March…the season of unknown in the Gardening world! The somewhere in between….A rollercoaster of cold and warm weather, of wanting to go outside to dig up my gardens and then again, putting another log on the fire? Some perennials are starting to stir with curiosity and caution, but chances are we will be covered in one or two more blankets of snow. We eagerly want to help our plants to see the light, to take off their winter coat of mulch, to expose their oh-so-tender leaves! But as any gardener knows, it is too early to get excited. For now, the snow shovels are still standing guard by our front doors, winter coats and gloves are like a second skin and there is still plenty of hot chocolate to share. Make no mistake, my watering can, fertilizer, wheelbarrow, rake and gardening gloves are standing by….ready to party. There are things eager gardeners can do this month, while the wind is blowing (warm or cold air). For one, you can spend some quality time with your fruit trees by pruning suckers and crowded branches, as well as applying dormant spray. Applying dormant spray should be done before you see spring growth and preferably on a mild and calm day, to stay friends with your neighbours. If you are a vegetable gardener, you can clean out some of the debris that has collected over the winter months. This is also a good time to fix your raised planters and pathways, and checking your tools for any repairs needed. Get a head start in your vegetable garden by sowing peas…. as long as your soil can be worked up and there is plenty of sun you will be rewarded with sweet, tasty peas. Seeds, such as tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and lettuce, can be started indoors, using a starting mix. Keep an eye on moisture levels and start fertilizing when there are at least 2 leaves emerging. Evergreens and summer flowering shrubs can be pruned now, removing any winterkill or dead branches. Spring flowering shrubs should be left alone. Keep an eye on your roses by carefully moving the mulch away from the crown so the plant becomes acclimatized to spring temperatures. Make sure you still keep mulch handy near the plant itself, just in case we get a snowy surprise. When it is mild out, and maybe not storming or snowing, March is a great time to cut back any perennials you left for winter interest, such as ornamental grasses or Russian sage.
This is also the time to Plan! Planning and budgeting for a Landscape are two very important items overlooked during the Landscape process. If you have ever been involved in home renovations, you know how quickly kitchen or bathroom renovations can eat up your budget. A kitchen (300 – 400 square feet) can easily cost between $25,000 and $80,0000, depending on finishes, cabinetry and appliances. This can give you a square foot price of roughly $200/sqft. When budgeting for your outdoor space, keep in mind that you are looking at larger finished areas. For example, if you were to spend $80,000 on a 40′ x 30′ back yard (1200 sqft) the Landscape would cost you $66.00 per square foot….a drastic difference! The Estimating process can become a guessing game, with client and designer/contractor communicating back and forth until the clients budget is reached. This time consuming process can be eliminated by telling your designer/contractor the amount you had in mind spending on your landscape, and they he will keep the scope of the work within your budget (depending on chooses products and work involved). If you are in need for some Landscaping and Garden renovations, take this time to contact a Landscape Designer to help you plan your Landscape project. A designer will take your “Needs” and “Wants” for your property and transform them into something you can see and touch; something you can budget for; something you can implement in stages over years. Your Landscape designer will be able to transform ideas and visions for your home onto paper, making it easier for you to compile a mental image of your Landscapes potential. Have your design completed now, to be constructed in spring and enjoyed for years to come. For now, I am planning ahead, looking through some books for inspiration, sipping my tea and putting another log on the fire.