Growbag Blog

10 ways to sort out your spring garden

Are you charging around your patch like a demented chicken trying to get on top of all the jobs crying for attention?  No? Well, you jolly well should be! 

We 3Growbags have compiled a handy list for you to work through before you get to wine-o’clock…

  1. Cutting back. Dozens of summer-flowerers – roses, clematis, buddleias, hydrangeas, dogwoods, viburnums, hypericums, fuschias, hebes, etc should be tidied in spring. They all tremble before my flashing secateurs at this time of year. (A tiny aside here, my sisters gave me a super-duper pair of secateurs for my (rather big) birthday this year, and they have quickly become indispensable. But don’t tell them I told you, or they’ll get all smug.) Your aim is a neater plant now and improved flowering later. 
Tidy up those summer shrubs now for great flower-power later…..

Now here’s the thing – DON’T prune any of the early-flowering shrubs now – Philadelphus, Forsythia, Ribes (flowering currant) etc. These flower on wood that they made last summer – let the poor things flower before you approach with your pruners.

2. Weeding. The moisture-loving weeds have had a WHALE of a time this winter, while the sun-loving garden plants have been utterly miserable.  Caroline posted this pic on our WhatsApp group this week asking: ‘Is my Jerusalem sage dead?’… point proven I think. It’s time to get in there, and hoik out all those romping buttercups, docks, and nettles before they take over the world.

Caroline’s Jerusalem sage has clearly NOT enjoyed the damp winter

Leave a few weeds in a corner for the insects that need them, but there’s absolutely no need to let them overwhelm your pretty borders. A huge number of common garden plants will benefit our pollinators too – borage, marigolds, scabious, foxgloves, sunflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias, catmint, crocosmias, alliums, pulmonaria, lavender………… There’s truly no need to be a martyr to invasive ‘weed’ species, in order to tick the ecology box.

The buttercups have loved the wet winter – oik them out of the border before they take over

3. Tidy up the garden furniture. You’ll be needing all of this again before you know it, so check it all out now, and spruce it up, before a sudden day of warm sunshine and family calls for a BBQ catch you out with guano-spattered deckchairs or wonky wooden legs.

Prepping the garden furniture ready for visitors

4. Cleaning the greenhouse.  This job’s not much fun but needs to be done. Wash down the glass inside and out – the idea is to boost the light levels and reduce the chance of moulds etc. affecting your plants.  I use water with a little washing-up liquid and disinfectant added, though you can get proprietary cleaners for the job. Clean out the gutters and water-butts too.  That’s it – sainthood guaranteed.

Not a chore I enjoy much but the spring-clean of the greenhouse has got to be done!


Hmmm, that all sounds quite hard work from our workaholic sister (I do want to see a video of cleaning out the water-butt!) so here are a few quicker fixes if you need the place to be looking ship-shape for the Easter Family Gathering…..

5. Trim back spring borders. Whilst Elaine was waving round her big expensive secateurs (well you’re only 70 once) you can achieve a very satisfactory result using a little pair of garden snips in area of spring planting by tidying up your ferns and epimediums to allow their new growth to sing out.

Trim off the old tatty leaves of your ferns now

6. Swap the pots – It’s time to drag all the pots of ornamental cabbage, miniature cyclamen and Christmas roses behind the garage and wheel in the pots of tulips to instantly make the place feel more optimistic. If you didn’t get round to planting any just spend a bit more and buy them ready made and pretend that you grew them.

Replace the early spring flowerers with pots of tulips all raring to go

7. Put in some plant supports. Even though your herbaceous perennials may only just be appearing through the ground I think it always looks quite exciting if some sort of architectural support is put in place – signalling the anticipation of great things to come.

Put your plant supports in early – they will soon disappear under all the new green growth but be there in the background – like a stout corset!

Caroline cuttings

8. Make a compost heap. I note Elaine and Laura are happily snipping away left, right and centre, but it takes the practical sister to think about what to do with the trimmings. It’s actually illegal to lob them over the fence across the street (don’t ask me how I know this 🙄). So, if you haven’t already got one, it’s time not only to create a compost heap, but make at least two; to start chopping up tougher stems before adding them to your ‘heap’; turning your heap and generally becoming a complete heap aficionado.You’ll be pleased you did, it’s the right thing to do.

Elaine loves her compost heap and so should we all!

9. Primp your paths. It’s still windy and cold here in the Highlands and although early morning garden inspection circuits have resumed, the paths are soggy and ill-defined. If you can’t afford sandstone paving (I wish) get down to Lidl, remembering a £ for the trolley, and stock up on bark chippings or if you want a proper job, call up Travis Perkins and get some rubble or gravel delivered. Gardens are not just about the plants, but how they are presented and how you experience them. Nothing says ‘this garden is as it should be’ than a well-kept path along which to potter.

Give all your paths a make-over – it’s all about presentation, darling!

10. Plan your veg. Finally, what’s your veg strategy this summer? Going to go all raised beds? Grow peas or lettuces in pots? Tatties in sacks? Will you sow your own seeds or buy plugs? You’ll have to double-down on some of these decisions by Easter because, just as Christmas Day suddenly occurs in mid Autumn, Spring could be past in a minute without a word of warning!

Salad trug
What will your strategy be for your veg growing this year?

Bonus job: Mow the lawn.While you’re having a think about all of this, why not mow the lawn? Just another little task to tackle if you’re bored this week 😃!

These are on our ‘to do’ list, what jobs are on yours? We might need to add them!

N.B. Here is the link to Laura’s video about tidying her spring border.

N.B. Isn’t this little squill a welcome sight! Josiah Wedgwood himself couldn’t emulate such a beautiful hue of blue. It’s Louise’s Great Plant of the Month…

Are you fully equipped for the gardening months ahead? Best take a quick peek at our shop…

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

4 replies on “10 ways to sort out your spring garden”

How to tell when an evergreen plant is not well. Hold leaves in your bare hand and if it feels cold, it is transpiring, that is, moisture is being passed out through the stomata. If they feel warm, even on a cold day, they are expiring, with little hope of resurrection.

I trimmed my patches of grass for the first time here in Edinburgh the day before your article. Then in the morning, a badger had visited gouging out chunks of turf. You should see the mess in the botanic garden!

Very interesting Bill – did not know that about evergreen plants. Im not sure of the point at which warm might feel cold and viceversa though. I suspect you need some seasoned horticultural experience such as yours for that!
Interesting about the badger damage. They seem much more prevalent these days. Up here in the Highlands it the night-time activities of wild boar that’s concentrating minds but they haven’t yet made it into gardens yet! Very best wishes to you as always. Caroline

Good day ladies, all helpful info thanks, but I’ve read no mention of ….COUCH GRASS as long as I’ve been reading your blogs: bind weed pales into insignificance, and that’s saying something. Open ground, easy-peasy but when those roots find themselves snuggling amongst other of your ‘darlings’, then heeeeelp! I acknowledge there are many youtube advice-givers, but I return to base shaking with frustration (that doesn’t help the calming effect that gardening is supposed to offer!!!). Oh, and enjoy your birthday pressy Laura. I LOVE my Felco secateurs, which I’ve treasured for maybe 40+ years! Yes Laura, I’m somewhat envious of your youth(fulness), and may you continue to enjoy (couch excepted!) this wonderful pastime for many decades to come, and the same applies to your lovely sisters. Thank you all.

Scott you raise a very good point. We could probably share more about ‘weed pain’ given its persistence in our lives. And yes you’re right it’s when the blooming things get inextricably mixed up with one’s precious plants that the problems really start.
Time to give yourself an Easter present of a razor hoe I think! One thing’s for sure, we’re all locked in the same battle so don’t give up! Very best wishes to you Scott for Easter and the summer beyond, Caroline (and the other two)

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