Average Rainfall and Temperatures:
The average rainfall on the
Cumberland Plateau for March is 6.04 inches.
On average for the last twenty-five years, March has been the wettest
month of the year. Average maximum
temperature is 56 degrees F. and average minimum is 35 degrees F.
Lawn - Cool season grasses
predominate on the Plateau and this is the month for first fertilization of your
established lawn. Use a quality
fertilizer such as 16-4-8. Cool
season lawns of the different fescues will begin to green up quickly. From mid- March through mid- April is the best time to put
down a pre-emergent herbicide for any crabgrass that may have wandered in over
the past year. Use “selective”
weed control products on your lawn for unsightly broadleaf plants, putting on
only when the temperature rises above 60 degrees.
When mowing tall fescue, mower height should be set to 3 inches; for
Bermuda and Zoysia, set the height at 1 ½ inches. Generally, no more than 1/3 of the grass height should be
removed in a single mowing.
As the weather will have
warmed up, it is a good time to cut trees that are diseased or shade areas you
wish to be in the sun. Grinding the
stumps out is necessary to inhibit persistent re-growth.
Also time to begin the never-ending process of gathering fallen winter
limbs and either burning them or breaking them into short pieces and adding them
to your compost pile. If you want to burn them, be sure to call the Division of
Forestry for a free burning permit if you live in Cumberland County.
Permits are issued Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
The telephone numbers are 484-4548 or 788-5538.
Build compost bins if you
have not already done this.
Till your vegetable gardens,
if not already done. Also, till out
any areas where you wish to expand your lawn.
Till into these spaces any compost left from last fall.
Some vegetables that are cold hardy can be planted: Cabbage, broccoli and
cauliflower do well with a head start as do onions, collards, kale, English
peas, potatoes, sugar snap peas, spinach, asparagus, rhubarb, leaf lettuce (can
even be grown in a container), horseradish, artichokes and turnips. Be aware that frost can occur up to mid-May.
Monkey grass (liriope) needs
to be cut back each year. Old
growth is prone to anthracnose. Liriope
can be cut back to 2 inches using scissors, hedge shears, string trimmers or
even a lawn mower set on its highest height.
(Cutting them to the ground will destroy the plants’ growing point.)
Ornamental grasses add a lot of winter interest if left uncut during the
winter, but for best regrowth, you should cut these back in March.
You can cut just above the crown of the plant, usually 4 inches from the
ground. To make cleanup easier, use
a string to tie the mass of stems into bundles before making your cuts.
Then you’ll have a nice sheath of grass to toss onto your compost pile.
Fertilize established grasses as soon as new growth appears.
Get your lawnmower back into
shape, and take the following steps to ensure it is in good working condition.
First, remove the spark plug wire from the plug.
Look beneath the mower housing and check the blade for nicks, dullness or
debris that can accumulate and cause improper rotation.
If the blade is dull, use a file to sharpen it.
If the blade is nicked badly, either replace it or take it to your local
garden equipment shop to be sharpened and balanced.
Replace the blade and turn it manually to make sure it doesn’t hit
anything. Also, check the belt for
looseness, wear and tear….replace if necessary.
Check the tires for any deformities and make sure they’re all set at
the same height. Replace the spark
plugs, connect the spark plug wire and you’re ready for the mowing season.
This is a good month to
start pulling any weeds that show up in the garden. Since the soil is damp and temperatures are cooler, the job
goes a little easier.
Watch evergreens for spruce
spider mite activity in March and April. This
cool-season mite over winters on host plants and will begin hatching soon.
Often the yellowing of needles is the first sign of a problem.
To check for spruce spider mites, place a white sheet of paper under a
branch and shake the branch over the paper.
If mites are present, they will look like walking periods.
If 10 or more are present per sample, treatment is recommended.
Non-chemical treatments include a forceful jet of water from a hose, or
even releasing lady beetles, lacewings or predatory mites to feed on the spruce
spider mites. In heavy
infestations, miticides may be needed but should not be used excessively.
Heavy attacks that go unnoticed may result in branch dieback or death of
Summer flowering shrubs like
crepe myrtle can be pruned after the last extremely cold weather, but before
they leaf out significantly.
Early March is still a good
time to transplant shrubs, trees and hardy vines. Fertilize shrubs and trees if this wasn’t done earlier.
Use an acid type fertilizer to feed evergreen, conifers, and broad leaf
evergreens. Use an all-purpose
fertilizer to feed roses and other deciduous trees and shrubs.
If using granular type fertilizers, be sure to water thoroughly.
Roses can be pruned this
month. Severe pruning results in
long stemmed flowers and more compact bushes.
Begin to spray roses for black spot.
Around the end of the month,
prune your semi-woody perennials.
Summer blooming annuals can
be started indoors early in March. Seeds
that were started indoors last month will probably be ready to be transplanted
into their finishing containers and given diluted fertilizer.
If you have a greenhouse, it’s time to take cuttings of “wintered
over” plants such as coleus, chrysanthemums, geraniums and other perennials.
Divide and transplant
clumping perennials such as daylily and hosta, and fertilize established ones as
soon as new growth appears.
Plant tender bulbs and
tubers (glads, lilies, dahlias, etc.). You
may continue planting additional bulbs every two weeks until mid- June to ensure
a continuous source of bloom.
Fertilize any pansies,
violas and snapdragons which you planted last fall, using a liquid or
water-soluble plant food. The three
numbers on the front of the container should have the highest number in the
middle, such as 10-30-20, to boost their spring blooming.
Finish pruning fruit trees
– before the buds swell. You can
still do dormant spraying now, too. Spraying
should be done on a still day with the temperature above 40 degrees.
Remove straw mulch from
strawberries at the first sign of growth. You
can still plant strawberries, blueberries, currants, loganberries,
boysenberries, grapes and fruit trees.
Aphids and caterpillars can
be especially bad on early crops, so watch and treat as they appear.
Repair damaged areas of the
lawn and overseed. Be sure to NOT
apply any pre-emergent herbicides to newly seeded areas. Dethatch, rake or aerate your lawn. Apply dolomite lime if a soil test indicates it’s needed.
Now through April is ideal
for applying a combination of slow-release fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide
for crabgrass control to your established lawn before dandelions reach the
Houseplants will react to
longer days and brighter light by putting out new growth.
Now is the time to pinch them back to generate new growth and to thicken
their growth. Begin fertilizing again with a dilute solution of soluble
After daffodils and other
spring bulbs have finished blooming, do deadhead, but don’t cut off dying
foliage or tie it up with string or rubber bands to neaten flower beds.
Bulb foliage must ripen naturally—turning yellow, then brown before
dying—in order to soak up sunlight and turn into food for next spring’s
Birds you may see in March include:
woodpecker, Red-headed woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, Downy woodpecker, Pileated
woodpecker, Ruddy duck, Muscovy duck, Gadwall, Bufflehead, Canada goose,
Red-winged black bird, Blue jay, White-throated sparrow, Brown thrasher, Pine
siskin, Field sparrow, Fox sparrow, Crow, Rufus-sided towhee Turkey vulture,
Killdeer, Bluebird, Yellow-shafted flicker, Cowbird, American goldfinch, Song
sparrow, Carolina wren, Tufted titmouse, Northern junco, White-breasted
nuthatch, Mourning dove, House finch, Purple finch, Carolina chickadee, Wild
turkey, Eastern bluebird, Red-tailed hawk, Sharp-shinned hawk, European
starling, American crow, Northern mockingbird, Northern cardinal, American
robin, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) warbler, Yellow warbler, Great horned owl, Common
grackle, Rufous-sided towhee, flicker, Great blue heron, and migrating Sandhill
cranes flying overhead.
This information has been created by the Cumberland County Master Gardeners Association, Crossville TN