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Prepare your garden for Spring with Jane Scott Moncrieff

Published: 16/03/2021

We're fast approaching the Spring/Summer period and our gardens are looking a bit lack luster after a long Winter.

We're not experts on gardening but fortunately we know Jane Scott Moncrieff, a garden designer based in Thornham who specialises in garden and planting design. We asked Jane for her top tips on getting your garden ready for the sunnier seasons so that we could share them with you.

Cut back last year’s growth

I like to leave last year’s growth in my garden through the winter – grasses look wonderful backlit by low winter sun, perennials can look a bit messy, but the birds love the seeds and the old flower heads provide a vital habitat for insects. Most perennials can be cut down to ground level in March and April, before or as new growth emerges.


When there isn’t much growing in the garden it’s easier to see the weeds – now is the time to pull them out by the roots before they take hold.  It will save a lot of hard work in the long run.


Nutrients in the soil will have been used by last year’s growth so it’s a good idea to replenish the soil using compost, manure or decayed leaf mould you’ve collected in previous years.  A new layer of topsoil in spring neatens the look of borders and replenishes nutrients.

Order summer flowering bulbs and seeds

Start your growing season on a windowsill or a greenhouse if you have one.  Buying seeds online is easy and inexpensive.   The best supplier, in my view, is Chiltern Seeds who have an enormous selection of seeds.  J Parkers and Thompson & Morgan are good for bulbs.

Feed your lawn

Lawn is an evergreen and needs nutrients in the same way as other plants.  Phosphorous is the key ingredient for spring lawn feed so it’s worth checking the composition of various lawn feeds before you buy. Rake the lawn lightly in spring but don’t scarify too aggressively at this time of year as you risk damaging the grass plants and making a mess of the lawn which will take all summer to recover!

Hard Landscaping & furniture

Now is a good time to clean up paved areas – a hard brush may be all that’s needed or maybe invest in a quality power hose which will last many years.  Timber furniture will need sponging down and perhaps re-oiling.

Install a water butt

If you have the space, installing a water butt will give you the water you need for your garden in all but the driest years.  This is, of course, an environmentally friendly way to water your garden and plants prefer rainwater to tap.

Two top tips:

For the longer term, think about seasonality in your garden.  In some gardens there can be a lull between spring flowering and high summer, with some gardens looking a bit sad and empty in June and early July.  Some easy perennials to fill the gaps are below:

  • Astrantia major ‘Penny’s Pink’ – flowers from June to Autumn, full sun or partial shade
  • Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ – a great favourite amongst Chelsea designers recently (we won’t see it in 2021 as the show is taking place in September), flowers from June to August in full sun
  • Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ – blowsy when grown en masse, flowering in full sun or part shade from June to July
  • Geranium phaeum – grows in sun, partial shade and full shade, flowering for months from spring into summer. 
  • Pachysandra terminalis – a wonderful ground cover for all areas, anchoring taller planting in the scheme. Flowers in May and June but its main value is in filling gaps between shrubs and trees throughout the summer

Lastly, don’t forget about ornamental grasses. They grow in all shapes and sizes, they’re very low maintenance and will give structure and movement from late summer through to the following spring. Three of my favourites are Stipa gigantea, Pennisetum villosum and Briza media.

A huge thank you to Jane for sharing her expertise with us! We hope these tips have helped you get your garden ready for Spring.

Be sure to check out Jane's website here if you're in need of a bit more help with your outside space or follow her Instagram page.