Preparing the garden for spring planting

Posted by Sarah Jane Humphrey on

Words by Alice Whiting

At this time of year, we may still feel like the warmth and colour of summer is far away - but starting to think ahead to all the abundance of things that can be grown this year can give us some motivation to get things organised in the garden. Here are some things we can be doing over these quieter winter months to prepare our gardens, or any outdoor green space we tend to - be that pots on a balcony or plants in an outdoor windowsill. 

Photos by Annie Spratt 

During January and February, ordering seeds and bulbs to plant in spring for summer flowering is a good idea so we’re all ready to go when the growing season arrives. Also putting in an order for some compost, pots and seed trays (or more eco-friendly alternatives such as preparing cartons and cardboard seed pots) can help you to be one step ahead for the upcoming season. If you enjoy raising plants with a longer growing season from seed, such as summer flowering bedding plants, then these can be planted now and left to germinate in a frost-free environment, for example a sunny indoor windowsill.

If you can get out into the garden, or even if you have pots on a balcony or windowsill, now is a great time to give beds and pots a tidy up, removing weeds as you go. You can cut back old dead growth of herbaceous perennials (plants that die back every year then send up new growth the following year) and it’s even possible to move deciduous plants and trees that might be in the wrong position to new ones, while they are still dormant. 

Photos by Annie Spratt 

If you have a space for growing vegetables, or some space in a garden border, digging well-rotted organic matter into vegetable beds and borders can help improve the fertility of the soil and the structure for the growing season. Though try not to dig the soil when it’s very wet, as this can impact the soil’s drainage and structure. 

As well as tidying up plants in the garden borders, making a start with cleaning and tidying in the shed or greenhouse can give us a great sense of accomplishment and help prepare for spring planting. Giving glass in the greenhouse and shed a good clean will help allow valuable light in for those new seedlings in spring. Washing out old pots and seed trays with detergent will help to remove any pests and diseases that may be lurking, so they are clean and ready to go. Making sure gardening tools are cleaned, sharpened and oiled is also a great thing to do now to bring your garden toolkit back to life. 


Photos by Annie Spratt 

Remember to put out some water and food for garden birds during these cold winter months and if you’re feeling really organised, collecting rainwater during this time will help conserve water during the drier months. We may need a bit of a push to get gardening at this time of year, but getting things ready now will pay off when we have more time for growing things later in the year!

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