Make the most of your outdoor space
Late winter is the time to take a long look at your garden and plan how to make the most out of it in the coming season; even a few small changes can make a huge difference. If it is lacking in spring colour there are plenty of choices of spring bedding or potted bulbs in garden centres; so gaps in borders can be filled and pots of colour can be placed where they will be most appreciated. Hayes Garden World gives us their tips for making the most of your outdoor space.
Pruning shrubs and roses can be done to encourage fresh new growth and to make a nice thick healthy bush. Follow this by scattering some controlled release fertiliser or Growmore around the base of the shrubs, then mulching with chipped bark and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic show of flowers in summer. Now’s the time to take a look at the borders and fill in any gaps with shrubs or perennials; planted now they’ll have time to establish before summer. Cut down any perennials which were not cut back in autumn as they will soon be putting on new growth, place supports around the tall ones. Try weaving the supports out of whippy lengths of willow as they make a lovely decorative addition to the border before they’re obscured by the perennials.
Sow Sweet Peas if you want gorgeous scented blooms for the house throughout summer. You can get a huge crop from very little space by growing them up tripods on the corners of the vegetable beds. Tie in climbers back to a trellis or wires on the wall; climbing roses flower better if their stems are trained downwards instead of just letting them grow upwards. If you need a place to sit in the garden out of the sun, erect a pergola and plant a grapevine or scented climbers to provide dappled shade.
The vegetable garden also can be started into action by the planting of First Early potatoes; an absolute must to grow as their taste is a world away from the, usually very expensive, shop bought varieties. Also plant onions sets and shallots and sow peas and beans. Pot on any early sown vegetables and place outside in a cold frame to start hardening off. Dig over the rest of the plot, makes a fantastic work-out, ready for planting the veggies when the weather warms up. In readiness clean the greenhouse and sow your seeds; if you have a heated greenhouse you can harvest micro-herbs, packed full of nutrients and flavour, in as little as 3 weeks.
If you have the space a lovely green lawn can really enhance a garden and also make a fantastic space to play croquet. If the weather is warm and sunny the lawn may need its first cut of the season; make sure the lawnmower is at its highest setting. Once you’ve done this aerate the lawn and apply a weed and feed and you’ll pretty soon have a lovely green sward. This is also the time to make a new lawn either by sowing seed or laying turf, but it can be quite labour intensive and time consuming so may be a job for the professionals.
Pressure wash the patio or else spray with Algon and then leave it, the algae will disappear and the patio will be ready for the furniture and barbecue. Avoid any accidents by making sure the paving and steps are level and secured in place. If you have all-weather synthetic rattan furniture all it needs is a spray down on a warm windy day, the excess water wiped off then left to dry. Check the cushions to make sure they are not mildewed and invest in new ones if necessary; it’s amazing how just a new set of cushions can revitalise an old set of furniture. Clean down the barbecue, if it wasn’t done at the end of last season, then fire it up to make sure all parts are working. A day spent in the garden at the end of winter can really reap rewards later on in summer when you have a fantastic outdoor space for your guests to enjoy.
With a long horticultural heritage, Hayes Garden World are the leading online garden retailer for garden furniture, garden tools and garden accessories. www.hayesgardenworld.co.uk