1. Cut back colourful winter stems Plants grown for their colourful winter stems such as dogwoods, willows and ornamental rubus (bramble) need to be hard-pruned in early spring. As stems mature they tend to lose their vibrancy, so pruning is necessary to maintain winter colour and prevent shrubs becoming congested.
Plants should be 2-3 years old before you hard-prune them. Cut back to 5-7.5cm (2-3in) above ground. Rubus stems can be cut right down to the ground. Vigorous plants such as willow can be cut back every spring, those with more moderate growth, such as cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’, need only be pruned every few years.
2. Revive your lawn After a mild winter, your lawn will already need a quick mow and tidy up. For the first mow of the year, give it a light trim, setting the mower at its highest setting. Scatter grass seed on any bare patches and rake it in. Cover with net to keep off any birds until the seeds have germinated. Water every couple of days during dry spells. It should take a couple of weeks for the seed to germinate. Towards the end of the month, apply a spring lawn fertiliser or, for an organic alternative, chicken manure pellets to the surface of the grass and rake in.
3.Care for spring bulbs To ensure fabulous displays of spring bulbs every year, it’s worth giving them some care and attention over the coming weeks.
• Remove fading flowers. Either snap off the flower head with your fingers or snip off with secateurs. This will stop the plant sending energy into producing seeds and will encourage more floriferous bulbs next year. Wear gloves when touching daffodils and hyacinths as both can cause skin irritation.
• Leave the foliage and stems in place, however tempting it may be to cut them back or tie them up. Allow them to die back naturally for at least six weeks as the energy in the leaves will go back into the bulb.
• Feed with a general purpose fertiliser such as Vitax Q4 (£7.99 for 2.5kg). For bulbs grown in pots use a liquid tomato feed for 4-6 weeks after flowering.
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