When it’s time to spring clean your home, it’s important not to forget about your garden. After the ravages of a cold winter, the chances are your home’s outdoor area will be in need of some serious attention.
If your gardens are going to look their very best when the summer arrives, you need to start planning and organising in late February or early March. Thankfully, just a little preparation and some good, old-fashioned elbow grease are all you need to make sure your gardens are in tip-top shape heading into the summer months.
Create a plan of action
Take a walk around your garden towards the end of February, and make a note of all the work required. You should include jobs such as picking up litter, leaves and general debris, mowing the lawn (if necessary) and repairing anything damaged by the winter weather.
Also on your plan of action should be a list of the improvements you want to make. Do you want to add a rock feature? Are there and specific plants and flowers you’d like to add? Once you have this list, you can create a second list — filled with the things you’ll need to buy from your local garden centre.
Clean, repair or replace essential gardening tools
To make your spring cleaning in the garden a success, you’ll need the right tools — all of which must be in a good state of repair. This means you’ll need to make an inventory of everything you have, and then check, clean and repair each item in turn.
A good place to start is your lawn mower. You should also check common gardening tools such as spades, hoes, rakes and trowels. Clean them with a brush, but don’t waste your time with water and cleaning products. Check metal for rust, and sand wooden handles before applying a wood oil. Finally, turn on all your sprinklers and hoses to make sure they’re working properly.
Start with the essentials
Identify all of the essential jobs on your plan of action, and attend to them before you do anything else. You need to create a blank canvas in order to make your garden beautiful, so make sure you perform the following essential tasks:
- Mow the lawn
- Remove litter
- Remove weeds
- Turn over the soil
- Create a compost heap
- Repair broken fences, structures and outbuildings
Prune shrubs, plants and trees
To ensure all your deciduous plants are ready for new growth in spring, it’s best to prune them towards the end of the winter. You have to perform this work while the plants are still dormant, otherwise you run the risk of causing damage or stunting their growth.
Remove broken stems, limbs and branches carefully. If you have hedges, this is a great time to trim them. You should also remove branches that are crossing or rubbing with others.
Deal with your evergreen plants
The vast majority of evergreen plants don’t need pruning. In fact, overzealous pruning can often cause damage and stunt growth. If you want to prune evergreen trees and plants for cosmetic reasons, however, do so with care.
If you’re keen to keep your evergreens looking full and bushy, remove no more than half the previous year’s growth. Clipping and pruning deliver the best results, although they take a lot longer than shearing.
Gather organic waste for mulching
Don’t throw old leaves, dead plants and small branches in the bin. Instead, use these things for mulching. Covering soil with a layer of mulch will help you to regulate soil temperature, moisture and weed growth.
But there are a couple of precautions you should take when adding mulch to your soil. Never add more than two inches, and make sure the mulch isn’t covering the base of your plants. Mulching is a good way of ensuring your soil is hospitable to plants during the colder days of early spring.
The early days of spring are the perfect time to give your soil and flowerbeds some much-needed nourishment. Scatter some fertiliser pellets all over your garden as early as possible. They will take time to break down and filter into the soil, so try to do this a couple of weeks before you start planting your spring plants.
Where necessary, remove plants from old or damaged pots, and place them into new ones. To give your potted plants the best chance of thriving during the spring, place them into slightly larger pots with fresh potting mix.
The early days of spring are always an exciting time for a well-maintained garden, so try not to waste them!