The Green Thumb Corner

By Victoria Klaas

March 2019



Greetings, fellow gardeners:

March is a busy time in our gardens. Spring is officially here, regardless of the date on the calendar.  The increasing daylight and warm sun are now inducing new growth everywhere one looks. 

March is one of the months in which Southern California gardens grow the fastest and this acceleration means that our beloved flora, particularly our lawns, will require supplemental feeding. 

Lawns will benefit most from a balanced high nitrogen fertilizer which includes iron.  If your turf still appears yellow two weeks after applying fertilizer, consider applying additional supplemental iron.   Never apply fertilizer to lawns when the temperature is above eighty degrees.   If you do choose to apply fertilizer during the higher temperatures, you should also  increase the volume of water you apply to the lawn for one or two weeks.  This will give your lawn a good start and prevent possible burning.

This is also a good time to apply a broad leaf weed killer to the lawn to control such weedy pests as crabgrass, dandelions, and oxalis. 

Remember to resist the temptation to prune back the parts of those tender tropical plants which sustained frost damage.  It is much safer to prune these plants when new buds swell, then you can easily see what is dead and what is not.  Additionally, frost is still possible through the month of March, though unlikely, and the dead growth protects the healthy growth from further frost damage.

An exception to the frost damage rule would be the leaves of ornamental grasses such as Pennisetum (Mexican Feather Grass) or Miscanthus.  These plants may safely be trimmed down now to within two or three inches of the soil.  If these are not cut back hard before new growth begins, your graceful ornamental grasses will look like haystacks with long dead thatch hopelessly enmeshed among the leaves.

March is a terrific month for planting.  The weather is not too hot and your new plants would still have a few weeks to grow their roots deep enough to withstand the rigors of summer heat and drought. 

Don't forget your garden wildlife.  Nesting birds still require good sites for nests, so birdhouses and feeders should be clean and in place for the huge demands of nesting birds.  Keep those hummingbird feeders filled as birds choose nesting sites based on the availability of food for their chicks.

Questions For The Gardener

Hello Mountain View Gardeners,

I plan on changing the format of this column to include an area for questions from you, my fellow gardeners. 

If you have any questions about your gardens, lawns etc. that you would like for me to answer, please send me an email with your name and your question.  I will be glad to include an answer in future articles. 
Emails may be sent to:

Here is the first question from one of our neighborhood gardeners.

Hello Victoria,
Our flower garden at the rear of our house, has green moss growing in spots throughout the year.  We turn the ground under two or three times during the year, but the moss just seems to come back.  What can I use to remove the moss and not harm my plants?
Thank you,

Trying to get rid of moss.

Hi Trying to get rid of moss,

Due to the excessive rain we have experienced this year, moss and toad stools may be a problem. 

Moss loves to grow in poor conditions and will thrive where other plants struggle, taking over their space. It will appear in areas of compacted soil, poor drainage, low fertility, insufficient light, extremes of pH level, and where grass has been cut too close.

To prevent moss, the conditions that allow moss to flourish must be addressed.  Thin trees and bushes to permit more sunlight. Do not over water.  If possible, cultivate the mossy spots with a hoe or garden fork and add compost, such as ©Kellog's, ©Miracle Grow, or ©Vigoro and mix in well.  Adding gypsum (available in garden centers, Lowe's, or Home Depot) will reduce acidity in soil as well.
Remember,  gardening  is supposed to be a pleasure, not a burden, so adapt your garden style to your lifestyle, and have fun just being outdoors in the fresh air.  Gardening can be as much or as little exercise as one wishes it to be.