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10 top tips for the early spring garden

Well, it looks like spring has finally sprung, and isn’t it long overdue? The autumn and winter may have been mild, but they were unseasonably wet. It lifts the spirits to see clear blue skies and feel the sun’s rays on your back, and it gets you itching to get back out into the garden. But after such a long lay-off, where do you start? What jobs should you prioritise? Well, here are Ladybrook Nursery’s 10 top tips for the early spring garden.

  • Don’t get impatient and start doing some jobs too soon. When the soil is soft and muddy and the lawn is sodden, you’re much better off waiting until things dry up a bit. In the meantime enjoy and appreciate colourful spring bulbs like crocuses and snowdrops. There’ll be plenty more colour to come when the season gets going properly.
  • Lawn care: when the grass has finally dried out, rake your lawn to get rid of dead growth, stray leaves and winter debris. Let the grass see the light and gets some air to the soil level. Re-seed bare or damaged patches of lawn. Scratch up the soil with a rake first, and re-seed. Rake level and keep well-watered until seeds germinate and the new grass establishes.
  • Remove the winter protection from any young trees or shrubs. This protection may have been vital during the winter, but they don’t allow enough air movement around the base and trunk of the plants in spring and summer, and this could lead to bark rot. If you want to transplant existing shrubs then do it now before they start to leaf out.
  • Get your lawn mower serviced and get the blades sharpened. Sharp blades cut better and leave your lawn grass healthier.
  • Don’t be in a rush to remove winter mulch or to cut back evergreen plants like lavender until temperatures become reliably warm.
  • Cut back the previous season’s dead plant material. Clean up old perennial foliage from last season (trimmings can go into the compost) and cut back ornamental grasses.
  • Remove winter protection of mounded earth from roses. Prune rose bushes before they start to leaf out.
  • Don’t start digging in your flower beds too early. You can damage the soil’s structure. If you pick up a handful of soil, it shouldn’t stick together and clump: it should fall apart. When the soil is dry enough, you can start to dig beds and add compost or manure in preparation for planting.
  • If you get on top of weeds early in the season, it will mean a lot less work later. Weeds are easier to pull out while their roots are still shallow in early spring. Weeds unfortunately start growing vigorously early on. So as soon as spot them – remove them.
  • Grass growth is vigorous in the early spring garden, so edge your flower beds with a sharp trench between them and the grass to keep it in bounds. Repeat this job a couple of times through the season or. If you prefer the lower-maintenance approach, install permanent lawn edging.

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