A wheelbarrow full of refuse in the spring garden

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – March Garden Tasks

The weather around Chicago has been unseasonably mild for this time of year. Of course, it is still the Midwest, and just because it’s 60 degrees today doesn’t mean it won’t snow tomorrow! But you can take advantage of these nicer days to get a head start with your lawn and garden. 

Clean and rake. Get up any debris on the lawn. It’s amazing how much accumulates during the winter! Take your pruners and clean up any deadwood on your shrubs. Much easier to take care of now before they leaf out. Trees need branches removed that aim inwards or cross another branch. They need airflow. Shrubs too. Remove interior branches on hydrangeas and lilacs. 

Fertilize and overseed. Do this as soon as the ground temperatures are at least 50 degrees. Carefully rake any leaves into beds and leave them undisturbed till later in spring. Beneficial insects are still slumbering there. The lawn will really take off with the spring temperatures. 

Give all the bird feeders a good cleaning. Do the same if you have bird boxes. You can prevent disease from spreading among your bird populations. If you have any water features on your property, clean them also. Even a small bird bath can have algae or too much nitrogen from leaves. 

Divide your spring tubers. You can do this as you see them coming up. You can dig them up and chop them in half. They are hard to kill and even a small piece will grow. You shouldn’t have to ever buy iris’ as you can propagate as many as you need. Hostas too can be divided several times and will thrive. It’s too late to plant spring bulbs now but pay attention and even take pictures of where you may need to plant bulbs in the fall. 

Clean up your garden beds. It will mean less food for slugs and snails. Set out some slug traps. Shallow dishes of beer work great. Get rid of as many weeds as you can before they take hold. Pull them out entirely, root and all. Don’t till up the entire bed, it only brings more weed seeds to the surface. Use a broadfork to break up the soil for healthy roots but don’t turn completely over. This leaves the structures intact that have been established, like healthy mycorrhizae.  

Plant roses or prune the ones you have. If planting, follow the planting instructions for success. They need fertilizer, good planting hole preparation, and correct planting to thrive. Flowering shrubs need a good dose of fertilizer now too. These bushes need a high acid fertilizer like Miracid. 

So let’s get outside and get a good head start to give your lawn and garden a real chance to thrive this year. Now’s the best time!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago