Spring is here!
And with flowers blooming, birds singing, and a new and lovely warmth pervading the air, it’s time to head outdoors and begin gardening again.
But before you start digging, your garden is going to need a little refurbishing after the long winter months. Getting your garden back in shape involves more than just sticking a few new plants in the ground, though—if you want to start your spring garden right, there are a few essential steps you’ll need to take.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do to make your spring garden shine.
A good garden takes some prep, and taking the time to do it properly sets the stage for a beautiful garden.
You’ll need to make sure you have your essential gardening tools—a weeder, a soil knife, pruning shears, water hoses and wands, a compact shovel, a rake, a small pruning saw, a hoe, and, of course, your favorite gardening hat to shield you from the sun. Other tools you may want include gloves and a kneeling pad for comfort.
If this is your first time creating a garden, section off the area you’d like to work in—it’s a good idea to line the perimeter with stones or something else that will help remind you of its boundaries so that you won’t accidently step on any poor seedlings.
Once you’re all suited up, it’s time to get to work.
Out With the Old
The remains of last year’s garden, old mulch, and any detritus that may have collected are an impediment to new growth, so it’s time to remove it!
Break out your rake and clean away dead vegetation from your garden’s surface, and get rid of any weeds that might have taken root. Be sure to use your weeder or soil knife to fully remove the roots or stumps of these weeds—you don’t want them growing back and crowding out desirable plants.
Once finished, you should have a nice, blank canvas upon which you can work!
Rejuvenate the Soil
Winter is a cold time, and especially in early spring, the soil may still be very dry and nutrient-deficient from the effects of these low temperatures. You’ll need to add moisture before you can begin growing anything.
To do this, add some compost to your garden!
Begin by determining how much compost your soil actually needs. If the earth is dry and light-colored, you’ll need 4 to 6 inches of compost. If it’s darker, you’ll only need 1 to 3 inches.
After you add this, you’ll need to dig into and loosen the soil of your garden up to a depth of at least 12 inches. In the end, you should have a good 12 inches of loose soil mixed with your compost—this loose soil will allow your plants to more easily put down roots.
Once you’ve readied your patch of soil, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Adding mulch to your garden is essential for preventing the growth of weeds, maintaining soil moisture, and keeping the soil at a constant temperature. Don’t skimp!
Organic mulch is recommended. Although it needs to be replaced every so often, it enriches the soil as it decomposes. Drier, woodier composts take longer to go through the decomposition process, and bequeath fewer nutrients than composts made of shredded leaves, newspaper, or straw.
When choosing a mulch, consider also how you would like your garden to look—mulch comes in all colors and textures, so choose one that is not only functional, but pleasing to your eye.
Once you choose, add 1 to 3 inches of mulch to the surface of your garden, and you’ll have very little weeding to do this summer. Easy!
Once everything is ready, it’s time to do what you came here to do—planting those lovely spring plants.
Decide on the feel you want for your garden. Do you want things you can eat later on? Do you want unbridled beauty? Do you want simplicity? What colors do you want?
Pansies and snapdragons both grow well in the spring, as do lilacs and tulips—all of these are colorful and lovely additions to any flower garden.
If it’s edibles you’re after, you can plant lettuce, peas, arugula, onions, potatoes, artichokes, and even tomatoes right now. You can also try herbs like greek oregano, dill, and Italian basil.
Because every plant requires different planting methods, be sure to read the directions on your seed packets—follow these carefully for the best results.
If this is your first garden and you’re not sure what you want, try a wide variety of plants. Have fun with it—there’s no limit to what you can grow!
Once you plant your little seedlings, the work doesn’t end there! You have to take care of them.
Most importantly, never let your seedlings dry out, so water them daily when they’re first growing, tapering off as they grow. You can tell if your new plants are thirsty—they’ll wilt slightly. Water your plants slowly so that the water soaks into the soil rather than running off somewhere else. Finally, to avoid evaporation, water early in the morning.
Be sure to take care of any weeds that might spring up, taking them up by the roots as they appear. Weeds steal water, nutrients, and, when they grow, sunlight. Don’t let them hinder your new growth.
Make use of fertilizer—but not too much! If you use liquid fertilizer, fertilize about once a month, and if you use dry fertilizer, one application about halfway through the spring season should be just enough.
Enjoy Your Garden
As you prepare, plant, and maintain your garden, big or small, remember to enjoy it, stopping to smell the proverbial roses as you work. Your garden should be a pleasure, not a chore, and taking the time to appreciate its colors, smells, and textures will leave you feeling relaxed and connected with the earth this spring.
Looking after your lawn in spring
Spring is a very important season for looking after your lawn. After the rigours of winter it needs careful attention as soon as the days start to lengthen and the grass starts to grow. Giving the lawn the care it needs now will ensure the best possible results throughout the year.
As the grass starts to grow you will need to start to mow your lawn. It is very important in early spring that you set the mowing height quite high taking no more than one third of the length of the plant off at a time, otherwise the lawn will become stressed. A little and often approach is better in spring. As the grass grows faster as we move further into spring increase the mowing frequency and gradually reduce the height of cut to give the desired finish.
It is essential that you feed your lawn during spring. The grass plants are growing rapidly at this time and, like any living thing, need the correct nutrients in the correct quantities in order to grow strong and healthy. Healthy plants mean a thicker, denser, greener sward.
Depending upon the wear and tear that the lawn has received over the previous months you may want to overseed the lawn in early spring. The seed will germinate and fill in any sparse or thinner areas. Using Medallion Lawn Seed will add the highest rated cultivars to any lawn giving a thicker, denser sward.
If your lawn has become uneven then top dressing will even out any low areas. A rate of 1 – 3 kg per square metre will be sufficient when brushed into the lawn surface especially in lower areas. It is a good idea to add lawn seed to a topdressing to help fill in any thin areas. It is always best to carry out topdressing when the lawn is dry. Topdressing also helps breakdown thatch and aids drainage.
Dealing with moss and weeds
If moss is a problem on your lawn you will need to scarify it out. You may also consider applying moss-killer product before scarifying. This will help to kill and remove more of the moss, allow the moss to turn brown/black before scarifying. After this it may be appropriate to overseed if taking the moss out leaves the lawn thin in some areas.
Broadleaf weeds can be treated using a suitable selective herbicide or an all-in-one treatment. Alternatively weed them out by hand or using a knife/mechanical weeder remembering to get the root of the weed out.
Undesirable weed grasses can appear in a lawn. They will be obvious as they will appear to be different to the rest of the grass sward. Grasses such as Poa Annua (Annual Meadow Grass) are endemic in the northern hemisphere; if you notice seed heads forming from pale ‘stalky’ plants then these are likely to be Poa Annua. If required these can be removed by cutting the plant out and removing the roots. Fill in the area with a mix of topdressing and lawn seed as any bare patches are likely to encourage the growth of more Poa plants as it is very common in the UK and the seeds will invade any bare ground.
The key to preventing weed grasses is a good maintenance regime. A vigorous, dense and healthy growing lawn will out compete many of the weed grasses. This can be achieved with regular feeding with a quality lawn food, regular mowing with a sharp mower and overseeding any thinner patches if necessary. During spring if Poa Annua seed heads are forming it can also help to use a mower which collects the clippings and therefore removes some of the seed heads.
Scarification & Aeration
Scarification reduces the build up of dead grass matter, roots and moss which can cause increased stress to the grass plants. Scarification can be done using a spring-tine rake by vigorously pulling the rake through the grass sward. Electric or petrol scarifiers are also available in store.
Aerate consolidated areas of the lawn with a fork or with a spiking machine. Some scarifiers will help with this, ask in store for more information. This will relieve compaction, improve drainage and allow more air into the root system leading to a healthier lawn.
Cut back vegetation
Turf, being a green plant organism, relies on light as well as the correct balance of heat, water, air and food. It is important where possible, that foliage and surrounding shrubs and trees around the lawn are cut back to reduce competition for water or essential nutrients, and to avoid leaving parts of the turf in constant shade.