply when temps are above 40 degrees.
- Coat the branches entirely, but stop before the liquid starts to run off.
Learn how to apply dormant sprays this March:
Related: Can you create a maintenance-free garden?
- Remove burlap screens erected to protect plants from wind or road salt spray.
- Tidy your garden shed. And your seed-starting corner. Related: How to fix leggy seedlings.
- Remove protective trunk wrap and burlap from trees in the spring after the snow has melted.
- Check outdoor furniture for signs of rust. Remove any surface rust with steel wool and paint with rust-inhibitive paint.
- Turn the compost pile and water it if you haven’t had snow cover and it’s drying out.
- Begin a new compost pile –if you don’t already have a pile going.
- Fertilize evergreens, only if needed. If they’re established and healthy, their nutrient needs should be minimal.
- Spray trees and shrubs for webworms and leaf rollers, if present.
- Clean, sharpen, and oil your pruning tools, hoes, and shovels if you didn’t do this task over the winter.
Download my FREE gardening checklist for March as a bonus for joining my newsletter.
- Now is a good time to apply appropriate sprays for the control of lawn weeds such as chickweed, crabgrass, spurge, and dandelion.
- If the organic matter in your soil is low and there’s no snow, top-dress your lawn with a thin layer of compost. Fill in low spots and reseed.
- Near the end of the month, mow lawns low to remove old growth before new growth begins. Set your lawnmower height to the height appropriate for the type of grass you have.
- Sharpen your lawnmower blade if you didn’t do it at the end of the season.
- Have your lawn aerated. Annual aeration is one of the best things you can do for your lawn.
- If you fertilized your lawn last fall, it might be too early to fertilize.
- Lawns do better when they receive more fertilizer in the fall and less in the spring.
- Check with your local cooperative extension office for a lawn fertilization schedule in your area.
- Stock up on lawn fertilizer for the season. Even though the bulk of the fertilizer you feed your lawn should be applied in the fall, this is the time of year to purchase fertilizer.
Related: My favorite lawn care books
- Loosen winter mulches from perennials cautiously. Re-cover plants at night if there’s a danger of frost. Clean up flower beds by removing all weeds and dead foliage.
- Gradually start to pull back mulch from rose bushes.
- If your soil is alkaline, apply sulfur around acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies, and dogwoods. Use a granular formulation at the rate of 1/2 pound per 100 square feet.
- Track the sunlight and seasons with Journey North.
- Cut back all ornamental grasses to the ground just as the new growth begins. Tie up ornamental grasses, and use a serrated knife to cut them back to a few inches above ground level.
- Apply controls for wild garlic. It will take several years of annual applications for complete control.
- After pussy willow catkins have passed their prime, cut the plants back drastically to encourage long branches to grow and large catkins for next year.
- Finish pruning non-spring flowering shrubs and ornamental trees before they start growing. (Prune spring bloomers as soon as they finish flowering.)
My favorite pruning books and tools
Prices last updated on 2023-12-07 at 19:54
- Protect new plant growth from slugs. The least toxic management options include barriers and traps. Baits are also available for slug control; use with caution around pets. Read and follow all label directions prior to using baits or any other chemical control.
- WEED! Get a jump on the weeds by patrolling your gardens when the weather is nice. Small, newly emerging weeds are easier to remove, and if you keep on top of them through June, the rest of the season will be much more manageable.
- On dry days remove winter debris from lawn and garden beds. Check for broken branches (remove immediately) or plants damaged by snow loads or rodents.
- Shrubs: Thin out old, overgrown, leggy bushes. Prune the oldest, thickest stems at the base.
- Consider replacing unwanted bushes.
- Reset any plants that have heaved out of the ground.
- Give your flower bed a spring cleaning. Remove last year’s dead plant material and any debris that’s collected over the winter.
- Take pictures, noting where the snow melts first in your garden. That’s where you need to plant bulbs this fall!
Get a printable list of what to do in your garden this month: Download my free March checklist.
- Fertilize woody plants four to six weeks before they begin new growth only if they have shown signs that they could use it. These would include poor leaf color, failure to completely fruit or flower, or stunted growth.
- Add mulch to your garden beds if it’s getting thin.
- Divide and transplant summer-blooming perennials and fertilize established ones as soon as new growth appears.
- Order summer-flowering bulbs such as gladiolus, begonias, and lilies. (These all grow well in containers.)
- Celebrate the spring equinox this month by taking photos of your garden and putting them in your garden journal.
- Start a garden journal. It’s the best tool for improving your garden every single year.
- List what you plant in your garden.
- Include the name of seed companies, plant name, variety, planting date, and harvest date.
- During the growing season, keep notes on how well the plant does. If the variety is susceptible to disease, record what you used to treat any problems.
- All this information will be helpful when planning and planting your garden in the future.
- There is a lot of planting you can do in March. This is when most of us can first sow seeds in our garden. When to plant depends on your hardiness zone. Check out this post: What flowers and vegetables to plant in March.
- Birds eat many insect pests. Attract them to your garden by providing good nesting habitats.
- Raise purple martin houses early this month.
- Place birdhouses (built or purchased this winter) outdoors this month. Birds are looking for nesting sites this month!
- If you attract birds to your birdhouses, consider joining Project Nestwatch. Your data helps scientists who are studying backyard birds.
- Put out nesting material.
- Keep providing your backyard birds with food and water.
- Report robin sightings to Journey North.
- Provide fruit for berry-eating birds. Fruit-loving birds such as robins, waxwings, bluebirds, and mockingbirds rarely eat bird seed.
- To attract them, soak raisins and currants in water overnight, then place them on a table feeder or purchase blends with a dried fruit mixture.
- To attract orioles and tanagers, skewer halved oranges onto a spike near other feeders or supply nectar feeders.
- An even better way to attract these birds is to plant a few fruit trees.
As a bonus for joining my weekly newsletter, download a free gardening in March checklist. You’ll be sure to get the right things done this month!
- Spray off small plants with lukewarm shower water, covering the potting mix with plastic wrap.
- Remove yellowing and dead leaves, check for insect infestations, and treat if necessary.
- Continue to care for indoor flowering gift plants.
- Azaleas require even moisture and bright light to grow well.
- Deadhead to keep plants blooming for four to six weeks.
- Azaleas can go outside to a partly shaded location after your last frost but must come back in before fall frost.
- Discard Primrose plants after flowering or plant them directly in a shaded, well-drained garden area.
- They’ll go dormant during the summer months and require a thick layer of coarse organic mulch to protect them from the summer heat and winter cold.
- Propagate houseplants. Softwood cuttings, leaf cuttings, air-layering, cane cuttings, or plant division may all be done this spring.
- Discard indoor-blooming bulbs: tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, or crocus. They won’t bloom again.
- Fertilize houseplants as they begin new growth.
- Try low dosages of organic fertilizers or a very dilute, balanced granular fertilizer rather than stronger formulas.
- Telltale white salt markings on terra cotta containers indicate overuse of fertilizer.
- Flush the soil of over-fertilized plants with plain water.
My favorite houseplant books
Prices last updated on 2023-12-07 at 19:54
When should I start my vegetable garden?
For most gardeners, March and April are the prime months to start a vegetable garden. The ground begins warming up as the days get longer. So it’s the perfect time to plant hardy annuals in anticipation of a summer of delicious home-grown produce!
How do I prepare my garden in March?
To prepare your garden this March, start with a good pruning session to get your garden ready for the blooming season. Deciduous trees and shrubs can get some much-needed shaping, while evergreens need an extra dose of TLC from any winter damage. Correcting snow and ice damage on multi-leader trees is also recommended. Then give hydrangeas fresh trims, roses their seasonal cutback, Group 3 clematis a snip or two, and cut back ornamental grasses to ensure healthy growth later on this year.
What do you add to soil in spring?
Before deciding what to add to your soil this spring, get a soil test. A professional soil test is the best way to know exactly what to add to your soil. It will save you time and money because you won’t waste either buying or applying amendments your garden doesn’t need.
You’ll always know what to do in March!
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Here’s a sneak peek of your checklist:
Your turn: what to do in your garden in March
Did I miss any important March garden chores?
Let me know in a comment below!