Gardening Tips for March 2017

Dear Gardening Friends,

It looks like our rollercoaster winter is continuing into March. It’s hard enough to decide what to wear outdoors each day let alone what to do in the garden. The following are a few tips:

  • We are all anxious for spring but be very cautious about doing garden chores too soon.
  • Don’t step on the soil or lawn when the soil is soft and wet. This will compact the soil.
  • Pick up sticks and winter trash.
  • Don’t rake up the leaf cover/mulch at the first sign of warm weather. It’s serving as a protection for both you plants and the soil against the freezing and thawing temperature swings.
  • If a mulched area has spring bulbs that started to poke through with the warm weather last week, just gently remove some mulch/ leaves but leave a light covering to protect them from the temperature fluctuations. They should be fine even if we get some snow as they have a sort of built in anti-freeze.
  • Once it does start warming up and perennials start growing I’d suggest the same tactic. Leave a light covering of leaves to protect the crowns until the chance of freeze has passed. Some years that can be May!
  • If you can reach perennial weeds without stepping into the garden beds it’s a great time to get them out before they just get bigger.
  • Winter cress is one pervasive annual weed that is already up in my garden. (That’s why it’s called winter cress.) On the next warm day I’ll be out there pulling it out.
  • This is still a good time to prune most trees and shrubs. Look for:
    • Dead or damaged limbs or branches
    • Branches that have grown and are a safety hazard or just in the way
    • Branches that are crossing and rubbing against each other
    • Shaping to control size
    • Pruning to let more light and air flow into the canopy
    • If you have a planting of shrubs that is seriously overgrown it may be better to remove one or more of the shrubs rather than try and keep them pruned to a smaller and unnatural size.
  • Do NOT:
    • Prune spring flowering trees or shrubs. The blossom buds are set and pruning now will eliminate this spring’s bloom. Prune after they bloom.
    • Leave stubs. Whether pruning a tree or shrub make the cut just above a leaf bud or branch.
  • For specific plant information check on line at a “edu” site or GOOGLE “Cornell info on…”

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Happy Gardening!

Lyn Chimera