With warmer weather getting us outdoors, it’s time to give our gardens some TLC to get it ready for spring growth. Our step-by-step guide goes through how to take care of your garden, as well as the gardening tools and equipment that can help make lighter work of sprucing it up.
When should you clean your garden?
Generally speaking, you should start cleaning up your garden in early spring. However, if you’re in a colder climate or it’s been a particularly cold year, then make sure you wait until the ground has thawed and dried out a bit.
Waiting until temperatures are a bit higher will also help prevent you accidentally killing bees and other pollinators that don’t emerge from their winter hibernation until it’s warm enough.
Of course, you don’t need to do a whole spring clean of your garden in one day, you can spread the tasks out over a few days or weeks in early spring to make it a bit more manageable.
With all this being said, there are still some things you can start doing in winter, such as picking up dead fruit, and collecting dried leaves to use as compost. Some green thumbs even swear by aerating the soil in the cooler months, rather than when it starts to warm up.
How to spring clean your garden
1. Prune shrubs, trees, and perennials
Early spring is generally an optimal time for pruning because it promotes new growth. Just make sure you don’t use your garden shears to trim shrubs that bloom early in the spring - wait until they’ve finished flowering to avoid accidentally cutting off the buds.
2. Remove mulch, thick leaves, and dead annuals
If you added mulch over your more sensitive plants in autumn, then you can remove this mulch as well as thick leaves that are sitting on top of your plants now that the weather is warming up.
It’s important to clear garden beds of dead foliage and fallen leaves so that flowers have room to grow. A hand rake can be pretty useful for removing mulch and debris around plants or stems, particularly if the plants are prickly.
Annuals won’t grow back after the winter, so pull dead ones from the root, and put them in a compost bin.
It’s a good idea to pull weeds in spring, before they have time to establish themselves. You can pull them by hand by getting a firm grasp of the steam and pulling, maybe using a garden hoe to loosen the soil around it, or you can use a tool like the Fiskars Weed Puller to make lighter work of weeding.
Make sure you remove the whole plant with its roots. Weeding is easier done when the soil is damp, so try doing it the day after it has rained or the day after you’ve wet the soil with a hose.
4. Mow and edge your lawn
The optimal time to mow your lawn is usually around mid-morning. That’s because dew will have dried up and the heat will not have set in yet. You typically should only remove 30 to 40 percent of the grass blade, because any lower can hinder your lawn’s root growth.
There’s no golden rule as to whether you should mow or edge your lawn first. Using a garden edger after mowing can be easier because it lets you more easily see what needs to be edged. However, edging first can mean less work for yourself, as your lawn mower can then suck up clippings left behind by the edger.
5. Plant away
Early spring is a great time to plant trees, shrubs, and flowers. You’ve already cleared the weeds, so now you just have to clear grass and dig compost or manure into the ground to prepare for your new plantings.
When buying plants, check the plant label on how much space you’ll need, as you’ll need to take into account the space they need to grow across and up.
It’s also a great time to repot plants that have outgrown their current pots. Place these into slightly larger pots with fresh potting mix.
6. Fertilise your garden
Now’s the best time to give your garden a healthy dose of fertiliser to encourage strong root growth and promote flowering. Make sure you also add fertiliser to bulbs when they start flowering; this can prolong the bloom time so that you can enjoy your flowers for longer.
Some fertilisers, such as the Seasol Seaweed Concentrate, also help plants cope with weather stressors, so they’re better adapted to the change in temperature.
Using a slow-release lawn food on your grassy patches and reseeding and returfing bare patches will also help keep your garden lush.
7. Wash patio furniture
Use a warm cloth or a hose to wash your patio furniture. Metal and plastic outdoor furniture can be cleaned with a mix of dish soap and warm water.
You may need to reoil or repaint any wooden furniture you have, and tighten nuts and bolts to make sure that your furniture is ready for a spring and summer of entertaining.
Know what to look for when buying outdoor furniture
If your outdoor furniture is looking a little worse for wear, then read our article on whether or not you need to splurge on outdoor furniture (spoiler: you don't).
We go through the materials to look out for so that you can get patio furniture that lasts you years to come. You can also read reviews of the top-rated Furniture Shops .
8. Clean paving, fencing, and decking
Use a broom to sweep debris that has accumulated on your paving and your deck, porch, or patio. Hose down your fence and pavement to remove more fine dust and debris.
For your deck, mix deck cleaner with water, following the instructions on the deck cleaner’s label and making sure you wear gloves, goggles, and a mask. Dip a broom into a bucket of the cleaning mixture and scrub the deck, leaving it for 10 to 20 minutes (or as instructed) before hosing it down.
For heavily soiled fencing, paving, and decking, a pressure washer may be your best cleaning option - if you don’t have one you can use a pressure washing service.
The bottom line
A good spring clean will do wonders for your garden's health, and will help keep it looking lush all throughout the warmer months.
On top of a spring clean, it can also be a good idea to plan ahead for what kind of changes you want to make to your garden the following spring.
If you’re not the keenest green thumb and the thought of a garden cleanup is a bit too much, then you can read reviews for the top-rated Gardening & Landscaping Services . A variety of garden maintenance services are listed, including mowers, tree removal specialists, landscapers, pavers, and more.