Spring is on its way but it’s not safe to sow half-hardy annuals outdoors until the risk of frost has passed at the end of May… In the meantime, here are three seasonal jobs for now – feed and repair lawns, rejuvenate houseplants and prune straggly early-flowering shrubs.
Spring is a good time to indulge your lawn to repair it after winter and prepare it for the rigours of April showers, summer baking, constant footfall and mowing.
- Feed for health and vigour. Use a spring feed to help make the grass grow thicker, healthier and greener. A slow or controlled-release granular fertiliser will supply nutrients over several weeks. Try to apply evenly, always at the recommended rate.
- Tackle weeds and moss. A triple-action weed, feed and mosskiller can be used on lawns with a weed problem and light show of moss. Dig out perennial weeds such as plantains and dandelions by hand and aerate areas with thick moss growth using a garden fork.
- Reseed bare patches. To thicken up bare patches, rake over the area to loosen the top 2.5cm (1in) of soil, sprinkle with grass seed and lightly rake it in to ensure it’s in contact with damp soil. Water and check it regularly to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Don’t mow until it’s growing strongly.
Houseplants that have been largely dormant over winter are starting back into growth so it’s an ideal time to repot them and increase watering and feeding. Root-bound plants can be potted on to the next size container – only up to an inch bigger than the original. If they don’t need repotting, carefully remove the top layer of compost and replace with fresh, to boost nutrient levels. Trim off dead or damaged leaves, check for signs of pests and disease and treat with an eco-friendly spray such as Ecofective Bug Control (£9.98 1L spray).
Prune stragglers & early flowering shrubs
ONCE DAYS start to get longer and warmer, tidy up straggly tender plants and cut back early bloomers.
• Tender perennials such as penstemons and some salvias can be cut back now to encourage new growth. Cut dead stems back to healthy wood, then the main branches back to a sideshoot or growth bud. Give those that are getting large and woody at the base a harder prune.
• Deciduous ferns will soon be unfurling their fresh green croziers. To prevent their appearance being spoilt, take any old remaining brown leaves back to ground level.
• Early spring-flowering shrubs such as ribes and forsythia can be pruned straight after flowering. To keep plants compact but healthy, cut back one-third of the flowered stems to 50cm (20in) each year. Evergreen Garrya elliptica with its tassel-like catkins also benefits from a trim once its catkins start to dry out.
• Mulch around the base of plants with well-rotted compost after pruning to encourage healthy growth.