One of the joys of gardening is the way your garden reflects the turning of the seasons. You know winter is on its way out when snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils start to appear. But what do you need to be doing to get your garden ready for the warmer weather ahead?
1. Look after your lawn
Which? Trusted trader Greensleeves recommends taking the time to tidy your lawn. After all, it’s the largest plant in your garden. A regular raking will remove leftover grass blades and debris, preventing the build-up of thatch.
One of the most effective things you can do to transform your garden is to mow your lawn regularly. Prior to mowing, ensure that the blade on your mower is sharp to guarantee a nice clean cut. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf, and don’t cut the grass too short (never below 25mm). Mow in different directions each time you cut to improve the strength of the grass.
For more on lawn care, check our guide on how to look after your lawn.
2. Feed, aerate and hydrate your plants
Soil quality is often poor after a wet winter, so early spring is an ideal time to add some nutrients in the form of compost. Check the Which? guide to compost to help choose the right one for your garden.
Once the ground is soft enough, you can also look at aerating your lawn – creating holes in large areas of grass – to increase the oxygen supply to the roots. This is a heavy job - if you would prefer to leave it to a professional, Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed gardeners and lawn care experts in your area, who can help.
When the weather gets drier, you may want to look at increasing the water supply to your plants. James Edwards from First Lawns in Harpenden recommends giving your lawn a good soak once a week for a couple of hours, rather than watering for half an hour every evening.
3. Get planting
Have you got any areas where you’d like to add more shade to your garden? Spring is a great time to plant trees or shrubs. Make sure you don’t plant trees and shrubs too deeply – the root flare, where the roots meet the trunk, should be at or just above soil level.
Spring is also the time to think about summer bulbs. You can add some colour, fill some spaces or completely redesign your borders. You should usually plant bulbs at a depth of three times their own size, but check any packaging for recommendations.
The Which? guide to gardening through the year has more ideas for planting.
4. Cut plants back to size
Early spring is an ideal time to prune back trees and shrubs that are due to bloom later in the year. This encourages healthy growth and, hopefully, more flowers.
Azaleas, forsythia, dogwood and other spring shrubs are all fine to cut back, but you should avoid trees and shrubs that bloom in spring, as it can stress the plants if you prune once they’re in flower.
It’s also worth taking the opportunity to prune your rose canes before they start to grow. Cutting back your roses encourages strong, healthy shoots – this should result in more blooms.
Take a look at any ornamental grasses, too – remove dead leaves and take the plants down to about 4 inches in growth. If you leave the cuttings on the top of your compost pile it helps birds, who can use them for their nests.
If your trees need attention, then Which? Trusted Traders has accredited tree surgeons who can help remove stumps, cut back branches and bring your woodlands back under control.
5. Grow your own greens
Once soil is free of ice and crumbles easily, it’s ready for planting with vegetables for later in the year. You can gain a few weeks by starting the seeds earlier indoors, or sprinkle seeds in loosened soil outdoors.
You can start by planting vegetables that prefer cool temperatures, such as carrots, spinach and early potatoes. Follow these crops with broccoli, cabbage, radishes, kale, turnips, new potatoes and onions.
If there is a late frost, protect any early crops by covering the ground overnight. If you don’t have a cold frame, anything that comes to hand will do – a bit of cardboard, flower pots or trays.
Which? growing your own veg advice guides have more tips for growing specific varieties of vegetables.
Read our advice on finding your perfect gardener
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