15 Expert Gardening Tips to Prepare Your Garden for Spring
Spring is on the way and we’re starting to see the early signs of daffodils coming through, buds on the trees, and early lambs and calves in the fields. If you’re someone who loves to make the most of their garden as soon as it’s warm enough to get out there, now is the time to start making plans for what you’ll do when the last of the frost is over and warmer days are truly on the way.
To raise your excitement for the new season and help you feel ready for its arrival, we’re going to share with you 15 expert gardening tips to inspire you and help you put your gardening to-do list together.
15 Expert Gardening Tips to Prepare Your Garden for Spring
- Fix Your Lawn
One of the first things you can do to prepare for spring is to take a good look at your lawn. The grass starts coming through again in January or February depending on the weather, so give it a good rake on a dry day. Remove any leaves, pull out excess moss, and think about patching holes. You can do this by sprinkling grass seed after the last frost (you just need to make sure you protect those areas with some netting to keep the birds off) or lay some turf in those areas.
If you’ve been trying to fix your lawn for years with little or no success, consider changing things so you don’t have to go through yet another year with a disappointing lawn. You have a couple of options here: lay all new turf (a good option if your grass is weedy), consider laying artificial turf instead, or redesign the layout of your garden so there are flowerbeds or an area of hardscaping where those areas used to be. What’s best for you will depend on your personal preferences and how well your grass grows.
2. Plant Bulbs
If you’re reading this and it’s still October, November, or December, and you don’t have any spring-flowering bulbs in your garden, it’s worth doing now. Bulb plants are so hopeful after a dark winter - they poke up their little heads as early as late December or early January, and you get to see them grow and turn into the first flowers of the season as early as February (sometimes earlier for flowers like snowdrops and some varieties of daffodil). Plant them throughout your borders or flowerbeds to get the best flowers spring has to offer. The good news is they take care of themselves, too, dying off and coming back each year.
3. Clear Away Debris
To see the best growth from your lawn and other plants, spend a few hours clearing away debris that has gathered over autumn and winter. Dead leaves and stems can hinder early growth as it has to fight through this layer to peek through, so you give your plants the best chance at growing back if you move this out of the way. All this debris can go on your compost heap if you have one.
4. Check Your Tools
We often forget that we were going to replace our trowel or needed to get the lawnmower serviced until we get it out for the first time after the winter and try to use it. Working with a stiff pair of secateurs, a wobbly trowel, or a dull lawnmower is a great way to curb your enthusiasm for gardening, so check what you’ve got and take a trip to the garden center if anything needs replacing or servicing.
5. Order Summer Seeds
Now is a great time to sit down and think about any summer seeds you want to get. You don’t need to have the greenest thumb in the world to enjoy starting a few plants of your own, and you can start them indoors before it’s warm enough to plant outside - any windowsill is prime real estate for growing seedlings.
6. Clean Sheds, Summerhouses, and Greenhouses
If you have any outbuildings, late February or early March is a great time to dust them off, clean out the cobwebs, organize their contents, and clean any windows. When they’re clean, check the roof, windows and walls for any sign of damage you can fix now before spring and summer arrive and you’d rather be doing better things.
7. Maintain Your Boundaries
Like our point above, now is also a good time to check your fences, hedges, walls, and any trellis and the like you have in or surrounding your garden. It’s so much easier to fix or replace fence panels and gates when the plants have died back and you can reach them easily. It’s also a good idea to clean your panels and gates with a pressure washer to get rid of mildew and dirt and then add a stain or preservative if necessary - just make sure any wood is completely dry before you apply anything to it.
If you have a boundary you don’t like the look of, consider using artificial green wall panels to cover it and help it blend in with the rest of your garden. These square panels can be used to cover the fence entirely or just offer some additional foliage. If you’ve not heard of green walls before or you aren’t sure if they’re the right choice for you, read our guide on green walls here.
8. Replace Your Patio Plants
Take a look at the plants in your patio pots and decide if you want to keep them - or if they’re even still alive. You may like doing some gardening but even one very hot day in the summer can kill a plant if it doesn’t have sufficient water or if the pot holds too much heat (such as a black metal pot or similar). If you have a habit of killing your patio plants and hanging baskets, try using artificial plants instead. No, it’s not cheating - it’s actually the best way to make sure your garden looks its best throughout the summer, whether you remember to go out and water the garden twice a day or not.
We have a wide variety of artificial plants that are realistic and suitable for outside use, so are perfect for patios, porches, and anywhere else in your garden where you’d like to make your life a little easier. You can find those here.
9. Get Started on Your Weeding
Weeds are voracious growers, so they’ll already be growing ready to take over the world (or at least, your garden). If you head out into the garden any time from January, you’ll start seeing plants you don’t remember planting or wanting (AKA a weed) sprouting from the ground. If you’re confident you know it’s not a plant you want, pull them out now. If you’re new to gardening and worry you’ll weed something out that’s supposed to be there, wait until early spring (around late March) when they’ll have a more defined and recognizable shape. Try to do this regularly throughout late winter and spring so you’re winning the war against weeds when summer arrives.
10. Feed Your Soil
If you live in an area with frequent frosts, wait until you think the last of the frosts have been and gone and then you can start working your soil. (You don’t need to be absolutely certain you won’t get another frost as you do when planting young plants, it’s just so the soil is workable.) Loosen the soil on your flowerbeds by turning it with a fork or spade, working in any leftover debris and work in a little new compost. You can do this up to 14 inches deep, but you definitely don’t need to - just the top 6 inches or so will be plenty.
11. If Your Gardening Results are Lackluster, Consider Raised Beds
If you plant things each year and they limp along, never looking very happy, you may have poor soil. This is relatively common for new build homes as they’re often built on sites with infertile soil, either because it was a scrappy area of grass or because another building used to be where your garden now is. If this is the case for you, you can either feed the soil as deep as you can or raise the beds. Building raised beds is straightforward and you can then fill the beds with quality compost that will help your plants thrive.
If you’re not sure if you have poor quality soil or not, you can do a soil test that will tell you your soil’s pH and nutrient levels.
12. Cut Back Any Old Plants
Some people cut back all their plants before winter, and that’s not a bad thing to do, but if you wait until late winter or early spring, you can work with the natural shape of the plant and what’s thriving and what’s not. Resist the urge to cut your roses right back and simply reshape them, tying them to trellis or other garden structures before they start blooming. If you can see where the new growth will come through, then you can cut back and reshape your plants without hindering their growth.
13. Reflect on What’s Working (and What’s Not)
Did you have time to manage your garden last year? Did things get out of control by August? Reflect on how you felt about your garden last summer and decide if your current setup works for you. If you constantly feel behind, consider reducing the number of flowerbeds you have and replace them with artificial plants, more turf (real or artificial), another sitting area, or another space you’ve always wanted - like a designated play area for the children in the family or even putting in a pond.
14. Replace Old Plant Pots
We tend to hang onto old plant pots until they literally start falling apart, even if they no longer really suit the style of your garden. Take a good look at the planters and plant pots you’re using and consider if you still enjoy them or keep them just because they work. If they are covered in algae, cracked, or no longer give you pleasure, consider recycling them (you’ll have a dump near you that can do this for you, though it may not be your local dump) or giving them away. Invest in new planters to give your garden a brighter, fresher look. If you’re not sure how to choose your next planters, we have a guide you can follow here.
15. Clean Your Bird Feeders
If you love attracting birds to your garden, your bird feeders are probably looking a little on the grubby side. You can take them inside and give them a wash with some kitchen soap and then a good rinse. Once they’re dry, refill and enjoy the sight of happy birds coming and going.
While we’re talking birds, if you have a birdbath give that a scrub, rinse, and refill, and sweep the area under your bird feeders if it has become a bit of a mess. If you typically have a lot of dropped birdseed that isn’t eaten (and it’s not for a good reason like your cat sitting underneath!), consider buying higher quality birdseed. The cheap bags of birdseed are often full of wheat, which most birds won’t bother with until they’ve eaten everything else on offer. If left, it will take seed and leave you with a big clump of grass.
Instead, buy birdseed that is rich in sunflower seeds, millet, and other small seeds. Suet balls, cake, and coconut halves are also a good choice because they keep their integrity.
Springtime in the garden is always a joy, whether your focus is on your patio plants and a few bird feeders or you go all-out with numerous flowerbeds and a vegetable patch. With these tips, you’ll be well equipped for summer and ready to enjoy all the beauty spring and summer have to offer in your garden. Don’t forget your front garden while you’re at it - even a small space can be made beautiful with a little TLC or a few outdoor artificial plants to brighten an otherwise cold space.