The sun is shining. It's hitting 70 degrees on some days. The tulips, crocus and daffodils are 5 to 6 inches high now. You've got that gardening bug but what can a gardener actually do in Maryland in March?
*Pick up all those broken branches from the yard that fell from heavy snow and wind during the winter. Use twine or yard waste bags. This jump start on cleaning up the yard helps immensely during that first mowing of the season.
*Trim back dead foliage on perennials and ornamental grass. Perennials perform better when we allow the previous seasons foliage to die off naturally. Break out the hand trimmers and clip foliage to 2 to 4 inches from the soil level. Tackle the ornamental grass with a tidy haircut to allow room for light to penetrate the interior of the grass clump.
*Make notes on the perennials that might need transplanting in warmer weather.
*Clean up all plant debris, branches and clippings for every garden. No need to leave this task until later when you're wanting to plant your flowers. Dispose of debris in the compost pile or in yard waste bags.
*Leave any blooming bulbs alone for the time being. You can cut stems and dead blooms only. Allow foliage to die naturally and only prune at ground level after it's completely dead. Foliage nourishes the bulb after blooming.
*Turn the compost pile.
*Start your annual plant seeds for transplant in middle to late May. Seed packets, soil and containers are readily available at Home Depot, Lowes or your favorite garden center.
*Remove mulch coverings from perennials after the nighttime temperature reaches the 40s consistently. Just pull the mulch back from plant centers and be prepared to cover the new shoots if temperatures dip as they often do around Maryland in the spring.
*Fertilize trees, deciduous and evergreen shrubs. Make a list of each type of shrub and visit the garden center to decide which brand will work best for your landscape plants. Consider using organic options to limit runoff into the watershed.
*Get weeds early. Juvenile weeds quickly mature to adults that produce seeds. Catch these garden nuisances at 3 to 4 inches in height. You just might get lucky and limit the spread of the seeds.