Spring is finally here, but be guided by the weather rather than the calendar as March can be surprisingly wet and cold.
Bulbs and blossom are starting to fill the world with colour after the long winter. Warming temperatures and rising light levels mean that plants are starting to grow once more. It’s time to get busy in the garden.
For in-depth advice about what to do in your garden each month, subscribe to Which? Gardening for only £5 – either online or by calling 029 2267 0000.
1. Prune rose bushes
If you know the name of the variety of rose you’re growing, check if it’s a ‘floribunda’ or ‘hybrid tea’ type of rose. Prune all the stems to a bud roughly 15cm above ground level for hybrid teas or 30cm for floribundas. If you don’t know which type of rose you’re growing, cut the stems back to 30cm.
After pruning, sprinkle rose food around your plant and gently incorporate it into the soil surface with a fork. Finally, cover the sol around the plant with a mulch, such as well-rotted manure.
2. Clean your mower
Your lawn will start growing as the weather gets warmer. Before you make the first cut, turn your mower on its side and brush off any stuck-on grass clippings as these will make the machine heavier to use. Raise the blades to their highest cutting setting, then gradually lower them over the coming weeks. If you cut too low at the start of the season, you’ll shock your grass and leave it looking tatty.
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3. Cut back butterfly bush
Butterfly bushes (buddleia) should be cut back in March or they can become very untidy. Cut back the stems to a bud roughly 45cm from the base of the plant. Then make a note to cut back all the stems to 45cm again in May. Any stems thicker than a pencil are best cut with loppers or a pruning saw; using secateurs on thick stems can damage the blades.
4. Raise summer bedding plants
Sowing summer-flowering annuals, such as marigolds and cosmos, from seed is very satisfying, especially when the seedlings first emerge from the compost. For the best results use a Best Buy compost for sowing seeds. Sow them in a light windowsill or frost-free greenhouse.
Alternatively, you can buy baby plants called plug plants online and from garden centres. These just need to be planted in pots and cared for in a light, frost-free place until the danger of frost has passed in late May or early June. Use a Best Buy compost for raising young plants.