Year-Round Gardening: Work to be done as gardens come back to life | Lifestyle

Typically, March is our snowiest month. But if you’ve lived here for awhile you will have heard our ever-popular cliche, “If you don’t like the weather now, stick around for an hour, it will change.”

Local meteorologists do a pretty great job of predicting our weather about 97% of the time, that “3% curve ball storm” throws predictions to the wind. Gardeners are always thrilled to hear “moisture” in the forecast.

In March, there are signs that the garden is slowly coming back to life. There is much to be done.

Time to prune.

Prune Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ in early March before the plant comes out of dormancy. This clematis blooms on new wood each year; unpruned it might become spindly with fewer blooms. Cut stems back to 9 to 12 inches, just above two strong buds, with a clean straight cut. Once new growth appears, apply a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer and train the new stems around a support.

Remove dead and broken wood in trees and shrubs. Do not prune living branches on spring-flowering shrubs like lilac and mock orange, because this will remove the flowers. Prune after blooms are spent.


As soon as ground can be worked, till in 1 to 2 inches of compost or aged manure into vegetable garden soil, or add as a top dressing

When starting a new perennial garden, dig out sod or weeds and work in the same amount of compost or aged manure.

Garden maintenance includes raking and general cleanup.


Mid-March: Plant peas and sweet peas, soaking the seeds overnight.

Fall-bearing raspberries can be planted now. Some varieties are Heritage, Fall Gold and Fall Red.

Small, bare root trees and shrubs as well as bare root roses can be planted moving into March. Choose a time when we have predictions (wink, wink) of three or four mild days.

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Plant roses deep with the graft (bud union) 2 inches below ground level.

Cool-season vegetables, radishes, spinach, lettuce and onions can go into the prepared garden bed toward the end of the month.

Indoors, start seeds of cold-tolerant annuals like ageratum and lobelia. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant seeds should be started eight to 10 weeks before last frost.


Core aerate the lawn or have it done by a professional. Soil that is moist is optimal for 3-inch plugs. Leave plugs on the lawn.

What to do on a snowy day

Make a list of what you want to accomplish this growing season. New plants to flower at a time when nothing was flowering last year? A water feature? Steps to a rock garden? It’s a fantastic time to plan.

Where to get more researched-based information:

Attend Spring Garden Classes sponsored by CSU Extension (

Attend local garden shops on “Ask a Master Gardener Day” (typically Saturdays in spring).

Attend The Western Landscape Symposium in Pueblo. 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 30.

Whatever you do, keep your umbrella handy, don’t put your snow boots away, dust off your windbreaker and for goodness’ sake wear sunscreen!

Submit gardening questions to csumg2@ or call 719-520-7684. The in-person help desk is open 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at 17 N. Spruce St. Find us on Facebook at Colorado Master Gardeners – El Paso County.

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