Gardening in March: Transition to Spring

By: Lawn Ranger Company, Inc. | Published 02/27/2018

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By Walt Crowder, Lawn Ranger Company Inc.

March is a transitional month. While a late winter freeze is possible in our area (zone 8), from a historical perspective frosts become less likely after the end of February. All of us are now thinking SPRING TIME. And in most cases, so are the trees, shrubs, and flowering plants.
 
Now is a good time to cut back those plants that froze this winter. After removing the dead stuff, give them some time; they MIGHT come back in another month or so. If, after a month, you see no new growth, you should replace them.
 
LAWNS
Regular, weekly mowing is just around the corner. Get those mowers tuned up, blades sharpened, and everything in good repair for the upcoming summer. Watch the lawn, and if sufficient growth occurs this month, you should mow. It is unhealthy to let the grass get too tall before mowing.
 
It is OK to fertilize with a professional product that is designed for our Southern lawns.
 
Cool weather weeds are probably growing in the lawn now. You are advised to use broad-leaf weed- killing herbicides with caution at this time. However, warm-season weeds have not yet become apparent. It isn’t too late to apply a pre-emergent weed treatment before weeds become a problem. Pre-emergent can prevent the seeds from germinating.
 
TREES
It is getting near the end of the tree and shrub planting window. The chance of survival is rather low on bare-root trees and shrubs this late in the season. (Beware of “close-out” sales on these.) It is better to purchase container-grown or “ball and burlap” plants at this time of year.
 
FLOWERING SHRUBS
As azalea and camellia plants finish blooming, fertilize them with 3 lbs of azalea- camellia fertilizer per 100 sq. ft. of bed area. Mulch them well and water as needed. Azaleas should be shaped and trimmed immediately post-bloom. That is because next year’s blooms will come from “old wood.” By waiting until later in the year to trim, you might be compromising next year’s blooms.
 
TRIMMING AND CUTTING BACK
If you haven’t trimmed or pruned your roses, do so now. Fertilize every 4 to 6 weeks from now through summer. Regular spraying for blackspot should begin as soon as new leaves begin to open. Regular spraying should continue through the growing season.
 
Verbena can be cut back now, along with Lariope, Louisiana Iris, and Agapanthas. It will be necessary to cut back philodendron and Ginger if yours suffered freeze damage, as did mine.
 
If plants are getting too tall for their environment, cut the longest stems off. 
 
Note: Live Oak trees tend to drop their leaves in March. Leaves left on the turf now can cause problems. Rake them for the compost pile or mulch them up so they don’t hinder the new growth of
the turf.
 
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