It's almost spring! And as the shoots begin to break the surface once again, what should you be doing in your garden to make it ready for the coming season?
Spring Gardening Checklist
It is the season in which your garden wakes from its winter slumber. As the sun starts to warm the soil, your plants, shrubs, trees and bulbs all start to slowly come back to life.
With nighttime frosts still a danger, young buds and infant seedlings are at the mercy of the weather but as a gardener, it is a time when you start to prepare the garden for the main growing season from late spring, right through summer into autumn.
But what should you be doing to be ready?
1. Get potting!
Whether you have a greenhouse, polytunnel or cold frame, spring is the time to start sowing seeds in pots and trays. As long as they are protected from night time chills, seedlings will continue to thrive. By the time early summer comes, they will be ready to plant into their final growing spot.
Most varieties of vegetables and flowering plants can be sown in early spring, with protection from a greenhouse, cold frame or polytunnel, giving you an extra few weeks of growing time.
If you didn’t get around to it in autumn, it is not too late to prepare your tools and equipment for the coming growing season:
- Water butts – rain harvesters and water butts are ideal for gathering rain for watering the garden during the summer. But you need to make sure that there are no insects and eggs from last year. Empty the water butt and disinfect using an environmentally friendly product and allow to re-fill. Do the same with water cans and other watering equipment.
- Plant pots – just like disinfecting water butts, this is usually a garden job that is done in the autumn but sometimes autumn is upon us in a flurry of chilly rain and winds thus, we retreat inside. Before you re-use plant pots, disinfect and allow to air dry naturally before planting with tender seeds and seedlings.
- Gardening tools – you may not want to disinfect your gardening tools but washing last year’s debris and soil from keeps them in good working order. Oil hinges on secateurs and so on ready for cutting back bushes and shrubs.
3. Turn the compost heap
A warm spring day is an ideal time to turn the compost heap. Incorporating much-needed air and giving it a good mix will prove to be a catalyst for a compost decomposed enough to use as mulch, top dressing borders and flowers beds, as well as providing essential nutrients for seeds and young seedlings.
A good compost needs heat as well as organic material adding to it regularly but with a cold winter, you may find this process has slowed. Consider adding a compost accelerator if needed.
4. Get the garden furniture summer ready
With warm spring days, you will no doubt want to watch your garden bloom back into life. Thus, wooden garden benches and furniture can be brought out of storage ready for us.
Even with a clean before they were put away or covered in autumn, your furniture can bear the scars of winter and thus, a breezy spring day is perfect for brushing them outdoor furniture and washing with warm water.
Don’t use a harsh abrasive cleaning chemical, and neither should you use a jet or power washer. A soft bristled brush and warm water should be enough but allow wooden garden benches and the like to dry naturally in the air rather than placing in direct sunlight.
OR, shop for new wooden garden benches, dining sets and parasols ready for summer!
5. Planting tasks
As well as sowing seeds from early spring onwards, there are other planting tasks you can start in the spring;
- Early spring – lightly mow the lawn to encourage it to start growing again and spend some time sweeping away some of the debris. Many gardeners use the spring as the time to scarify the lawn (lifting ground in debris). This is so that the moisture can penetrate the shallow roots. Aerating the lawn helps too, and if you have a spot that needs re-seeding start now.
- Mid-spring – as well as mowing the lawn regularly, the warmer summer days means you can start to help out your annual plants by thinning them, trimming and splitting them too. If you plan on planting new rose bushes, mid-spring is the time to begin this in earnest.
- Late spring – with summer on the doorstep you will probably find that late garden spring looks a lot more bountiful than it did a few weeks ago. The danger of frost should have passed (but keep an eye out!) That means you can now start to plant out your seedlings. If you are unsure, start to harden them off on frost-free nights for sturdy summer growth.
6. Add much-needed nutrients to the soil
The cold, rains and winds of winter cause a lot of nutrients and goodness to be removed from the soil. Help emerging buds and new growth with a top layer of well-rotted organic matter, such as horse manure or use well-rotted matter from your compost heap after turning it over.
Lightly hoe the soil, adding a thin layer of manure or compost and let the lighter spring rains soak it into the soil beneath.
With only a few spring tasks you garden is summer-ready. Now we just need a ‘proper’ summer with sunny days and warm temperatures.