Your ultimate early spring gardening checklist
As our gardens prepare to shake off the frost and welcome the vibrancy of spring, so begins the busiest season in a gardener’s calendar.

As our gardens prepare to shake off the frost and welcome the vibrancy of spring, so begins the busiest season in a gardener’s calendar.

Whether you’re a gardening pro, or you’re just starting your planting journey, Dobbies reveals its top tips on how you can get the most from your outdoor space – beginning in early spring and continuing through to later in the season.

Clean and tidy

Spring cleaning your garden is an essential first step when it comes to preparing for the year ahead, and if you have been maintaining your garden throughout the winter months, this will be an easy job.

One of the simplest ways to tidy up your garden is by neatening your beds and borders for the growing season, removing weeds and applying a good layer of mulch over the surface with organic compost.

Marcus notes that not only will mulching help tidy up the appearance of your garden, but it will break down into the soil and give your plants a nutrient boost for spring.

There is a whole new range of Dobbies’ own brand gardening tools landing in stores from February onwards, which will really help with those spring cleaning sessions.

Deciduous grasses that have been left over winter to protect wildlife can be cut back now to make way for new season growth and Marcus recommends raking growth of evergreen grasses to remove any dead foliage.

Design your beds and borders

Spring is the ideal time to get your beds and borders in shape for the warmer months. In early spring, once you have removed weeds, the next step is to trim back any winter flowering plants where blooms have started to fade and prune summer flowering shrubs like buddleia, lavatera and hardy fuchsias to allow room for new growth.

In later spring, Marcus recommends pruning early spring flowering shrubs once flowering has finished. Wisteria can be pruned to encourage strong flower buds by cutting side shoots back to just a few buds.

To give your garden structure, Marcus recommends planting deciduous shrubs. You should also tend to your evergreen trees, shrubs and hedges by feeding them with a slow-release general-purpose fertiliser.

Plant for colour

One of the most enjoyable spring gardening jobs is planting, however, Marcus notes that the time to do so will depend on weather.

Marcus says that when soil warms up in late spring, most gardeners across the UK will be able to enjoy planting summer flowering bulbs like Dobbies’ new-in dahlias, lilies and gladioli.

Early spring is the perfect time to plant new roses for a blooming summer display in June, but Marcus advises ensuring you prune existing rose bushes back before the new season leaves begin to unfurl.

In late spring, Marcus also suggests thinking about the next growing season and planting out the likes of petunias and impatiens – also known as busy lizzies.

Grow your own

Marcus says that now is a wonderful time to plant fruit and vegetables for a summer harvest and that a lot of produce can be grown inside from seed and then planted outdoors in spring once temperatures warm up.

Dobbies’ new grow your own seed range includes spinach medania, basil serrata, Chinese cabbage, spring onions and radishes can be bought now and grown indoors, in a greenhouse or on a windowsill, before being planted outside in late spring.

Marcus notes that getting your crops accustomed to outdoors, or ‘hardening off’, is vital to their growth. Once the risk of frost has passed, he suggests planting your seeds outside during the day in a semi-sheltered position and bringing them back indoors at night.

Keep an eye on the weather and if you think the elements might harm your plants, lay frost fleece over top creating an air pocket and peg down properly to ensure the fleece stays put during windy spells.

Frost fleece also comes in handy when planting soft fruits like apricots, peaches and nectarines as cold temperatures can cause damage to their blossom and prevent fruit from setting.

Refresh your pots

To enjoy instant colour in your garden this spring, Marcus recommends refreshing your pots, hanging baskets and window boxes with early season primroses, pansies and spring flowering heathers.

Bluebells in pots and ribes sanguineum, or flowering currants, can also be planted in late spring for a country garden effect.

One of Marcus’ favourite ways to make an impact with your containers plants is to focus on colour themes in concentrated groupings. Hot colours and shades of red, orange and pink are favoured in the warmer months, but displays of yellow daffodils and blue primroses, pansies or violas can be effective in spring to welcome the new season.

Lawn care

Depending on the weather, early spring is the time to get your lawn ready for sowing by cultivating soil and making sure the area is level and firm.

Marcus says before you do anything you should make sure any debris is cleared from your lawn. As we get into spring and the weather heats up, you can begin to rake out moss and dead grass.

Lawn treatments should only be used in late spring once temperatures rise, as during the colder months grass is still quite tender prone to damage.

In terms of when to first mow your lawn, Marcus recommends keeping an eye on the weather. When you see the grass growing and there’s no more frost, you can give it the first light cut of the season, making sure the blades are kept on their highest setting so as not to scalp the lawn.

Welcome wildlife

Spring is the perfect time to welcome wildlife into your garden as small animals come out of hibernation and new birds hatch into life.

To ensure your garden is a safe space for wildlife, Marcus suggests dedicating a small section of your garden to create a wildlife-friendly habitat for pollinating plants and giving small animals and insects a place to shelter. You can create a safe space for them by stacking branches in a shaded spot to help protect them from the elements.

Dobbies has a fantastic range of bird seed to welcome new birds into your garden this spring and Marcus advises in addition to this, in early spring, you should keep an eye on bird baths to make sure they have not frozen over.

Collect water

Marcus says that spring is a fantastic time to collect rainfall in water butts for use in the warmer months.

Any shed, greenhouse or garage can be used to collect water and conserve it for next summer, as long as it has gutters and a down pipe to a drain at ground level.

Doing this will help you reduce water usage in the event of a long dry spell in the summer and Marcus notes that rainwater is actually better for young plants and seeds as it has a low pH and no chemicals, unlike water from the mains.

Posted 12th March 2024

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