Last winter was officially the wettest on record. No fewer than five meteorological records relating to rain were broken, and many areas saw more than twice as much rainfall as the seasonal average.
Get your garden tools ready
For most of us that suffered, these statistics will be of no surprise. But for those of us who were forced to batten down the hatches and stay inside for the majority of the winter, there is some good news on the horizon; scientists in Germany are predicting that the summer of 2014 will be the hottest on record. Now, after the deluge and with spring nearly upon us, comes the job of preparing the garden to cope with the hive of activity that it is set to enjoy.
As the old adage goes – you’re only as good as your tools. So before you start any work on your garden, first you must ensure your tools are up to the job.
If the wooden handles of your tools have dried out and cracked over the winter, rub some linseed oil into them make them supple and help protect the wood. For each of the metal surfaces of your tools, use a wire brush to remove built up rust. Then sharpen blades and oil all moving joints, to ensure they work efficiently when called upon.
Any tolls you decide to replace, don’t just throw them away. The charity Tools for Self Reliance will take your unwanted tools and give them a new lease of life before sending them to artisan communities in developing countries.
Now that the tools for the job are primed and ready for action, you’re ready to spring clean your garden. Grab your broom and rake and sweep all of your garden’s paths and rake the leaves from the lawn. Clear all the fallen leaves that are clogging up your flower beds, as well as your guttering.
Take your secateurs and cut all the hedges and shrubs that have been left to grow wild, down to size. Next, you need to cut down your plants and flowers – including perennials, annuals and bedding plants – to help them bloom to their most spectacular potential. Hot on the heels of all that pruning is everyone’s least favourite garden jobs, but one of the most essential – weeding.
Perform maintenance on your water delivery system
If the summer is to be as hot as predicted, then you’re going to have to make sure your manage water system effectively. Check your hoses for holes and damage that may have been incurred during the winter.
If you have a sprinkler system, this too will need to be checked for faults. Keeping the leaves dry is one of the best ways to avoid disease. However, it’s important to note that letting your plants dry out and then flooding them with water is bad practice, and can lead to growth deformities.
Enrich your soil
If your soil is too thin or doesn’t contain a mixture of vital nutrients, then there’s no beating around the bush; nothing will grow, at least not to meet your expectations anyway!
To begin with, dig your soil up to loosen and aerate it. Early spring is the best time to add some manure to your soil for those aforementioned vital nutrients. Three to five inches of suitably dehydrated manure per square foot will do the job. Then pick up your spade once again and turn over the soil with the freshly laid manure, so that each is mixed with the other to a depth of at least six inches.
Decide what you want to plant
Plan and research the types of plant and vegetable that you want to plant. For the latter, very early spring is best for preparing onions and potatoes; early spring lettuce and carrots; beans, tomatoes and peppers are all best left to after the last frost.
Although we’ve been predicted a summer to remember, the UK seasons are notoriously hard to forecast. For this reason, wait to late spring to visit your local garden centre, when it will be clearer which plants will be more suited to the summer climate we’re going to be presented with.
Light and air flow
Light and air flow are vitally important components to a successful bloom and yield. Without sunlight plants will become weak and spindly. On the other hand, air flow helps foliage to dry quickly, which helps plants to combat disease and pests.
Reflective mulch is one of the best ways of increasing the amount of sunlight flowerbeds and vegetable patches in the shade receive. Meanwhile, to encourage air flow, never plant flowers and vegetables too close together – give them the adequate space and you should be able to sit back and enjoy the spoils.
Encourage beneficial organisms into your garden
Not all the creatures and organisms that seek sanctum in your garden haven are there to cause havoc. In fact, some should be encouraged as they can help you to look a better gardener than you actually are.
Lady bugs and lacewings are both predators that like to eat pests that want to chew on your veg and flowers before you get to enjoy them. Many birds and even spiders can do a similar job, so managing your garden to encourage the right type of wildlife can be hugely beneficial.
Get your garden outbuildings ready for the sunshine
If you want to get one step ahead of the potential festivities that summer can bring, the spring is the best time to get your garden buildings and furniture ready. For more information on how to perform maintenance on your climbing frame, click here. If you have a log cabin, click here for our maintenance guide.
If you have found the advice here useful, please take the time to like or share on your favoured social network. If you have any spring time garden tip, please use the comments section below to let us know what they are.