My wife will tell you that the winter months are not kind on my outlook and general positivity. The dark mornings and early nights are a bit of a mood hoover for me and what with the ‘C’ and ‘L’ words that are on everyone’s minds, I feel I’ve morphed into the character and personality of Victor Meldrew (If you can remember him) this winter.
However, February is always a turning point in the year for me. You see the first signs of daffodils taking over roadsides and roundabouts which marks the transition between winter and spring. The nights become a little lighter and there is a sense of optimism and excitement for the spring and summer ahead. I’m sure many of us feel that more than any previous years we can remember.
The aim of this short blog or newsletter is to help others get the most out of their garden throughout the year. Whether it be a large plot with borders, beds and climbers or a simple courtyard with a few pots, we’d like to offer some tips on the best way to prepare for the season or month ahead and provide a variety of specimens that could work in the space you have.
My 3 Top Tips:
1: Understanding your soil:
Before investing in new plants or shrubs, it’s important to understand the type of soil you have in your garden. There’s a sense of joy when you see something you’ve planted thriving but also disheartening when you see your plants struggle and your hard work not be rewarded.
Testing your soil for its type and pH (it’s acidity or alkalinity) is a fundamental beginning to a flourishing garden. Your soil may have a proportion of clay, making it heavy and wet, not ideal for plants that like free draining soil. Some may have very Sandy soil, which almost drains too well and retains little moisture. Somewhere in the middle is ideal. This soil is referred to as ‘loamy’.
Testing kits can be bought in most good garden centres and the process straightforward. Remember, it’s easier to plant the types of flowers and shrubs that like the soil you have than to change the pH of your earth.
2: Get the best out of your lawn:
Your lawn is the biggest living organism in your garden and also takes the most punishment throughout the year. Therefore, it’s vital in the winter months, with less traffic to take some simple steps to help it look great in the months ahead.
Wait until the garden has drained well and isn’t too soggy underfoot. By using a garden fork, push 6 inch holes into your lawn and give it a good wiggle around to open up the holes. Complete this process every 6 inches. By doing this you are aerating the soil which in turn helps create a thicker more healthy looking lawn. Once you have finished, immediately spread sharp sand, horticultural sand (not building sand) or a sand and soil mixture and work into the holes with a stiff broom to ensure the holes do not close up to quickly.
3: Fertilize your beds:
With not a huge amount happening in your beds in February it’s the perfect time to add the all important fertilizer to your planting areas.
You should really be looking towards organic based fertilizers that contain ingredients such as blood, chicken manure, hoof & horn, fish & bone and seaweed. These natural nutrients are released at a slower pace and therefore, available to plants longer which in turn provides a more sturdy, robust plant rather than one that has been rushed by chemical additions. Remember to add these a good few weeks before planting to allow the nutrients to work its way into your soil.
This perennial enjoys well draining soil and full sunlight. Perfect for growing in a raised bed or pots and flowers end of winter to early spring.
Camellia X Williamsii ‘Contribution’
- February is a hungry month for wildlife. Make sure you have plenty of food and water out for your birds.
- This is your last chance to make sure all of your tools are in working order for the year ahead. Make sure your mower or hedge cutter has been serviced, petrol (if required) is topped up and stored safely, strimmer wire is stocked up!
- Now is the time for making a plan for what you would like to plant this year based on your soil varying sunlight. Always go to the garden centre or online with a clear idea of what you are after, this will save you time and money, and put you on track for results you’ve been after!
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first Balfour Landscapes blog. We’ll see you in March for number 2.