Get pruning. Early March is prime time for pruning just about anything, except spring-blooming shrubs or “bleeder” trees like maple (Acer spp. and cvs., Zones 3-9), birch (Betula spp. and cvs., Zones 2-9), elm (Ulmus spp. and cvs., Zones 2-9), and dogwood (Cornus spp. and cvs., Zones 3-9). Sharpen up the loppers and have at it with roses (Rosa spp. and cvs., Zones 3-9), butterfly bushes (Buddleia spp. and cvs., Zones 5-9), summer blooming shrubs, evergreens, and other small trees.
Cut back. Trim back any ornamental grasses, liriope (Liriope spp. and cvs., Zones 4-11), or perennials to clear the way for the impending bursts of growth.
Divide and move. Grab your spade and divide or move perennials, except spring bloomers (wait until fall to divide those).
Pull winter weeds. Now is the time to attack the winter weeds, such as chickweed, henbit, vetch, and speedwell. Most are annuals, and if you can get them out before they go to seed, you will eventually gain the upper hand. I know several gardeners who after five to six years of consistent weeding have essentially eliminated those re-seeders from their garden. Weed on!
Start veggie seeds. If you’re planning a summer vegetable garden, be sure to get those seeds ordered early and started indoors if you’re not direct seeding. Pull winter weeds and spread compost on your plot later this month or early April in preparation for planting.
Paula Gross is the former Assistant Director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.