Seasonal gardeners get very excited during early Spring. It’s the idea of blooming flowers and the presence of warmer weather that makes one itch to get their fingers in to the soil and muck around. Garden centres once again become weekend destinations. While that’s all well and good to have a nose around you local gardening retailer, buying the latest plant pots, don’t do it at the peril of leaving your garden to fend for itself.
Here are three tips to prepare your garden and get it looking its best.
Tip 1: Start mowing in March
Begin mowing your lawn on the highest setting throughout March. With the warmer weather we are beginning to mow our lawns earlier and earlier, but this can have a damaging effect.
Traditionally mowing lawns took place between March and November allowing grass blades a period of rest from the intensive cutting received during the growing season. A rest period is necessary to rejuvenate the roots and the blades of the grass. Mowing your lawn every two weeks until the end of March will certainly help to improve it. If we do start to come into some warmer weather, simply lower the cutting blades to the next setting.
Tip 2: Prune buddleia and dogwood stems
This is the time of year to prune back buddleia’s and dogwood stems if you haven’t already done so. The buddleia plant can put on several metres of growth in a season and can easily out-grow their garden space. Also the flowers would be at the very top of the stems and branches! These plants flower on the growth they have made in the same season so we need to prune them back to a leg or stump approximately 30-45cm above ground level is ideal for the average garden buddleia.
As for pruning the dogwood group of plants, we do this to encourage new colourful shoots to provide the coloured stems in our borders during the winter months. This practice can be carried out annually, or every two to three years depending on the growth rate and intensity of colour you are trying to create.
Tip 3: Sow your flowers and plant your vegetables
March is a great month to bring out your propagator to begin sowing flowers and vegetables for the garden. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to variety and all types of annuals, half hardy and perennial plants can be sown now, such as sunflowers, sweet peas, and calendulas. Basically, from now until the first frosts in Autumn, your garden never needs to be without flowers.
Don’t forget your vegetable planting which could benefit from a little forward thinking. Vegetables that take a long time to grow before harvesting should be planted first clearly. If you are fond of leeks and plants from the brassica family like cabbages, broccoli and purple sprouting broccoli then get them planted now.
These are just a few tips and there is plenty to keep all gardeners happy and busy outdoors. I teach several gardening courses in Shropshire and more info about upcoming events can be found here. Look out for our next article on herbaceous perennials and what to do in Spring.
Upcoming workshop: 16 March, Introductory Garden Workshop, Upper Shadymoor Farm, Stapleton
Kristian has been working in horticulture for over 30 years working at several well known National Trust and English Heritage properties, as well as working at Cambridge University Botanical Gardens. Her expertise is sought after and she can be heard on local radio shows and has written for other publications. Kristian offers a number practical garden workshops, gardening webinars and garden study tours throughout the year to inspire gardeners.