Garden Ideas & Advice
Browse our garden ideas and advice by season, month or topic so you can get to grips with all the jobs to do in your garden and get planned ahead for the months to come.
Things to do in the garden in February
In February the weather is still very much wintery but the days are beginning to lengthen and Spring is on its way. This is the perfect time to finish off any Winter garden jobs and prepare the garden for Spring.
- Spread in fertilisers
- Plant out shallots & onions
- Start greenhouse tomatoes indoors
- Prune rose bushes, Clematis, Wisteria, Winter Jasmine & Hydrangeas
- Plan ahead for the growing season
Pruning in February
Now is a perfect time for a bit of pruning, here's our checklist on what to prune this month.
- Late flowering Clematis back about 30cm to healthy buds
- Winter flowering shrubs
- Wisteria, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds
- Winter-flowering Jasmine after flowering, to encourage new growth for next year’s blooms. Cut back the previous year’s growth to 5cm from the old wood
Planning for the growing season
February is the perfect time to start planning ahead for the growing season, the days are beginning to lengthen, seasonal items are becoming available and some jobs can be started off indoors.
- Stock up on items you know you'll need such as composts, fertilisers and lawn feed for the season ahead
- Plan new borders and planting areas and dig them over ready for planting once the weather is better
- Start thinking about which summer bulbs you'd like to plant and what you'd like to grow from seed
- Clear out your shed and get it nice and organised
- Service your lawn mower and other powered equipment so it's in top notch condition for the season ahead
Lawn care in February & March
February and march are either a continuation of winter lawn maintenance, or if the weather is warm towards the March more work can be begun to give your lawn the best chance to grow in the spring.
- If there's frost or snow avoid walking on the lawn
- Stop leaves and other debris from accumulating on the lawn as it can smother the grass
- New turf can be laid in better weather. Make sure the soil is not too wet or frosty. Avoid walking on newly laid turf and leave it undisturbed so roots can establish
- If the weather is particularly warm you may need to mow the lawn occasionally but ensure the cutting height is high and only mow when the grass is dry
- Now is a great time to correct the shape of the lawn, levelling out dips and lumps and re-cutting the edges
- If you are planning a new lawn then the soil can be prepared ready for sowing later in the Spring
- Avoid applying products to the lawn until you're confident the Winter weather is well and truly out of the way
- Towards the end of March you may consider sowing grass seed if the weather has been consistently warm and you're confident the last frost has been
Wild bird care in February
In February male birds are beginning to mark out their territories ready for mating and nesting season. In colder weather wild birds need extra energy just to keep warm and natural food can be in short supply, particularly if there are deep frosts or snow.
- If your lawn is snow covered then clear a patch so birds can hunt for insects
- Remove ice from ponds and bird baths so the birds have access to water
- Put up nestboxes
- If you have fruiting plants that need pruning then wait to do these until after the birds have eaten the berries
- Put out hanging bird feeders for birds such as chaffinches, greenfinches, sparrows and blue tits
Caring for wildlife in February
Most wildlife will still be hibernating but some hedgehogs and bumblebees will emerge early if the weather is warmer. They will have gone without food over the winter and be very hungry. If you want to attract more wildlife to your garden then now is the perfect time to prepare habitats for them ready for when they emerge from hibernation.
- Leave out water and meaty dog or cat food from dusk for hungry hedgehogs. Make sure to remove anything uneaten in the morning due to flies
- Put out hanging feeders for wild birds
- Make sure you have early flowering plants in the garden such as crocus and primroses for bumblebees
- Avoid turning your compost heap as frogs and small mammals may still be hibernating within it
- Create areas and potential habitats for wildlife such as log piles, dead hedges or plant a new hedgerow
Helping birds in Spring
In early spring wild birds begin to build their nests and you can see robins, sparrows and other birds flying back and forth with twigs. Birds will begin to arrive back from their winter migrations and later on you'll see birds busy going back and forth to feed their young.
- Leave small bunches of tiny twigs, dried moss etc near your feeders
- Avoid feeding fat and bread at this time as these can be harmful to nestlings and only feed peanuts if using a quality mesh feeder that will stop sizeable pieces of peanuts being taken
- Feeding bug based foods such as those containing mealworms is particularly good at this time, especially in especially dry spells as earthworms won't be available
- Clean feeders weekly and rotate feeding locations to prevent the spread of diseases
Spring lawn care
Once we enter Spring it's all systems go on the lawn care front! Moss can be dealt with, new grass seed laid and feeds can be applied to begin making your lawn nice and healthy.
- Apply treatment for killing weeds and moss
- Once the moss is dead and has turned black it can be raked out
- avoid raking the lawn until you're confident the moss is dead as raking can spread the spores
- Spike your lawn with a fork or use an aerator to relieve compaction and encourage root growth and improve drainage
- The lawn can be over-seeded and afterwards should be kept moist at all times to help the seeds germinate
- You can begin to start mowing the lawn but keep the cutting height high at first and make sure the blades are sharp as blunt blades can tear young grass out of the ground rather than cutting it
In the garden in March
Finally March is here, and with it Spring! Your garden will be starting to wake from it's winter sleep and it's time for you to start getting back into the habit of working in the garden too.
- Buy young bedding and basket plants for stunning displays of colour
- Start sowing seeds indoors and getting all your propagation equipment ready. A diary or calendar is idea to keep track of when to sow, re-pot and plant out your seedlings
- Make use of water butts to catch all the spring rains
- Dead-head spent flowers on bedding plants and daffodils
- Start to mow your lawn (check out our March lawn care tips for more detailed advice)
- Plant out chitted early potatoes and mound them up to protect from frost
- Lift and divide overgrown perennials
- Give your borders a mulch around plants to improve soil, keep moisture in and avoid weeding later in the season
- Plant summer flowering bulbs
March - Time to get planting!
March is when Spring arrives and with it a burst of colour in your garden. It's also a time to start planting and preparing if you want colour in your garden in later months too though by propagating seeds and planting bulbs.
- Summer flowering bulbs such as dahlias, lilies, and gladioli can now be planted. make sure you choose firm and dry bulbs without mould and plant them in well draining soil with some grit below the bulb to help with drainage
- Hardy annuals can be sown outdoors. Remove stones and weeds from the area beforehand and rake the soil so it's fine. If the soil is dry then water before sowing
- Towards the end of March early potatoes can be planted either in the ground, raised beds or large containers. These need plenty of space, 30cm apart and 45cm between rows and should be planted about 12cm deep. if planting in containers make sure the container is at least 30cm deep, half fill the container and cover, leaving space at the top
- Herbs can be started from seed now, either in greenhouses / propagators or outdoors later in the month
- Perennial seeds can be sown now in propagators
- Towards the end of the month broad beans, carrots, radishes, rocket and spinach can be sown outdoors once the soil is warmer
- In most cases waiting until later in the month for warmer weather is advised if sowing outdoors. Sowing in straight lines also helps to identify between seedlings and weeds
Flowers to sow in March
With the arrival of Spring we can finally start to sow flower seeds to bring some colour into our gardens.
- Hardy annuals such as borages, cornflowers and ladybird poppies can be sown outdoors. These can be grown in poor soil so there's no need to enrich it but do weed and rake the area first
- Sweet peas can be sown under cover. They like long root runs so sow into deep pots or modules
- Wildflower mixes can be sown outside. Like hardy annuals weed and rake the area first
- Half hardy annuals such as antirrhinums, zinnias, cosmos & cleomes can be sown. These are not frost hardy so must be sown under cover
- Dahlias can be sown in greenhouses. These perennials can also have their tubers dug up in Autumn to store over Winter
Vegetable seeds to sow in March
Now the days are becoming warmer and longer there are a lot of vegetable crops that can be sown to start off your kitchen garden for the year
- The Great British weather can be an unpredictable and harsh mistress and for this reason plants such as tomatoes, chillies and aubergines need a long growing season to produce a good crop. For this reason now is the best time to sow them, ideally in the greenhouses or in propagators
- Salads can be sown throughout the Spring multiple times so you can enjoy them throughout the late Spring and Summer, in March they are best sown indoors
How to grow tomatoes
Who doesn't love tomatoes? They're delicious and oh so versitile. What's better than lovely ripe tomatoes? Ones you've grown yourself of course! Not only are they relatively simple to grow but there's also a wide variety to choose from and lots of different things you can do with them in the kitchen.
- What tomatoes should you grow? We think the best to grow are the more unusual varieties suchs big and juicy beefsteaks, sweet golden yellow varieties and surprisingly delious brown / black ones. if you'd rather something a little more traditional then something like Moneymaker is a great choice too and easy to grow
- Tomatoes can be sown from seed between February and April. For best result sow them in a greenhouse, propagator or indoors near a warm & sunny window. Cover with cling film at first and remove once seedlings appear. Re-pot your seedlings into 7-10cm pots once they're 2-4cm talland re-pot as necessary until they can be planted outdoors after your confident the last frost has been
- If you don't want to start from seed or have left it a little late then tomato plants are readily available in the Spring and we sell a wide variety
- Plant out yor tomato plants outdoors in s unny and sheltered spot after the last frost, normally in May. They can either be planted into a border, veg patch containers (at least 30cm) or you can plant 2-3 into a grow bag. If you ahve a greenhouse or pop-up tomato greenhouse then theese are great for keeping your tomatoes a little warmer until the weather improves nearer to the Summer
- Some tomato plants are bushes but many are tall single stems that should be trained to a cane. This should be noted on the seed packets
- Single stem tomatoes need "pinching out" (removing side shoots). When there are four trusses of flowers pinch out the plant's growing tip so it will focuss it's energy onto producting the fruits rather than into growing taller. Bush tomatoes are more likely to sprawl and require a bit more space around the plant and should not need any trainging but may need to have heavy trusses of fruits supported on piles of bricks or upturned pots
- Both types of plant may need some foliage stripped away to allow light and air to the fruits but bush varieties require a little more
- Once flowers start to appear start feeding your plants with a specialist tomato plant food such as Tomorite on a weekly basis and continue until mid way through or towards the end of the harvest season
- Water your tomato plants regularly and consistently. Irregular watering can cause tomatoes to split or develop hard patches and ones grown out in containers can dry out very easily during the summer
- Harvesting can be done normally between July all the way through to October but you can start as soon as ripe fruits begin to develop. For best result let tomatoes ripen naturally on the plant. Towards the end of the season as the weather begins to turn cold you can pick trusses to ripen indoors
Plant your Summer Flowering Bulbs in April
Planting Summer Flowering Bulbs in April Summer bulbs are dormant from early Spring onwards, which is the best time to buy them as they're nice and fresh. Bigger bulbs mean bigger blooms and the firmer, the healthier!
- The idea of planting the bulbs now is that the soil is starting to warm up just as they come out of their dormant season. The ideal soil temperature to plant bulbs in is around 13°C and in colder soil your bulbs will not grow.
- It's important to use free draining soil when planting bulbs to keep them from rotting & clay soil will need to be diluted by some course sand or well rotted organic matter, one or two buckets per square metre.
- When planting, make holes for each bulb, plant, and cover without pushing down hard. Many Summer bulbs can be grown in patio containers, which can be lifted & stored through winter!
Highway's Top Ten Summer Flowering Bulbs!
Not sure what to plant? Take a look at this list to find some great choices, all available at Highway!
- Allium - Tall with large, colourful flowerheads - Plant in Autumn
- Begonia - Short & dense with large flowers - Plant in early Spring
- Freesia - Colourful & pleasant smelling - Plant prepared corms in Spring & unprepared in Autumn
- Gladiolus - Tall & pale - Plant in Spring
- Crocosmia (Lucifer) - RHS Award Winning - Small Vibrant Petals - Plant in Spring
- Iris (Black Dragon) - Striking petal shape & colour - Plant in Autumn
- Dahlia (Bishop of Llandaff) - Vibrant red with dark purple foliage - Plant in late Spring
- Ranunculus - Distinctive petal shape - Plant in Spring
- Agapanthus - Pastel with trumpet shaped petals - Plant in Spring or early Autumn
- Canna (Tropicanna Black) - Tall with red petals and huge dramatic dark leaves - Plant in Spring
April jobs in the garden
In April the garden comes alive with colour, daffodils are in flower, early tulips are starting to appear and flowering trees are starting to blossom. Amongst the sunny days are the inevitable April showers but beware as the odd frost is still possible. Indoor-sown seeds should be well under way by now and it's also time to start sowing outdoors.
- Keep pesky weeds under control
- protect fruit blossom from late frosts
- Sow hardy annuals, herbs and wild flower seeds outdoors
- Re-pot container plants that are outgrowing their current home
- Feed shrubs with fertilisers
- Mulch your vegetables, shrubs and roses and around fruit trees too
- Sow new lawns or repair patches in existing lawns
- Start watering houseplant more often
- Fill up bird feeders ready for nesting season but avoid using peanuts
Fruit & Veg to grow in April
April is a great tim to start growing your own vegetables and herbs, but beware, frost is still a possibility so most are best sown in greenhouses or indoors.
- Perennial herbs like rosemary, sage & thyme can be sown in greenhouses
- Sow crops such as tomatoes, aubergines, celery, cucumbers and even melons in the greenhouse or indoors
- Crops like carrots, parsnips, leeks, swiss chard, radishes and beetroot can be sown outdoors
- Asparagus crows, onions, shallots and garlic can be planted out
- Strawberries can be planted out. Enrich the soil first with manure to ensure a good crop and protect with a cloche or grow tunnel
- Pot-grown fruit trees and bushed can be planted out as well as raspberry and blackberry canes
- Potatoes can be planted either in the ground, raised beds or large containers. These need plenty of space, 30cm apart and 45cm between rows and should be planted about 12cm deep. if planting in containers make sure the container is at least 30cm deep, half fill the container and cover, leaving space at the top
Growing your own - what to plant in May
The chance of frosts in May are low and so now many vegetable seeds can be sown outdoors, and there's nothing more rewarding than growing your own veggies from seed all the way through to the plate!
- Sow carrots, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach and spring onion outdoors
- In greenhouses or indoors crops such as courgette, marrows, cucumbers, runner beans and perennial herbs can be sown
- Brassicas and leeks can be planted-out into your vegetable rows
- Tomato seedlings can be planted into growbags or containers but should remain in a greenhouse
- If you have the space then sweetcorn can be sown outdoors, however you will need atleast 12 plants for pollination
Summer lawn mowing & watering
Over the summer lawn care is mostly focused on mowing and watering but its also important to take the time to enjoy your lawn too, with the odd picnic or garden party.
- Mow your lawn regularly, with a cutting height of about 2-3cm for everyday lawns and 1-2cm for ornamental lawns
- In prolonged periods of hot and dry weather, raise the cutting height a bit to prevent the base of the lawn being scorched
- New grass needs to be watered regularly, more established lawns can be a bit more resilient to drought though obviously will be greener and healthier if watered too. When watering do so in the late evening or early morning to avoid scorching and water loss by evaporation and soak by leaving the sprinkler on for around an hour
- Spiking the lawn with a fork will help water to penetrate into the soil
- If you allow the grass to grow too long then don't cut it down in one go, take it down in stages
Autumn - Reviving Summer scorched lawns and prepping for Winter
During the summer your lawn may have become scorched, patchy or compacted and once we reach the cooler but still warm temperatures of Autumn it's the perfect opportunity to remedy these. The better condition your lawn is in entering the Winter the better it will survive and ultimately save you work in the Spring.
- Towards the beginning of Autumn spike the lawn with a fork, gently lifting it to crack the soil to remove compaction and improve drainage
- Level out any bumps and hollows and over-seed patches as needed
- Continue to mow the lawn but less frequently and raise the cutting height to around 3cm
- It's a good idea to feed the lawn with a specialist Autumn lawn feed, these toughen up the lawn for Winter and kill any moss which will need to be raked out
- Remove any fallen leaves by raking out or mowing with a high cutting setting so the leaves pass under mower and are sucked up and chopped ready for composting
- Pick up by hand any fallen fruits to prevent the lawn contracting any diseases
Winter lawn care
It's easy to forget about your lawn over the Winter as it requires a lot less work than the rest of the year but it will still benefit from a little bit of maintenance occasionally.
- If you didn't do so in Autumn then feed the lawn with a specialised Autumn lawn feed before the Winter season starts to really set in
- Stop mowing. The grass will not grow over the winter so there's no need to mow it
- Avoid walking on the lawn, particularly during frosts or after wet weather as this can cause localised puddles, compaction and bruising to the blades of grass which allows frost in
- Remove fallen leaves and other debris from the lawn every now and then so it doesn't build up
- Keep an eye out for where puddles form after heavy rain as these areas will need attention in the spring to improve the drainage
Hot weather garden care
As the weather gets hotter we all get a bit cheerier, and here are a few tips to keep your garden happy too!
- Spray your greenhouse with shade paint or put up net shading to prevent overheating in hot spots
- Lower the blades on your mower for shorter grass through the summer unless the weather is very dry
- Don't panic about watering your grass, it can be surprisingly resilient and excellent at dealing with a lack of water
- Adding organic matter up to a depth of about 25mm into your soil can dramatically increase its moisture holding capacity.
- It's best to water your plants early in the morning or in the evening as the sun shining through water can cause damage to the leaves
- Speaking of water, surface rooting vegetables will require more water but nothing much changes for deeper rooting plants.