March is no time to procrastinate. There simply is too much to do in lawns and gardens.
Weather can be variable this month. You could shiver or sweat as you plant onions and pansies, with temperatures ranging between 20 and 80 degrees.
The first thing to do is order plants and seeds. Many of them need planting in March.
You can find many useful seeds in retail store displays of seed packets and, perhaps, they will have everything you need. On the other hand, you may want to order from catalogs to get lower prices, the latest new varieties and a greatly expanded selection of flower, herb and vegetable seeds.
Catalogs are sales tools with rich language and colorful pictures to convince you to buy more than you have room to grow. Managing to hold back and resist the urge to order too much often is difficult.
Seeds may be advertised as organic, heirloom and also non-GMO. You can forget about GMO seeds because you are not going to be able to buy genetically modified organisms like Roundup Ready corn or soybean seeds from any garden catalog.
Lawns are perking up as spring nears. This month’s list of lawn care chores includes crabgrass prevention, spreading lime, seeding and possibly fertilizing.
Crabgrass seeds begin to germinate next month. Chickweed, henbit and speedwell seeds germinated last fall and these weeds have begun to bloom now.
You may see fresh signs of mole activity in your lawn, such as mole hills and raised ridges of earth caused by their tunneling activity. A single mole can dig through your whole lawn at the rate of 150 feet per day.
My hound listens carefully when walking in mole territory and pushes her snout through the length of the mole’s tunnel when she detects its high-pitched squeals. Her hunting tactics destroy more grass than moles ever do.
Pruning is a major priority as this month is one of the best for cutting back many kinds of shrubbery. They range from rose and butterfly bush to arborvitae, bayberry, boxwood, camellia (fall blooming), chastetree (vitex), cherry laurel, eleagnus, euonymus, hibiscus (rose of sharon), big leaf hydrangea, juniper, nandina, privet and yew.
Shade trees also are pruned in March, before their new leaves appear. For the health of your trees, avoid topping them and do only the minimum pruning needed to keep them attractive, safe and structurally sound.
Your efforts to grow food crops will pay off — if you plant this month. These hardy vegetables include asparagus, potato, horseradish, radish, garlic, onion, shallot, beet, carrot, turnip, kohlrabi, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard, mustard, endive, Swiss chard, escarole, mesclun, lettuce, spinach and rhubarb.
Tomatoes get their start in March when seeds are planted indoors in pots. You can continue sowing tomato seeds until the end of May.
They germinate and produce seedlings in one week to 10 days when soil temperatures are 80 degrees. Pepper seeds, also sown in March, germinate more slowly.
Don Davis is a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. He can be reached at email@example.com.