Garden jobs for March | 2022

Don’t rush to buy tender plants from garden centres until the spring frost is over, warns Sherborne gardener Pete Harcom.

The clocks will go forward on 20th March – spring is finally here! March can be a cold month though – it could be late April or even May before night time frosts are over.


By far the most effective tactic in the war against slugs lies in enrolling their natural enemies: the birds, frogs, toads and other animals that will happily devour slugs as a tasty tidbit. Make a home for slug-eating wildlife and you’ll see populations of this arch nemesis plummet accordingly. Ponds support more wildlife than any other garden feature. The simplest ponds are made from little more than a sunken tub, bucket, or even an old kitchen sink. Dig a hole for your container then sink it into the ground so the rim lies at ground level. Add some sand or clean gravel to the base of the container for pond- dwelling insects. Now pile some stones in one corner of the miniature pond to help frogs and toads clamber up and out. Finally, lower a couple of pond plants into the water. If possible, fill your new pond with rainwater.

Tips for your summer preparation

  • Annual flowers can now be sown (from March onwards). Rake soil to a fine tilth on a dry
    day. Watch the weather forecasts for frosty nights and protect if necessary with cloches or horticultural fleece or net curtaining.
  • Be careful – whilst the garden centres have huge displays of annuals and bedding plants at this time of year, it may be best to wait until late March before you purchase too many tender plants (eg fuchsias and pelargoniums) unless you have good frost protection such as cloches or a cold greenhouse.
  • There is still time to lift and divide large clumps of border perennials and take basal cuttings.
  • Keep an eye on weeds and take them out with a hoe or similar. Then cover all bare soil patches and around shrubs with a good thick layer of mulch or garden compost.
  • March is the last chance to plant bare rooted trees and shrubs. Now the soil is warming up, shrubs will soon begin to grow and get established.
  • Mow lawns carefully now, as soon as weather permits, and re-seed any bare patches in the lawn.

What you should be pruning

  • This is the traditional time to prune bush and shrub roses. Prune bush roses hard – they can take it! Cut back Cornus (dogwood) for more colourful stems next year.

Garden wildlife

  • Slug pellets are a real problem for hedgehogs and frogs – they eat the snails and slugs that have been killed by the slug pellets. Try alternative slug and snail killers such as crushed egg shells around your special plants, or try creating a wildlife pond – this will encourage wildlife in general, but particularly frogs, birds, slowworms and beetles, and these all help to keep slug/snail populations down.
  • Hedgehogs will be emerging from hibernation around now.
  • If you can, try to clean up the inside of any bird nest boxes before the garden birds start exploring!

by Pete Harcom at Sherton Abbas Gardening

Sponsored by: Thorngrove Garden Centre

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