With the days getting longer and brighter, many of us will be enjoying spending time outside again. March marks the first month of Spring, and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then it’s a great time to start making the most of your green space and preparing it for new growth.
From planting summer bulbs to getting a handle on those pesky weeds, here are 12 garden checklist ideas for March.
1. Plant summer-flowering bulbs
With Spring on the horizon, March is the ideal time to start planting some summer bulbs. Planting them now will give them plenty of time to become established, so that they’ll be ready to bloom come the summer.
However, with March being a month of seasonal transition, it can be hard to predict the weather from one day to the next. Overall, temperatures will begin to rise, but not before we have a few more frosty nights and mornings!
To account for this unpredictability, it can be a good idea to begin by planting some hardy yet beautiful summer-flowering bulbs; such as lilies, begonias, and gladioli.
B&Q has a helpful guide to summer-flowering bulbs that includes tips on how to plant bulbs. Alternatively, if you’d like to buy some summer bulbs, you could have a browse on the Crocus website, or head to your nearest garden centre.
Tip: To protect lily bulbs from summer heat later on, plant them at three times their own length.
2. Get weeds under control early
March is a good time to get on top of weeds while they’re in their pre-growth season; before they start sprouting, and become more difficult to manage.
Weeds are easy to remove from flower beds and borders with a hoe if they’re newly established, or with a garden shovel if they’re rooted much deeper. You can learn about five different ways to get rid of weeds on the Gardeners World website.
There are also certain weeds like dandelions, buttercups, and white clover that can survive for years in soil, and only start to sprout when the conditions are right. These can be harder to get rid of by natural means, as digging up our lawn isn’t something that many of us want to do – and pulling weeds up by hand may not always be enough to permanently get rid of them.
However, there are additional things you can do to keep lawn weeds under control, such as avoiding close mowing (this can weaken grass and make it more susceptible to weeds), and raking over the grass before mowing (to discourage creeping weeds like white clover and silverweed).
You can also add mulch to your flower beds and lawn to help keep weeds at bay. This works by blocking light, which makes it more difficult for them to survive. You can find out how to make your own mulch at home on Grow Veg’s website.
Or, to learn more about different non-chemical and chemical methods you can use to control and eradicate lawn weeds, have a read of this guide from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
3. Cut back and divide perennials – and plant some new ones
If you chose not to cut back your perennials (plants that return year after year) last Spring to maintain structure in your garden or continue providing a habitat for wildlife, by now, they’ll be in need of a trim. This will help to get rid of anything that’s dead or damaged and make way for new growth.
However, you’ll need to take extra care when cutting back your perennials, to make sure that you don’t damage any new shoot growth. To find out how to do this safely, have a read of this guide to Perennials: cutting back from the RHS.
You could also divide any winter or summer-flowering perennials that are clumped together. This can help to give them a new lease of life and allow them to reach their full potential when they return later in the year.
This is best done either in early spring (just before plants enter a new growth phase), or in late summer/early autumn (when they’ve just finished a growth phase). The RHS has also created a helpful guide on dividing perennials where you can find more information.
If you don’t have any perennials in your garden yet, or fancy planting some March-flowering ones, this article on March perennials from BBC Gardeners’ World offers useful tips on which ones to plant, including native primroses, pulsatilla, pulmonaria, bergenia, and hellebores.
4. Add some colour to your garden by planting March-flowering bulbs
If you don’t fancy waiting until summer to start seeing more colour in your garden, you could consider planting some March-flowering bulbs this month. After a long, harsh winter, some pretty spring flowers might be just what’s needed to brighten up your days.
March-flowering bulbs such as pink giants, hyacinths, daffodils, primroses, and crocus can be planted in border displays, or in pots that have adequate drainage. This makes them suitable for growing in gardens, windowsills, and balconies.
If you’re interested in buying some March bulbs, you might like to browse the large selection of March flowering bulbs on Crocus’ website – or, you could head to your nearest garden centre.
5. Protect new shoots from slugs
Around this time of year, slugs and snails will begin to emerge from their winter hibernation and look for something to feed on. Unfortunately, new shoots will often be first on the menu without some protection.
While many larger, more established plants can sometimes take a few hits from slugs and snails and recover, young shoots and bulbs usually won’t be so lucky.
When trying to stop slugs and snails from munching away at your plants, it’s worth keeping in mind that – although annoying – these creatures are a useful part of our ecosystem. For example, they can quickly turn green matter into compost (so much so, that many people add them to their compost bin to help speed up the process), and are also an excellent food source for other creatures including hedgehogs, frogs, birds, and beetles.
There are plenty of ways that you can deter slugs without harming them or using chemicals – such as adding plants to your garden that produce a slug-repellent scent, or applying petroleum jelly to your plant pots to create a slippery surface that will be difficult for the slugs to grip on to. For more homemade remedies, have a look at this advice from Rentokil.
6. Plant potatoes, onions, and shallots
If you’re new to growing your own vegetables, then potatoes, onions, and shallots are good, lower-maintenance options to start with this month.
Potatoes are a good staple food because of the diverse range of ways that they can be used. They’re also packed full of antioxidants, which might reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. There are a few different types of potatoes – first early potatoes, second early potatoes, and maincrop potatoes, which are named according to their planting and harvest dates.
Early potatoes (such as Red Duke of York and Rocket varieties) and second early potatoes (such as Charlotte and Ratte types) are planted in March and harvested in June, while maincrop potatoes (such as Maris Piper and King Edward varieties) are planted in mid to late April, and harvested between July and September. Have a read of this page on potato types explained by BBC Gardeners World to learn more.
If you want to get started with planting your first or second early potatoes – which can be grown in the ground or in containers – this detailed guide on potato growing from Gardeners World covers everything from how far apart to plant potatoes, to how to care for your crop, and remedy common potato-growing problems such as slugs and blight.
Early and second early potato bulbs are also available to buy from the Crocus website.
These nutrients help to protect the body against free radicals (harmful molecules that can cause disease), and are important for things like nerve function, metabolism, cell function, nerve transmission, fluid balance, kidney function, and muscle contraction.
Onion sets (small immature bulbs) are usually available to buy from garden centres in early Spring and late Summer – or you can find them on the Crocus website. They like to be planted in a well-lit sunny location, in well-drained soil that has been enriched with compost.
Before you start growing, head over to Grow Veg’s website where you can read their full guide on growing onions from sowing to harvest.
If you’d prefer to grow shallots, which are a smaller, milder-tasting cousin of the onion – then you’ll be pleased to know that these are highly nutritious too. They’re full of antioxidants, can relieve allergy symptoms, and have antiviral and antifungal properties.
Shallots are low-maintenance and will thrive in a sunny spot with well-drained soil – much the same as onions. They can be grown from seeds or sets, though sets are quicker to mature, and will survive better in colder conditions.
7. Sow spinach, chard, and beetroot seeds outdoors
From March to May you can sow leafy vegetables like spinach, chard, and beetroot seeds. These veggies belong to the goosefoot family – a group of weedy plants which have a high salt tolerance, are naturally found in temperate regions around the world, and have leaves that resemble the foot of a goose.
Spinach, chard, and beetroot are all good sources of iron, which is important for growth and development throughout the body. Chard and spinach also contain large amounts of vitamin K, which is important for blood clot formation, and the healing of wounds – and can also support bone health.
These leafy vegetables are easy to grow, and their glossy leaves and brightly coloured stems can make a striking addition to your garden. Ideally, they’ll be grown in a vegetable patch, but if you have a smaller garden, then they can also be raised in large containers instead.
For tips and advice on how to prepare your soil, sow your seeds, and look after your plants, it’s worth having a read on this guide to growing spinach from Garden Focused, this advice on growing chard from the RHS, or these tips on how to grow beetroot from BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.
8. Mow the lawn when new growth appears
Your lawn should start to see some new growth this month and there are a few things that you can do to help it grow strong and healthy.
As previously mentioned, March is the best time to get on top of weeds before they start to spread. In terms of lawns, this might mean treating moss, clover, and other lawn weeds by pulling or digging them up – or, in some cases using special treatments to keep them away permanently.
This might leave your lawn looking slightly battered for a couple of weeks, but it’ll quickly recover as the weather warms up and your grass enters a new growth season. This RHS guide has some helpful advice on how to tackle lawn weeds.
You might also want to give your lawn the first cut of the year during this time (only when it’s dry) if you’ve noticed new growth. However, with frost still acting as a potential threat to grass, it’s important not to overdo it – or to wait until temperatures become a bit milder, which will often be dependent on where in the UK you live.
Before cutting your lawn, first clear it of any debris that might have collected there during the winter, such as sticks and twigs, as these can damage your lawn mower. It’s also a good idea to check for any wildlife that might have been using your grass as a habitat.
Then, when you make the cut, be sure to only give your lawn a trim, as cutting it too short can leave it vulnerable to frost damage, and more susceptible to weeds.
Check out this advice from the Woodland Trust on when to make the first cut of the year – or have a watch of the video on spring lawn care below.
9. Sow more tender vegetables – such as tomatoes and chillies – indoors
Some vegetables, including tomatoes and chillies, need to be sown early to maximise their growth potential throughout the year. However, these veggies are also tender, which means they’re vulnerable to low temperatures.
If you’re keen to get growing, it’s best to sow these indoors and then as temperatures rise and tender plants start to become more established, you can start to think about moving them outside.
Tomatoes and chillies are considered ‘superfoods’ because they’re high in vitamins (such as A and C), minerals, and fibre. There are also a number of different varieties available – and as they make a welcome accompaniment to such a wide range of dishes, you could save yourself some money by growing them at home.
Both chilli and tomato seeds will do well in pots on a brightly-lit window ledge. Have a read of this guide to tomato growing from BBC Gardeners’ World, or this article on how to grow chillies from RHS, to find out more.
Our article; 8 superfoods that you can grow from home also has tips on other fruit and veg, such as blueberries and kale, that you can grow from home.
10. Add a fresh layer of compost to container plants and flower beds
Compost loses structure and nutrients over time, and can gradually become less valuable. In March, plants will be preparing for, and then entering into a new phase of growth. This means that they’ll need sufficient nutrients to support growth, stay strong and healthy, and be less vulnerable to disease, pests, or adverse weather conditions.
If you want to give your plants the best shot possible for the year ahead, you can help by adding a fresh layer of compost to container pots or flower beds. It’s best to remove a layer of old compost before you do this, to allow the new compost more of an opportunity to mix with the old soil and work its magic.
If you don’t have a compost bin, then you can buy compost at your nearest garden centre – or you can order it from Amazon. It is, however, worth considering starting your own compost heap, as this is an easy, free, convenient, and eco-friendly method of enriching your plants and disposing of organic waste.
Have a read of these 10 tips from Country Living on how to make your own compost at home.
11. Avoid cutting hedges until bird nesting season is over
Although you might be keen to get to work on your garden this month, the RSPB recommends avoiding cutting any hedges until after the main breeding season for nesting birds is finished.
This period runs from March to August, and during this time hedges might contain active bird nests. Trimming hedges runs the risk of doing damage to the nests, and to the eggs, chicks, and/or birds that they house.
Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 makes it illegal to intentionally damage or destroy the nest of any living bird while it’s being built. To find out more about this, and about what to do if you think an active nest is at risk, have a read of this advice from the RSPB.
You might also find it helpful to have a read of our introductory guide to bird watching to learn more about different bird behaviour throughout the year.
12. Prune roses
Most roses respond well to pruning in February and March because it prepares them for the new season of growth ahead. Often, the more you prune them, the more they’ll grow when the conditions are right.
The reason that roses respond so well to pruning is because when their branches are cut, this stimulates the plant to produce ‘auxin’ – a growth hormone found in the main stem of almost all plants. When a rose branch or stem is cut, auxin is sent directly to the site of the cutting to encourage new shoots to grow.
Pruning also allows you to boost your rose plant’s flowering capabilities and overall health, while still having control over its shape and size.
If you want to learn more about how and when to prune roses, take a look at this handy guide from LoveTheGarden.
March is an exciting month because it marks the first month of spring – which means there’s plenty to be getting on with in the garden, from tidying, maintenance, and protecting wildlife to adding pops of colour and planning for the year ahead.
We hope that you found this checklist useful. For more ideas and inspiration, why not visit the gardening section of our website?