Spring gardening jobs
March is when you need to spring into action as it’s the start of the gardening year. The spring weather is every gardener’s friend. Frost is behind us and the spring sunshine provides the perfect climate for lots of lovely flowers to flourish and to sow the seeds for fruit and vegetables. We’ve put together a handy spring gardening checklist with the key tasks to carry out in your garden this season.
1. Gardening preparation for spring includes spring cleaning. Start with maintenance tasks such as painting pots and staining fences to keep them looking neat and tidy. Remove any weeds, including the roots. Most weeds can be added to your compost heap, although some may survive and then be spread on the garden, so care is needed. Alternatively, dispose of them in your green waste bin.
2. Redrow biodiversity manager Nicola Johansen said: “Weed control doesn’t have to mean using chemical treatments. Regular hand weeding and hoeing, then adding compost or other mulch, can help them at bay. If that sounds like too much hard work, think of weeds as wildflowers in the wrong place and leave an area of your garden untouched. Buttercups, daisies, dandelions, and thistles are among the wildflowers often considered weeds that attract bees and butterflies.”
3. Let the grass grow. Mowing the lawn doesn’t have to be a weekly or even monthly task. “Say ‘no to the mow’ and cut back on lawn maintenance to spring and autumn. This will create a meadow effect that will attract wildlife into your garden,” Nicola suggested. When you do mow your lawn, you’ll need to ensure the grass is dry and frost free. This may mean waiting until later in the day before cutting the grass.
4. Spring planting of summer garden plants will ensure your garden is in full bloom with colour in summer. Perennials such as geranium, astrantia and Oriental poppies can be planted from March-April. Your plants will need to be fully hard if you’re going to plant them outside before the final frost. Spring is also a good time to sow hardy annuals such as marigolds or summer-flowering bulbs like lilies and gladioli. Cornflowers and sunflowers are among the seeds that can be sown outdoors from May. Flowering plants that can be introduced in May include coneflowers and honeysuckle, which are both perfect for bees and other pollinators to feed on. You can buy these as small plants to transfer into your pots or flower beds. Whatever you choose to plant, it’s a good idea to check your soil first. If it’s too sandy or has a clay like texture you may need to tailor your planting choices or improve the mix with some compost.
5. Prune trees, shrubs and bushes before they flower. Removing any dead stems will help make way for new growth while keeping your garden neat. Species suitable for spring pruning include buddleia, fuchsia, hibiscus, hydrangea, lavender, and ornamental grasses.
6. Several vegetable seeds that are hardy to the cold can also be sown outdoors in early spring, including lettuce, spinach and cucumbers. Root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, radishes and potato can also be planted at a similar time, but all may need protecting with a frost cover if a cold night is forecast. From April to June you can plant pot grown strawberries too.
Summer gardening jobs
Gardening can keep you busy all year round. The summer months are the ideal time to sow and plant your vegetable patch and you’ll be able to enjoy the harvest through to the autumn months.
1. Add colour to your garden with summer bedding plants such as cosmos, geraniums and petunias and cosmos, (to name a few) which are not hugely expensive. Plants such as begonias, fuchsias and busy Lizzies will still blossom in light shade.
2. A key task for summer gardening is ensuring your plants and lawn are fed and watered, particularly on hotter days.
3. “A water butt can be added as an extra via My Redrow to collect rainfall that can then be used to water your garden,” Nicola added. “You could connect your hosepipe to the water butt’s tap or use a watering can minimise wastage.” For more tips on how to save water at home, read our guide.
4. As the seasons change, deadhead plants and spent flowers. Prune spring-flowering shrubs and take cuttings from shrubs and perennials in late summer. Root the shoots beneath a plastic bag in a light, warm but not scorching place, to avoid drying out.
5. “Swapping cuttings with neighbours, friends or family is a great low cost way of increasing the biodiversity of your garden,” Nicola added. “If you go easy with deadheading of self-seeding plants such as alliums, calendula, cosmos and marigolds you’ll have a natural source of free plants for the future,” Nicola added.
6. Sow the seeds of perennials and your vegetable patch to enjoy the harvest through to autumn. Salad leaves – like lettuce and pak choi – can be sown outdoors and do well in partly shady areas. You can also sow or plant courgettes outside in June. These are a great crop to place in pots as they can be quite prolific. Remember to ensure longer stems, like runner beans and tomatoes are well supported.
Autumn gardening jobs
As temperatures start to drop, along with leaves from the trees, it’s important to start preparing your garden for winter in the autumn to help ensure it blooms next spring and summer.
1. Lavish some love on your lawn by scarifying or raking it. Remove any debris including moss or loose grass. This will helps ensure water penetrates through to the soil.
2. Give your hanging baskets and the pots in your garden a seasonal refresh with autumn plants. Cyclamens, heather, pansies, primroses and violas can withstand the colder weather and are ideal autumn plants for hanging baskets, helping add a splash of colour to the entrance to your home . Options for autumn flowering plants include liriope muscari (also known as lilyturf or blue lilyturf,) asters and Japanese anemones. Now is also the time to plant spring bulbs ready for the year ahead.
3. Rake leaves after it’s rained and add them to your compost while they’re damp. This will help keep your garden nourished in future.
4. “Leave some of the leaves you’ve raked in piles for hibernating wildlife,” Nicola added. “Hedgehogs may use them to make their nests, butterflies – usually in the form a caterpillar or chrysalis – may also overwinter in piles of leaves. Leaf cover will also help protect other species underground from the cold.”
5. Go wild and build a bug hotel so insects have a cosy place ready for hibernation in winter. Leave seedheads on plants for birds to eat. Watch our podcast below for more tips on how to encourage wildlife into your garden.
Winter gardening jobs
Winter is a quiet time for gardening, meaning there’s time to plan for the year ahead. Read on to discover how to prepare garden for winter.
1. Attractive winter flowers and evergreen shrubs will keep your garden busy during autumn and fend off that stark empty winter look. Protect plants from frost using old newspaper as an eco-friendly crop cover for when frost is forecast. Bracken, straw, hessian or fleece can also be used to insulate plants. Remember to remove the insulation during milder weather. A top tip for winter container gardening is to elevate ceramic pots to prevent cracking during the frost.
2. Carry out light weeding of your garden throughout the winter as this will help save time in spring.
3. Prune hedges, bushes and shrubs after nesting season, which usually runs until August. The main upright of deciduous trees and shrubs should be cut back from November to March.
4. Maintain your tools and sort seeds ready for sowing from January to March. Milk cartons and plastic fruit and vegetable containers can be repurposed for sowing seeds. Perennials to sow in winter include delphiniums, foxgloves and geraniums, while annuals for winter sowing include marigolds, pansies and snapdragons.
For more ideas of how to prepare your garden for autumn and winter, read our guide.
Gardening for children
Inspire children to become real ‘grow getters’ from a young age.
1. Children love seeing the results of their work so the veg patch or a herb garden is a great place to start. Simple jobs like watering and weeding can help them to feel involved and, of course, they can enjoy sampling the fresh and nutritious produce they’ve helped to grow.
2. Bring some magic to your garden by helping your children to create a fairy garden in a tub or in their very own flower bed. Scented flowers like Lavender and Abelia look delicate and beautiful and will provide lots of nectar for bees. Children can add painted pebbles and pinecones to decorate their garden and create homes for their fairies by adding small upside-down clay pots with hand painted doors and windows.
For more ideas on how to make the most of your outside space, read our guide.