What to do to in the garden now

You’d have to have been living under a rock not to be aware that we’ve just had an exceptional spell of record-breaking temperatures for what is late-winter/early spring. Yes, according to the meteorological calendar spring only begins on 1st March, and yet, we’ve been enjoying temperatures which we’d normally not see until May. It’s no wonder the press dubbed it ‘Fab-ruary’.

But don’t be lulled into thinking we only have the long, hazy days of summer ahead of us now. We may well do, but one can never be truly certain where weather is concerned, especially in these topsy-turvy days, and March can still come in like a lion, bringing late-season snowstorms and near-freezing temperatures.

So what’s a gardener to do? What does this mean for the garden and what jobs in the garden can we be getting on with, considering unexpected climatic conditions? Should we even be doing anything differently than we normally would at this time of year?

We thought we’d share the wealth of our garden maintenance team’s knowledge and experience on the matter, by giving you a sneak-peak into the jobs and tasks they’re tackling in gardens now.

  1. Feeding

Freshly composted beds

Now is a great time to apply fertilisers, composts and mulches.

The warm weather is beginning to bring shrubs, roses, fruit trees and some herbaceous perennials into bud and new growth is pushing forth, so helping them along with a good feed is like breaking your garden’s fast after it’s long winter sleep. Offering beds and containers a good compost will provide a nutrient boost over the longer term too.

The downside to all this goodness, in combination with a dose of heat and sunshine, is that weeds are also benefiting, so there’s plenty of work to do clearing the unwanteds. Top-dressing with a layer of mulch can help to suppress them, after clearing and composting. Mulching will also help retain moisture, (which you may be grateful for given we are already seeing drought warnings for this summer), and will help to protect less hardy plants from the worst of any spring chills, should the weather take a turn for the worst again.  

  1. Lawn-Care

Beautiful green, lush lawn

Lawns too are springing into action and will also benefit from a spring feed (it’s worth noting here that lawns require slightly different formulas of feed in spring and autumn, so it’s best practice to use one specifically formulated for the spring season).

With lawns being neither frozen nor sodden at the moment, our team are making the most of the favourable conditions, removing moss and weeds, feeding and even giving lawns their first regular trim of the year.

In a couple of weeks time, they’ll be ready for any patch repairs and over-seeding, leaving lawns looking verdant and healthy; fully-primed for family kickabouts, eating al-fresco with friends or simply as an invitingly luxuriant expanse for lazing in the sun.

  1. Pruning & Training

Pleach trained trees

One of the most satisfying tasks to carry out now is, to our minds, pruning. A good pruning not only tidies and shapes a plant, but also rejuvenates it, encouraging an abundance of blooms or fruits later.

Start with roses, because whilst traditional wisdom says roses can be pruned anytime between Christmas and March, with many rose varieties beginning to send forth growth, it might be an idea to prune them now in order to make sure that the plant’s efforts are concentrated into the new growth rather than putting its energies into old wood, which is going to be cut-off if you prune later anyway.  

Next, move on to hardy evergreens and climbers (more on pruning climbers next week), then onto winter-flowering shrubs, which should be pruned once flowering has finished.

Not strictly pruning, but as you go along you can be cutting back any old stems of herbaceous perennials that are leftover from last year.

Another perk of pruning is that it makes tying-in and training much easier as you’ll have clearer sight and better access to the shoots you want to tie-in. For similar reasons, you may want to check any plant supports are sturdy and well-placed before they disappear into masses of new growth.

  1. Planting

A hand holding seeds

Planning and preparing kitchen garden beds now will reap its own rewards. Covering the ground or beds with cloches or simply polytunnels will warm the ground, ready for sowing early crops like lettuce, radish, peas and broad beans.

There’s still time to plant bare-root stock like fruit trees, roses and raspberry canes, but this is best done sooner rather than later. It’s conventional to plant bare-root in autumn/winter, but we think they can sometimes get off to a better start at the end of winter/early spring, as when planted in autumn its possible they can be left in cold, wet soil for months, which may not entice the plant to put out it’s roots.

We hope that our shared knowledge has given you a steer, but if you’d prefer the help of our horticulturalists on a regular basis, please talk to us about your garden here.

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