The first day of spring didn’t quite bring with it the warm sunshine and sense of hope gardeners usually long for at this time of year, but with the passing of ‘The Beast from the East’ and thaw – at last – of the flowerbeds, we can finally start getting our gardens ready for the season. Here are five jobs to get done now that will give your garden the boost it needs to carry it through this unpredictable season.
There are plenty of plants that are best pruned now, before they reach the end of their dormant period and begin this year’s growth. Great candidates include fast-growing woody shrubs such as buddleia, which have a tendency to take over if left to their own devices.
Plants grown for the colour of their winter wood are also coming to the end of their prime now. Cut back dogwoods such as Cornus sanguinia to just a few inches from the ground. It feels almost cruel, but you’ll be rewarded with an even more gorgeous display next winter as a result.
Find and remove weeds
While many of your plants remain dormant, opportunistic weeds are beginning to make the most of the warmer, longer days. Tackle them now when they can be easily pinched or hoed out and you will be grateful for the effort later on in the year.
Tie in climbers
Now that we’re through what is hopefully the worst of the winter, it’s time to begin to repair the damage the season has wrought. Trellises and structures are likely to need mending or replacing, and the plants that depended on them will need tying in.
Consider whether the damage was a result of the plants being too heavy, as for climbers such as honeysuckle, this is the best time to begin cutting back. Keep the main framework, but trim off any ungainly side shoots.
Plan your planting
It’s a good idea to go through unplanted seed packets from last year and check when they need to be planted. You might find long-forgotten treasures and no doubt plenty to get started with straight away, as March is one of the busiest months for getting things going. If you’ve discovered your seeds are out of date and you’ve got seed trays to spare, feel free to give them a go anyway. You never know!
Your plants are beginning to get hungry, so make sure they’ve got plenty of nutrients to keep them going. Mulching now will help keep in moisture, defend against further frosts and keep pesky pests at bay. This boost to healthy growth will give your plants the edge when slugs and snails come out to feast later in the season.