Dreaming of Spring, time to prepare by David Domoney
After a few false alarms, the shimmer of spring is just around the corner, and things are certainly coming to life in the garden. As the spring bulbs poke their tentative heads up through the melted frost, every gardener will be itching to get sowing and start growing. It’s easy to get overexcited on the first vaguely sunny day, and we must remember that the garden and its many plants and flowers can be a fragile and delicate place. A late frost can so easily undo all your hard work, so follow these tips to wake your garden up the right way, without doing any damage to your cherished plants.
Before you start tackling the garden, give your houseplants the once over. Because they are indoors, they aren’t affected by frost, so with the increase in the days light durations their growing season generally starts earlier than outdoor plants. Check if any of them could do with a repotting and use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves. You can also give them a feed with some fertiliser and make sure they’re getting the right amount of water and sunlight, by checking the leaves to see signs of discolouration.
Before planting outdoors, you need to make sure the soil in your beds, borders and veg plot is ready and waiting with the best conditions to receive plants. If the ground isn’t hard with frost, you can work in a layer of organic material such as compost or rotted farmyard manure in preparation for the growing season. Depending on what you plan to grow, you may also wish to add a little fertiliser to your soil as an extra boost. Make sure you don’t plant anything that isn’t fully hardy, as here in the UK we are prone to bouts of bad weather in April too.
Every garden needs pollinating insects, and there’s something very hopeful about the sound of a bumbling bee in spring. It’s a nice idea to ensure your garden is ready to receive lots of regular visits from pollinating insects, so that they have plenty of flower nectar to boost their energy levels. Spring flowers such as crocuses and hyacinths are great for pollinating insects, but if you forgot to plant these bulbs in autumn, you can also help by making an insect hotel for your garden or by leaving areas of your garden untamed such as log piles, which they can use to build their nests.
A little careful cutting and pruning now could see your garden really bursting with life in the coming months. Prune back your roses and winter flowering jasmine to encourage a strong new growth, as well as early-flowering clematis once the flowers have faded. You can also cut back any dead foliage from perennial plants and keep all ornamental grasses in check. Always wait until after early flowering plants have bloomed to prune, as you may be cutting off flowering branches.
Your lawn is busy recovering after a dark and rainy winter, so you’ll need to scarify it by raking over it thoroughly to pull out any moss or thatch that has grown underneath. You can then also aerate the lawn to lend some fresh air to the roots which may be compressed. To do this you can either use an aerator or a garden fork pushed firmly down into the grass in regular intervals over the lawn.
It can seem frustrating that these little jobs seem on the surface to be doing very little to change the appearance of your garden, but you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes when spring does arrive. There are some things you can plant now, for example fruit trees, so you can always get going with those or other hardy plants. Spring is a lovely time of year for spending time with family, with Easter weekend fast approaching – so why not set up an Easter egg hunt for the kids in the garden? Make sure to give your patio doors a quick spring clean just in case the weather does suddenly pick up!
'Dreaming of Spring, time to prepare by David Domoney'