“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
Now that spring is just a month or two away, your lawns and flower borders will need some tender loving care following the winter frost and possibly, floods. Whether you have a gardener, or you practice ‘do-it-yourself’ garden maintenance, the following checklist can make the difference between gazing upon a quagmire or enjoying quintessentially British croquet lawns.
- Mow, mow, mow your lawn – regularly – in spring – once every two weeks. The cutter height of your lawnmower will need to be lower for trodden lawns and higher for shaded areas.
- Remove weeds. Dandelions and clover can look pretty, but left to their own devices, they can suffocate grass. Use a hand trowel or daisy grubber and avoid using weedkiller; it’s damaging to the soil, wildlife and ultimately ineffective in addressing poor grass health.
- Aerate the grass using a fork to spike the turf and encourage growth in sparser areas.
- Edge your lawn by trimming long grass around your borders.
- Feed your lawn. Organic fertiliser gets the best long-term results. Time it around forecast rain so that it absorbs deep into the ground and doesn’t burn surface leaves. If you have a large lawn area, invest in a wheeled lawn feeder.
- Re-seed any bare patches.
… How does your garden grow?
March is one of the most important months in a gardener’s calendar. Preparing your outside area for an abundance of flowers is important for the successful flourishing of your summer blooms and produce.
- In February or March, prune your roses. Cuts should be 5mm (1/4 inch) or less when pruning above the bud and should angle downwards (facing away from the buds to prevent moisture collecting in them)1. Cut away any dead, sickly or weak stems – with roses it’s a case of ‘survival of the fittest’.
- Spring-clean your flowerbeds. Clear dead leaves and debris left over from winter storms. Spread mulch across your borders to help soil retain moisture and prevent weeds.
- Plant your bulbs that will grow into summer flowers such as gladioli, alliums, oriental lilies, freesias, dahlias and bearded irises.
- Clean your greenhouse.
- Plant vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and onions, ready to harvest by summer.
Retrieve any ornamental features and furniture such as stone figures and garden benches (if they are portable) from their winter storage. Remember stone garden features (especially if they are old) are highly desirable and can fetch high prices in antique and reclamation shops. They may fall under your home contents insurance so make sure they get the protection they need against theft and damage.
Protect your garden equipment from theft
There are around 600,000 thefts of items from gardens and outside areas every year in the UK2. According to the Metropolitan Police, lawnmowers and gardening tools are high on the list of opportunistic thieves3.
It’s easy to leave garden tools, for example, spades, hoes, and rakes in a flower bed or propped up against a wall. Taking the time to store tools safely in a locked shed and if possible, installing a battery-powered alarm on your shed, could mean the difference between keeping them or seeing them end up in the hands of burglars.
Check with your provider that your home insurance also covers theft from sheds and outbuildings to confirm your garden equipment is protected.
Open to the public
Hosting a charity event in your garden can be a great way of raising money for your local community or a cause close to your heart. If you are planning on holding a fête, fair, public event or opening your gardens to the public on a regular basis, you will need to let your insurers know, as you might need protection from theft or damage.
Bouncy castle, summer sports, a pond, a swimming pool, refreshments (even cake and tea), uneven paving and steep paths – can all result in injury or worse. You might need public liability to protect yourself, and your guests or visitors, so don’t trip up – get your insurance checked.
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