Dobbies’ Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles talks through how to get the most out of our gardens this spring, all the jobs we can be doing to take advantage of the longer days, as well as his top sustainable products. Marcus’ spring steps cover:
- Spring clean and prepare
- Plant bulbs for summer colour
- Grow your own fruit and veg
- Refresh your pots
- Design your beds and borders
- Care for your lawn
- Welcome wildlife
Spring clean and prepare
Spring cleaning your outdoor space is a crucial first step when it comes to preparing for the new season, giving you a fresh canvas. One of the easiest ways to tidy up your garden is by neatening your beds and borders for the growing season. You can do this by hoeing borders to remove weeds and applying a good layer of mulch or manure over the surface to lock in moisture and give plants a boost for spring.
Once you have removed weeds, Marcus suggests lightly trimming back winter flowering plants where blooms have started to fade and pruning summer flowering shrubs such as Buddleia and Hardy Fuchsias to allow for new growth that will produce an abundance of flowers. He also recommends pruning early spring flowering shrubs as required once flowering has finished, as this will give your beds and borders a tidier look.
Preparing your garden for spring is a task that should be undertaken by all gardeners, expert and beginners alike and is an easy way to transform your space. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to get your garden looking its best this spring, there’s a wealth of gardening content on social media to get you excited for the new season and inspire fresh ideas for your outdoor space.
Planting for colour
One of the most enjoyable spring gardening jobs is planting and there’s a wide selection of great plants that can be grown quickly in warmer soil for earlier blooms.
Plant summer flowering bulbs such as Dahlias for a burst of colour in the summer months, ensuring you mulch well and use peat-free compost. There is a huge range of other bulb types available at Dobbies now for summer flowers this year including Begonias, Gladioli, and Lilies.
Cottage garden plants can be planted now for a beautiful display in summer, and hardy annuals like Nigella, Centaurea and Calendula can be sown in spring to flower later in the year.
To achieve a natural look and avoid any plant damage, Marcus recommends inserting plant supports around any existing plants that are coming back to life and make sure you prune bush Roses back hard before the new season leaves begin to unfurl.
Grow your own
Spring is a wonderful time to plant soft fruit and vegetables for a summer harvest.
Soft fruits such as rhubarb, raspberries, blackcurrants, and blueberries can all be planted in spring, as can strawberry plants. For an early strawberry crop, Marcus recommends planting strawberry plants in ground enriched with manure and covering with cloches to encourage growth. If you’re planting apricots, peaches and nectarines, Marcus suggests protecting them from any late frosts as this can cause damage to their blossom and therefore no fruit will set.
For vegetables, Marcus says you should start by chitting (sprouting) your first early potatoes in trays ready for planting in the ground or potato pots/bags later in March. Now is the time to sow carrots, parsnips, spinach, and peas – just make sure you protect your crops from frost with a layer of fleece if the weather turns chilly.
Refresh your pots
Whether you have a sprawling lawn or a compact courtyard, pots, hanging baskets and containers are great for outside spaces of all sizes.
To ensure instant colour in your garden for the new season, Marcus recommends early spring bedding plants such as Pansies, Violas, Bellis, Primroses and potted bulbs to inject life back into your pots.
One of Marcus’s favourite ways to fill your garden with colour come summer is to grow bedding plants from young plants. You can plant these immediately into 9cm pots filled with peat-free young plant compost to be grown in a warm greenhouse, conservatory or well-lit windowsill, and then plant outside when the risk of frost has passed. This is a fantastic economical way to give your summer garden some beautiful colour, and Dobbies has an extensive range of bedding plants in store to choose from.
Beds and borders
Spring is the ideal time to get your beds and borders in shape for the longer days, with plenty of things to do to get them looking their best. Lightly trim back winter flowering plants that have started to fade, and pruning summer flowering shrubs, like Buddleia, Lavatera and hardy Fuchsias to allow for new growth this year. Early spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia can be also pruned as required once flowering has finished.
To give your garden structure, Marcus also recommends planting new container grown shrubs, hedges, and trees in spring as well as tending to your evergreen trees and shrubs. If you have evergreen trees and shrubs that need relocating, March is the last time to do this before the plants start growing again.
To feed your trees and shrubs, make sure to apply a slow-release general-purpose fertiliser, lightly forked into your borders, and don’t forget to feed your hedges too.
Depending on the weather, early spring is the time to prepare your lawn ready for sowing by cultivating soil and making sure the area is level and firm.
Alternatively, you can also lay new turf for quicker results. If doing this, Marcus says don’t walk on the new turf for several weeks to allow the new roots to establish.
Spring is also the time to straighten lawn edges with an edging iron and get the area looking neat, and as we approach summer, applying a lawn feed high in nitrogen to established lawns will encourage growth. Once your lawn is showing signs of growth, you can then give it the first light cut of the season. However, make sure the blades are kept on their highest setting at the start of the season so as not to scalp the lawn which will result in patches.
Spring is the perfect time to welcome wildlife into your garden, with small animals coming out of hibernation and new birds hatching into life.
To ensure your garden is a safe space for all wildlife, Marcus suggests dedicating a small section of your lawn and garden to creating a wildlife-friendly habitat and making sure you only use eco-friendly pest and weed control products.
To protect small animals and insects from cold weather and predators, you can make a shelter by stacking branches together and placing under any large shrubs, trees, or hedges. Planting wildflower seeds is also a great way to encourage pollinators, and only take a few weeks to bloom, making them a great choice for those looking to attract wildlife this spring.
Spring gardening calendar – ideas for your monthly garden focus, with new ranges for 2022:
|Hardy plants||Blossom (e.g. Magnolias & Cherries & Clematis Montana) New Michelia Fairy Magnolia in blush, cream & white||Acers New Acer palm varieties including Extravaganza, Shirazz & Starfish; Acer shirasawanum Moonrise & Jordan; Acer palm Cascade varieties including Citrine, Emerald and Gold||Clematis & climbing plants New Wisteria Blue Waterfall|
|Flower garden||Lupins, Delphiniums, Hollyhocks & Foxgloves||Aubretia & Saxifrage||Lavender New Lavender stoechas Fairy Wings blush, pink and purple|
|Bedding plants||Dianthus New Senetti varieties including Blue Biocolour and Magenta; New Dianthus varieties including Bacco and Peman||Marguerites and patio plants New Marguerite White and varities of patio plants including Calibrachoa, Surfinia & Double Petunia||Geraniums New Pelargonium varieties including Scented Cola, Scented Peppermint, Callicope Red; New Nemesia varieties including Aroma Heat of Gold, Rhubarb and Custard|
|Grow your own||Herbs; Strawberries New strip vegetable plants such as lettuce, cabbage & peas||Tomatoes||Vegetable Plants New patio veg plants including chilli peppers, mini-cucumbers|
Marcus’ top 6 garden must haves to get spring ready:
- Dobbies own-brand peat-free 50lt £6.99, 3 bags for £18
- Wilkinson Sword hand fork £6.99 and trowel £6.99, both on offer at £4.99
- Kent & Stowe Garden Life Hand 3 Prong Cultivator £9.99
- Gold Leaf Soft Touch Ladies and Gents Gloves £24.99
- Kneelo Kneeler Moss £16.99
- Folding kneeler seat £34.99
For more seasonal gardening tips and inspiration, and to browse Dobbies’ range for spring 2022, visit www.dobbies.com
Brooke Stirling, [email protected], 07578 139 237
Anna Laurie, [email protected], 07403 206 638