Planting in the spring checklist!

With the end of winter comes the chance to get outside and discover your green thumb. Preparing your garden for spring can be daunting – even for smaller gardens. Tidying up garden borders, hanging baskets, spring blooms, and thinking ahead to summer flowering bulbs is a lot to take on.

Here at Gardeners Dream, we have created a simple checklist that will you can move through in early spring, starting right now in February. From correcting your free-draining soil to selecting spring flowers that will pop up from late spring, we have got you covered. Don’t forget to take a look at our huge range of vegetable seeds to plant in February and March too.

Woman sitting in a wooden bench in a spring garden

What to plant in spring

When late winter finally passes, it can be tempting to jump straight to planting bulbs. But the best spring flowers require a little more planning, especially if you want spring colour that lasts. Before you even get to fragrant flowers, follow this checklist to get your garden prepared.

For more ideas and helpful gardening tips, read all our articles on the Gardeners Dream blog.

1. Early spring cleaning

Start with a spring clean of your entire garden, checking for damaged fences, broken plant pots on the patio and patchy lawn spots too. Sweep up the ground to collect any debris, leaves and dead plants leftover from the previous autumn – keep these aside for composting.

A perennial plant that was planted last year (or years before) should have survived the winter if it was fully hardy, but it may look pretty dead! Try snapping a twig or examining the roots if you are unsure if the plant is alive.

Be careful when raking too, as you may disturb bulbs growing beneath a layer of dead leaves – or even delicate flowers that are growing in the early spring like snowdrops.

Geranium Azure Rush close up

2. Prune shrubs and bushes

The beginning of spring is a good time to prune your shrubs and bushes, whether you have planted them as a border hedge, in pots, or anywhere else in your garden. A good prune will actually help them thrive over the season into summer with fresh, healthy growth on each plant.

To prune, cut back the stems of the plants to remove approximately 1/3 of the total volume, paying extra attention to dead or damaged branches. The 1/3 rule works for many shrubs, but not all – check what varieties you have planted for specific advice.

3. Clean bird feeders and baths

Spring flowers aren’t the only new additions to your garden at this time of year. To attract birds bright and early in the morning, make sure to clean any bird feeders and birth baths in your garden.

Natural plants alone may not be enough to support bird life, especially in spring when there are hungry chicklets to feed. For help identifying what birds are in your garden (and what bird food to offer them), read our article What Is The Most Common Bird in the UK?

Bird eating from a bird feeder

4. Feed your soil

Once you have cleared dead plants and old mulch from your garden, it is a good idea to feed the soil after winter. Adding compost to flower beds, raised beds and pots will feed the soil before planting. Furthermore, tending to the soil enables you to check if it is draining well. With spring showers incoming, well-drained soil is key for a healthy plant.

Depending on the shade or sun exposure, as well as the types of plants you intend to grow in spring and summer, you may need to buy compost with a fertiliser pre-mixed in.

5. Plan raised beds for veggies and spring flowering plants

Spring flowers like daffodils, snowdrops, winter aconite, hyacinths, and lovely purple and pink crocus, will bloom quickly in spring. So, if these perennial plants are located in any raised beds, you should start by clearing away the debris that will prevent the bulbs from growing into flowers.

This is also a good time to plan and plant any spring flowering annuals, like tulips (if you didn’t get around to planting them in autumn), as well as your summer vegetables. Consider companion planting and hash out a plan to fill your raised beds with complimentary veggie companions. Fill any gaps between your perennial plants with annuals for the year ahead too.

Pink ,yellow and red primroses in a garden

6. Plant trees

After winter passes and the ground is a little more malleable, planting trees can begin. Although planting a tree requires a little more work than spring flowers, the results are lovely and spring is the optimal time to start. Typically, most new trees need to be planted in a full sun spot and supported with a stake, regardless of whether they are fully hardy or not. This will help the tree establish well and you may even see some flowering blossoms by late spring.

While trees bring lovely shade in the summer and warm colours in the autumn, deciduous varieties will drop leaves and increase your workload the following spring when it comes to tidying and pruning.

7. Plant bare-root plants

Spring is also a good time to establish any bare-root plants that have been stored dormant over the winter. Creating a border for your spring flowers by planting hedging provides partial shade – this will also protect more delicate plants from the scorching full sun in the summer.

Bare-root fruit bushes and trees should also be planted now, so they have time to flower by the end of the season and, in turn, fruit during the summer. If your bare-root plants need more time to grow before flowering, they’ll still add nice shades of green throughout spring this year!

8. Start a new compost

With your garden all tidy and the ground swept up of dead plants, it is time to start a new compost heap. You can use any compost that’s ready to mulch for your spring flowers, then pile on the dead plant matter that you collected in step 1 of this checklist.

By late February and March, the ground should be at a warmer temperature and less likely to freeze or suffer a hard frost. Building up your compost bin or heap from early to mid-spring will give it time to decompose readily for next year. Placing your compost in an area with the direct sun will help keep the temperature warm and aid decomposition further.

And that’s it! With your garden tidied up, your raised beds full of perennials, annuals, flowers and vegetables, and any trees or hedges established, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the warming weather.

Gardening cart with spring flowers


What is best to plant in the spring?

Spring flowers, particularly bulbous perennials, are often planted the previous year. However, you can plant some in the first months of the new year for some late spring colour. With the ground finally thawed, the moist soil can also be planted with trees and bare-root shrubs. Vegetables can also be planted at this time of year, including several tomato and onion varieties – check whether they tolerate partial shade or full sun before planting, as always.

What are the best vegetables to grow in the spring?

Vegetables can be planted from seed in the spring, unlike most flowers that bloom from bulbs. Once your soil conditions have improved in your garden (well-drained soil is best), you can get busy planting cool-season veggies such as garlic, leek, onion and broccoli. In late spring, when you are certain that the last frost has passed, you can plant carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumber and peppers among other warm-season veggies.

When can you start planting in spring UK?

March is the perfect time for planting any variety that will be killed by a frost. For plants that can survive a frost, planting in late January and February can result in spring flowering displays. Trees can also be planted in spring, so long as they have full sun exposure.

What spring flowers to plant are ready for spring?

Hyacinths, crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils can be planted before winter – they will remain in the frozen ground until spring when they emerge in bright colours of yellow, lily-white, pink and purple. These perennials should grow back in the same spot year after year. Annual flowering seeds and bulbs, like many tulips, can be planted each year to bloom in the following spring too.

What can I plant in spring UK?

Spring is a good time in your garden to plant flowers, trees and vegetables for summer colour and harvest. Make sure the plants are fully hardy if you intend to plant them before the final frost or wait until March (or later) to plant outdoors.

What spring plants have bright yellow flowers?

Daffodils provide cheery yellow flowers year after year – they are perennials, after all. These hardy bulbs will grow back each year, along with crocus and a few select varieties of tulips, to bloom with high or low-growing flowers. There are wide varieties of daffodils with different shades and sizes, but nearly all provide excellent cut flowers.

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