Whether it’s weeding, pruning, clearing leaves or decorating your garden, it’s important to get the majority finished now in order to enjoy your garden in the spring and summer months
Winter is slowly dwindling away; the days are getting longer and the weather is beginning to warm up. Sunshine is what everyone needs after a gloomy, wet and miserable winter. So now’s the time to make the most out of your garden: start forward thinking about yourself sitting around blossoming flowers in the heart of the summer. But first you have to put in some hard work! Preparing your garden now will make spring a little less hectic as you will be caught up seedsowing, growing, weeding and nurturing. No matter what size your garden, start now and get as much done as you can.
Clean up flower beds and borders
On a dry day, have a general tidy up around the garden. Begin by removing any fallen leaves and debris from flower beds, lawns, pathways and ponds that have accumulated throughout the winter. Once cleared, you should use pruning clippers to begin cutting away any leftover stems from annual and biennial plants. As well as cleaning around your garden, you should also fix fences, gates and trellis. Treat any wooden structures with a wood preservative, replace any structures that have rotted away and fix any bowed or leaning sides of flower beds.
Clean gardening tools
If it’s a rainy day then spend a day looking after your gardening tools. Caring for your tools will help save you money in the long term. Cleaning your tools thoroughly will help prevent the spread of disease, as dirty secateurs can introduce bacteria and fungi to plant life. Sharpening your tools will also help improve performance, making them easier to work with.
Clean your greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse, wash and clean it as soon as you can, as it will soon be home to trays of seedlings and cuttings! Sweep out any plant debris and disinfect with a hot solution, insuring you clean the inside of the glass too, as pests and disease can survive in the smallest of areas. Make sure to ventilate your greenhouse afterwards so it dries thoroughly.
If you don’t already have a compost area then you should make one. You could use a readymade compost bin or you can build one yourself. You will then have somewhere to store your garden waste and your plants will benefit from lovely, rich compost.
Order bulbs and seeds
It’s not all hard work though and this is the perfect task for a cold wet day. Turn on your laptop and get out your catalogues, searching for inspiration and new varieties of seeds and bulbs that you want to plant and grow in your garden this year. Remember, summer flowering bulbs such as lilies, gladiolus and ranunculus can be planted in early spring, creating a colourful summer display.
It’s important to remove all weeds and weed rootstock from your soil before spring as during the summer you will be grateful that you spent this time wisely! Uproot the weeds’ roots with a hand fork or a long handed weeding tool, ensuring you get rid of everything. You can always use black plastic sheeting to cover any beds before planting as a way to suppress emerging weeds. Top Tip: Flip the sheeting over once a week to get rid of any hiding slugs.
Preparing your soil
The secret behind a blooming garden is healthy soil. However you don’t want to work on the soil too early. Wait until the ground has dried out from ice and rain. Plants tend to grow better in soil that has air pockets, so it’s important to avoid compacting it. Top Tip: To test if the soil is dry enough, take a handful of soil and squeeze it together into a ball, if the ball breaks easily then it’s dry enough and ready for gardening.
Once you have approved the soil, you should begin to cultivate it. To do this, simply dig up the soil with a gardening fork, turning it over and chopping it up. Next you should add compost which will add extra nutrients.
Sow seeds that need a longer season
It’s best to start sowing seeds of plants which require a longer growing season as early as possible, such as geraniums, begonias, antirrhinums, peppers and aubergines. It’s also important to set out bulbs which were forced in pots indoors during early spring. Some may not bloom until next spring and others may take two to three years to rebuild enough food reserved. Other common early spring crops are peas, spinach, lettuce and leeks.