Summer is on the way, and with it the chance to spend more time enjoying our outdoor space. Is your garden ready?
During the colder months we naturally spend less time taking care of our gardens, but when the weather warms up again in summer we immediately want to get out there and enjoy them. The trouble is, there’s often work required to get things looking good before we can sit back and enjoy the view!
If your garden is looking a bit tired, here are some suggestions for jobs you can tackle now. The weather is anything but predictable, so getting a head start now means you’ll be ready for outdoor living whenever the heatwave hits!
Tidy up borders
This is a great time of year to get on top of weeds in your beds and borders, before they get too established and tricky to remove. While you’re weeding, remove any old blooms on your plants and prune any shrubs that need tidying up. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to see where the gaps are and plan what plants you need to fill them. This is also the perfect time to enrich your soil with compost or fertiliser, before the growing season really gets underway.
Check gardening equipment
Garden equipment gets the vast majority of it’s use during the summer months, so make sure yours is up to the task. Give garden tools a good clean with a stiff brush, and sharpen any blades if required. Check your lawnmower cable for wear and tear, and clean any old grass from the underneath and the blades. Get rid of any broken or damaged equipment, and make a shopping list of things to replace.
Clean patios and decking
It always amazes me just how much dirt can accumulate on a patio or deck over winter. Brighten things up by giving yours a good sweep, then wash it down with hot soapy water, or a pressure washer if you have one. Remember to rinse with clean water afterwards, to avoid slippery surfaces.
Spruce up the shed
For me, this is the outdoor equivalent of a good old declutter! Drag everything out of the shed, get rid of any unwanted items, and give the inside a good sweep. At the same time, check for loose panels or damage to the roof felt, and repair if necessary. If your shed needs a new coat of wood preservative or paint, you could give it a real transformation with a different colour. Consider also adding hanging baskets, a bird box or other decorative ornaments to pretty up the exterior and give your shed a less practical feel.
After long months of frost, rain and general neglect, the chances are your lawn is in need of some attention. Use a garden fork to make holes in it at regular intervals, this aerates the ground and helps avoid waterlogging and compaction. You can also rake any ‘thatch’ from the surface; thatch is dead grass that becomes matted at soil level, and it can really inhibit growth of new grass. Once you’ve done all this, put grass seed on any bare patches and give your lawn a good feed with a product specially designed for grass.
Clean garden furniture
Nobody wants to sit on grubby garden furniture! Give everything a brush to remove dust, then clean with warm soapy water and rinse. If your furniture is wooden and showing signs of weathering, treat it with a wood protector and allow to dry thoroughly before use.
Add instant colour with containers
If your garden is still looking less than colourful, container displays are a brilliant way to give it an instant lift. Garden centres and DIY shops are full of bedding plants at this time of year, and you can create a lovely effect without spending a fortune. Think about where you’re going to position your containers before you buy any plants, and choose varieties that are happy with that location.
Get ready to entertain
Warmer weather means outdoor entertaining, so make sure your garden is ready for guests. Check your parasol still works and give it a brush down, and give the barbecue a good clean. If you have garden lights, clean any glass shades to improve their effectiveness, and stock up on citronella candles to keep insects at bay.
Review outdoor toys
In my experience, outdoor toys have a habit of quietly accumulating, and avoiding a clear-out even though the kids have outgrown them. Go through your collection and decide what to keep, then give everything a clean with the hose or warm soapy water. If outdoor toy storage is driving you mad, consider getting hold of some clear plastic crates that allow you to easily find everything.
That’s quite a list of jobs, isn’t it! You might not need to do every one though, and making a start now means you can tackle things at a leisurely pace while you’re waiting for summer to arrive. Do you have any other garden maintenance jobs you’d add to the list for this time of year?