With most of the cold weather hopefully passed, increased hours of daylight and the first garden ambassadors of spring showing off, it is time to give your garden a head start to the gardening year that surely promises to be full of horticultural excitement!
There never seems to be a lot to do this time of the year as the garden is just ‘waking up’ and nothing much has put on growth. However this is deceptive! Here is a collection of tasks to be done…
Thorough work in the garden now will pay off during the following months. Once the ground has reasonably dried up, remove leaf litter and dead plant material that has been left during the winter months for plant protection and hibernation/food sources for garden wildlife. This could include cutting down last year’s flower stems, previous years’ dead foliage and cutting back or combing through ornamental grasses. With the recent wet weather new growth emerging at ground level is likely to rot if not ‘freed’.
It is important to do your weeding now when perennial weeds are small with small roots. Pernicious weeds in particular, such as creeping buttercup, dandelion, chickweed, nettle and the like ought to be tackled as early as possible.
Now is also a good time to prune bush and climbing roses to maintain their shape and enable sufficient airflow. Milder temperatures give the opportunity to lift and divide herbaceous perennials which is an easy and cost efficient way to produce more plants to stock up your borders.
All dogwoods and shrubby willows can be pruned now - either down to the ground if they are particularly large or cut out 1/3 of the stems. They have now done their job of providing winter interest and you must do your bit to ensure vibrant stem colours next winter!
Summer flowering bulbs can be planted now, either within borders or in containers for colourful patio displays.
Compost as much of your garden arisings as possible, excluding perennial weeds, to produce homemade compost and mulch ready to use in your garden in a few years’ time.
When working within your borders be mindful that fresh buds or new growth are tender and may snap easily. Also, overwintering wildlife may still enjoy the cosiness of leaf cover in areas of the garden that haven’t been touched for the last few months. Garden in these areas with a gentle hand!
Applying mulch to the borders in the form of compost or well-rotted manure helps to supress weed growth, contains moisture, provides organic matter for soil organisms to work in and makes the borders look neat as well.
If you have a cutting garden or an area dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables, its still not too late to sow your seeds which would mostly be started indoors or in a heated green house.
Be reminded that is not just the plants and lawns in need of attention, patios, gardens steps, trellises, pergolas and garden furniture too require maintenance before the proper start of the growing season. Clean all paving with a pressure washer – it is not just a visual improvement but will also make patios, paths and steps less slippery. Wooden structures and garden furniture may be in need of a lick of paint or stain: they’ll soon be required to fully function - summer is not far around the corner!
Feature image source: Pintreset.com
Remember, Turning Leaf is always here to help! Contact us if you need a one off ‘Spring Tidy’ visit to put things into order (or indeed regular maintenance), a ‘Walk and Talk’ from a Member of The Society of Garden Designers to give you some real inspiration if you are planning a bit of a re-vamp, and if you think you need wholesale change, take a look at our Garden Design Services!