By Derron Schronce, DSBG Horticulture Staff Member

March heralds the beginning of spring, a bridge month when the landscape is awakening. A sort of guessing game takes place in the garden with respect to weather and temperature, and while we practice patience under the urge to plant there are tasks we can accomplish that keep us in the garden and our hands in the soil!

Manage groundcovers and vines, trim mondo grass and liriope before new growth appears, cut English ivy back hard, trim whips, and spurs of creeping juniper to control spreading.

Finish pruning evergreens early in the month by cutting to shape and controlling plant size and prune trees and shrubs while woody plants are still dormant. Divide clump forming spring blooming shrubs before flowers or leaves appear.

Soil can be wetter in the garden this time of year making it easy to compact when you walk on it. This can result in poor root penetration, poor drainage, and a lack of air space between plants. Use stepping stones and create paths made of wood chips, mulch, or pea gravel to minimize soil compaction.

Weather not suitable for getting outdoors? Now is a great time to shop for summer and fall flowering perennials. Consider a perennial cutting garden! This is also a perfect opportunity to get your soil tested — it’s FREE in NC! Contact the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in your county for instructions and take advantage of this free service. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants. Happy gardening!