Charlie’s Spring maintenance Tips
Spring is a fantastic time in the garden as all the plants wake up from their cold winter slumber, when vibrancy returns to the garden and buds burst into leaf. It is a time when things can easily get away from you so I suggest starting your spring gardening campaign with a blast and use these 5 handy hints to give your garden a good old fashioned spring clean.
Start by pulling out all the weeds that grew over winter. It’s amazing how all your ornamentals slow right down over winter however there is no stopping weed growth! The most effective way to kill weeds roots and all is to get under them with a fork and pull/lift them out of the soil. This does have its drawbacks as you often break the roots off but they regenerate.
With all the recent exposure on the negatives of using chemical sprays, I have fallen in love with Beat-A-Weed, an all Natural weed spray, it’s basically salt and vinegar with a few other natural ingredients thrown in and you can literally watch the weeds perish as the day ticks on. For really tricky weeds, a second application may be required but unlike chemical sprays it’s fine to do so the next day.
Then you need to prune your deciduous trees and shrubs before they put on leaf again. They will require a good prune whilst you can truly appreciate the shape and start by removing any dead wood to open up the shape of the plant. Then remove any crossing and rubbing branches as these could cause infection to the plant if left to rub the bark off completely. Finally, prune to the shape you are after – most trees can be left to take their own natural shape but certain shrubs look better with a more formal pruning.
For rejuvenating old and tired shrubs (both evergreen and deciduous) most can be cut down by a third and they will bounce back with renewed vigour and denser growth.
Enrich your soil no matter the type with with Richgro Compost; This will help retain moisture and nutrients in the soil and give the plants some long lasting food throughout the season. For new beds, dig it through the soil and for existing full garden beds, apply to the top of the bed like a mulch. If you are on very sandy soil, try mixing through Richgro Cow Manure for extra stability and water and nutrient holding qualities – check out my handy video to help improve your soil.
Fertilising your plants is really important as they will be just about to put on lots of new growth as the heat of spring comes back. I fertilise now with a slower release fertiliser such as Richgro Blood and Bone as this will release its nutrients slowly and when needed. Applying a slow release fertiliser now ensures it is there ready to go and none is wasted by applying it earlier where it could simply wash through the soil. I also supplement with a liquid fertiliser when the plants start showing signs of growth. I like a liquid fertiliser high in Nitrogen and Iron such as Black Marvel Rose / Citrus / Tomato & Vegetable as these are the nutrients that supports the important leaf growth at the beginning of the season. Liquid is a great way to feed as it is taken up instantly so only need applying when you see growth.
Now for the fun part where you see fast results – plants! Fill in all the gaps and empty spots in the garden beds remembering to plant with enough room to allow the plants to grow. There is nothing worse than overplanting and having to rip things out.
Getting some seeds going for a late spring plant out in the veggie patch is also a good idea and you can get an early jump on things like tomatoes and soft salad leaves if you germinate them inside on the warm windowsill.
After all the hard work of weeding, digging and planting, giving the garden a good soak is a great way to start the season off on the right foot and help to settle the new plants in. Applying a soil wetter is vital to the ongoing success of your spring garden and as we have had a very dry winter. When you have a prolonged period of drought the soil can get a film over it making it water repellent and any water applied simply runs off instead of in. Combatting this with Richgro Ezi Wet Soil Soaker either applied via a watering can or a spray on hose applicator will make all future watering and rain soak down to where the plants need it rather than off down the drain.
After a good soaking apply a layer of organic mulch, such as Richgro Pine Bark. This mulch helps water to get into the soil more slowly so it is more useful, prevents evaporation and soil erosion, looks good, helps keep weeds down and breaks down to help feed and add organic matter to the soil over time. I apply mulch to a depth of 75mm – any more and water finds it hard to get in and any less you’ll suffer too much evaporation from the ground up, and the weeds will still push through.
To get Charlie’s gardening tips direct to your email sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page!