Bring your garden back to life after winter!
- Cutting Back and Pruning
This is the first step in rejuvenating your garden. Some shrubby plants with woody stems (Artemisia, buddlea, caryopteris and lavender) need to be cut back each spring because they only bloom on new branches. Prune the branches in spring, to limit winter damage and to encourage the plant to start flowering. Most of these perennials start to show signs of buds opening on the lower part of the stem, this indicates the best time to start pruning. You are best to wait until the hard frost has passed before starting this process.
- Weeding and Mulching
This practices provides an instant satisfaction and of course reduces the amount of garden maintenance during subsequent months. Start to prepare your flower beds by gently forking over the soil between plants to make it lighter. Mulch (this helps to retain moisture in the soil) can be done with a standard garden compost although I would suggest horse manure or fine grade pine bark. This will help to prevent weed growth and condition the soil. When removing weeds such as dandelions, creeping-buttercup and nettles make sure that you remove as much of the root system as possible, to prevent them from spreading into your chosen plants.
- Tiding your lawn
Clear your lawn of resident trampolines and outdoor furniture. Vigorously rake over the grass using a ‘springbok’ rake and removing any moss or weeds, if there are patches of the lawn that are noticeably ill-drained then by using a garden fork, push the prongs deep into the ground and move them back and forth. This will allow the lawn to breathe again and encourage new growth. Give your lawn and early boost by feeding it with a lawn feed. This will have a dramatic effect in the transformation of your garden, just keep of the lawn for a number of weeks to make sure that it has the desired effects.
If you are planning on putting grass over and area of your garden, then now is the time to prepare for sowing. Dig over the area and rake the soil until you produce a fine tilth and scatter the grass seeds as evenly as possible. Make sure that this area is kept wet – check how moist it is even if it has been raining.
The winter/spring months are the perfect time to collect rainfall by installing a water butt. Not only does it help the environment but will also save you money on water bills. Rainfall is known to be better for some plants such as camellias and rhododendrons because of the slightly alkaline nature of tap water.
5. Adding Colour to your Garden
The final task in transforming an untidy garden is to plant some spring colour for immediate effect. Chose focal positions in your garden and plant trees and shrubs which will provide colour and interest. Plant patches of snowdrops with winter aconites and crocuses for some immediate colour, the bees will also love you for this. Hayacinths are magnificent in full bloom and really add something special to the garden. Gladioli are spectacular flowers and can grow between two to six feet in height, these are best planted in spring once the frost has passed.
Use terra-cotta pots or plastic containers and plant generous quantities of Polyanthus Primula and place these up against the house to add colour, they are best placed in amongst wallflowers. Spring flowering bulbs are widely available in garden canters and give immediate lift to any container. I would recommend to plant a mass of Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’ with Iris ‘Harmony’ or I, ‘George’, you will be guaranteed a lengthy show of colour.
This is a simple guide in how to restore your untidy garden as you emerge for the winter period and transform it into a pleasurable experience and a place you will be proud to entertain family and friends.