In just under a month, we will be quickly approaching the beginning of Spring, which means that now is the perfect time to start preparing your garden through simple maintenance tasks. The sudden drop in temperature during the Winter takes its toll on plants and makes it tricky for them to remain healthy throughout the harsher weather conditions. With this in mind, we have devised a list of our top tips on how to prepare your garden, commercial or domestic, to ensure that you can enjoy vibrant, blooming flowers just in time for when the weather brightens up!
Preparing Your Garden For Spring
If you are a keen gardener, then it is more than likely that you have been keeping an eye on the condition of your garden throughout the Winter months. There are many different precautionary measures you can take in advance to ensure that planting ready for the Spring becomes an easier job. Without care during colder temperatures, it may take months for your garden to become healthy again, multiplying the task of Spring preparations.
It is always recommended to protect your plants over the Winter, by either moving them to a sheltered location or covering them with tarpaulin. All shrubs, trees and flowers that are non-potted should be covered with a waterproof material and weighed down around the edges with heavy stones or brick. This will stop the material from lifting, moving across the garden and potentially damaging other plants. Covering plants over harsher temperatures will mean that you will have less to do when preparing for Spring.
When the weather begins to warm up and the likelihood of ice or even snow becomes minimal, all protective layers can be removed, and you can begin getting your garden ready for the brighter months. Keep reading for our guide on where to start!
1. Remove Garden Pests
Garden pests are a nuisance all year round, however, becomes a particular problem after they have had months of hibernating in your garden. Perennials especially, suffer the brunt of pests, as they are the main culprits for eating away at their leaves and stems, leaving big holes which disrupt growth. As perennials are flowers that grow all year round, they become some of the only sources for food for garden pests, so always get attacked.
Slugs, snails, mites and cabbage moths are just some of the many most disruptive garden pests. Slugs and snails are the two pests that every garden is aware of and damage plants through leaving ragged holes, scalloped edges and trails of silver slime across your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, then mites and cabbage worms will be your worst enemy. By eating away at the bases of freshly grown vegetables, they impede growth along with contaminating the produce making it harmful for humans to eat.
Although there are many garden pests that you want to steer clear from, there are others that, in fact, are highly beneficial for a healthy garden. Some of the most helpful pests include ladybirds, damsel bugs and green lacewing; all of which will live in your garden not to cause harm, but simply to take care of their young. They help towards ridding your garden of negative pests through preying on them and then feeding them to their young. For a full guide to the beneficial insects along with how to attract them to your garden, take a look at Organic Lesson.
There are many different ways that you can help to reduce pest infestations in the garden, and they do not all necessarily have to involve chemicals. Many gardeners opt for testing mechanical pest solutions such as fitting barriers or implementing traps. However, both of which often look rather unappealing and would not work if you wouldn’t be happy with the idea of fitting items to your garden which may ruin the aesthetics. If this is the case, then you may want to consider using alternative methods such as insect vacuums, water pressure sprays or simply handpicking them out. We suggest taking a read through the garden pest section on FIX as it includes tonnes of different ways to remove every type of pest.
2. Clear Dead Leaves & Weeds
All soil must be entirely cleared from dead leaves, weeds and plants before you can begin planting any new seeds. Also, spend time cutting back your grass and removing any dry, patchy sections. Flowers grow increasingly better in a tidy surrounding with bare soil. Clearing your garden in advance before you begin the planting season means that you will exclude the task of having to trample through freshly sprouted seeds to reach unwanted debris.
When it comes to removing overgrown weeds, you can either manually pull weeds out from the root or use a herbicide. Herbicides are a type of chemical which is capable of killing plants at the root and stops future growth. Although herbicides are incredibly helpful in weed management in the garden, they can be dangerous, so it is imperative that they are used correctly. Always wear gloves, long sleeves and if possible, a protective mask to stop the chemical from touching the skin or being inhaled. We always suggest opting to apply herbicides before you begin the planting process, as it banishes the worry of the chemicals reaching and killing newly planted flowers.
Any dead leaves or plants, along with old weeds can all be reused and placed into your compost bin for future use.
3. Prepare The Soil
Regardless of whether your plants have adequate sun exposure, air and water, without good condition soil, they will struggle to grow healthily. When preparing the soil for planting, use a garden rake to remove all old weeds and leaves. Not only will raking the soil remove debris, but also help to break up all solid dried soil that has gathered together.
If you have experienced heavy rainfall, then you may want to consider allowing the soil to dry out a little before planting. All soil needs to be dry enough to promote healthy plant growth as if it is too wet; it will become too compact.
It often proves beneficial also to spend time carrying out a pH test on the soil as it helps to assess whether it requires extra nutrients or fertiliser. You are able to purchase a pH kit to test your soil, or use DIY alternatives for the same results. To do a pH test at home, separate a handful of soil into two cups. Add half a cup of vinegar to each. If the soil fizzes, then the soil is alkaline, and if it doesn’t, it is acidic. For more information on how to test the pH of your soil without a kit, take a look at Preparedness Mother.
4. Prep Your Garden Tools
Garden tools can be expensive and also require maintenance to ensure that they stay in good condition and last longer. Spending time cleaning garden tools after use will also help towards preventing the spread of disease. Dirty tools are often the main culprit for contaminating new plants with bacteria.
After months of being stored away over the Winter, tools are exposed to a lot of moisture which often leads to rusting. Luckily, rust can be resolved and removed using a wire brush. A light coating or the top coating of rust can be removed using sandpaper then when the surface begins to feel rough; you can start to use a more heavy-handed approach using a wire brush. In the worst case scenario, if the rust is pitted into the steel surface, you may need to use an electric filing drill.
Once all rust is removed, it is important to add a protective layer to all steel surfaces to prevent rusting from occurring again. Motor oil is an affordable, yet effective solution for creating a barrier between steel and oxygen.
Garden tools may also require sharpening, which is a job that requires a considerable amount of patience, concentration and a steady hand. Depending on the tool that you are hoping to sharpen, you may need to use either a hand file or a honing stone. Tools such as shovels will only need a hand file, whereas a horning stone will need to be used for pruning shears and knives. You will need to master the technique of sharpening tools to ensure that you stay safe, we suggest taking a look at Fine Gardening.
5. Create A Compost Bin
Preparing your garden for Spring means that you will have plenty of old leaves, branches, weeds and debris that will need to be disposed of. Instead of throwing these away, use these to your advantage and create your own compost bin.
When creating a compost bin, you want to aim to achieve an even balance between green waste such as fruit and vegetables, and brown waste, which will be all of your old leaves and debris. This will help to keep your compost healthy as the green waste will bring nitrogen and brown will bring carbon. Every now and then, you should also make sure your compost has access to water as it will stop it from rotting and smelling; simply sprinkling some water over the pile will give the compost adequate moisture.
When topping up your compost with extra waste, be wary not to include any food which has dairy included, along with any animal bones as it will begin to attract unwanted pests. Although a compost bin is filled with unwanted waste, you do need to be careful with what waste you include as you do not want to cause contamination.
If you’re looking for a quality bin to begin making your own compost, take a look at Get Composting.
Prepare Your Garden For Spring!
Planning and preparing your garden ready for the warmer months will be increasingly beneficial in encouraging healthy plant growth. It is always recommended to begin the process as early as possible as it means that you can spread the various jobs over a few weeks for maximum results. If you are a business and looking for experience landscaping in Milton Keynes to prepare your garden for Spring, then please feel free to contact Neal Landscapes!