Posted 6th Mar 2018
The return of longer days and lighter evenings means it's time to get in the garden to ensure you'll be able to make the most of your outdoor space come summer
To set you on your way, Dobbies resident gardening expert, Louise Golden, explains why March is the perfect month to head outdoors.
It's now time to weed those flower beds, mow the lawn and invest a little extra time into clearing out your greenhouses and potting sheds.
Following a cold, wet and windy winter, gardens will generally need some extra TLC to get them back to their best. March is truly the new season for gardeners, with the weather improving, soil warming and drifts of bright yellow daffodils loudly announcing spring is upon us.
Planting and pruning
Regardless of the size of your outdoor area, there will be plenty of things you can do to get ready for the summer months. Spring cleaning should extend to the garden, and now will be the ideal time to hoe borders to remove weeds, feed your borders and hedges with fertiliser, and apply a thick layer of mulch to retain moisture and encourage new growth bearing this summer's display.
You can encourage a strong vibrant new growth for the next year by cutting back colourful stems of Cornus and Salix.
You can quickly transform the area outside your backdoor, simply by planting a few pots and hanging baskets to inject some instant colour and spring cheer.
You can create a vibrant impact by colour theming plants, and can include lush foliage, big blooms and delicate flowers. There are ample opportunities to be creative - a hanging basket will only last for a few months, and costs very little to create - therefore, use the opportunity to experiment with plants and try to create something new, including a basket of your favourite herbs, which you can pick throughout the season.
Nothing will beat a traditional lawn, with the most economical way of achieving one being through sowing seeds. You can prepare the ground for sowing in April, giving your new lawn a chance to establish itself before summer arrives. Once it's been cultivated, ensure the area is firmed and level, ready for sowing.
The type of lawn seeds you opt for will depend on how you intend to use your lawn. Start by thinking about the aspect and what the lawn will be used for - if it's a shady site, opt for a shed-tolerant mix. If its going to get a lot of footfall on it or will be used for playing, a hard-wearing mix will be better. If you are only looking to repair a bare or damaged patch of grass, go for a seed matching the surrounding turf.
If you're after quicker results, the new turf should be left undisturbed for a few weeks, allowing the new roots to establish - however, whichever method you opt for, be sure to keep your lawn watered until it's established, especially as the weather warms.
If it's mild enough, and there are signs of growth on the lawn, give it the first light cut of the season, keeping blades on their highest setting. Later in the month, you can apply a spring / summer lawn feed which is high in nitrogen.
Get set to grow your own
If you would like to try to grow your own vegetables, prepare the vegetable beds by removing weeds and forking in plenty of garden compost or well-rotted manure. You can keep the soil warm and dry by covering prepared beds with sheets of black plastic until you are ready to plant them. If weather and soil conditions permit, you should plant shallots, onions and early potatoes. If you have the space, you should consider planting an asparagus bed - one of the most prized of all vegetables. Once they are established, you should reward you with a spring bounty of delicious spears for years to come. However, keep your eyes peeled for slugs - an effective organic control method will be applying nematodes.
In the fruit garden, mulch existing rows of raspberry canes and fruit bushes and plant rhubarb - remember to allow room for them to grow to their full size. With all new plants, simply add a thick layer of mulch to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.
An economical way to add colour to your garden will be to grow your own bedding plants. These should be planted up straight away into small pots and be left to grow in a warm frost-free greenhouse or conservatory, ready to transplant into the garden when the risk of frost has gone.
Spring clean style refresh
Why not update your garden with one of 2018's biggest garden trends? A vertical garden will be a great way of introducing plants and foliage to an area where you find yourself short on ground space.
Tips courtesy of Dobbies