Spring is the most active time to be in the garden, and is a wonderful season to return to garden life after the hibernation of winter. It may feel a tad overwhelming to start off with, but head outdoors to clean out and prepare, repair, and do a little pruning and moving, and start the growing season off on the right foot. Here are some tasks that will help you manage and plan your gardening for the Spring.
Time for an inspection
When you first venture out, put on your inspector’s hat and survey your garden to check for damages or signs of wear and tear that may have occurred throughout the winter months. Take note of any cold, ice or snow damage to plants and any beds that require cleaning out. It is also the best time to check your hardscaping elements, walls, fences, sheds etc., to ensure all are safe and secure and have not shifted, bowed, or rotted.
The best time to focus your energy on hardscaping is in the early spring before the ground is ready to be worked. This is the time to repair damaged retaining walls, level out steppingstones that may have moved, clean out your gutters, and fix fences, benches, sheds, trellises and raised beds. These tasks are easier to accomplish while your plants are still resting safely dormant.
Early spring is also a good time to plan and build new raised beds or widen existing ones and tidy up your beds’ edging. When temperatures allow, add a fresh coat of paint, stain or sealant to any hardscaping elements made of wood.
Paving and stone can become muddy and slippery with moss over the winter, so to keep them clean and free from grime you can use a mixture of warm water and washing up liquid, or a bleach and water of equal parts mixture for tougher stains, to scrub away dirt and grime and rinse away with a hosepipe or a pressure washer.
Prepare your flowerbeds by removing the winter mulch and clearing away dead leaves, weeds, twigs, branches, and other debris, ideally before spring bulbs start to emerge. Fallen leaves on your flower beds may look a bit untidy, but they do provide a safe habitat for lots of important and valuable insects and animals over the winter. It also created a layer to protect your plants from cold temperatures and helped to suppress weeds.
Once you’ve raked all of this up, it’s important that you dispose of it properly. Some councils offer a home collection service for garden waste, while others provide a bin and collect it as part of the regular home collection scheme. You can also dispose of garden waste at your local household waste recycling centre. However, the most efficient and eco-friendly way to deal with garden waste is to put it in a compost bin or heap, so it can break down and provide nutrient-rich food for your garden later in the year.
Now is also a good time to clean and sterilise your plant containers before setting them back out into the garden. A 1-part bleach to 10 parts water solution should take care of any diseases or insect eggs in your containers. Soak them in the solution for a minimum of 10 minutes, then wash again in a washing up liquid and water solution. If you want a chemical free, eco-friendly option, you can sterilise plant pots with 1-part vinegar to 1-part water, soak for up to 30 minutes, then allow to air dry thoroughly in the spring sunshine before using them.
Springtime is the best time to prune your shrubs, hedges, ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials before new buds start blooming. Pruning in spring makes way for more growth and encourages more flowers and foliage. It will also ensure your shrubs will have a nice shape whilst giving you the opportunity to cut out any dead, diseased or dying stems. The main tool you will need for lots of your pruning is a good, sharp pair of hand secateurs. For larger, woodier branches, a saw may need to be used. Make sure that the tools you are using are clean and sharp for a clean cut that seals more quickly.