Spring gardening jobs… no experience necessary
Want a fabulous garden come summer? Now is the time to act! Here are the jobs you should be doing to see your garden flourishing once the sunnier days arrive.
Optimistic though we are here at Muddy, it looks like our own gardens will feature heavily in our leisure time again this year. So if you’re looking to create a lush lawn this year, grow your own veg or create borders with an abundance of flora, fauna and fragrance, now is the time to put in the groundwork.
April is a cruel month for have-a-go gardeners. One day the temperatures are nudging into double digits and the sun is beaming. The next day we’re forecast snow! Before you rush out to the garden centre and go on a planting frenzy, we quizzed green-fingered goddess Georgie Steward of @Georgielovestogarden (check out her Instagram for lots of tips) on what jobs should be done this month to kickstart Operation Garden Glow-Up. Grab your secateurs and knee pads – let’s do this people! Take it away, Georgie…
Plants you popped in the ground last year will be starting to peak out of the ground again. There will be fresh growth pushing up whenever there’s more than a day or two of mild weather. Give them the best start by chopping out all the dead leaves and stalks. Not only will this allow you to see the new flower stems emerging, it also reduces the transfer of diseases from the old foliage.
Daffodils and narcissi are coming to an end now. Dead head and leave the greenery to die back naturally. It looks a bit messy, but all the energy needs to go back into the bulb to be stored until next year. Your reward will be an abundance of blooms without even trying.
This is your last chance to prune your rose. Cut back to a bud or leaf node. You’re trying to create a vase shape with your roses, so prune with that in mind. Once you’re happy with the height and shape. Feed your roses with organic matter – manure, blood fish and bone or rose feed. All available from garden centres.
It’s also a great time to tackle the messy jobs too. Jet wash your patio and deck areas. Repaint your fence and shed, clean outdoor furniture and get rid of anything that’s broken.
FEED AND WEED
Plants love spring, and so do weeds. Deal with them early, especially the perennials, you’ll save yourself a huge task before they creep, seed, and get hold. Make sure to dig out every bit of root out. Inorganic gardeners may want to use a glyphosate-based weed killer on large areas (read instructions carefully).
It’s also a good time to turn over the soil in your garden. Lock in winter moisture and create a neat finish by mulching your newly cleared and tidy beds with well rotted shredded tree waste or other matter. Remember you’re feeding the soil not the plant. Unfortunately, mulch won’t stop pernicious weeds such as nettles or bindweed – so you’ll need to dig these out.
LOVE YOUR LAWN
Lawns take a battering over the winter months, especially when you throw kids and animals into the mix. April-May is the perfect time to give it a little love. First job, give it a cut and aerate. You can use a garden fork or slip into a pair of aerator spike shoes and strut away. Now add lawn feed. If you have a large lawn, you might want to invest in a push along-spreader. But you can do scatter by hand.
If you’re repairing an old patches, scarify to get rid of moss and weeds, then loosen the soil, mix grass seed and compost to help germinate the seed, and water water water. Stay off it, until it is 2 inches tall, then give it a mow on a high setting. The more you mow the more it grows.If there’s no rain after a couple days, go out and give the lawn a good soaking. If you’re planning on turfing your lawn or using turf to patch up areas, now is the time to do it. Remember turf needs a lot more water to take hold, so be armed and ready with the sprinkler if there’s a lack of rainfall.
Just like you, your lawn is crying out for a post-lockdown trim too.. Take a sharp spade or lawn edging tool and give your borders a good trim. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes to your garden.
PLANT FOR THE BIRDS AND BEES
Plan your planting for those heady summer days when bees are humming and butterflies are flitting from flower to flower. Plant out lavender and salvias for the bees, and lilac, buddleia and sedums (iceberg plant) for the butterflies. Don’t forget to plant for the birds too! Berried shrubs such as cotoneaster, ilex (holly) and sambucus (elder) will provide welcome winter food. If you can leave a patch of your garden a wild, the wildlife will thank you for it. Longer grass and wild flowers is eco-friendly and brilliant for bio-diversity. Embrace the untidy garden.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Division can regenerate a tired-looking plant (many die out in the middle and lack vigour after a few years), reduce a large clump which is getting too big or out of proportion and/or to create some new free plants to pop back into the beds. Lift the entire clump out of the ground and split using back to back forks or cut through using an old serrated bread knife. Divide into fist-sized chunks, looking only for healthy growth and roots, discard any old bits. You can be quite brutal. Then replant straight back into the ground.
SOW AND GROW
Do not be afraid to grow from seed. For very little investment, you can grow loads and loads of plants for your garden. You don’t need a green house or any special equipment. Growing Cosmos (pictured above) from seed is brilliant for beginners. A pack of see costs as little as £2 from garden centres like Rosebourne and you’ll have an abundance of flowers come summer. Using an old egg carton or strawberry punnet add compost, scatter your seeds and lightly cover them with more compost. Keep them on a kitchen windowsill, and water from the bottom. By the end of May (or when we’re past the frost) you can plant the outside, filling all the gaps in your garden. They’ll flower throughout July and August.
Love sweet peas? Now is a good time to grow them from seed. You can buy them as plants from garden centres in the next couple of weeks. Plant three plants per rod and tie in as it grows. When plants are 10cm tall, pinch out the tips to encourage bushy growth. Plant out in mid-spring and keep well watered. These guys are hungry, so feed feed feed (tomato or seaweed feed are feb). Regular picking encourages more flowers to form, so keep picking those blooms for the vase.
Fancy planting bulbs? It’s a good time to pop lilies, Ethiopian orchids and acidanthera. Dormant dahlia tubers can be planted into their growing place (pot or border) from mid to late April. They’re a bit sensitive to the cold, so you might need to do the bottom test – if the soil is warm enough for your bare bottom it’s warm enough to plant.
PLANT YOUR VEG
If you’re looking for veg you can sow outside from seed, April is a good month to plant, beetroot, broad beans, spinach, carrots, peas and salad leaves. The new growth from these and other early plants will still need to be covered for protection from nighttime frost by cloches or fleece, but should be removed during the day.
Looking for a fun Easter holiday project with the kids? Courgettes are super-easy to grow. You’ll need to start them off indoors. Pop the seed into a 9cm pot, cover with compost and leave to germinate on a windowsill. Two plants is more than enough for a family or courgette lovers as each plant will grow about 25 courgettes. Plant out at the end of May.
Kids also love growing tomatoes. Gardeners Delight is a favourite variety as they’re like sweets. Sow very thinly undercover, with a bit of warmth. Once you have two sets of leaves, grabbing the tomato plant (by the leaf not the stem) pull out and replant into pots. Tomatoes are hungry plants so feed regularly with tomato or seaweed feed. Plant out at the end of May/ beginning of June.
You don’t need a kitchen garden, greenhouse or loads of space to try growing your own veg. If you’re a beginner to veg growing or have limited space, this compact Elho Grow Table with a lid and compost is the perfect solution. It’s currently on offer at £49.95 (individual items cost £62.97) at Rosebourne.
ASK THE EXPERTS
Garden centres can be overwhelming. If you’re no Monty Don, or simply want to pick the brains of the pros, head to somewhere like Rosebourne in Aldermaston and speak to the experts in the nursery. They’ll be able to help choose plants, seeds and bulbs to suit your garden conditions. They also have all the tools you’ll need to make light work of it too. If you’re idea of spending time in the garden is more sun lounging with a glass of rosé, make good use of Rosebourne’s planting station. Pick a pot and the plants and a member of the team will plant it up for £3.
- Don’t miss the chance to win £150 to spend at any Rosebourne garden centre. Clickety click to enter.
Rosebourne, Basingstoke Road, Aldermaston, RG7 4LD. Tel: 0118 971 2123