How to prepare your garden for spring
24th January 2019
While winter is still in full swing, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to prepare your garden for more fruitful growing months. So many people love spending time in their gardens, whether its growing vegetables, planting flowers, or simply relaxing in a quiet little space on a pleasant afternoon. Gardens, of course, take a lot of time and care to maintain, so it’s not surprising so many people enjoy gardening in retirement and later on in life. No matter if you are as mobile as ever or require the use of a stairlift at home, gardening is a beloved hobby for many.
Waiting for spring and summer to arrive may be tempting but if you want to enjoy your garden later in the year it’s important to prepare early so that your garden will be in the right shape once winter ends. There are numerous tasks that can and should be done now in preparation and, with that in mind, this guide for how to prepare your garden for spring should prove to be a helpful tool.
Mulch your borders
Clare Fogget is the editor of The English Garden, a magazine replete with practical advice from real gardeners. Clare has some wonderful advice on how to prepare your garden for spring and her first piece comes under the banner of mulching your borders:
“Spreading a thick (at least 5cm) layer of organic mulch, such as home-made garden compost, really well-rotted manure or bagged soil improver/mulch from the garden centre, is one of the best things you can do at this time of year. Mulching traps moisture in the soil so that plants have plenty to draw on when they start growing when temperatures rise, and it cuts out light so any weed seeds on the soil surface are smothered and can’t germinate. It makes your borders look good so that spring flowers are set off to their best and over time, it gradually rots into the soil to improve its structure and provide nutrients. It’s a win-win job that’s so worthwhile.”
Clean and tidy up
Clare’s next piece of advice that gardeners can do now in preparation for winter is to have a tidy up: “Have a tidy, if you haven’t already. Pull out any weeds you spot so you start the new season weed-free and cut-back any plants you haven’t tidied already. A lot of people leave herbaceous perennials over winter for wildlife to shelter in, but now’s the time to cut their dead stems back to ground level to clear the way for this year’s new growth.
“If you sow seed, get ready now by making sure you’ve got enough pots, trays and labels – then you’ll be fully stocked when spring’s busy seed sowing season gets underway. And sweep or pressure wash areas of paving now so they are tidy and looking good for containers of spring bedding or bulbs such as tulips. A lot of debris and slippery green algae can accumulate over the winter months – keeping it clean will make your patio safer too.”
Giving your greenhouse a good clean is also a good idea. Washing it before spring arrives and sweeping away any plant debris you find might not be the most exciting task, but you will be glad you’ve done it when you start wanting to fill the space with seedlings. Washing pots should also be done at this point, as this will help prevent diseases which can impact young plants.
Plan your summer-flowering bulbs
Cold and wet weather that often comes with winter might keep you out of the garden during this time of year but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some important work done for the months ahead. This is a great chance to get planning your summer-flowering bulbs. Get online or whip out a catalogue and start ordering the bulbs you want to start planting in early spring and that can be fully enjoyed when summer comes. Don’t leave this to the last minute, plan ahead so you can look forward to the growing season. Somewhere like Suttons would be a great place to look.
Remove slugs and snails
Slugs, snails, and other garden pests are, of course, bothersome to deal with, but putting off dealing with them until spring should be avoided. Instead, get out in the garden before spring arrives and remove these annoying pests. You can often find hibernating snails and slugs at the crown of your plants and be on the lookout for the white vine weevil larvae in your compost. Dispose of what you find and consider treating your garden if necessary.
Tackle those small tasks
Winter is also the perfect time of year to tackle all those small tasks that you know need doing. Before the serious planting and gardening get underway, bring out that to-do list and start ticking off those tasks. This can include things like fixing broken fences, mending gates, making sure garden paths are safe and secure – the last thing you want is an injury thanks to a loose tile or jagged piece of fence. Sort these tasks out now so that you can concentrate on planting and relaxing.
Get your tools in order
Another important thing to do now before spring arrives is to take stock of your garden tools. You really don’t want to get to March and April and realise that you can’t achieve what you would like in your garden because of broken tools or missing items. So, get to the shed before winter ends and make sure that you’ve got everything you need. Make a list of anything you want to replace, clean what needs cleaning, and organise what’s there so that is easily accessible, and tools can be found without hassle.
Utilise water butts
Gardens, of course, need water, and plenty of it! To save yourself on your water bill down the road and to make life easier in general, consider installing some water butts in your garden now, allowing you to collect rainfall in these typically wet months. Not only is rainwater better than tap water for some plants but utilising butts next to areas where you will need them is far easier than running to the tap or dragging the hose across the garden when you want to start watering.
Top tips for preparing your garden for spring
- Mulch your borders
- Clean and tidy up
- Plan your summer-flowering bulbs
- Remove slugs and snails
- Tackle those small tasks
- Get your tools in order
- Utilise water butts
Are you interested in more gardening related content from Age UK Mobility?
- Gardening tips for those with Limited Mobility
- Must Have Items for your Garden this Summer
- Make your Garden more Mobile and Manageable this Summer
- How to Prepare Your Garden for Autumn
Image credit: Deb Nystrom
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