Spring Gardening Tips

Sunnyside’s Spring Gardening Tips

Ian Barrow, our Head of Horticulture and Landscape, shares his wisdom with our Sunnyside readers in the first of our new seasonal features.

And who better to help us out – Ian has been a professional horticulturalist for over 50 years and has worked for government department, DEFRA, and the Royal Household before joining the Sunnyside team. He has also been made a member of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners to honour his contribution to horticulture.

Ian’s biggest Sunnyside achievement has been ‘seeing our trainees accepted by the trade at RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival, where they were talked with as equals, as well as redeveloping the Northchurch site.’ Wonderful stuff.

So, where do we start with our own gardens this spring, Ian?

Have a tidy up
‘I think the key thing, whether people have vegetable or ornamental gardens, is to tidy up ready for summer’. Ian suggests cutting back perennial plants and lightly pruning any winter damaged shrubs, as well as getting on top of weeding and mulching beds.

‘Now’s also a good time to get your mowers serviced – make sure the blade’s sharp and check your tools are in working order.’

Lawn care
‘Then turn your attention to grass, depending on the weather.

‘Think about whether to cut it now before No Mow May, or if you just want to let it grow. Remember you can always leave patches in the lawn where there are obvious wildflowers or plants of interest, or maybe cut patterns or leave a border around edges of beds to encourage wildlife.’

Seed sowing and veg
‘You can still sow successional crops, such as beans, peas, radishes and carrots. You can also keep sowing brassicas, although it’s a tad early for the late summer and Christmas varieties.’

‘Early potatoes should already be in, but there’s still time to put in lates and other varieties. Just remember to grow them in a different spot from last year to avoid potato blight.’

Watch out for…
Ian warns against the dangers of fungal diseases: ‘This time of year there’s a high chance of fungal disease, as it’s damp and warm. Space plants out and water the pots and not the leaves of each plant.’

As far as problematic pests are concerned, Ian suggests you keep feeding wild birds – ‘encourage finches and blue tits into your garden to help clear off any aphids.’

Be efficient
‘If you want to minimise the number of times per year you need to trim your hedges, you might want to think about trimming them back in May, and then you’ll only have to do one more cut this year in late summer, early autumn.’

‘Part of the idea of a garden is that you enjoy it – so you don’t want to be trimming your hedges all year – you’ve got to make sure you have a bit of time to put your feet up and enjoy it.’ 

So, with Ian’s expert advice at your fingertips, it’s time to get out there and enjoy the sunshine, Sunnyside style.