The Call of March
The wakeup call in March is one of the most rewarding and anticipated aspects of living in a four season location. The mailman delivers countless seed and perennial catalogues. I imagine just how glorious my gardens will be when the 600 bulbs I planted last fall and in previous falls begin their yearly show. And yes, I do need a bulb intervention as I have been told by countless friends and family members. But, that is for another blog.
How can I ready my yard and gardens for spring? That is the focus for March. First, I like to make sure I have all of the tools I will need. That includes my trusty Felco #2 pruner, a hand saw and a tarp to carry everything I did not cleanup last fall and the fertilizer I prefer to use to give my plants an initial boost.
Since the turf will need some, not a lot of repair. I measure out how many square feet of damage will need attention. By having that information, I can then estimate what I will need when the weather is warm enough to seed. Next, I notice that a few of the smaller evergreens need some shaping. Were I to prune them earlier, damage could occur from the bright winter sun. So it is beneficial to lightly shape them, reducing the height and thinning each plant so light can get to the inner branches. Walking up the driveway, I notice just how the salt needed to control the ice on the slope has browned the Maney junipers. The timing is perfect to cut that out. If I don’t like the result, it might be time to remove and replace them.
Deciduous shrub sand trees (the ones that lose their leaves in fall) need a review. Major crossing, diseased, or dead branches should also be removed. I like to have a certified arborist tour the yard with me, since I won’t be doing any climbing with a chainsaw. This is the spring I will be reducing the size of the burning bush I planted four years ago. It is the height I want, just not the width. I will be removing 1/3 of the oldest branches with a very sharp saw. I wear thick gloves because I don’t need to visit the hospital for stitches, again. My family reminds me of that adventure yearly.
The winter protection we added to the azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, and hydrangeas can also be put away. The swelling buds of those favorite shrubs prompt a smile. The color this spring is going to be electrifying.
Lastly, I clean up any debris in the beds I missed last fall and fertilize my plants. We have a two bin compost. On warm weather days, they both smell like spring. Any debris I pick up will just add to the black gold that is produced by composting. I have even been known to pick up neighbor’s bagged leaves to add to our bins. The soil additive we get from the compost is free and better than many store bought products.
All I have to do is beat Tom to the finished compost. I think this is the year I get to use all of the bounty!
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