Gardening Tools

As we say goodbye to winter and hello to spring, it’s now 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 spring gardening tips for both commercial or domestic landscapes, to ensure that you can enjoy vibrant, blooming flowers just in time for when the weather brightens up!

Bringing Life To The Garden With Spring Gardening Tips

There are many different precautionary measures you can take during the winter and the beginning of spring to ensure that planting is made a whole lot easier. Without care during colder temperatures, it may take months for your garden to become healthy again. 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 bricks. Covering plants over harsher temperatures will mean that you will have less to do when preparing for spring.

For beginners or those that need some organisation, we have come up with a handy checklist to get you back on your feet and ready to start preparing the garden for the warmer weather. We have also added some ways that our team complete landscape maintenance in Northampton and in the surrounding areas to help you prepare your garden and things to look out for. Here are our top tips:

Woman Gardening

1. Ordering Your Summer Flowers & Buds

The first step to any colourful spring and summer garden is to make sure that you order in your summer flowers and buds. The winter is the perfect time to order in your seeds ready for planting in the early spring. For example, House Beautiful says that the following flowers are best to plant as soon as the first day of spring comes:

Use the winter months wisely and while you’re snuggled up against a nice warm fire watching your favourite show, why not browse through all the garden centre catalogues? By doing this, you can get yourself ready for planting and enjoying the sunshine as soon as spring hits in April! If you’re stuck for ideas, then Interflora has a helpful guide on how to pick flowers based on your style.

Flower bulb

2. Remove Garden Pests

It may come to your surprise, but not all garden pests are there to harm your garden. In your garden, you will find bad pests and good pests, both of which play their part in the success of your flowers in terms of how much water they gather and how vibrant they become. So you can get to know more about which pests you need to get rid of and which ones can happily continue festering among your array of plants, here is all you need to know:

Bad Pests

Garden pests are a nuisance all year round but are particularly an issue when they have had months of hibernating in your garden. Perennials especially, suffer the brunt of pests, as they are always eating away at 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 are unfortunately always the ones in the front line when it comes to pest attacks.

Slugs, snails, mites and cabbage moths are just some of the many disruptive garden pests. Slugs and snails are the two pests that every garden needs to tackle and are extremely damaging to plants as they leave ragged holes, scalloped edges and trails of silver slime across your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, then mites and cabbage worms are going to become 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.

beetles eating leaf

Good Pests

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 on the insects that can benefit your garden along with how to attract them, take a look at Organic Lesson.

How To Get Rid Of Bad Pests

There are many different ways that you can help to reduce pest infestations in the garden, and they do not necessarily have to involve chemicals. Many gardeners opt for testing mechanical pest solutions such as fitting barriers or implementing traps. However, both of these solutions often look rather unappealing and can, unfortunately, ruin the aesthetics of your garden. 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.

herbicide on flowers

3. 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 as 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. Take a look at the video below for a guide on how to use herbicides.

4. 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; this is because if it is too wet, then it will become compact.

It also often proves beneficial 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, follow these simple instructions:

  • Separate a handful of soil into two cups.
  • Add half a cup of vinegar to each cup.
  • If the soil fizzes, then the soil is alkaline, and if it doesn’t, it is acidic.

raking soil

5. 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, and 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 entails 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 or watch the video below.

6. 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. Gardening Know How has a helpful guide on the types of things you should be adding your compost bin and the things you should not.

compost bin

Your Spring Gardening Checklist!

We know that it can be a lot of information for a gardening beginner to get their head around. For this reason, we thought we would make it a little easier by giving you a checklist to tick off as you go!

Clear the lawn
Tidy your flower beds
Remove weeds
Add fresh soil where needed
Add fertiliser where neccessary
Tidy over hanging trees
Sharpen/clean tools
Get rid of unwanted pests
Mow the lawn
Plant any seeds or bulbs
Collect rainful using water butt
Fix broken/bent fences
Create a compost area
Add in bird feeders and baths

Ticking off checklist

Prepare Your Garden!

As professionals in ground maintenance in Milton Keynes as well as landscaping in Bedford, we know that it can take a lot of hard work to make sure that your garden is looking beautiful all ready for that summer bloom. There are multiple ways in which you can enhance your garden, and the more care you take in preparing your flowers, trees and lawn, the easier and easier it becomes each year. If you are looking for more tips and a professional helping hand, then the Neal Landscaping team can help you complete landscaping in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas, so give the team a call today!

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