Spring Gardening Tips: How To Prepare Your Garden For A Season Of Growth

Spring Gardening Tips: How To Prepare Your Garden For A Season Of Growth

Spring is a wonderful time of year to be out in the garden. Finally, the cold, dreary weather has lifted, but it isn’t yet too hot to roll your sleeves up and stuck into gardening with the sun on your back.

It’s also an exciting time of year for planting as life begins to return to the garden, attracting early bees and butterflies and brightening up the space with lots of spring colour.

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How Do I Prepare My Garden for Spring Planting?

Before you even begin thinking about what colours, textures and types of plants you prefer for the season, it’s a good idea to inspect the garden. Winter can play havoc with outdoor spaces, especially if the area has experienced harsh temperatures and strong winds. Early spring is the perfect time to check fences, sheds, pathways, pots and containers for weather damage and make any repairs required.

Just as we spring clean inside the home at this time of year, it’s worth giving the garden a bit of a spruce before you start planting. Clean the flower beds, remove plant debris, weeds and dead leaves from the ground and prune dead branches from trees and shrubs. Finally, clean garden furniture so it’s ready to enjoy as the warmer months come in.

Once the garden has had its spring clean, it’s time to start preparing your plans for the season. You may want to change things up a bit by adding or moving raised flower beds, creating new borders or finding a spot for a vegetable patch. Remove the winter mulch and loosen the soil, adding organic matter where additional nutrients are likely needed.

Divide Perennial Plants

Many perennials benefit from division in spring. Doing this helps keep them healthy and reliable and creates new plants for free.

Depending on the root system, divide perennials by cutting or gently pulling apart the roots. Re-plant as soon as possible and water both the old and new plants in well to help them settle and re-establish themselves in the soil.

Prune Trees and Shrubs

Early spring is the best time for pruning summer-blooming trees and shrubs ready to welcome fresh new growth. Cut the branches back before the buds appear to avoid stressing the tree.

Give evergreen shrubs and trees a trim in late spring. The new growth will be easier to cut back to keep hedges and topiary shapes neat.

While it may be tempting to do all your pruning at once, hold off cutting early bloomers such as azaleas. As a general rule, these should be pruned when the flowers fade in early summer.

What to Plant in Spring

Spring is the perfect time to plant new perennials and cold hardy annuals. Add mulch to the soil to protect young plants from late frosts.

Planting in spring gives perennials a chance to settle into the soil and grow new roots before summer arrives. Meanwhile, cool weather annuals like cornflowers brighten your outdoor space with spring flowers.

Kitchen gardens can be started in early spring, with everything from vegetables to salad leaves and herbs growing well at this time of year.

New trees and shrubs are best planted between October and April, meaning early to mid-spring is the perfect time to introduce more height interest to your space. Wait until the threat of frost has passed and ensure the ground isn’t water logged before planting.

Spring Flowering Plants

Nothing says goodbye, and good riddance to winter quite like a show of spring blooms. A variety of bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees is the best way to achieve a striking display of spring colour.

Crocuses, daffodils and tulips are all synonymous with spring gardening and create a cheery show of bright yellows, oranges, reds, purples and pinks.

Perennials, such as pansies and violas, are ideal for filling empty garden beds, containers and hanging baskets. Meanwhile, deciduous shrubs, including rhododendrons and azaleas, burst into life with masses of spring blooms. Cherry Plum is one of the first trees to blossom in spring, boasting white flowers with five petals and yellow stamens appearing in late winter to early spring.

Container Growing

Growing plants and flowers in pots and containers is a great way to brighten your garden or patio in spring. Many different plant types are ideal for container gardening, producing a colourful show all year round.

Choosing Plants for Containers

Spring Blooming Bulbs

Spring blooming bulbs are usually planted the previous autumn and left in the soil over winter before bursting into life in spring. Spring bulbs need time to settle before the growing season and are best planted before the first frost date. When designing a spring garden, it pays to plan ahead to fill pots with attractive displays of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths.

Autumn Blooming Bulbs

Conversely, spring is the time to get planting summer and autumn flowering bulbs, such as lilies and begonias. This gives them time to establish themselves in the soil and absorb all the nutrients needed for healthy growth.

Ornamental Grass

Ornamental grasses are versatile garden plants that thrive in pots and containers. They can generally be placed in the garden throughout the year but do best when planted in spring or autumn. Ornamental grasses are great for adding structure to a container garden and complementing spring flowers perfectly.

Spring Flowering Annuals

Equally exquisite in pots and hanging baskets, spring-flowering annuals are a quick and easy way to fill empty spots and inject colour into the garden. They can be grown from seed or purchased already flowering and ready to plant out.

Culinary Plants

As well as a host of vegetables, many herbs are well-suited for growing in containers. Some herbs, like coriander and dill, can be grown from seed from March. Others, including mint, sage and oregano, need to be started indoors or left until late spring to plant outside.

Spring Vegetable Garden

Few things are more satisfying than eating food grown in your own garden. Spring is the perfect time to create vegetable beds and containers to enjoy the harvest come summer. Before you start sowing seeds, plot out your vegetable garden by dividing it into sections and decide what will be grown in each part.

Vegetables to Plant in Early Spring

Some vegetables are hardier than others and can survive planting quite early in the season. Spinach, lettuce, kale, peas, carrots, beetroot, parsnips, onions and radishes all cope well when placed in the soil in March.

Start Warm-Season Vegetables

When winter weather is well and truly out of the picture, and the temperature is more reliably warm, it’s time to start sowing warm-season vegetables. These are the ones most likely to be damaged by cold temperatures, so they should only be planted once the risk of frost has passed.

Brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, leeks, rocket and courgettes are ideal for outdoor sowing in April. Hold off until May to sow runner beans, sweetcorn, swedes and broad beans to give them the best chance of surviving.

Shop for Summer Annuals

One of the best spring gardening tips is to make plans in advance. Whether it’s planting bulbs earlier in the year or plotting out a vegetable patch, planning ahead is always useful. And that goes for summer annuals as well. Late spring is the ideal time to shop for your summer annuals so they’re ready to plant out as spring flowers fade. Doing this maintains colour and interest seamlessly between the seasons.

Spring Gardening Checklist

  • Assess and repair winter damage, then remove debris and dead or damaged branches and leaves.
  • Give patios, furniture, pots and bird feeders a spring clean.
  • Plan your garden layout for the coming growing season. Decide where your flower beds, containers and vegetables will be.
  • Prune shrubs and trees and divide perennials.
  • Plant new perennial plants and spring flowering annuals.
  • Sow culinary plants in the kitchen garden.
  • Plant summer and autumn blooming bulbs and shop for summer annuals.

Make notes as you watch the spring show. Refer to them next year as a reminder of what worked well and what didn’t.


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