Seasonal advice from the Berwick Lodge gardener

Lawn care
It’s important to aerate the lawn at this time of year. After months of footfall the grass will have compacted so it needs to be aerated to improve drainage and allow the lawn to breathe. The best way to do this is with a garden fork. Simply create three or four inch-deep holes all over the lawn, every two inches.

Use a springtime rake to scarify – removal of moss build-up will improve the overall appearance of the lawn.

Ensure fallen leaves are blown away from the lawn to avoid worms embedding them into the grass.

Planting
It’s a good time of year to plant any ornamental trees and shrubs as the soil is still warm. Warm soil encourages roots to grow and allows trees and shrubs to establish themselves before the colder weather sets in.

Bedding plants
Tender summer bedding plants, geraniums should be brought in at this time of year to protect them from frost. Repot them in compost and keep in a greenhouse for the remainder of the winter. Dig up dahlias and cannas and store in the shed.

Divide herbaceous plants
Trim down herbaceous plants such as rudbeckia and echinacea and divide them at the root, using a fork. By dividing the plant and replanting one half of it, not only does the plant ‘procreate’, it will create more flowers next summer.

Harvest squash
Harvest any vegetables from the squash family and leave them to dry out in a greenhouse. Drying out squash hardens the skin to protect it from bruising and helps it ripen in the warmth. After two weeks your squash will be ready to eat. If you have a large crop, store them in a shed or dark place and they will last all winter.

Garlic and onions
It’s a great time of year for planting onion sets and garlic in your vegetable garden. Plant onion sets in rows and they will establish well in the still-warm soil. They’ll take nine months to grow and be ready to harvest in August.

Plant new bulbs
Spring flowers such as daffodils, tulips and crocuses should be planted around now. Start by planting in small pots and layer soil and a few bulbs alternately, until full. If you are able to store the pots in a dark shed they will be safer from squirrels, however, if you leave them out, keep them covered with netting or chicken wire to prevent damage by small animals. The bulbs will flower in late April/early May, when they should be transferred to a bigger pot before living outside.