By following these simple tips in spring, you can ensure that your garden is ready for a fabulous summer show.
Give soil a chance
Good soil is key for vigorous plant growth and a healthy environment. Healthy soil that is rich in minerals and humus (decayed plant matter), dark in colour and is friable (loose and fluffy), will not only hold moisture better it will also result in pest-resistant plants. Another sign of healthy soil is that it is home to earthworms and bacteria, which help to keep the PH in check.
All gardens can benefit from extra compost in the spring to give it a boost for planting. Add a generous layer (about 6cm) of compost and lightly dig it into the soil. The regular addition of compost will improve the structure of any kind of soil over the longer term.
Clean up and clear out
If you’re new to gardening, consider investing in quality products that will last over the long term. Lasher’s tool expert, Bruce Turner, recommends starting out with the following basic garden tools:
• A garden spade to dig holes for planting and edging garden beds.
• A metal rake to scarify your lawn and to rake up gravel and pebbles.
• A set of garden tools (small trowel, fork and daisy grubber) for digging and weeding in smaller spaces.
• Sturdy gloves to protect your hands.
• A garden fork, to aerate and dig compacted soil.
• A wheelbarrow, for transporting compost and debris easily.
• Hedge shears, for pruning and cutting back unruly hedges and creepers.
• Secateurs, for pruning roses and cutting back smaller, hard wood branches.
If you already own a set of tools, spring is a good time to clean them, using soapy water and a sponge to remove any dirt. Sharpen hedge shears and secateurs and store all tools neatly.
Plan for success.
A trip to your local nursery can quickly become a costly exercise that results in too many plants and seeds. To keep with in a budget, make sure to plan out the basics of what you want. It’s important to consider the micro-climate of your garden when buying plants. Spend some time establishing what the various environments of your garden are like – an area that receives a lot of direct sun throughout the day will need different plants to a shaded area, for example.
The low-down on lawns
Spring is the most important time for lawn maintenance to ensure a lush growth in summer. The first step is to remove the old, dead lawn left over from winter and create some air pockets to encourage new growth.
To do this you will need to scarify your lawn by vigorously raking it to thin out the dead growth. Aerate the lawn to encourage growth by using a spiked roller or garden fork to pierce regular holes (about 20cm deep) across the surface. Lastly even out the surface of the lawn and add nutrients by applying a layer of lawn dressing. Water slowly and deeply once or twice a week.
Wage war on weeds
If you are establishing a new vegetable or flower bed in your garden, eradicate weeds by solarizing the area first. To do this take a big piece of clear plastic, and spread it out over the desired area and weigh it down on the edges with bricks or rocks. Leave the plastic over the area for four to six weeks. Any weeds that sprout will quickly be burnt or smothered. Applying a mulch of bark chips around new seedlings can also help to reduce weed growth.
Create a festival of flowers
To ensure a festival of florals throughout the summer, consider choosing a mix of annuals and perennials. Annuals are plants that last only one growing season, although they will likely self-seed the next year. Perennials remain alive from season to season, although many species die down in winter, only to shoot up again in spring. Annuals can add a fresh boost of colour to the garden and allow you to experiment with different colours and combinations, whereas perennials will remain the same year after year. Pinch the tips off flowers that are drooping or dead throughout the season to ensure a fresh growth. Any flowers you have in pots will benefit from an application of flower-based plant food.
Watering the waste-free way
Consider installing a drip irrigation or small area radial sprinkler system controlled by a timer to save water and ensure that your plants remain watered even when you aren’t there. This method will ensure regular watering and is far more cost effective than watering with a hosepipe or lawn sprinkler. If you are keen on improving your eco-credentials think about investing in a rainwater tank to collect and store the runoff from your gutters when it rains. You can also place a bucket in the shower and use any collected water for your pot plants.
Keep your fast spreading plants in check
There are several plants, which while beautiful, can quickly spread and choke back other species. The easiest way to keep these in check is to plant them in large plastic containers which have the bottom cut out and then plant the entire container in the ground. This will allow the roots to grow down but will keep the horizontal spread of the plant in check.
It’s time to get your hands dirty
Edgars Club members can save up to 10% on Lasher Tools at Jack’s Paint and Hardware. Simply show them your Edgars Club card at the till.
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