Spring is almost here, and with it comes the excitement of a new growing season. A wet July and a few chilly weeks in August have probably kept most of us inside up to now but, weather permitting, now is the time to don those boots and get your garden ready for spring. There’s still a few weeks to get everything in order before the weather starts to warm up and things ‘spring’ into action (sorry about that).
Take a stroll through the garden and make a list of jobs that need doing and make note of any areas that could do with a total revamp. You could draw up a plan as well as a list noting down any trees that may need removing on it, any damaged branches that can be pruned back, looking carefully for any signs of disease –generally you’re looking for any trees and shrubs that could use a tidy up or be removed altogether. There’s some pesky broad-leaf privet Ligustrum lucidum that has sprung up in my own backyard so I’ll need to get it removed before it spreads –and since it’s classed as a noxious weed in Sydney the sooner I get onto that the better!
If you are planning on removing some branches be careful if pruning spring flowering trees such as members of the crabapple family (Malus) and flowering cherry (Prunus) –you don’t want to cheat yourself out of their beautiful flush of early spring flowers!
Apart from tree removal and any general tree pruning you can also make a start trimming your established hedges. If you haven’t given them a winter prune as yet then now is the time to get their shape in order before the new growth begins. Topiary can also benefit from a manicure at this stage and much like your hedges a general shape can be cut and established before they explode into action in the months ahead –think of it as a template for the spring and summer.
In anticipation of this new growth you can add some organic matter such as cow, sheep or horse manure to all your garden beds to help improve the soil quality. Sprinkle some blood and bone around the place and aerate the ground with a few quick turns of your trusty fork. And, of course, if you have any of your own home-made compost now is the time to use it.
Rake your lawn to remove the dead thatch that has built up over the winter and give it a top dress to encourage growth and fill in any bare patches that may have appeared over the winter months. Lawns should also be aerated now as this will encourage good root development and promote a lushness that will help reduce weeds.
Perennials such as agapanthus, cliveas and cannas can be lifted and divided. You can replant these new plants into any empty or bare spaces –perhaps some left behind by any tree removal you may have done over the winter.
This lovely cool weather should be embraced, especially if the sun is out. The opportunity to break a sweat in much more pleasant conditions will guarantee you pleasing results come spring. So get out there and enjoy yourself!