March in the Southwest Garden

March is upon us.  To give you some guidance as spring arrives in our corner of the world – here are some things to consider for your Southwest garden.

Animal Poison Prevention Week

The third week of March is National Animal Poison Prevention Week.  Have you ever considered that some very common landscape plants may be toxic to your pets?

One example is lantana. Lantana can be fatal to dogs.  At first it gives them a “buzz,” and they may enjoy it, and so eat more. Sadly, too much can injure or even stop their heart.

Here’s my YouTube video about a non-toxic alternative groundcover.  Gooddings verbena flowers almost all year long, and you could plant some this March.


It is not just our pets that eat things not good for them. Here is my YouTube video of a rock squirrel that “unalived” himself by eating one of the plants in my garden.

Trees Anyone?

Nevada and New Mexico celebrate Arbor Day this month.    March is a good time to plant – in general – in the Southwest.

Here are some past posts about trees to consider for your yard – or maybe for your neighborhood.  Trees add a great deal to home value!

Oak Trees for Your Yard
Eight Evergreen Oaks
using acorns from those oaks – on Savor the Southwest

Almond Trees
Fast Shade Trees for Desert Yards – a guest post by Strategic Habitat Enhancements (SHE) owner Carrianne Sienna Funicelli.  She (pardon the pun) can help you with designing your pollinator friendly, people friendly, low water, beautiful, and HOA compliant yard.
Perfect Tree – Part I
Perfect Tree – Part II
Living Holiday Trees

Living Holiday Trees – on YouTube
Autumn Color

Yes, we have Autumn color! This is a true pistacio tree

Take Care of Your Tools

A wise worker knows that if you take care of your tools, your tools will take care of you. Good tool care means less chance of injury. March is a great time to do this.  Here is my post on tool care.

If you are going to plant anything, put a sharp edge on your shovel or spade.    It will help slice through soil, roots, and sod with ease.    Most spades are un-sharpened when you buy them, so you have become used to the need for great force to dig.   That should not be the case.


A flat file, also called a mill bastard file, will help you put more of an edge on your spades.    If you have one, a bench grinder will do the job quicker.    You aren’t trying for knife-edge keenness here, just less than a blunt edge.
Once you have sharpened your spade, oil the blade to protect it from rust.  If it has a wooden handle, oil that as well.  I use olive oil and an old towel.

March In The Vegetable Garden

In Lower elevations – if you haven’t yet – start seed of basil and the tomato family members indoors or in a sheltered area.    You want your tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatillos to flower as early as possible.    This is because the pollen dies once air temperatures enter the low 90 degree range.    Planting sooner is better if you want ample fruit before temperatures climb.    Just be ready to protect tender young plants from temperatures below 45 degrees.

Yes, ready grown plants do cost more than a package of seeds, but if you factor in time and effort and seed starting materials, they may be less expensive!

Ideally, grow varieties of these tomato family members that produce smaller fruits and are thus are less susceptible to blossom end rot, seen as black lesions on the blossom end.    It is not a true rot but a type of injury due to our calcium soils and water.  More about this on my GardeningWithSoule Membership site.

In Upper elevations you need to check your soil temperature and moisture before you plant.    Take a hand full of soil and squeeze it, if water drips out or it turns into a sodden ball, it is too wet.    Wait a week and try again.    If it breaks apart or crumbles in your hand, it’s gardening time! That is if the soil temperature is above 45 degrees.

Do Enjoy Your Yard/Garden

You should also take some time to relax and enjoy the spring in your corner of the universe!

For more about what to do in March – see my previous post – March 2023 Calendar – or better yet – buy my Month-by-Month Guide!

Need Some Garden Help?

May I recommend my (out of print) book?  The Month By Month Guide offers tips for your landscape (yes even lawns and roses) in every month of the year.  I have a few copies left and am offering them to you – my loyal readers. Price is what you would pay on Amazon – only when you buy from me you get a signed copy!soule-books-buy

From the review:

“A great reference book is key to successful gardening in the region where you live. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening takes the guesswork out of gardening for anyone residing in the Southwest. With this book, you’ll know what to do each month to enjoy a thriving garden all year, from January to December. Chronologically organized, this guide is full of critical gardening when-to and how-to advice, along with illustrated step-by-step instructions.

The book’s author is Jacqueline Soule, a Tucson-based gardening expert. She knows this arid region inside and out, and she’s written several articles and books packed with her gardening advice. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening showcases Soule’s expertise in one easy-to-read guide.”

Profits from the sale of this book go to the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute.


© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt – but you must give proper credit to Gardening With Soule. You must include a link to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.

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