I want to sort the garden out – where do I begin? 5 expert-approved steps

 I want to sort the garden out – where do I begin? – gardening tools and spring flowers.
I want to sort the garden out – where do I begin? – gardening tools and spring flowers.

If you're thinking, "I want to sort the garden out – where do I begin?", we're here to help. It's no secret that winter weather can leave our patios, borders and lawns looking worse for wear. But, with a bit of tidying and sorting, you can transform a slightly sorry sight into a stylish outdoor haven. 

Giving your garden a good spring clean can feel a bit daunting, especially if it's been neglected over the last few months. To make it more manageable, our gardening experts share their essential steps, that you can tackle one by one. You'll soon have a beautiful space that's ready to show off your best plants and the latest garden trends.

5 key steps to sort your garden out this spring

These expert tips will help you extend your living space in time for hosting summer BBQs and throwing garden parties.

1. Clear away debris

wheelbarrow full of garden waste
wheelbarrow full of garden waste

First, clear out any waste and debris, such as broken branches or pots, leaf litter, and dead plants.

Joshua Clarke, founder of Clear it Waste, advises checking whether your local council charges a fee for garden waste collection. "If a lot of garden waste will be disposed of in a short space of time, it may be worth hiring a garden skip or paying a nearby reputable waste collection company to get rid of it on your behalf," he says.

Alternatively, you may be able to reuse and recycle some of your garden waste, Joshua points out. His examples include home composting, using pruned branches to create woodchip mulch, and finding a use for logs. "This can not only save you money but can also benefit the environment," he says. It's ideal for a more sustainable garden.

2. Revive your lawn

hand sowing grass seed
hand sowing grass seed

Miranda Barrett of Wilkinson Sword says, “Following the recent wet weather and cold temperatures, many UK homeowners are facing dead, bare, or brown patches of lawn." Spring presents the perfect opportunity to revive outdoor spaces by planting grass seed or overseeding lawn areas, she says.

In terms of when to first mow your grass after winter, Dobbies’ horticultural director Marcus Eyles recommends keeping an eye on the weather. Wait until frosts have passed and you can see grass growing, and ensure the blades are on their highest setting to avoid scalping the lawn.

Nick Ee of Black+Decker says, "If you are looking to encourage wildlife, keep a section of the grass unkept – the longer grass will provide food and shelter for some animals."

3. Refresh garden borders

digging in flowerbed with a spade
digging in flowerbed with a spade

Whether you love a cottage garden style or the quiet luxury garden trend, spring is a good time to update your flowerbeds. There are plenty of pretty options to plant in March and beyond.

Prepare your soil, first, recommends Tim Marshall, head gardener at Raby Castle. This will promote healthy plant growth and nutrient uptake. He suggests testing the pH and fertility levels and amending it as needed. You can shop for pH soil testers from Amazon.

"Choose plants suited to the site's conditions, considering factors like light, soil type, and space availability," Tim adds.

Alice Button of Golden Valley Plants says, "Plan for a continuous display of colour by selecting plants that flower at different times throughout the season. Aim for a balance of colours, shapes, and sizes. Group plants with similar needs together to create harmonious combinations." Why not consider the on-trend wildflower border trend?

Once you've finished planting, add a layer of mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds – a useful gardening tip.

4. Plant pretty pots

terracotta pot with spring flowers
terracotta pot with spring flowers

Refreshing your potted plants is an excellent budget garden idea that can be transformative with a relatively small effort required.

Marcus recommends refreshing your pots, hanging baskets and window boxes with early-season primroses, pansies and spring-flowering heathers. He suggests focusing on colour themes in concentrated groupings to make an impact.

Consider cleaning your terracotta pots, first. This will result in a smarter display and will reduce the risk of plant diseases and pests.

5. Clean the patio

washing patio with pressure washer
washing patio with pressure washer

Nick recommends using a pressure washer to give your patio a thorough clean.

"Be sure to experiment with the different nozzles available to find the right one for the surface you’re cleaning," he says. "Using the optimal nozzle and water pressure combination will help you get the job done more quickly."

Some would say patio slabs are one of the things you shouldn't pressure wash in your garden, no problem – you can clean patio slabs without a pressure washer by following a few simple steps.

Of course, if you have a wooden deck you can clean decking in the same manner to spruce up your garden in no time.


How do I keep my garden looking nice?

Regular maintenance will sustain your garden's beauty and productivity over time, Tim notes. He recommends implementing a schedule for watering, fertilising, pruning and pest control.

Treating yourself to this pretty weekly planner from Papier at Anthropologie will help you stay organised.

How can I sort out my garden furniture?

Ali Wooldridge, co-founder of luxury garden furniture company Gardenesque, says, "When sorting out your garden furniture, it's important to know how to care for it, and what not to treat it with, for optimal results."

She recommends starting by brushing off any debris, especially in rattan or woven furniture where it can get stuck in the grooves. Then, wash it down with warm soapy water and a soft cloth. If your wooden furniture no longer repels rainwater, you can use quality teak oil to help extend its lifespan, she adds.

Don't forget to clean your outdoor cushions, too, if needed.

Looking for more ways to update your outdoor space? Take a look at Cuprinol's new colours in their Garden Shades range – perfect for brightening up a fence or bench.