With winter receding and the promise of spring just around the corner, it’s a great time to dig out our tools from our garden sheds and start getting our gardens and lawns ready for the coming months. Here are a few jobs you can be doing right now to ensure a blooming spring and summer...
Give your garden tools some TLC:
Before you start getting stuck into any proper gardening this year, it’s sensible to give your tools a bit of attention. With a damp cloth, wipe off any residual dirt and sand off any rusty spots with sandpaper or steel wool. Use a cloth soaked with oil to wipe down blades and sharpen anything that needs it. Now is also a good time to give your garden furniture a wipe down (or a hose with a pressure washer) and to apply a layer of teak oil or linseed oil to protect and nourish wooden outdoor furniture for the coming year.
Prepare your lawn for cutting:
Although your lawn may not need mowing yet, it won’t be long until it needs its first haircut of the year. That means removing any rotting leaves or thatch from the lawn and sweeping away worm casts to allow new growth to come through. Wait until spring has finally sprung to apply a lawn fertiliser. This will be sometime in April. A good indication is when the daffodils are out in full bloom and after you’ve cut the lawn a couple of times.
It’s also worth giving your lawnmower a quick maintenance check to ensure it’s in working order after its winter hibernation. By getting the blades sharpened it will ensure a better cut when the time comes and leave you with a healthier lawn.
If your lawn has damaged patches, now is a good time to reseed it. You can do this by scratching up the soil with a rake and then mixing a shovel of soil with two scoops of grass seed and spreading into the bare patch. Rake it and water it frequently until the seeds germinate and the new grass comes through.
Early spring is also a good time of year to edge your flower beds to keep a trench between them and the grass. By creating edging it stops lawn weeds such as clover from getting into your flower beds and makes the maintenance of your flower beds much simpler.
Spring clean your beds:
Early spring is the perfect time to give your beds a good hoe and rake to remove any weed seedlings and dead plants and give the soil a good airing. Getting on top of the weeding now means a lot less work in the coming months as the weeds are much easier to pull out when their roots are shallow.
Make sure you cut back your perennials but avoid spring-flowering shrubs until they've finished blooming. If you have any well-rotted compost, then spread this over the soil surface and gently work it in. Level off the soil with a rake.
Now is the time to order seedlings and bedding plants from mail-order suppliers ready to start sowing your summing bedding plants for your pots, borders or hanging baskets. Most bedding plants are relatively easy to grow from seed and they also grow rapidly and provide great value for money. Don’t worry if you don’t have a greenhouse or heated propagator, by placing a seed tray or pot with a polythene bag over it on a window-ledge it will have the same effect.
A taste of the good life
If you have a vegetable patch, from about mid-march onwards you can start laying out your seed potatoes ready for planting and sowing most vegetable seeds. To get off to a good start use small poly tunnels for early salad crops, such as lettuce and mixed salad leaves, rocket, coriander and radish. You can sow early varieties of carrots direct, but start French beans, runner beans and broad beans in pots under glass.
For those with apple or pear trees in their gardens, there are certain tasks which can be undertaken in early spring which will keep them thriving through the summer and autumn. At this time of year, fruit trees are just recovering from the winter and are particularly vulnerable. To ensure a healthy crop in the summer and autumn months, pick up all leaves that have dropped around the tree in the autumn and winter to prevent them from rotting and spreading any existing diseases into the tree. Also, if you didn’t get the pruning shears to them in the winter, it is vital to prune them now before new growth appears to remove any damaged or dead branches that are still on the tree.
Get prepared and save water:
If you live in an area that has regular hosepipe bans in the summer months and struggle to keep your garden watered, luscious and green, you should look into installing some water butts for your garden. They are relatively cheap and will save you money in the long run if you’re on a water meter. Water butts can be connected to drainpipes so that they collect rainwater from your gutters to be re-used whenever is necessary. Most plants prefer rainwater anyway, so you’ll be doing them a favour too!