The day's are getting noticeably longer, the birds are singing again in the morning, and your garden is due some serious TLC following the barrage of heavy rain, snow and wind it's received over the past few months!
For serious gardeners in the UK, Spring can only mean one thing: you'll be out there, creating a summer-ready garden as soon as the weather warms up a little more.
Remember: While cleaning up fallen branches and debris is a good idea, before walking on and compacting the soil, wait until it is no longer too wet to cause damage to your lawn. A good way to gauge this is to wait until the soil has drained enough so that you can form a ball in your hand with it.
But don't put it off for too long. Pruning plants before the old growth becomes entangled in the new growth is much easier.
14 Gardening Jobs to be done just before Spring
1. Remove Mulch and Prune Your Perennial Flowers
The first step is to remove and compost any dead annual plants that survived the Winter. These will not return, and any self-seeders will have performed their task. If you didn't prune your perennials last autumn, they're probably looking unkept now that Spring has arrived. Many perennials prefer to be left standing all winter for added protection.
Herbaceous perennials, (plants that die down to the ground each year but who’s roots remain alive and send up new top growth each year) on the other hand, will die back to the ground during the Winter.
If you left your perennials standing last Autumn, it's safe to begin removing Winter mulch and pruning them down to ground level once you see new growth at the base of the plants.
2. Prune Woody Perennial Flowers and Plants
Here's what you need to do in Spring to maintain woody perennial flowers and plants. Some shrubby plants with woody stems such as the ones listed below need to be cut back each Spring because they only bloom on new branches.
Pruning these species is best done in the Spring, after the hard frost of Winter has passed. Pruning at the beginning of Spring promotes new growth and, as a result, the production of new flowering branches.
When it's time to prune these woody perennials, they'll indicate it by opening buds on the lower stem portions or new growth at the base of the plants.
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4. Is Spring the best time to Scarify the Lawn?
Firstly, what is scarifying? Why do you need to scarify a lawn? The mechanical removal of surface thatch from a grass is known as scarification. On a grass lawn, surface thatch forms naturally. When it becomes too thick, however, it stops critical nutrients like water, fertiliser, and oxygen from reaching the grass roots. As a result, the lawn becomes mossy and mushy. Light de-thatching or scarifying and moss removal can be done in Spring and/or Autumn.
Spring generally means sometime in April just as things warm up thereby increasing the growth and recovery rate but before the heat and dryness of summer slows things down.
Autumn would generally be late August or September as the rains start but before the cold sets in.
There are two options when it comes to scarifying - Do it manually, or use a machine.
If you are a keen gardener, the last thing you want to do is waste hours laboriously raking up moss when there are lots more to be done around the garden. A perfect solution for this is to go down the machine route.
The Hyundai petrol lawn scarifier and aerator is a perfect choice when it comes to revitalising your small or medium sized lawns.
Fitted with a spacious quick release 45L polyester grass catcher bag, you will spend less time emptying the cuttings and more time scarifying. Attaching and removing the collection bag couldn’t be simpler, and this allows you to dispose of the cuttings quickly and conveniently.
The HYSC210 is a low maintenance petrol powered scarifier from Hyundai.
The HYSC210 features a cutting width of 400mm perfect for revitalising and reviving the most tired and spongiest of lawns.
5. Trim Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen Perennial Plants
Depending on where in the UK you are gardening, some perennial plants will never quite go dormant, but they may still need tidying up. Plants such as the following retain their leaves all Winter:
- Bearded Iris
Spring is the time to prune the wilted foliage to encourage new growth.
6. Cut Back Ornamental Grasses
If you left your ornamental grasses up for Winter, you could cut them back as soon as you can get to them. You don't need to wait for new growth. Cut grasses to within a few inches of the ground. They'll come back up when they're ready.
Ornamental grasses provide a striking contrast during the Winter months, but once Spring arrives, they quickly become unruly and unkempt. So, as soon as you can get to them through the Winter mulch, simply cut the grasses to a few inches above the ground, they will grow back when they are ready.
7. Care for your Roses
Spring rose care depends very much on your climate. The precise method for bringing your rose bushes out of hibernation in Spring and preparing them for the growing season will vary somewhat depending on your region and on the type of roses you own.
For gardeners in frost-free zones such as the South of England, roses might be entirely evergreen, therefore, it is a simple matter of moderate pruning and extra fertilizer to jolt them into more vigorous growth. In some parts known as “un-winterizing”.
For gardeners in very cold zones like the North of England and Scotland, though, you might be digging up roses that were tipped over and buried in the ground for the winter.
When to prune roses in the UK
Late winter (February or March) is often a good time for pruning roses but study the individual rose profile for a more in-depth cultivation procedure.
General Tips When nurturing roses.
- Cuts should be no more than 5mm (¼ in) above a bud and should slope downwards away from it, so that water does not collect on the bud. This applies to all cuts, whether removing dead wood, deadheading or annual pruning.
- Cut to an outward-facing bud to encourage an open-centred shape. With roses of spreading habit, prune some stems to inward-facing buds to encourage more upright growth
- Cut to the appropriate height, if a dormant bud is not visible
- Cuts must be clean, so keep your secateurs sharp. For larger stems, use loppers or a pruning saw
- Prune dieback to healthy white pith
- Cut out dead and diseased stems and spindly and crossing stems
- Aim for well-spaced stems that allow free air flow
- On established roses, cut out poorly flowering old wood and saw away old stubs that have failed to produce new shoots
- With the exception of climbing roses and shrub roses, prune all newly planted roses hard to encourage vigorous shoots
- Trace suckers back to the roots from which they grow and pull them away
8. Choose the Right Time to Prune Trees and Shrubs
Most Spring-blooming trees and shrubs set their flower buds in the Summer or Autumn of last year.
Pruning them in the Spring, before they've bloomed, would mean pruning off this year's flowers. Learn about your blooming trees' particular needs, and prune accordingly.
9. Fertilize and Tidy Up Evergreens
Most evergreens should require little to no Spring care other than some tidying up. Spring in the UK is a good time to fertilize evergreens because they are actively growing. However, if the soil is healthy and rich, you should only need to feed your evergreens about every other year.
Look for a well-balanced food labelled especially for evergreens.
10. Start Weeding and Composting
Early Spring is the time to take action against weeds with some pro-active weeding. Damp soil makes it much easier to pull young weed seedlings making sure to dispose of them in the recycle bin and not the compost heap, they’ll come back to haunt you!
Most of what you clean up can go into your compost pile. It's 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.
11. Test Soil and Fertilizer as Needed
It's very important to test your soil before you start adding things to it. If you adjusted your soil in the Autumn, check your soil's pH (alkaline, neutral or acidic) to see how balanced your soil's nutrients are and determine if any corrective measures are needed.
Most plants enjoy a good feeding in the spring when they have their initial growth spurt.
If you have rich, healthy soil, all you should need to do in the Spring is add a bit of top dressing with compost, manure, or a complete slow-release organic fertilizer. If you prefer using synthetic fertilizers, you can start applying it once your plants show signs of new growth.
12. Divide and Transplant
If you want to propagate or move your plants, Spring is the ideal time to divide or transplant them. It's amazing how quickly plants recover if you catch them early when the weather is still mild, and they're raring to grow.
13. Stake your plants
Staking is one of the most tedious gardening tasks. It's tempting to procrastinate, but the sooner you stake, the easier it is on your plants.
Sure, they look ugly for a few weeks, but think of the headaches you'll avoid by letting your plants grow into the stakes rather than trying to squeeze the plants into them later.
14. Mulch and Edge
Mulch does many wonderful things for your garden:
- It conserves water
- Cools plant roots
- Feeds the soil
- Smothers weeds
There's no question that every garden deserves a layer of mulch, however, wait until the soil warms up and dries out a bit, before replenishing your mulch.
Be sure to keep it away from the stems and crowns of your plants to avoid rotting and, if you’re hoping for some self-seeding volunteers, give them a chance to germinate before you cover the bed with mulch.
The finishing touch in the spring is edging. A crisp edge makes a garden bed look polished.
It also helps prevent your lawn from crawling into your flower bed. Don't underestimate the power of a clean edge.
Gardening Equipment For Sale
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Tips and Tricks for Spring Cleaning
Looking for tips and tricks to help you get the inside of your house spick and span? Visit our "Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks" article to read our recommended advice when carrying out the dreaded Spring cleaning.