In the Ornamental Garden

  • By Nona Kaplan
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  • March 2018 - Vol 4 No. 3
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March can be considered the first month of spring. It brings rebirth and warm sunny weather. After surviving cold, grey winter days, it is hard not to run out into the garden and begin throwing seeds in the air on the first beautiful day.  What are the best ways to prepare for the new growing season?

The first thing you don’t want to do is leap into the garden after it’s been raining for three days and slosh around on the soggy ground. Be sure to check your soil to make sure it is dry enough to work. If it’s safe, begin by cutting back plants that were left for winter interest, seeds for birds, or shelter for small critters. When the beds are cleaned up, edge them again and put down compost and a light mulch, being careful of not to tread on emerging bulbs. This is also a good time to find and divide perennials. Cut back vines that are girdling trees and encroaching into the beds. Moreover, clean around the borders of your beds. For example, rake back leaves further into wooded areas; get a head start by pulling out pesky weeds.  Be sure to prune  fruit trees, blueberry bushes, and brambles. Do not forget about the roses.

For detailed March tips and tasks, see our previous issues:;

If your lawn needs attention, you’ll find a detailed discussion of March lawn tasks and tips in our March 2015 issue,

This is a good time for repositioning stepping stones as well. For instructions on this and other lawn and landscaping tips for March, see the Va. Cooperative Extension article at  Get ready for lawn mowing: change the oil in your lawn mower and sharpen the blade. You can take the lawn mower to a mechanic to do this if this task is not in your comfort zone.

If the ground isn’t conducive to gardening, there are indoor tasks that could be done as well, such as testing last year’s seeds for viability and starting seedlings. Tubers such as dahlias can be divided and sprouted indoors too. Another task to consider: clean and organize your garden shed and clean tools.  If you’ve got old herbicides and pesticides, don’t just throw them in the trash.  Learn how to do this task properly at

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