Spring is on its way and you’ll soon be caught up in a frenzy of seed sowing, growing, and nurturing your garden as it comes back to life. Make use of these quieter winter months to organise your thoughts and get a head start on the new gardening year. Read our useful guide for top tips on how to prepare you garden for spring.
1. Order summer-flowering bulbs and seeds
Order summer-flowering bulbs and seeds now – it’s the perfect task for a wet and windy winter’s day. Flowers like lilies, gladioli and ranunculi can all be ordered in the winter for early-spring planting.
Make the most of those days you’re stuck indoors to browse our catalogue or website for inspirational new varieties of seeds and bulbs to plant and grow this year.
2. Tidy up flower beds and borders
Have a general tidy up, removing leaves and other debris from flower beds and borders. You can cut back the old dead growth of deciduous grasses and herbaceous perennials now, although, if you’d like to be wildlife friendly, it’s best to leave these until early spring.
Clear borders and beds back to bare soil. Put the dead organic matter you’ve cleared away into your compost pile or bin to break down. Remove any weeds you can see and either burn them or put them in your brown bin. Don’t compost them as the seeds will germinate and cause you more problems later on.
If your soil is workable, dig a 5cm layer of organic matter – such as well-rotted manure, compost or recycled green waste – into empty garden borders.
3. Clean out and wash your greenhouse
Now’s the perfect time to give your greenhouse a good clean, ready for the seedlings and cuttings of spring. Wash the outside of your greenhouse with disinfectant or detergent, to remove algae, moss and general grime. This will let in more light during the growing months, while removing potential homes for pests and disease. Make sure you disinfect the inside of the glass too – overwintering pests and disease can survive in the smallest nooks and crannies.
Sweep out any plant debris on the floor and benches, and wash with a hot solution of garden disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid. While you’re there, wash pots and seed trays to help prevent diseases like ‘damping off’ from infecting your young plants. Ventilate your greenhouse well over the next couple of days so it dries thoroughly.
Once your greenhouse is clean and shiny, take time to inspect the structure for any damage to glass or vents and replace any broken parts.
4.Hunt down and remove garden pests
Hunt down and remove hibernating pests now – it will save you a lot of trouble come spring and summer. Take a closer look at the crowns of your perennial plants and check for any slugs, snails and aphid colonies sheltering for the winter.
If you still haven’t cleared last year’s pots of summer bedding then do so now, checking for white-vine-weevil larvae, which live in the compost and feed on plant roots. Destroy any larvae that you find and be prepared to treat for vine weevils this year, using parasitic nematodes or chemical drenches.
5. Install water butts and start collecting rainwater
Install a water butt in your garden this winter to make the most of seasonal rainfall. Most of the year’s rain falls in winter, so now’s the time to collect it! Harvesting rainwater is essential for environmentally friendly gardening. Peak demand for water in the hotter months often forces water companies to resort to groundwater reserves and streams, which is harmful to the environment and costly for consumers.
And rainfall is the best type of water for plants. Ericaceous plants in particular, such as camellias, rhododendrons and blueberries do best with rainwater, since tap water is often slightly alkaline.
When you install your water butt, position it underneath a downpipe from your home or shed. If you’ve got a closed drainpipe, you’ll need to get a diverter kit to siphon off some of the rainwater.
6. Move deciduous shrubs
Winter is a great time to move any deciduous shrubs, as they’ll still be dormant. Move shrubs on a still day to prevent the wind from drying out the roots.
Dig a circular trench around the shrub, giving it a wide berth. Try to take as much of the root ball as possible so it can re-establish itself in its new location as quickly as possible. When you replant your shrub in its new position, place it at the same level it was previously in the soil, and remember to water in well afterwards.