Spring cleaning your garden
PUBLISHED: 14:50 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:55 20 February 2013
Longer days, warmer weather - it must be spring! This is the perfect time of the year to get your garden into shape for the summer and Philippa Pearson gives some helpful advice and tips to make the going easy
Before you start anything, check and clean tools for the job. Have you had your lawnmower serviced yet? Clean soil off other tools and wipe over with a lightly oiled rag; try and get into the habit of doing this after each use. Get shears and secateurs sharpened.
Scarify to remove the layer of dead material, thatch, which lies between the foliage and roots of the grass; apply a top dressing to even out any irregularities in the surface and aerate by spiking to allow air in and help with drainage. Many spring lawn preparations now combine a fertilizer, weedkiller and mosskiller control and can be applied by hand sprinkling or use a spreader. Reseed any bare patches. Clear away debris from the lawn before the first cut and set lawnmower blades high. Re-define edges with a half moon tool for a crisp, neat finish.
All soil types will benefit from the addition of well rotted farmyard manure, garden compost, leaf mould or a proprietary blend of soil conditioner. Lightly dig into the soil and then mulch a thick layer over borders to suppress weeds and keep moisture in. Cut back dead stems of perennial flowers and some ornamental grasses. Hoe or pull up weeds and add a sprinkling of fish, blood and bonemeal or organic chicken manure pellets around the base of each plant before mulching. Feed plants monthly until September.
Some shrubs need pruning now. It's best to check individual requirements but all plants will benefit from removal of dead, diseased and dying material. Prune climbers but do check which clematis type you have. Those that flower before May (group 1) only need light pruning or occasional rejuvenation; those flowering from May and July, groups 2 and 3, are pruned hard 10-20cms above soil level. Lightly prune honeysuckles to maintain shape and vigour, or selectively cut back hard to rejuvenate.
Prune roses by the middle of March. As for shrubs, remove dead, diseased and dying material, crossing branches plus look at the general shape to let light and air flow freely in the centre.
Plant any new plants now, but not tender bedding plants until the danger of frost has passed, around mid-May. Large clumps of perennials need to be divided every two to three years and from the original clump, you'll have many new plants.
Sweep driveways and paths, clear away leaves and debris from patios. Paths and patios can become dangerously slippery over winter so wash with water and a stiff brush. Clean garden furniture and oil wooden items for protection. Clear debris from water features, check pumps are working and liners are not damaged. Divide water plants, using special aquatic compost in baskets and not ordinary compost or garden soil as these can affect the water's natural balance.
Review your space
Before the garden bursts into bloom, take a good look at the layout and design. Are there areas you'd like to change or add new features? Make a list of what you want, collect ideas and cuttings from magazines and books, then implement the work yourself or seek professional design advice.