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Looking for ideas for what to do in the garden in March? Well, look no further as we have compiled a list of garden jobs to keep you busy throughout the month.
The first rule of pruning is to remove the four Ds. Dead, Dying, Diseased and Damaged. This is best done in winter when you can see the problem. Aftr that prune for reversion and tidying.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, Pruning Saw, Gloves
For larger branches, remove any obvious dead, diseased or damaged wood, cutting back to live wood using a clean saw.
Smaller shoots can be cut using clean secatuers cutting back just above an outward facing bud.
A green shoot on a varigated shrub needs removing at its base. This is known as reversion and any all green shoots are stonger and eventually take over, changing the look of the plant.
Remove old flower heads from plants like lavendar in spring to allow room for new growth.
A lawn is a vital parts of most gardens providing somewhere to play and relax. The more you use your lawn the more likely it is that compaction will give you problems with drainage which will spoil the look of the grass.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Fork
Where water is sitting on the surface of the lawn drive a fork down into the soil to the full depth of the tines over the entire area.
Rocking the fork backwards and forwards as you work will open up holes down into the soil to speed up drainage.
In severe cases you can rock backwards on the fork to lift the surface and create large air pockets underneath for drainage.
Work from the far side of the lawn using a board if necessary to spread the weight and save causing any further damage.
Chitting is the practice of encouraging potatoes to start to shoot before you plant them. It makes it easier to pick good potatoes to plant and helps them get off to a rapid start. Buying seed potatoes each year is preferable to saving your own, as you always have fresh, clean stock.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Seed Potatoes, Seed Tray, Egg Box
Use fresh, healthy tubers each year and discard any that show signs of rot or damage.
Each of these 'eyes' will grow into a stem that will feed the root system and encourage lots of delicious potatoes.
Put the potatoes in a seed tray or egg box to chit, with the end showing the most eyes uppermost.
Place them in a cool, frost-free, well-lit spot to let the eyes develop. Once they are around 1cm long, the potatoes are ready to be planted out. Keep them the same way up as you plant and they will soon start to grow.
Sowing seed, like these tomatoes, in a pot or seed tray is space-efficient, but there will come a point when the young seedlings need to be moved into individual pots so they have the room to continue growing.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Pots, Multipurpose Compost, Dibber or Pencil, Seed tray, Watering Can
The first leaves produced by a new seedling are called 'seed leaves' and usually look different to the later 'true' leaves of the plant. Once the seed leaves have fully expanded, you can safely begin to repot them.
Use a dibber or pencil to gently ease the seedlings out of the compost. Only ever handle them by holding a leaf. Break the leaf and it will grow another: break or bruise the stem and the seedling may die.
Still holding the seedling by a leaf, lower the roots into a hole in the new compost. Do not press the compost down around it, simply tap the side of the pot gently with the flat of your hand.
Water gently to settle the compost around the roots and get the seedlings off to a good start.
If your garden is in an exposed position, then getting new plants established can be a problem. Strong winds can scorch the foliage, dry the plant out and cause wind-rock (where the tender new roots are sheared off as the plant is blown from side to side). A simple windbreak will reduce the wind, whilst still allowing vital light through for the plant to grow.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Canes, Horticultural fleece, Twist ties, String/Wire
Push four canes into the ground around the plant to form a square. They must be taller than the plant by about 30cm.
Draw the tops of the canes together and tie with string or wire to form a wigwam.
Take a large piece of horticultural fleece and tie it at intervals down the length of the first cane with twist-ties.
Cover the whole structure with the fleece, tying the top together with string. On calm days, the sheltered side can be opened to increase air-flow around the plant and keep it healthy. You can weigh the bottom of the fleece with large stones to stop it lifting.
Slugs are the top problem in most gardens and it is always difficult to stay ahead of their attacks. Certain plants, like Hostas, are always a preferred target so, if you are going to protect anything, start with them. A barrier of gravel, crushed eggshells or, as here, wool pellets, around the plant acts as a good deterrent.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Wool pellets, Scoop
Apply the wool pellets in a complete circle around the plant to be protected. These pellets are natural and harmless to pets and children.
Water them well, as they have been compressed.
The fibres fluff up and expand to create a collar.
Any slug that tries to cross the barrier gets caught on the millions of tiny hooks on the wool fibres. It can be removed by hand or left for the birds to take.
Bulbs give a wonderful display in spring, both indoors and out. Many of the bulbs that have been indoors can be planted in the garden afterwards to continue to give pleasure for years to come. A little care and attention after they finish flowering will ensure they remain in good health.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Fertiliser, Fork, Label
As the flowers fade and die, remove the flower head to stop seed forming and taking unnecessary energy from the plant. Leave the stem and leaves to die down, as they continue to manufacture food for the bulb.
Feed the bulb with a quick-release fertiliser that can be taken in by the plant before the leaves die down. Water well to ensure it is available to the roots (plants cannot eat their food, they have to drink).
Mixing the fertiliser into the surface of the soil around the bulbs will help it act more quickly and prevent any being blown away.
Mark the position of the bulbs with a bright label if you will be working nearby after they have died down. This saves you damaging any as you work. This is also helpful if you are intending to lift and divide an over-crowded clump while they are dormant.
Home-grown cucumbers taste delicious and are easy to grow from seed, especially the short, lunch-box sized varieties. Most prefer a warm, humid environment to grow well, but there are some good outdoor varieties so you can select one to suit your garden.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Cucumber seed, Compost, Pot
Sow one seed in a small amount of moist seed compost in the base of a pot.
As they grow, cucumbers produce extra roots from the base of the stem.
By gradually adding more compost to the pot as the plant grows, you can encourage it to form a bigger and more stable root system.
This will give the plant a good start and eliminates the growth checks caused by early repotting.
Lily-of-the-Valley is not the first plant you think of for forcing to have the flowers indoors, but it is ideal for a cool, well-lit spot out of direct sun and the fragrance is wonderful.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Lily-of-the-Valley roots, Compost, Pots
When you purchase a pack of lily-of-the-valley, you should get several roots that are either dormant or just coming into growth. Separate them to see how many you have.
Trim the roots to make them easier to pot, cutting them to about 5cm with clean, sharp secateurs.
Pot individually, or together in a larger pot, using fresh, sterile multipurpose compost. The tip of the shoot should be just above the compost. Water and allow to drain.
Stand in a cool, well-lit spot out of direct sun, as they are edge of woodland plants. Keep the compost moist, but not wet. After flowering, you can plant them out in the garden in a shaded area, where they will flower for years to come.
The keys to success when sowing any seeds are reading the instructions on the pack, using good quality, fresh, sterile compost and providing the right conditions for germination. Many plants with large seeds, like melons and cucumbers, dislike being disturbed once they are growing. Cell packs allow the seedling room to grow and mean the young plant can be moved without root disturbance.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Seeds, Compost, Cell tray, Dibber, Label, Propagation case, Watering can
Fill a cell tray with fresh, sterile compost and make a hole in each cell with a dibber.
Place a seed in each hole.
Tap the sides of the tray with the flat of your hand to knock compost back over the seeds. Label with the variety and date of sowing. Water using a fine spray and allow to drain.
Place the tray inside a propagation case. This traps heat and moisture inside, stops draughts affecting the tray and allows you to shade the seedlings from bright sun by putting a layer of horticultural fleece or newspaper over the top without it touching the plants.
Gladioli have fallen out of favour over recent years, which is a shame. They add colour and height to the border in summer as well as providing excellent cut flowers, if you wish. There are many colours to choose from, so you will be able to find one to blend in with your scheme.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Gladioli corms, Spade, Fork, Sand, Watering Can
Make sure that the corms are healthy before you plant them. Mould can spread, so it is best to discard any that show signs of a problem. The base of the corm is flat and has signs of old roots.
Allow room between the corms for the plants to grow. If you wish to stake each plant individually for show blooms, allow a wide spacing, but if you are happy to support them together as a clump, they can be closer.
Water well after planting to settle the soil around the corms. If you may be digging in the area, mark the position of the corms with a plant label so you do not disturb them.
If your soil is inclined to hold water, put a layer of sand in the bottom of the planting hole before you place the corms. This allows good drainage in the critical area at the base of the corm and saves them rotting.
If you want to make your garden less work, then one place to start is by using weed-suppressing membrane over the borders. This fabric is porous, so water can pass down through it to plant roots, but is dense enough to stop weeds growing up.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Weed-suppressing membrane, knife, trowel, mulch
Ideally, this is best laid over a bare border before you start planting. Overlap the edges if you use more than one strip.
Cut an X with a sharp knife where you want to plant and peel back the flaps to dig the planting hole.
Position the plant and fill in the hole, firming the plant into place. Fold the flaps of fabric back over the soil around the plant.
Disguise the fabric (and help it last longer) with a deep layer of mulch, like bark or gravel. This also helps reduce moisture loss in summer. Leave a small saucer-shaped depression immediately around the plant stem so it cannot be damaged.
There are two schools of thought about rose planting, regarding whether or not the graft union should be buried. Here we show you planting with the graft above ground. This reduces the chance of rot occurring at this point or the scion forming roots. See What is Grafting? in our Gardening Basics section.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Spade, cane, rose, fork, fertiliser
Dig a hole large enough for the root system of your new plant, including room to spread the roots out.
Use a short cane to work out how deep the hole should be. If the graft union is not obvious, then leave the very upper part of the brown root system above ground level.
Fill in the hole around the roots and firm around the plant with your heel. This stops the plant rocking in the wind, which would break off new roots as they began to grow out into the surrounding soil.
Add a measure of general fertiliser around the plant, fork it lightly into the soil and water well. This settles the soil around the roots and washes fertiliser sown towards the rooting zone. Cut any ties, but leave labels in place.
Moth orchids (Phaelenopsis) vary slightly in their flowering habit. Some produce another batch of flower buds at the tip of the current flowering stem, while others produce side shoots from lower down the stem, especially if you cut the stem back. Occasionally, instead of flower buds, a miniature plant is produced, known as a Keiki (Hawaiian for baby).
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pot, orchid compost, plastic bag, rubber band.
If your plant does not produce more buds at the tip of the flowering shoot, trim it back to just above the top stem bud.
Instead of a flowering shoot, you may get a new plant forming, known as a Keiki.
Once this has grown roots, it can be removed from the parent plant. Take a short section of stem with it, as this helps anchor it into a pot of compost.
Pot it into moist orchid compost and cover with a plastic bag, held in place with a rubber band to keep it humid while it establishes. Within a few weeks, it should begin to grow and can be treated the same as other orchids.
On ornamental plants (not fruit) there are a few basic reasons why you should prune, best remembered as the 4 Ds: Dead, Dying, Damaged and Diseased. Next, remove crossing or rubbing branches, any that have reverted to green and for shape.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pruning saw
Dead wood is easiest to see and remove in summer. Cut back to healthy, pale-coloured wood.
Die-back is common after early pruning where a rogue frost can catch you out. Cut back to just above a healthy bud.
Larger dead stems should be removed with a pruning saw, working very carefully so you do not damage nearby shoots.
Green shoots on a variegated plant should be removed, as they contain more chlorophyll and are stronger. If left, they will take over and you will lose the variegation.
Many of the plants ordered by post arrive as small plug plants. This saves on postage costs and means the plants can be pushed through your door if you are out, rather than waiting for collection at the sorting office. The quicker you can unpack and deal with these delicate little plants, the better they will grow.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Plug plants, pots, compost, seed tray, propagator lid
Unpack your plug plants as soon as you can. Even if you canít plant them straight away, water them and leave them in a well-lit position (out of direct sun).
As soon as you can, transfer them into small pots of fresh, sterile compost to continue growing.
After potting, water to settle the compost around the roots. The earlier in the season the plants arrive, the more warmth they will need.
Covering with a propagator lid for a few days while they settle down is helpful, but not essential. Within a week, the plants should be rooting into the new compost and getting bigger.
You can use old pots to make an attractive herb planter which will provide interest for your garden and food for your kitchen.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Pots, Multipurpose Compost, Herbs, Watering Can
Line the base of the the largest pot with newspaper to prevent compost washing out and insects crawling in.
Fill the largest pot with compost and place the next pot within it. Sink the smaller pot so that it is half submerged within the compost.
Repeat the previous step for the final pot and then fill it with compost. Make sure the posts are stable and level.
Carefully pull each pot away from the herb plant. Plant them evenly within the container and make sure you leave space for them to grow. Gently water in the plants to settle them and place your new display in a sheltered part of the garden.
We hope these projects have given you a few ideas and a bit of inspiration for what to do in your garden this month.