How to get a great start to the gardening year.

Getting ready for the new gardening year.

Getting ready for the new gardening year.

SPRING is a very important and busy time for gardeners.

It is the beginning of the new gardening year and there are so many things you should do to give your garden the best start possible for the coming months.

Basically the three main areas of the garden you will need to prepare are the lawn, vegetable patch and flower beds.

It is said that grass is the hardest plant to grow successfully in your garden – the perfect lawn is a mere dream for most gardeners.

But here are a few tips to help you achieve a good looking lawn.

Firstly moss and thatch can become a problem in lawns, making them patchy and sickly.

Fortunately there is a simple and easy way to prevent this problem arising, called scarification.

All you need is a scarifying rake which you use to rake the lawn, removing all of the moss and thatch, making the lawn look much more attractive.

Half scarified, half not scarified lawn.

Half Scarified, Half not Scarified lawn.

Another great way to give your lawn a good start to the year is to add weed and feed. Weed and feed is high in nitrogen which will make your grass grow vigorously and give it a healthy green glow.

It also contains a selective herbicide that targets non-grass species, helping your lawn to stay weed free. However be careful not to spill any on your flower beds because it will kill or stunt flowers and other plants.

If your lawn is looking a bit rough around the edges, spring is the perfect time to edge it. This will make it easier for you to contain your lawn and make your garden more visually pleasing.

Simply dig around the edge of your lawn using a spade or an edging knife, removing the unwanted turf to give sharp lines and definition.

To get a perfectly straight edges on your grass, you can use a string line and then regularly trim with edging sheers to maintain.

Maintain grass edge with Sheers.

Maintain grass edge with Sheers.

During the spring, many plants, flowers and weeds start to grow in your flower beds, so it is important to correctly maintain them.

Firstly hoe the flower beds to remove the weeds, such as dandelions, buttercups, docs and nettles.

When removing the weeds it is important to remove the root too, especially with dandelions and docs to prevent them growing back. Do not use weed killer on the flower beds unless you are an expert, as it will kill most herbaceous plants that it comes into contact with.

After you have hoed the flower beds, you can add fertiliser, which will feed your plants and allow them to grow healthily and strongly through spring.

The best type of fertilisers to add to your flower beds is slow release pellets or organic waste, which will slowly release the correct nutrients into the soil for approximately half a year, unlike  powdered fertiliser, which must be added every few weeks, and watered in.

You can also get liquid fertiliser which starts to work immediately, which you can apply using a watering can.

Always make sure you read the instructions  and take into consideration the health and safety warnings.

Spring flowerbed.

Spring flowerbed.

Spring is also the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs and split up perennials, as the plant will be mostly inactive and the weather will be mild, so the newly planted plants will not dry out before their roots have become established.

Perennials such as primroses should be split up in spring as each plant will grow bigger and better by itself.

Vegetable plots are a popular feature in many people’s gardens and spring is the time to prepare your plot.

Firstly you need to remove all the old vegetables that have not been eaten over winter. Then you should roughly dig over the plot with a spade to bury the weeds and break up the compacted soil.

Once you have finished digging over your plot it is best to leave it for at least a week to allow the soil to break down naturally and the weeds to die.

Newly dug over vegetable plot.

Newly dug over vegetable plot.

You may wish to add  fertiliser or well rotted manure to your soil at this stage. Manure is a far safer and more environmentally friendly option. It also helps with dry sandy soil as it helps to trap moisture as it contains lots of organic materials that hold water.

Manure can be obtained from local farmers and usually delivered for a small fee.

Once you have your manure you should spread it onto your vegetable plot equally and then dig over the plot again with a fork.

This will break the soil down into a fine tilth and mix the manure in, ready for planting your new vegetables and seeds.

Bacteria in the soil will break down the ammonia in the manure and turn it into nitrate which your new vegetables can soak up through their roots to boost their growth.

By following these few tips, you can ensure you have a great start to the gardening year.

from Tside