How to get your garden spring ready in one weekend
Cup of tea in hand; you draw back the curtains to see a muddy lawn, overgrown shrubs and a peppering of dead leaves. However, the trees have taken on a green hue, birds are singing and colourful bulbs brave the crisp morning.
And, with the spring finally here, it’s time to engage with your garden again – but what can be done during a weekend when time is in short supply?
Here are a few straightforward ideas for you to spruce up your space in a weekend.
Jobs to do in the garden this weekend
Spruce up the lawn
First things first; let’s get that lawn tidied up. The first cut of your grass should be on a high setting and the mower will do the work for you and collect, then shred, any dead leaves. If time is tight, make this a priority as a garden looks infinitely better once the lawn is edged and mowed.
After mowing, tackle any bald patches in your lawn; rake the bare areas to remove any thatch (dead grass and moss) which will expose disturbed soil. In a bucket, mix one handful of grass seed with three handfuls of sand or compost and add it to the bare patch. Don’t go mad, just enough to lightly cover the bare ground.
Roses can be pruned now, too; traditional hybrid teas and floribundas can be cut back hard, but shrub roses should be reduced by a third to keep them compact and flowering well.
A handful of Growmore fertiliser or fish, blood and bone around the base of shrubs and young trees gives them a boost, particularly after a prune. Beware of fish, blood and bone if foxes and dogs share your garden – my peonies previously fell foul of our intoxicated (I’m sure trying to be helpful) labrador, Inca.
If you’re feeling particularly energetic then follow that fertiliser with a 5cm layer of mulch on your beds (local authority, recycled green waste is perfect and is reasonably priced).
Freshen up grasses
To freshen them up, evergreen ornamental grasses such as carex or stipa simply need combing through with a rake or your hand (worth wearing gloves, trust me!). Grasses with no green growth need cutting to their base to make way for this year’s shoots.
Clean the greenhouse
If your greenhouse has become a glass Tardis where things are put and forgotten about, then now is a good time to have a tidy up. Give the panes a clean inside and out as a clean greenhouse is often a healthy and productive one.
Build on your successes by dividing and replanting those strongest perennials in your garden. Use a spade or two forks to divide the clump into fist-size pieces. Repeating plants makes small gardens seem bigger and large ones more naturalistic.
Nigella, calendula and cerinthe are hardy, easy to grow annuals that can be sown in pots or in the ground to give you some easy cut flowers this summer.
Who doesn’t love potatoes, particularly new potatoes? Plant a few in a large container (it doesn’t have to be flash) in a sunny spot. For more advice, head over to YouTube and my video about growing potatoes on the West Dean channel.
Grow your own salad leaves
Mixed salad leaves, radish, broad beans and onion sets are easy to grow and can all be sown in raised beds, veg patches and containers now. For tips; my desert island veg book would always be the Reader’s Digest Food from Your Garden (1977) – no nonsense and recipes galore.
Build a bug hotel
For younger gardeners, why not build a small bug hotel, pond or put up some nest boxes? The Woodland Trust has some great tips on bug hotels.
Give your houseplants an MOT
Repot and clean their pots and leaves with warm water, to remove pests and dust.
This week’s project: growing strawberries
If you have an old hanging basket, then why not try growing strawberries in it? Plant five plants to a standard basket which, once hung up, will keep your strawberries away from slugs and others that like a nibble – keep them moist to get big, juicy fruits.
Easy guide to pruning shrubs
It’s a great time to prune shrubs, as removing a few old stems at the base every year can help to encourage new growth. As a general rule of thumb, if a shrub flowers before the end of June wait until it finishes flowering before you give it a trim.
If your shrub flowers after the end of June, reduce it back to a strong bud into your desired shape and size. You might lose some flowers for a year or two if it’s a total overhaul, but sometimes needs must. Be confident – prune into a shape that you’re happy with.
Follow Tom on Twitter @HeadGardenerTom and Instagram @tombrowngardener. This article is kept updated with the latest advice.