According to the meteorological calendar, the month of March ushers in spring, with the welcome prospect of warmer weather – but it’s worth remembering that we can still see a flashback of frost or snow at this time of year.
The UK Met Office reveals that a typical March will see around 15 days of ground frost, and on an average of seven days, temperatures below freezing, creating an air frost – so gardeners need to go easy!
The good news from the weather experts is that sunshine hours see a dramatic increase during March, with the UK on average seeing over 100 hours of sunshine helping to warm up the soil.
Guy Barter is the RHS chief horticultural advisor and advises a softly-softly approach to the changing season, finishing winter tasks this month and holding off spring activities until later.
So what to do in the garden when you’re just longing to roll up your sleeves and get going?
Sowing seeds outdoors is still risky but raising some in the greenhouse or on a windowsill gets easier as light levels rise.
Pruning roses is a classic task for March and will set them up nicely for summer flowering. If in doubt, check out the excellent pruning advice on the RHS website before reaching for the secateurs.
Where plants such as fruit, vegetables and roses need feeding, it’s good to wait until the soil is dry enough to walk on, but while there’s still the prospect of rainfall to wash the fertiliser into the ground. When the weather is too dry, the fertiliser can sit uselessly on the surface for weeks.
If your lawn dries out, spike it to let in air, and top-dress with fertiliser. Just wait for warmer weather in April before applying weedkillers as these work best when weeds are in active growth.
Prune evergreen shrubs now so that they can make use of the higher light levels and warmer temperatures to grow new shoots and sustain their roots.