Get ready for spring

March the 1st is the first day of meteorological spring and the launch date that most gardeners yearn for in the depths of winter. Read Jean Vernon’s tips on how to get our gardens ready for spring.

tulips and hyacinths in patio pot

Finally, spring is here, well sort of. March the 1st is the first day of meteorological spring and the launch date that most gardeners yearn for in the depths of winter. We’ve got about three weeks until the spring equinox when the day length equals the night length and that gives us a head start to get our gardens ready for spring.

Plan ahead

Think about what you want from your garden this season? It might be that you want to grow more things to eat. If so, we’ve got lots of great articles on our website to get you started. Or maybe you want to spend more time outdoors enjoying your garden space? Think about what your garden needs for you to achieve your garden dreams? Do you need to clear the paths through the garden? Or to make a new border or planting area for your plants? Make a simple list of things to do and break it down into small chunks that you can achieve easily in half an hour or so. 

Clear and tidy (gently)

While remembering that many important garden creatures may still be hunkered down in the soil, plant crowns and other safe places, make a start on gently tidying the garden. That might mean clipping back overgrown areas and even cutting down nettles and brambles if they have started to take over. Make a pile of your stems and plant matter so that any overwintering creatures can complete their life cycle safely. It’s a good time to dig out unwanted plants from the beds and borders and that includes things like creeping buttercup, docks and dandelions. Remember that these are really wildflowers, so try and leave some for the early emerging pollinators, especially dandelions. Sweep leaves and other natural material under the hedge or into a pile in a corner of the garden, or add them to the compost heap.

Stock up on compost and plant food

Have a look in the shed to see what you’ve got left from last year?? All of our plant food and products will be perfectly good to keep using as long as they have not become damp or wet. So, if you’ve got some left-over use that first. If you are getting low then make sure you get your order in so that you don’t run out when you need it most.

It’s also a very good time to stock up on fresh compost. Richard’s compost is made fresh in small batches and can be ordered to be delivered to your door. If you haven’t tried it, the compost range includes a peat-free version.

Order your seeds 

If you haven’t done so already get your seed order finished. Or take a trip to the local garden centre and peruse the incredible range of seeds on offer there. 

It’s a good chance to stock up on a few new plants and any accessories you might need for the season ahead. Remember that you can reuse all your ‘old’ plastic pots and seed trays, just give them a good clean. Do that now so that your kit is ready for when the season starts in earnest.

Install a waterbutt

Think back to last summer and the extreme heat that our gardens endured. And then we had hose-pipe bans too. Our garden plants suffered and our efforts to water what we could were exhausting. Climate change is making hot summers more likely so we need to prepare and plan for our gardens to survive whatever weather we get. Thousands of litres of rainwater fall on the roof of not just our homes, but also our sheds and greenhouses. We can harvest that water and use it to water our garden and our plants. Have a look at local freecycle sites and see if you can repurpose large tanks and water containers to store precious rain water. Or invest in a new large waterbutt that you can connect to a guttering downpipe using a special water diverter. After one or two showers of rain the container will be full. Rainwater is so much better for our garden plants than tap water, but it’s best to use it outside and not in a greenhouse or for seedlings.

rain water in a water barrel
Collect rainwater in a large barrel or water butt. Image: Adobe Stock

Feed the soil

The health of your garden soil is at the very heart of the condition of your garden. If you’ve got a compost heap brewing away, then use the well-rotted compost to mulch your beds and borders. Dig it into bare soil and empty vegetable beds and let the worms and soil microbes work on it. Any left-over compost from last season can be used to plant up container plants or used on the veg patch. When you plant new plants into the garden soil give them the best start and mix some of Richard’s Root Booster  into the planting hole. If you don’t have a compost system in the garden it’s a really important way to recycle and to generate soil conditioner. You don’t need an expensive composter, but some of them are designed to speed up the process and offer useful benefits, like the HotBin.  If your budget is limited and you want to get started you can either make a pile in a corner of the garden and add to it constantly or use a large container like an old dustbin. It’s very important that it drains well and has access for worms and other soil mini beasts and microbes. If you are new to composting check out our compost features here:

Clean your tools

Have a clear out in the shed and revive the garden tools you use the most. That might mean sharpening the blades on your secateurs or oiling them. Clean up your favourite trowel and fork and other tools and wash your gardening gloves. Anything that needs repairing can be given the TLC it needs and maybe you can find a new home for any tools or kit you don’t need or no longer use. It will make more space in your storage area and give someone else a helping hand to start gardening. Get your lawnmower serviced or checked for safety and if you are struggling to cut the grass then consider employing someone to do it for you. It is safer and would offer someone some work and of course they would bring their own tools, negating the need for you to renew or replace your own lawnmower. Check the wheelbarrow especially the tyre to ensure it is safe and ready to use this season.

Fix and repair

It’s not just your garden tools that might need some TLC. Take a little time to check your garden boundaries, especially fencing and trellis that may have suffered in the winter weather. While it is important to leave hedgehog holes for wildlife to move between gardens you don’t want the dog next door getting through the fence. The same applies to garden gates and other hard landscaping. Look for loose paving slabs, broken tiles and anything that needs fixing now. 

Look after the lawn

If you have a lawn then a little time and effort spent now will save you hours of hard work as the season progresses. The most important thing you can do now is to mow the lawn. Wait until it is not too wet or frozen and then just take the very top of the grass blades by raising the cutting height of your mower. 

The next important action is to feed it. You may have heard about Richard’s Lawn Magic, it can be used from March to October and is a great way to really boost the health of your lawn. For more spring lawn care advice check out our articles here.

Plant a spring container

Don’t make it all about chores, tasks and boring stuff, though essential it’s important to be creative too. Even if the rest of the garden is a challenge you can improve a small area, place a chair outside and plant a spring container to add some colour and vibrancy to your plot. If you love cooking, plant some herbs, or just choose some plants that are in flower now so that you get instant results and the inspiration to keep going. Remember time spent out in nature is good for your health and mental wellbeing.


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