March 2014 Gardening Tips for the Backyard Gardener

Spring is just around the corner! Most of our cool-season vegetables are still going strong and enjoying the colder weather. For any more freezing that we might have, make sure we have spare sheets or commercial insulated blankets on hand and ready for freezing nights to protect those lesser cold hardy, tender plants. In February, root crops including turnips, carrots, beets and radishes can be planted.

Take advantage of the remaining dormant season to plant fruit trees, roses, shrubs and ornamental trees. Trees are our best landscape investment. Large trees for shade include live oak, and burr oak. Small flowering trees for our shed include redbud, settle gem magnolias, and crape myrtles.

Fruit trees for our area include persimmons, pears, plums, and peaches. Blueberries (for acid soil areas) blackberries and grapes can also be set out now.

Perennials to set out include phlox and oxeye daisies, daylilies and bearded irises. Echinaceas (purple coneflowers) are now available in colors, including pink, white, peach and yellow. Turks cap hibiscus is available in traditional red, but also in pink and white. Columbines like Henkley yellow brighten partially shaded areas and return each year.

Petunias, pansies, calendulas, hollyhock, snapdragons and sweet alyssum are among the good choices for annuals to set out at this time. Sunny well drained locations are best.

Ornamental grasses add movement and texture to the garden. Good possibilities include gulf coast muhly grass, foundation, and bluestem and Mexican feather grass.

Prepare for spring by cleaning birdhouses and birdbaths, clean and sharpen hoes, shovels and pruning shears. It is also time to service mowers, edgers, and weed eaters as well. Also now would be a great time to clean those beds and mulch, mulch, mulch!

Happy Gardening!