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How to keep your garden looking great all year round

Garden consultant Sue Dilworth, aka The Garden Fairy, reveals how to manage your garden through the seasons to keep it looking lush and verdant throughout the year.

Guest Author
Words by: Matilda Battersby


Gardens come into their own in the spring and summer months, but even the most colourful oasis can shrivel into a drab, muddy squib in winter if not maintained.

If you want to sigh with contentment while looking at the view from your kitchen window from September to March, then Sue Dilworth, aka The Garden Fairy, reveals how it's done.

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Here she shares her top tips on how to keep your garden looking gorgeous all year round.

Sue Dilworth, The Garden Fairy

Spring gardening

Jobs for March and April

  • Deadhead daffodils and other spring bulbs but leave the foliage to die back naturally

  • Feed ericaceous shrubs like rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and pieris

  • Take time to tidy up the borders and remove any new or established weeds before they take hold

  • Use a general-purpose fertiliser over flowerbeds to give shrubs a boost as they start to grow

Jobs for April and May

  • Prune hydrangeas, plant out sweet peas and reinvigorate clumps of hardy perennials by dividing them

  • Check for pests in your garden – aphids on roses can be rubbed off at this stage to prevent a big infestation

  • Treat mildew, rust and blackspot with a fungicide if necessary and protect seedlings from slugs and snails

  • Install a water butt to collect rain from all the April showers

Summer gardening

Jobs for May and June

  • Plant out dahlia tubers once the frost has passed

  • Prune back spring flowering shrubs like forsythia to keep them in shape

  • Tie in the new shoots of climbing plants like clematis to train them to their supports

  • Start to remove faded spring bedding and replace with summer bedding plants once the risk of frost is over

  • Check regularly for pests on the underside of leaves

  • In June give your wisteria a summer prune and make sure tall perennials are supported before they need it to avoid breakage later on

  • Feed containers and hanging baskets with a liquid feed every couple of weeks and make sure they are watered regularly

Jobs for July and August

  • Hoe your borders regularly to make sure perennial weeds don’t seed and keep an eye out for pests like snails and aphids

  • Make sure you're watering and feeding plants regularly, particularly sweet peas and roses.

  • Pick sweet peas regularly to keep them flowering and deadhead containers and baskets too

  • Keep camellias and rhododendrons well watered in the late summer as this is when the buds are forming for next year

  • If you have wildflower meadow areas, strim or mow them in August to tidy up

  • Plant autumn bulbs in pots and borders

Autumn gardening

Jobs for September

  • If you're growing hardy annuals from seed, now is the time to do so while the soil is warm

  • Collect ripe seeds from your favourite plants when they are dry and keep in labelled envelopes (paper not plastic)

  • Fill gaps in your border with late flowering perennials like Sedums to provide nectar for pollinators and plant spring bulbs in containers and borders

  • Keep feeding and deadheading summer bedding until first frosts – they should last with some tender loving care

Jobs for October and November

  • Raise up pots and containers so they don’t become waterlogged and protect tender perennials from potential frosts by lifting and moving inside if possible

  • Start to plant up autumn bedding like cyclamen and skimmia to brighten up borders and containers

  • Empty old summer bedding from pots and baskets and compost

  • Make sure you clean the containers before replanting or store out of the way until next use

  • Once the temperature is consistently below 10 degrees for a week or longer, then you can plant out your Tulip bulbs – any earlier and you risk Tulip Fire (a fungal disease)

Winter gardening

Jobs for November and December

  • Top up bird baths with fresh water and melt ice on frosty days

  • Clean and sharpen all your tools ready for next year and service your lawn mower so it’s ready for action

  • As foliage will have died back, this is a good time to repair fences and treat with preservatives if the weather is dry

Jobs for January and February

  • Plant bare-root roses, shrubs and hedging as long as the ground isn't frozen

  • Clear away any soggy perennials which have collapsed over the winter

  • Clear any fallen leaves so smaller plants don’t get smothered

  • Deadhead winter bedding regularly and move any dormant plants that are in the wrong place to a better position

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