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News / Life / Clark County Life

Gardening with Allen: March perfect month to fertilize

By Allen Wilson, Columbian freelance writer
Published: March 16, 2024, 6:01am

I noticed my neighbor fertilizing his lawn. Is this a good time to apply fertilizer? How about trees and shrubs?

I like to fertilize my lawn and all permanent plants in March to reach roots as they are beginning to grow and take up nutrients. Root growth starts several weeks ahead of top growth. I use lawn fertilizer on trees and shrubs, including fruit trees and berries, usually at the same time. I use a general purpose fertilizer such as 16-16-16 on perennial flowers. I also use 16-16-16 for my annual flowers and vegetables at the time they are planted.

Check the label of all fertilizers to see if micronutrients such as iron and zinc are also included. They are contained naturally in organic fertilizers. Micronutrients are used in very small quantities, and are generally available in the soil. However, some elements used in very small amounts become less available due to soil pH (balance of alkalinity or acidity). For example, iron becomes less available in acid soils like ours. That is why I like to apply lime in early spring. Soil and water in our area are naturally acidic. Most plants prefer a more neutral soil pH. Lime makes soil a more neutral pH.

Your lawn will respond with a dark green color, almost overnight, especially if the fertilizer contains iron. Other plants take longer to show results.

Winter weeds

Have you noticed that those winter weeds that came up late last fall are starting to grow again? Some of mine are already starting to bloom. Bloom is quickly followed by seed. It is important to catch them before they deposit their seeds and become even worse next year. Weeds can be hoed out quickly while they are small.

Then it is a good idea to mulch around permanent plants such as shrubs and perennial flowers before the spring and summer weeds start to sprout. Bark dust makes an excellent mulch if you don’t have your own compost. It takes light for new weed seed germination. Mulch prevents the light from reaching the weed seeds and prevents 90 percent of new weed growth.

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Columbian freelance writer