Our Top Jobs This Month
Finally, the arrival of Spring! Sunnier and warmer days provide the opportunity to increase your gardening tasks. We’ve put together a list of jobs worth focusing on this month.
Late Winter is the best time to prune climbing and rose bushes, but some rose varieties have particular timing. If you find yourself with an unknown rose, for example inherited or have lost the label, following our basic tips to get started. Avoid cutting singular thick stems on climber roses too vigorously as it may struggle to regenerate. If there are several stems remove the oldest looking stems to as near to the base as possible. To prune rose shrubs, remove one or two stems as close to the ground as possible, or remove low down to younger looking side stems.
Remember to feed your pruned roses with general or rose fertiliser and mulch the garden with compost or manure for best results.
Hard prune coloured stems and large foliage late Winter/early Spring before the leaves begin to appear. Hard pruning leaves the roots and shoots ratio in balance and the new growth with also re-establish this balance. Do not hard prune plants until they have had at least a year or two to establish, cut back larger plants to 60-90cm (2-3ft) and 5-7.5cm (2-3in) for smaller plants. By pinching or thinning out sideshoots you will encourage further branching. Vigorous plants will require annual pruning whereas less vigorous plants may only need pruning every couple of years.
Most perennials benefit from division every two to three years to maintain a healthy plant and can be divided at almost any time of the year as long as they kept well-watered afterwards. For Summer flowering plants, divide during the Spring or Autumn when the soil is dry enough to work with and for Spring flowering plants, divide during the Summer after flowering.
- Gently remove plants from the soil using a garden fork, working outwards from the crown’s centre to limit root damage, and shake off any excess soil so that the roots are visible.
- For large or tough lumps use a sharp knife, lawn edging iron or axe to cleave the lump in two.
- Make sure plants do not dry out whilst re-establishing.
- Carry out slug and snail control, often the most problematic pests for perennials.
Both onions and shallots are a relatively undemanding crop with good yields if planted in open, sunny sites with well-drained soil. Soil that is too wet, or acidic or humid environments makes the crop more prone to disease attacks. You can either grow onions and shallots from sets or from seed, which tends to be more challenging. If you are sowing sets, plant in early to mid Spring 5-10cm apart with 25-30cm between each row for onions, and 15-20cm apart with 30-45cm between each row for shallots. Plant at about 2cm depth or push sets into the loose earth leaving only the tips of the sets/bulbs showing. Hand weed regularly and consider laying weed control membranes to suppress weeds and water every 14 days during long spells of dry weather.
Planting bulbs in borders now is a great way of adding colour to your garden. Tulips for example come in a huge variety of shades, from dark purple to white, whereas Snowdrops and Scillas, although they are some of the earliest flowering plants, offer much more muted colours. If you are looking for a dramatic flowering plant, plant tall scented blooms such as Lilies and Gladioli and Autumn flowering bulbs, such as Nerines, can unexpectedly bloom late season offering colourful displays.
Consider where the bulb originates from before planting. Does the soil and environment suit the bulb for successful growth? Some garden soils may need improving compost and grit. Click to view our range of specialised Topsoil.
Slugs can make a meal of a wide range of vegetables and ornamental plants, especially seedlings and other soft growth which can make growing these plants difficult if you have a slug problem. Slugs mostly feed at night and leave behind a slime trail and tend to cause most damage to plants during warm humid periods.
Look out for the following:
- Slime trails on hard surfaces, leaves and stems.
- Irregular holes in leaves.
Control your slug population and limit damage by using either chemical or non-chemical methods; but be aware that chemicals and pellets can be dangerous to other plants, wildlife and children, or, if it is possible move plants and crops into pots and planters or put up barriers.
Weeds can be control without using weed killers and chemicals, but some persistent or deep rooted may be difficult to eradicate. To minimise work and prevent weed growth in Spring and Summer, we advise laying weed control membranes in late Winter or early Spring and adding a deep layer of organic mulch such as bark or wood chippings to smother weeds around plants. Keep this topped up to a minimum depth of 10-15cm and keep woody stems clear to prevent rotting. Click to view our range of Professional Weed Control Membranes.
Weeds can also be removed manually by running a hoe over or between bed rows to kill weed seedlings. Hand-pull or weed with a fork before they set seed and dig out as much root, or bulb, of perennial weeds as possible. For tricky areas between paving stones a knife with a hooked end is useful or for large areas of weeds, repeated cutting will weaken and even kill some weeds.
Ponds and aquatics make a beautiful feature for any garden and provide a rich habitat for a range of wildlife but if uncared for can become an eyesore with overgrown plants, weeds, algae and dirty water.
The best time to fully clean ponds is in late Autumn when creatures are less active, but can be cleaned throughout the seasons. Mid-Spring to early Summer is the best time to purchase pond plants as the plants will respond well the warming water temperatures. Keep around 50% of the surface free from vegetation by occasionally thinning out plants throughout the Summer.
The Spring is the best time to regularly divide and re-pot deep water aquatics with floating leaves, such as water lilies. Place containers on raised bricks lowered in stages as the plants grow, so the leaves can always reach the surface until the final depth is reached when the plant is mature. If you are not going to re-pot your Lilies they will benefit from a supplementary feed in the spring with a specialist aquatic plant food to encourage better flowering.
Should you need any help or advice, contact us on 0330 058 5068 8am-5pm. We love receiving customer photographs, if you have any tips for March or have completed these jobs yourselves, send us a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature it on our social media pages.