Dreaming of a bright summer garden but the reality is a dreary plot of dead perennials, soggy grass and a lot of winter clutter? Take heart from the fact you’re not alone and follow these simple ideas to inspire you to plan ahead for the spring – and perhaps even brave the cold to wake up your winter garden with a few easy jobs.
Supplement your spring bulbs
If you forgot to plant spring bulbs in the autumn, really don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply get yourself down to your local nursery and pick up a few pots of daffodils, hyacinths or anything else that’s already come into flower.
Arrange them on the patio right outside your window, and enjoy the instant colour. Just a few jolly blooms will instantly perk up your garden – and when they’ve gone over, you can replant the bulbs around the garden for next year.
Tidy up your borders
After the gloom of January, the sun starts to peek out intermittently in February. Make the most of those quick appearances to get outdoors for a tidy-up.
If you didn’t put your garden to bed in the winter, you probably have a few borders with dead perennial stalks all over them. Get out your secateurs and cut everything back to the base, then give the soil a weed and a rake.
This quick tidy-up should make a huge difference to the look of your outside space, and you’ll feel as if you’ve made a start on your garden ahead of the new season.
Clean out nesting boxes
If you already have a nesting box installed in your garden, now’s a good time to get it ready for birds who want to use it. First, check for any birds or rodents that might have been using it over the winter – if there are any creatures still in there, leave them to it and come back to clean the box another time. Otherwise, use boiling water to clean the inside of the box and kill any parasites.
You can put nesting boxes up even earlier than February, and in fact the RSPB recommends positioning them in autumn or winter for birds to use over the winter months, and for them to get used to the box. But now is also a good time to install one. The key is to make sure it’s in the right place. A shaded spot facing north or east is ideal to ensure the birds don’t overheat during the day.
Plant a bare-root tree
If you’re itching to get out and start some proper gardening, you could make the most of the bare-root planting season. Trees and shrubs that are planted with a bare root are cheaper than the potted varieties you’ll find later in the year, and by planting them this way, you’ll help them get off to a really good start.
Blitz the patio
Want to instantly pep up your outdoor space? A clean patio can prove a radical transformation after the winter. Hire a pressure washer and get outside in your wellies to jet away the dirt and slime that’s accumulated on the surface. It might seem like a lot of effort, but it’ll be well worth it when you look out at your bright, clean paving.
Once your garden is tidy and clean, with a few potted blooms to look out at, you can grab yourself a chair by the window and start dreaming up ideas for warmer days. Take a look on sites such as Houzz to find inspiration, then collate an ideabook of images you’d like to use for your own space.
Think about the kind of garden you want to create, whether that’s a wildlife haven or something easy-maintenance, and research a mixture of shrubs, perennials and annuals that will give you colour all spring and summer. Planning ahead will save you money, as you can decide to grow some plants from seed on your windowsills or buy plug plants that are much cheaper than the more established ones available later.