March: To-Do List

Illustration by Corey Schumann

Illustration by Corey Schumann

1. Be on the lookout for magnolia blooms
In the middle of the month, those spectacular Southern blooms will be out for a short time. You can see a particularly large specimen in West Philadelphia’s Clark Park.

2. Prune your woody plants
Now is the time to cut back your roses and certain kinds of hydrangeas to bring out better spring and summer blooms. And whatever you do, don’t prune in the fall! It may ruin your plants.

3. Break out the patio furniture cushions
Your cushions may be musty from living down in the basement or the back of the closet. Get them out in the sun if you can, so you’re ready to relax on that first warm day.

4. Plant a tree
Early spring is a great time to get a street tree into the ground if you’ve been meaning to do it. The temperate weather and high moisture will give it time to establish roots before summertime heat hits. TreePhilly started its spring season of yard tree giveaways on Feb. 27 and, in combination with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, provides demonstrations on planting and info on planting and care.

5. Do your taxes early
The tax man cometh on April 15, but do yourself a favor and file now. No one likes that panicky feeling on April 14 when you can’t find your paperwork. Take your time—and get your return early.

6. Celebrate spring
March 20 is this year’s spring equinox, so it’s time to officially welcome spring. If you want to start just a little bit early, you can celebrate on March 19 with the start of Philly Wine Week—the festivities run through March 26. And if you just can’t wait, the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show runs March 11 through 19. This year’s theme is Holland, so be prepared for a bounty of tulips that will bloom on their own next month.

7. Start your salad mix seeds
It will still be just a little while until you can get many plants in the ground safely (wait until after the first week of April when the last frost is over), but you can still start more seeds inside this month. Peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are good to start now, as are eggplant and Brussels sprouts.

8. Gardens, go!
In mid-March, our friends at Penn State Extension say you’ve got the go-ahead to start planting your garden with early spring veggies: peas, fava beans, onions, leeks, garlic, greens, turnips, white potatoes and cabbage.

9. Clean out your closets
When April rolls around, you’re going to want everything to feel breezy and light, just like spring. Dig through your closets now to collect unwanted items, and find a place who will get your stash into the hands of another family.

10. Clean up your block
Why wait for someone else to organize a spring cleanup? Gather a few brown paper garden waste bags, grab a trash bag or two, knock on a few doors and start sweeping. Just think of how much nicer those spring flowers will look if you and your neighbors have pitched in to clean up.