Posted 23rd Mar 2015
As the weather warms up it's the perfect time to get out in the garden and to help we spoke with award-winning garden designer Kate Gould to find out what you should be doing in the garden at this time of year to get it ready in time for summer
It might still be a little chilly but spring is definitely on its way. The tell tale signs of swelling buds on trees and daffodil and crocus bulbs pushing through cold ground means that the busiest time in the gardening calendar is upon us. We spoke with Chelsea Gold Medal-winner Kate Gould to find out her top gardening tips.
As the days begin to get warmer the weeds will vie with the bulbs to burst through open ground and my best advice to manage them successfully is to get them while they are still small. The ground will often be wet at this time of year and pulling out by hand, although laborious, is the most effective method of removal. Seeing bare swathes of ground afterwards is a well earned reward, but nature being nature it doesn’t stop there and keeping on top of weeding is vital; little and often is important at any time of year but especially in the spring as plants rocket forward towards summer.
We often think of gardens as flowers and colour but the largest area of greenery in our gardens is in fact the lawn and this too needs care in the spring. Wet winters and heavy snow compact ground and lawns hate to be solid, so aerating them helps them breathe and the grass grow thicker. Aeration also helps with drainage, which in turn helps control the build up of moss and so investing in a simple to use hollow tine aerator is well worth it. Moss can also be controlled in tandem with weeds using a combined moss and weed killer, which can be applied in a granular form to lawns. Many of these products contain fertiliser too, so you are in effect providing the grass with space by killing the weeds and moss and then encouraging it to grow with the fertiliser which should help to create a wonderful green sward in the summer. Regular mowing is also vital, not just now but throughout the growing season, once if not twice a week for a truly green carpet. If this all sounds like too much work then there are specialist companies that will come and weed and feed your grass for you at regular times during the year, which certainly takes the hassle out of the process.
Spring is a season of scents and since there are not many pollinating insects around early in the year plants push out heady perfumes to attract them, and on sunny days after a hard day in the garden, the reward of a warm drink amongst the scent of Viburnum x bodnantense varieties, hammamellis or hyacinth is a lovely reward. Many bulbs cut well; daffodil and tuilp in particular so you can enjoy their blooms close up in the warmth and comfort of your home, and these too have a discreet but sweet scent.
If you planted up winter displays they may have sat static over the winter and now, as the temperatures rise, is the time when primula and pansy really give their show. They may be frozen solid by a frost in the morning and look sad and sorry for themselves but an hour or so in the sun defrosts them with no damage at all. Deadhead them regularly to promote more blooms and only water them when necessary; too much water in a pot will freeze and potentially damage the pot.
Spring is a busy season with much to do and most of it general tidying and pruning. It is a time when the garden often looks its barest but put the work in now and your summer garden will thank you for it.
Kate Gould is an award-winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes. A regular exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show, Kate writes a blog for the Guardian filled with tips for transforming your garden, find out more by visiting www.kategouldgardens.com.