Just gardening: what to do in spring

Just Recruitment’s credit controller earned his horticultural degree in Garden & Landscape design. Here are his spring tips

By Gary Hardman

Another winter has passed with barely a hint of the arctic conditions that meteorologists predicted last autumn. With the temperature rising, nature commences its cycle of life for another year. Spring has finally sprung, so it’s time to get out in the garden and enjoy the fresh air.

    Caring for the ecosystem right on your doorstep can help arrest the effects of climate change...  

There are loads of reasons to make the most of your garden. Caring for the ecosystem right on your doorstep can help arrest the effects of climate change – a topic that has received a huge amount of attention recently, thanks to the David Attenborough documentary on the BBC.

What’s more, getting out in the garden provides wonderful exercise – something that can help you achieve the 150 minutes of weekly activity recommended by the NHS.

So, to inspire your gardening in the weeks ahead, here are some jobs to be going on with.

Home composting

A number of local authorities no longer collect kitchen waste for composting, because it’s too expensive to treat. Along with the ongoing threat to natural peat bogs, there’s never been a better time to create your own compost at home.

Just put all your garden and fresh kitchen waste in a suitable repository (you can buy a plastic compost bin or make your own heap in a quiet corner of the garden) and pretty soon you’ll have your own supply of nutrient-rich compost.

For further advice, check out this handy guide to composting from the Eden Project.

Flower power

Now is the time to plant your summer flowers. Now the threat of frost has largely passed, so you can put them straight into borders, pots or hanging baskets. If planting in borders, dig in a generous amount of compost beforehand, so they have plenty of nutrients to help them grow.

Keep your new flowers well watered and be sure to remove any weeds that grow around them. If you’ve planted in pots or baskets, you should aim to water twice daily, in the morning and evening. That will give your colourful plants every chance to thrive amid the burgeoning heat of summer.

Harden off half-hardy plants

If you’ve planted some stock from seed, now is the time to get the seedlings accustomed to life outside the greenhouse or cold frame.

Over a period of a week, give seedlings around three hours of exposure to sunlight each day. Reduce the amount of watering so that, by the end of the period, the plants are watered first and last thing. Make sure they don’t wilt, however, and be sure to bring them back into shelter if the sun gets strong or the temperature drops.

Gradually leave the seedlings out later in the evening so they get used to the colder temperatures. Within a week or so, you should be able to plant them out, making sure to give them a good feed and keep them moist as they adjust to life in their new home.

Get on top of weeds

It’s a simple fact of a gardener’s life: if you don’t tackle your weeds at the start of the season, you’ll spend the whole summer trying to beat them into submission.

    ...if you don’t tackle your weeds at the start of the season, you’ll spend the whole summer trying to beat them into submission.  

Get down on your hands and knees to clear weeds from borders, beds and pathways. Be especially assiduous in areas where you’re planting new flowers or seedlings. Every weed left in place will reduce the chances of new planting thriving, by sucking energy and moisture from the soil.

Once you’ve completed your first battle with the weeds, go back to where you started and remove any new arrivals. You’ll never stop weeds from growing, but by keeping on top of them, you can minimise their impact as the summer progresses.         

Look after your lawn

Show your lawn some love by applying lawn weed killer and removing any humps or divots. It’s easy to take out an unsightly lump: just dig around the edge and peel off the turf. Then remove the surplus soil and fold the turf flap back into place. Press the edges into position and give it a slug of water.

Meanwhile, use the surplus soil to fill in divots. Sprinkle grass seed over the top, taking care to match the species with your existing lawn. Cover large areas with netting to keep the birds at bay.

Then, voila, you’ll have a flat, green lawn. Anyone for croquet?

Seek inspiration

If you want to get hands-on advice from the experts, check out BBC Gardeners’ World Live on 13 – 16 June at the NEC in Birmingham. The show is a celebration of all things horticultural. You’ll even have a chance to meet some of the nation’s best-known gardeners, including Monty Don, Carol Klein and Joe Swift.

In the meantime, enjoy the spring. And happy gardening!

Published: 7 June 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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