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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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Don’t let English ivy ‘leap’

English ivy has covered a chain link fence along our property line, but it’s also getting into a garden bed a climbing up a tree. How can I control it?

English ivy is good for covering ugly fences; not so great when it climbs up into trees.

English ivy is good for covering ugly fences; not so great when it climbs up into trees.

Gardeners have a saying about English ivy: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.” It can be slow to get started, but once it gets going, it quickly leaps out of bounds.

If you are using English ivy to cover an otherwise unsightly feature or to control erosion on a slope, the Southern Living Garden Book suggests trimming the edges back with hedge shears or a rugged mower two or three times a year. Ivy growing up a fence or wall can also be sheared with a hedge trimmer to look neat.

Early winter is a good time to remove ivy that is growing up into trees. Garden expert Judy Lowe (who has penned several garden how-to books for our region) suggests cutting the vine at the base with loppers or a pruning saw. In the spring, the dead vine may fall out of the tree, or you may need to cut and pull down the dead portions.

 

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