MARCH Landscape & Garden Tips
These tips apply to those in USDA Zone 8 of Georgia but may apply to other regions in the southern United States. With spring almost upon us, there’s lots to do in the landscape, lawn and garden during March. Here’s some helpful tips and reminders for you.
1. Fertilize shrubs and trees. March is a good time fertilize most shrubs and trees. That said, you want to wait to fertilize spring flowering shrubs, such as Azaleas and Rhododendrons, until the flowers have started to fade.
Most ornamental shrubs and trees like a slow-release, well-balanced “shrub & tree” type fertilizer such as Fertilome Tree & Shrub Food. For shrubs and trees that are light feeders, we use a ‘goof proof” organic fertilizer such as Nitroganic, which will not burn plants. If you’re unsure as to the nutritional needs of a specific type of shrub or tree don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have when you’re at the Nursery, or contact us here.
2. Fertilize roses. If you didn’t feed them in late February, March is also a good time to feed roses. Fertilize with a well-balanced rose food. Alternatively, you can feed your roses with an all-purpose natural or organic fertilizer.
3. Fertilize perennial plants. By now, many of the perennial plants in our gardens are waking up with new growth emerging from the ground. Fertilize established perennials after new growth appears with a good flower fertilizer or natural or organic plant food. If you’re unsure as to the nutritional needs of a specific type of plant don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have when you’re at the Nursery, or contact us here.
4. Fertilize flowering bulbs now. Feed any bulbs, such as daffodils and hyacinths, that have finished blooming with bone meal or a bulb fertilizer.
5. Feed pansies. Feed your pansies for the last time of the season with a flower food containing a “nitrate” form of nitrogen.
6. Apply pelletized lime at this time to Fescue, Bermuda, and Zoysia lawns. Lime is not a fertilizer, however, you may notice after applying it that your lawn greens up quickly. This is due to the correction of the soil pH, which can allow the roots of your grass to absorb fertilizer and nutrients applied in the past.
If you have never applied lime to your Bermuda, Fescue or Zoysia lawn, an application of one 30 LB bag of LIME RITE Pelletized Lime per 6,000 square feet of lawn area, or 40 lbs standard pelletized lime per 500 -1,000 square feet of lawn area, usually corrects soil pH to a level sufficient for these grasses to thrive and for fertilizers applied to be readily absorbed by the roots. Make sure to use “pellitized” lime as it activates instantly.
NOTE: Soil pH correction usually lasts for several years. You can test your soil pH with a soil test kit available at the nursery or buy soil testing kits online here. Your local extension service may provide soil testing services as well.
7. Feed established fescue lawns in March with a high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer. If you have a fescue lawn and haven’t already fertilized it, now is a good time to apply a slow-release high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer to get it hopping. Nitrogen is the first of the three numbers on a bag of fertilizer. If you’re on a Wilson Bros DIY Fescue Lawn Care Program, it is now time to apply Step 2: the application of a lawn fertilizer containing a weed preventer to control late winter and spring weeds.
CAUTION: If you intend on overseeding your Fescue lawn, DO NOT apply a fertilizer that contains a weed preventer or weed killer. Instead, use a lawn starter fertilizer that contains a higher percentage of Phosphorus: the middle of the three numbers on any bag of fertilizer.
TIP: Since lawn fertilizers are sold by how much square footage they will cover, it’s a good idea to know the total sqaure feet of your lawn before prucashing and applying the fertilizer. To measure square footage, simply multiplying the length x width of the area(s) to be covered. For example, if your lawn is 100′ long by 75 feet wide the equation would look like this: 100′ x 75′ = 7,500 Total Square Feet. If you have several lawn areas measure each and then add them.
Soil Preparation Tips
1. Prepare vegetable garden soil. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to prepare the vegetable garden for spring planting. Till or turn in a 1/4-inch layer of composted organic matter. If you don’t make your own compost, at the Nursery we carry mushroom compost, composted cow manure and organic compost in bulk that you can use to replenish your garden soil with the rich organic matter plants need to be healthy and provide you with abundant produce.
2. Prepare soil in seasonal flower beds. March is a good time to prepare your existing seasonal flower beds, or create new ones, for spring planting. To refurbish soil in flower beds with vital nutrients your flowers will need, till or turn in a 1/4-inch layer of composted organic matter such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, or Root Zone Planting Mix.
3. Prepare container flower gardens for spring planting. For container gardens, it’s a good idea to replace old potting mix at least once a year with a premium or professional potting mix rather than a cheap-grade potting soil. Reason being, potting mixes contain peat moss and other media that will hold moisture evenly throughout the container. Additionally, you can add in some composted organic matter at a 10% ratio to the fresh potting mix.
TIP: If the flowers you had growing in a container last year developed a fungus or disease, it’s a good idea to disinfect the container. To do so, first empty all the old soil from the container. Then soak the container in a solution containing one part household bleach to 9 parts water for a minimum of 10 minutes. Then put pots in a dish detergent and water solution and then rinse well. For large containers you can use a stiff brush to scrub the interior of the container with the bleach solution. Then scrub with the dish detergent solution and rinse off well.
1. Plant shrubs and trees.
Contrary to popular belief, January and, in fact, the entire winter season is a great time to plant most ornamental shrubs, trees, roses, or groundcover plants in Georgia and other states in the South. Winter planting of most shrubs and trees allows the plants to acclimate to their new environment over the winter. Too, when temperatures are above 45 degrees F the roots of plants will grow. Then, in spring, winter-planted shrubs and trees will benefit from the early-spring root flush, which means less attention to watering come summer time. There is absolutely no danger at all from planting most shrubs and trees in January in Georgia. Our landscaping installers plant through the entire winter!
2. Plant annual flowers in container gardens. For those of you who are new to gardening, annuals are flowering or foliage plants that live for only a year or less. Unlike perennial flowers, they do not come back after winter. First, a warning. Most of March is not a good time to plant annual flowers in flower beds. Reason being, in the South we almost always get a “blackberry winter,” which is a late frost that can and often will kill or seriously damage tender annual plants such as impatiens and marigolds. However, for you early birds who want to plant annual flowers outdoors in March, it is safe to plant them in containers, which can be brought indoors if and when temperatures are forecast to drop below 50 degrees.
3. Seed fescue lawns during of March. If you plan on seeding a new fescue lawn or overseeding an existing fescue lawn, March is a good time to do so. To allow the grass to develop a good root system before summer arrives, the earlier you plant the better.
TIP: There are two basic types of fescue seed: Turf-Type Fescue, and KY-31 Fescue. We recommend using turf-type fescue because it is better suited for lawn use. The blades of turf-type fescue are thinner, grow more upright, and can be cut at a lower height of 4 inches. On the other hand, Ky 31 fescue is best suited for use in pastures, growing best when cut at 6 inches or higher. It is best to broadcast fescue seed with a rotary-type walk behind or shoulder spreader. Feed newly seeded fescue lawns with a lawn starter fertilizer containing plenty of phosphorus (middle number).
4. Plant perennials. For those of you who are new to gardening, perennials are flowering or foliage plants that return year after year after you plant them in your garden. In March, most perennial plants are either still dormant, or are just starting to break from dormancy, which means it’s a perfect time to plant them! There are thousands of varieties of perennials, many of which bloom in spring and others that bloom in summer, fall or winter. Some, such as Lantana and Butterfly Bush, bloom all season.
5. Plant fruit trees, bushes and vines! What could be more enjoyable and rewarding than installing a landscape you can eat? At the Nursery, you’ll find a lot of hardy fruiting bushes, trees and vines that are all edible, and all perfect for use in the home landscape. There are so many types, you could plant your entire landscape in nothing but hardy edible plants and trees!
NOTE: Not all of the fruiting plants and trees at the Nursery are available in our online store, and not all of the ones you see in our online store are available at the nursery.
6. Last chance to transplant! If you want to move and transplant a shrub or tree from one location in your landscape to another, you can do so now as long as the plant is still in dormancy.
7. Plan for new spring plantings. With spring just around the corner is a good time to think about new spring plantings and developing a plan to implement them. Click on a link below to get helpful landscape and garden design tips and ideas…
1. Prune many types of shrubs, and trees. With the exception of spring-flowering shrubs, which we recommend pruning after they bloom in spring, we usually recommend giving shrubs and trees their first and heaviest pruning of the year in February, when plants are still in winter dormancy (not actively growing). If the temperatures are still cold, you can prune shrubs and trees now. Early spring flowering shrubs that have finished their bloom cycle, such as Forsythia, can be pruned now. You can and should remove any damaged or dead branches or stems from any type of of plant right now to prohibit the possible spread of disease. When doing so, cut back just beyond the origin of the break or dead part. Click on the link below to find pruning instructions for many specific types of shrubs and trees.
CAUTION: DO NOT prune perennial Lantana shrubs until you see new growth begin to emerge in mid spring.
2. Cut back the dead parts of perennial plants and ornamental grasses. If you haven’t already done so, early March is a good time to prune away all the dead plant parts from last years growth on your herbaceous perennial plants and ornamental grasses. It’s much easier to do now than to wait until too much new growth has emerged.
3. Prune roses. If you didn’t prune and feed your roses in late February, and they haven’t flushed out too much new growth yet, you can prune them in early March.
4. Prune Crape Myrtles. If you haven’t done so already, prune crape myrtles, but only if they are still dormant and have yet to leaf out.
5. Pinch Back Houseplants. Houseplants will react to longer days and brighter light at this time by putting out new growth. March is a good time to pinch them back to generate new growth and to thicken them. Turn your houseplants a quarter turn each week to make sure all sides of the plant receive adequate light, and to keep the shape of the plant balanced.
6. Prune ornamental grasses. If you have yet to prune your ornamental grasses do so as soon as possible in early March.
Other Tips & Reminders
1. Control weeds in your lawn and landscape now. Take measures now to kill and prevent weeds in your lawn and landscape. If you allow existing weeds to keep growing they’ll produce and scatter their seeds everywhere…and that just means more pulling and or spraying you’ll have to do later!
If weeds have already sprouted in your Bermuda, Zoysia or a Fescue lawn use a weed killer such as Top Shot MSM Lawn Weed Killer to kill them now. That said, don’t apply any chemical to a Fescue lawn you intend on overseeding within 60 days. If you have a Centipede or St Augustine lawn, use Atrazine Lawn Weed Killer to kill existing weeds.
If weeds have already sprouted in your mulched landscape beds and other non-lawn areas use a weed killer such as Hi-Yield Killzall to kill them. Killzall is the exact same product as Superconcentrate Roundup but about half the price! To avoid contact with your desirable shrubs and other plants, it’s best to spray a weed killer on a calm day, or adjust your sprayer nozzle so that it sprays more of a stream rather than a fog, which can drift.
If you want to prevent weed seeds from sprouting in your mulched landscaped areas and other non-lawn areas, if you haven’t already done so apply a weed preventer such as Hi-Yield Weed & Grass Preventer Herbicide Granules, which contains Treflan, which prevents weed seeds from sprouting for up to 1 year! Treflan works by killing weed seeds before they have a chance to germinate.
2. Spread some mulch. If you’ve already gathered up all the leaves, and sprayed any existing weeds growing in your landscape beds, now is a great time to get some mulch on the ground to freshen up the landscape. If you want to use an organic mulch that will decompose over time to add rich nutrients to the soil that your plants will love, there are basically two choices: shredded wood mulch or pine straw. You’ll find both at the Nursery. We also carry stone products such as several sizes of pea gravel, egg rock, and lava rock. Call the Nursery before you come to make sure we have these in stock. (770) 954-9862.
The best type of pine straw is “long needle.” It’s needles are much longer than the short needle pine straw you find from many other suppliers, which makes it spread 20% further than short needle pine straw. Too, the long needle pine straw contains much more resin, which makes it last 4 times longer in the landscape than short needle. We usually have plenty in stock at the nursery. You can always call the Nursery at (770) 954-9862 to make sure we have it in stock.
If you prefer wood mulch, you’ll find red, black and brown shredded wood mulches as well as cypress mulch and pine bark nuggets at the nursery. We carry these in both bags and bulk, which can be picked up at the nursery or delivered to your home or job site. We usually have plenty of all types in stock, but you can always call the Nursery at (770) 954-9862 to make sure we have the type you’re looking for in stock.
3. Apply preventive systemic insecticides. If there are certain types of shrubs and trees you have growing in your landscape that always seem to be bothered by insects at some time during the warm season, you can apply a Systemic Insect Drench for season-long control of most types of insects. These drenches work best when applied at the time plants are first starting to put out new growth in late winter or early spring.