As the days become lighter and longer, you may be starting to think about readying your garden for the spring and summer.
Our Head Gardener, Sue Broughton, has shared her top tips for what you can be working on over the coming months to ensure a healthy and happy summer garden.
If you didn’t have chance to plant any bulbs over the winter months, you can buy them in-flower from most garden centres to get that bright pop of colour.
Tête-à-tête daffodils, one of the most popular dwarf varieties, are ideal for planting in pots and containers, as are cheerful crocuses, which come in a variety of colours. Tulips will flower right through April to the end of May, so you can plant these pot-grown from the garden centre.
Try and think a season ahead when gardening – what is pruned now will generally come into flower over the summer months, unless it has just finished flowering this month in which case prune now for flowers next year.
If you have plants in pots and containers, you might want to redress the soil. Take off between 3.5 to 5cm of soil, taking care not to disturb the plant roots, and replace with refresh compost. This helps lock in moisture and removes the layer of soil with any weed roots.
Dressing pots with stones and slates also helps to keep in moisture and can be a clever way to bring some colour and style to your garden.
In your borders, you’ll want to continue with the mulching – read Sue’s autumn/winter tips for advice on what this involves and how best to do it.
Your shrubs and flowering plants will need some attention in the spring. Cutting back stems on perennials, such as penstemons, and pruning off the flowerheads on hydrangeas and spent camellias will help to ensure new life this summer.
At Englefield Gardens, about one in three stems on the hydrangeas have been pruned. By removing the older stems, either back to the ground or to a side branch, it allows air through the plant and gives the newer stems space to grow. You must also take flower heads back to the next healthy bud so they can flower again this year. If you do this annually, you should start to see a good display of flowers each year.
Springtime is the perfect time of year to continue your lawn care. Mow the lawn and repair the edges – a half-moon edging tool is best for this.
Depending on the state of your lawn, you can also rake over to remove any moss and aerate it. Aeration involves perforating the lawn with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients in. Plan ahead and ensure you only do this when there isn’t going to be any frost.
Finally, see if your lawn needs a weed and feed. Try and time this before a spell of rain, as the rainwater will help to reduce any burning from the treatment.
Sue’s final tip is to get cleaning and clearing. Clean out and refill any bird baths and feeders to ensure the animals have a good supply of food to tide them over until summer.
If there has been any storm damage, you can tidy this away, but consider leaving log piles if you have space, as they provide excellent habitats for insects, in turn providing a good food source for birds.
We also spend time power-washing the patios at Englefield in the springtime. These areas might have become dirty and slippery over the winter months. Don’t forget to give your pots and containers a clean too!