Gardening Blog

Gardening Blog: Prepare Your Garden for Springtime

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There's much to be done in preparation for spring and work left undone now can hamper your garden for the rest of the growing period to come.

Snowdrops, the early messengers of spring, are flowering, which means a change of season canít be far behind. Bulbs are pushing through the soil and tree buds are beginning to swell. February is a particularly important time for lawns.

But February can be a difficult time to be outside, let alone want to work outside. Itís windy, itís wet and muddy; the days remain short and there may still be snow on the ground.

If your garden is really wet, itís best to stay off the soil and find some other tasks. Constant treading on saturated soil soon leads to muddy conditions. The air soon becomes squashed out of the soil and it becomes so compacted that it is difficult to get its loose structure back when it eventually dries out. This is especially the case if you have a clay soil. If you must work on the soil, use broad boards to spread your weight. The soil will become less compacted this way.

Deciduous pruning

Now is the time to prune deciduous hedges that became overgrown towards the end of last summer. You canít leave pruning in general a moment longer, as birds will soon begin to thicken up their nests, particularly in hedgerows. Prune the growth back to about two feet lower than the height you actually want the hedge to be. For the sides of the hedge, trim narrower at the top and wider at the base. Young shoots will soon emerge, giving you the shape you desire.

Finish weeding and maintaining borders as soon as possible. New shoots, particularly crocus bulbs, are easily damaged if you leave this task until the end of the month.

Look after your lawn

Aerate your lawn if it suffers from poor drainage. If, after a rain shower, water lies on the surface of the lawn for any length of time, you need to aerate your lawn. Simply push a garden fork about six inches into the lawn and rack it back and forth. Do this every six to twelve inches over the whole lawn. While all the holes are still freshly opened, sprinkle sharp sand over the lawn then brush in.

Rake out all the accumulated dead grass to let in the in light and air and also to help with drainage. Dig out any weeds Ė roots and all.

If the grass has started to grow, cut the lawn for the first time. Set the blades to a higher setting than usual for the initial two or three cuts. If your lawn has lots of worm casts on it, brush these away before cutting. If you donít, the resultant flattened patches of soil from mowing make ideal seed beds for weeds.

If youíve given up on your old lawn, now is also the time to lay turf for a new one Ė provided itís not too wet or if the ground is frozen.

Top dressing

For pot grown plants, remove the top inch or so of old soil and replace with compost containing a slow-release fertiliser. Take great care not to damage any roots that may be growing near the surface.

It's also essential to finish any fruit tree pruning left over from before Christmas. Also, cut back to ground level any dead stems of herbaceous plants that have survived the winter upright.

Don't forget to sow half-hardy annuals this month. Busy, busy!