There’s no point in pretending you’re not going to be out in your garden at the first sight of Spring. While there is no harm heading out now and cleaning up any fallen branches, debris or damage caused by all the snow we’ve seen over the last couple of months, it is best to wait until the soil is no longer wet enough to form a ball in your hand before you start walking on it and compacting it. At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long before you start your clean up and getting things ready for the start of the growing season.
One thing that Lazy Susan has learnt over the years is that its so much easier to cut plants in late Feb/early March before the old growth starts getting tangled up in the new growth. It is important to remember, however, that there are officially still three weeks of Winter in March and as much as we’re ready for Spring to arrive and thing to warm up a little, the British Winter is sometimes reluctant to leave us. It is simply a case of doing what you can and there’s still a host of garden activities that can be started early in the year. In this blog post we’ll go over some of the things Lazy Susan will be tackling in our showroom garden over the coming months.
To start with, any maintenance work on garden structures such as your shed, fencing etc are best addressed before the Spring as its all too easy to let these tasks slide during the busier spring and summer months when you want to be focused on planting etc. One of your earliest activities you can tackle could be the repair and repainting of any fencing, trellis or lattice work. Repair any holes and loose boards on your fencing, and inspect any decking for any nails that have worked their way up.
Clean, sharpen and ready your garden tools such secateurs, spades, and shears etc. Also sharpen or replace the blade on your lawnmower, and check oil levels on any machinery you have. Its also a good idea to check that your electrical cords and garden hoses are in good condition, and if need be, look at replacing them now while you can still grab a bargain in the New Year sales. We always prepare a bucket with a mix of builders sand and engine oil around this time and this is then used to keep our tools clean and oiled throughout the growing season.
Once you’re convinced there’ll be no further snow or heavy frost, you can start to think about removing any protective winter covers from your evergreens and the more hardy shrubs. You definitely want to wait a little bit longer to remove any winter protection from planting beds and roses as these could be needed during Feb/March. Even a light frost can reap havoc. Once the ground has thawed, you can start to move the earth and really get busy.
Look for any plants that have ‘pulled’ out of the soil in the winter, and re–plant them. Turn over and aerate the soil, adding any additional nutrients if needed. If your soil is still very wet, then please hold off on this until it dries out a little more, as you can cause the soil to break down. Also, don’t forget to turn and aerate your compost bin too.
If you didn’t prune back your perennials in Autumn, then I’m guessing they probably look pretty ugly right now. Many perennials actually prefer to be left standing throughout the Winter for a little extra protection. However, by definition, herbaceous perennials will die back to the ground during the Winter. If you did leave your perennials standing last Autumn, then as soon as you start to see new growth (don’t worry it is still a good few months off, say late March into April) at the base of the plants, it is safe to begin removing any winter mulch and pruning them back down to ground level.
Before Spring officially starts, it is always a good idea to fertilize your trees and shrubs as early as you can too. The Spring rain will help carry much needed nutrients right down to the roots and give these large plants a great kick start. Start planting any new trees or shrubs as soon as the weather improves and soil becomes workable too. Cut back any ornamental grasses to new shoots, and while you’re at it, cut back any dead plant material in the garden too.
Rake up any dead leaves and other winter debris, start digging–in or composting, and check all beds and lawns for weeds. Early Spring really is the ideal time to take action against weeds with some pro-active weeding, so take the time now to hand–pull them completely out of the the ground. Unfortunately, weeding is not a Spring/Summer only task I’m afraid, but getting started early will help keep it under control during the warmer months of the year.
Damp soil makes it much easier to pull young weed seedlings too, plus, most of what you pull up can go into your compost pile. In Lazy Susan’s opinion, it is always best to start a new pile in spring and leave your old pile to flip and use. Dispose of any plant material that shows signs of disease and any seed heads, weeds or otherwise that could become a problem later on.
A good bit of pruning is often necessary on trees and shrubs and at this time of year, you’re best just pruning any tree branches that have been damaged or broken during the Winter. If you have fruit trees on the other hand, then it is best to prune them before any growth begins. Any bushes or shrubs that bloom in the Summer and Winter on new wood/branches can also be pruned now.
As your garden starts to come back to life, check for any gaps in your beds etc and plan now to purchase bulbs in the Autumn ready to brighten things up next year. And the finishing touch in the Lazy Susan garden is a bit of spring is edging… A nice crisp edge makes a garden bed look immaculate and also helps to prevent your lawn from advancing into your flower bed. Don’t underestimate the power of a clean edged lawn!