A Lionhearted March

Ilona Erwin

Mid-March Means Chores

If I look at photographs of my garden from March’s past, they look nothing like the snow covered expanse of my garden this year. No crocuses blooming, and I haven’t even seen signs of snowdrops, yet.

I always like March with its wild winds and the first taste of true spring. Its promise of a warm seat outside is never quite what it looks through the window, though. I look forward to the snows melting and for a few stabs at dividing some perennials. Perhaps this will be the year I finally move the overgrown viburnum shrubs that always rebuke me for planting so close to the drive. It depends on whether I get the help I need.

Now I wonder how I ever did get them into that gravel ridden ground in the first place! Oh yes, I remember. I had hardworking teenage boys to help dig the holes. How I appreciate them, now! but they are long gone from the state and making their own homes, now.

Back to the chore list for you, and away from my memories of March months past.

A couple jobs to not overlook

Get tools and mower blades sharpened

Like hauling out the spring clothes, it might seem early, but the calendar says it is time to take hoses out of hiding, and the garden furniture that was stored away. Prepare for summers needs now.

If you ordered trees or shrubs from a catalog, they will arrive this month and you may want to give my directions for planting a bare root tree the once over.

Bare Root Planting

After a long cold winter, Spring sometimes seems as if it will never come, let alone summer. The one thing we may be sure of is the progression of time.
daffodilIt is a month dedicated to the Daffodil, so, In honor of that fact Daffodils have been highlighted for those who love to grow these buttery hued heralds of the spring season. while I must go looking for the snowdrops, golden daffodils announce themselves

Flower of March


If they are new bulbs, planted just last fall, most likely you need to do nothing but watch them come up and bloom at this point. But if you have stands from previous years, it would be a good time to start giving them some fertilizer for the growing season.


Whether it is some prepared bulbs, or a branch of a flowering shrub like the forsythia, many like to force blooms to bring the breath of spring into their homes. Although most often used for earlier in the year, there is no reason to forego a few branches or baskets of bulbs

Perennial Flowers

If it ever thaws out this is the time to begin dividing and planting perennials. Check to see if any should be “heeled in”.

A time of assessment, walk around the garden to see the state of plants, perhaps move aside some mulch or the past years debris. Prepare areas for new plantings if the ground isn’t too wet, later this month.

Wait until midsummer or later to divide iris or peonies.

Annual Flowers


I think this year, with the persistent cold weather, that planting annuals will be somewhat delayed in many parts of the country. Not only does the temperature of the air matter, but the soils should warm up to the degree that the plants will thrive. Cold, damp conditions can lead to rot or at least “failure to thrive”, others like -even need- them. try planting some lupins, and sweet peas.

March Sights

If you are a hardy soul, try turning some of the late snows into the ground, or if you had forethought to turn up the clods in late fall- good for you.
Poor Man’s Fertilizer

I’ve seen no sign of farmers at work yet this year, testament to the hard frozen earth. The waterways still have iced surfaces, and there are no budding signs of spring yet this year.

Still, eventually winter must retreat, and the rush of preparing, and planting will be on.

March Pruning

prunersOne job that the remains of winter can aid is pruning. There are a number of plants to prune, including clematis, grapevines, fruit trees, etc.

The spring flowering shrubs must wait until after their bloom, unless you are prepared to lose this seasons blossoms. Still, any dead or broken branches are always on the removal list at any time, and it is good to get those out of the way before the sap rises and the chore list extends.

Anytime that a shrub or tree is somewhat dormant is a good time to prune.

Install some birdhouses.

It is time for birds to make nests and lay their eggs. Clean out old birdhouses, and install new ones.

Prepare areas of the garden to be sheltering for wildlife, with shrubs and evergreens. A patch of annuals such as cosmos will provide seed later in the season. Goldfinches love to visit when you have some cosmos in your yard.

March Garden Chores Zone 5

Chores For the Month of March

What to do in early spring

Draw up garden plans, if you haven’t already.Turn up earth in the vegetable garden, add amendmentsReady Mowers,Tillers, Weed whackers for use.
Make garden budget for the seasonClear away perennial garden debris.Purchase any needed tools for the season’s tasks.
Make a garden journal as a permanent place for your plans.Plant cool season crops. Care for indoor seedlings.Put tripods, tuteurs, trellises in place.
Purchase trees for planting.Prime perennial planting time. Divide older perennials.Sharpen tool blades such as secateurs and hoes.
Plan for fall bulb purchases by noting spring blooms now.Check the germination rate of old seeds before planting.Organize tool storage

Warnings To Keep In Mind

Don’t plant out your tender things too early, neither in this month or the next.

There are plenty of chores to line up so that the season isn’t rushed with disappointing results. Tomatoes don’t grow so well in cold soils, but you could start some indoors now, if you haven’t already.

The General Chores

Dividing shrubs can be done now. If you prune or disturb spring flowering shrubs, you will lose this year’s bloom.

Put plant teepees and trellises in place.

Bring out the hoses, purchase new ones if needed.

Ready and clean equipment, grills, outdoor furniture.


Constructing raised beds might be on your agenda. If so, March is a good month for putting them in place, in time for this season’s vegetable crops.


If your garden is up to it, mid-March is the usual time to put in seed for the hardy vegetables. the link is for my own planting dates, but if you plug in your own area of the country it will give you a list of dates tailored for your zone.

Spring Planting Dates for Seeds

Marching On

March is a good time to plant shrubs and trees.

While we are thinking about putting new shrubs and trees into the ground, have you considered making some sheltered microclimates in your yard? If so, you could position some of the new plantings so that they shade, or block prevailing winds.

March Resource Links from my Pages

More gardening tips
Northern garden March tips

March Plants (Blooming)

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.