Early spring garden work saves time later on!

23 Mar 2016

With temperatures gently climbing it is a great time to get out into your garden and prepare for the growing season. Any work now saves a huge amount of effort in the summer when you should be sitting back and enjoying your garden in the comfort of a deck chair rather than battling against herbaceous borders and over rampant shrubs and trees.

Now is a great time to prune your evergreen hedges, trees and shrubs. There are only a few weeks before temperatures consistently rise above 12 degrees Celsius which triggers evergreen plants out of their dormancy period. The best time to prune evergreens is just before they break dormancy, cutting down the time they are deprived of their leaf to a minimum.

With some notable exceptions such as Birch which weep profusely if pruned this time of year, it’s also a good time to tackle deciduous trees. I hammered back my Corylus avallana Zellernus to just 30cm above ground level yesterday from a 2.5 metre multi stem bush, and this will recover to and grow to 1.5m by late summer with large lustrous red and green leaves. The resulting prunings, cut up into 20cm lengths, filled one of our 65lt pots and this will keep me in kindling for my log burner for all of next winter’s fires. That would have cost me over £20 if I had bought it from my local outlet and I have stored the bag in my garden shed to gently dry off over the summer months to be ready for action by October.

For non-woody plants that can’t be usefully recycled for later on, now is also a great time to keep filling up your green waste wheelie bin with the dead tops of all the ferns and herbaceous plants that have died down over winter. My green bin collection is every two weeks and if I keep them filled this time of year it saves no end of grief later on in the season. For those with more space to compost their own material, these tops can be used for soil ameliorant later on down the line. Not only is it a very negative thing for a plant to be pruned in leaf, it is also twice the job to get rid of the prunings than it is now when they are dormant. Try and avoid battling your garden in May and June. It’s twice the job then than doing it now and you will be toiling in the weather we have been so long waiting for to enjoy!

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