Wednesday, 16 March 2011 7:22 PM
At the first sign of warm weather, gardeners often rush out to prepare their lawns, allotments, vegetable patches and flowerbeds for the summer ahead.
But what steps should you take to ensure your garden is at its best for the summer?
You will want to make sure that you have made plenty of room for new growth, so your first order of business should be to do a thorough spring clean. This includes gardening basics such as removing any dead annual plants and pruning back perennials that have been left standing over the winter.
These should be cut back at the very first signs of new growth so that your blooms won't get tangled in old and tattered foliage.
Next, you'll want to pay particular attention to your soil. Spring is when plants are more likely to enjoy a heavy feed and will require the most nutrients in the soil. But before you start adding fertilizers, it may be wise to test your garden and determine how balanced things are.
This can be done with a simple soil test kit, which will let you know which nutrients you need to add so you can fertilize your plants in an efficient way.
It is important not to begin work in the garden too early - test your soil by taking a handful and making it into a ball. When the ball falls apart easily - indicating damp soil that is not sticky or soggy - you are ready to plant.
In fact, planning your garden even before the soil is ready is a wise idea. If you intend to shop for seeds, this task is best done during the winter months, when you'll have the best selection to choose from. Other wintertime tasks can include cleaning or repairing your garden furniture and sharpening blades on any hand tools you are likely to use.
You may also wish to have your lawnmower serviced at this time so it is ready to go in the spring. While you are at it, it could be a wise idea to spend some time organising your garden shed so that it is ready when you need it. Cleaning your plant pots and ensuring you have enough planters and starter trays may also save you some time when the weather warms up.
Once you have prepared your soil and are ready to plant, it is important to ensure you follow the instructions on your seed packets. Most of them will suggest a good time to plant after the last frost of the year - six weeks is a general guideline.
If any of your plants will need propping up on stakes as they grow to their full height, it is a wise idea to start this process while they are still forming.
While this can mean that your stakes are visible for a few weeks as you wait for your plants to grow around them, it could save you quite a bit of hassle in the long run if you leave this job until the plants are more established.
Working in your garden can be an incredibly rewarding task and you may find that with a bit of help at the outset, you are capable of creating a brilliant green space for your entire family to enjoy.
In fact, spending more time in your garden may even inspire you to make additional green home improvements to boost your property's eco-friendliness.
You may wish to investigate options such as double glazing, a top-up on your cavity wall or loft insulation, or even invest in a new energy efficient condensing boiler.
Whether you need a little bit of help setting up or maintaining your garden - or want to take your garden inspiration indoors with eco-friendly home improvements - Rated People can help.
This helpful website can connect you to the best gardeners, plumbers, builders and other recommended tradesmen, so you can be sure to find the right person to help you get the job done.
Before you know it, you'll be enjoying a fabulous green space that you helped to create - and building memories to last long after the summer months have faded.