March is too Early for Most Landscaping Chores, Printer-friendly format (marchdoc)

March is Still Early for Most Landscaping Chores
by Don Janssen, Extension Educator

Graphics Version

Although the weather bounces back and forth between spring and winter, as spring advances many people get the urge to start working out in the yard and garden. Unfortunately, it�s still too early for most activities. Plants and the soil are probably not ready.

Now is the wrong time for working soils. Unless the soil has thoroughly dried out, working it in March is a big mistake. Soils worked when they are too wet may be damaged for the entire season. Much of our area has lots of clay soil, which adds to the problem.

Likewise, March is generally too early for fertilizing plants. Lawns should not be fertilized so early, wait until the grass resumes growing and preferably has been mowed a few times. If conditions warm quickly and the soil thaws, trees and shrubs could be fertilized, but April would be a better choice.

One chore that can be done as weather allows you to get outside now is pruning. There are many trees and shrubs that could be pruned this month. For example, it's a good time for crabapples, many shade trees, and mid to late summer blooming shrubs. March is not the time for pruning maples, elm, birch, and early spring blooming shrubs, however.

Another chore that can be done in March is applying dormant oils to trees. Dormant oils are intended to control certain insects and related pests that overwinter on the bark, including scale, aphids, and mites. Keep in mind dormant oils do not control most other pests or any diseases. Read and follow label directions, including allowing enough time for the spray to dry before freezing temperatures occur.

Most other pesticides should not be applied in March. For example, it's too early for weed killers (herbicides). Wait until perennial weeds such as dandelions have resumed active growth before trying to control them with herbicides. It�s also suggested to wait until well into April before applying preemergence herbicides for crabgrass control in your lawn.

There may be some warm days, but the bottom line on most March yard care is to wait until later!

(This resource was added March 12, 2006 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

Return ArrowReturn for more resources -

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office