By Holly Crossley published
Are you ready for our spring garden ideas? After all, the days are getting longer, the temperature is getting warmer, and all around us, new life is beginning to emerge from its winter slumber.
There are so many things we love about spring. The sprightly songbirds and dozy bumblebees begin to fill the fragrant air, bringing a soothing soundscape to the garden. The evenings start to stretch luxuriously, as sunlight hangs on later and later by the day. Of course, there's all the beautiful bulbs, blossom, and magnolia, too. And by mid-spring, almost all at once, all the deciduous trees turn fresh and green, knitwear is discarded to the back of the wardrobe, and seasonal garden design ideas come to the forefront of every grower and flower-lover's mind.
We've brought together all kinds of springtime styling tips, design ideas, and straightforward tasks, complete with advice from the experts, of course. So just keep reading, and discover all this season has to offer.
1. Make a statement by planting en masse
Planting en masse will always create a show-stopping scene, whatever the season. But if you love tulips as much as we do, then a view like the one above is especially enchanting. These are 'Orange Emperor' tulips, and look utterly gorgeous beneath an early-flowering Magnolia stellata. Bulbous blue Muscari or 'Pheasant’s Eye' narcissus also look lovely in generously-planted swathes.
If you were a little late to the bulb-planting party for this year, then you can opt to buy plants from garden centres. However, you may want to downsize the look, as costs can quickly add up. Even a small display will still look lovely, but be sure to follow our guide to planting bulbs in autumn, ready for a bigger show next spring.
2. Give your seating area a chic Scandinavian makeover
Spring is the perfect time to refresh your patio or terrace to give it a smart new look.
Start by giving it a good clean – you can find guides on how to clean garden furniture and how to clean a patio in our features. Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director at Dobbies also suggests to take the opportunity to give the fence a fresh coat of stain for the new season.
Once your space is feeling spick and span, why not treat yourself to some beautiful new garden furniture ideas? This set-up above is inspired by a natural Scandinavian vibe, and feels light, bright and airy – perfect for welcoming warmer weather.
As Fionnuala Johnston, Partner and Senior Designer at John Lewis says, 'this trend is effortless in style and the pared-back colour palette of neutral tones and light woods creates a calming space.'
Fionnuala also comments on the use of soft furnishings to help create an inviting atmosphere. Think faux fur throws draped over the backs of chairs, linen cushions, and one or two of our best outdoor rugs.
3. Enjoy the delights of wisteria
One of the most magical sights of late spring has to be wisteria in full bloom. Its cascades of softly-scented purple trails look just as wonderful climbing up the side of a house as they do trained around a pergola. You can often find the white 'Alba' variety for sale too, which offers an elegant twist.
If you'd love to add one to your own plot, follow our guide on how to grow wisteria.
4. Tidy up your patio with a new storage solution
Another lovely way to get your outdoor space in order for the new season is to invest in a pretty storage solution. This plant ladder will add a country-cottage vibe to any sized space and will give all your garden bits and bobs a proper place. Head over to our garden storage ideas for more designs.
And if it's a sunny day, why stop the spring cleaning there? As the team at Squire's Garden Centres says, a garden clear up can help you feel a sense of clarity. So take the time to rake up fallen leaves, tidy your shed, clean your garden tools, and prune your hedges and shrubs. Don't forget to follow our guide on how to prune roses if you haven't already.
5. Make a feature with pretty pastel hues
A pastel palette will always look lovely in spring, mirroring the milky blue sky and the soft blossom on the trees. So to create a truly special and springlike focal point, why not spend a relaxing afternoon putting these colours to good use?
Get creative by pairing a selection of vintage-inspired containers and old glass bottles with tulips and Ranunculus, punctuated by a few deeper-toned hyacinths.
And if you're in the mood for a bigger update, give your shed or garden building a gorgeous new shade. We love this duck-egg blue above, and it will make the perfect backdrop to your scene.
6. Make the most of warmer evenings with festoon lights
Once the warmer weather sets in, spending evenings outside suddenly seems incredibly enticing. And one failsafe way to create a cosy atmosphere once dusk settles is to add festoon lights to your space.
Strung around one of our pergola ideas, they bring a laid-back, romantic vibe to any outdoor seating area. And if it starts to feels a little chilly (it is still spring, after all), then one of our best fire pits is a worthwhile investment.
7. Add to the cheerful mood with yellow hues
Pantone's colour of the year for 2021 is 'Illuminating' – a bright and cheery shade of the sunniest tone there is – yellow. And we think it makes a fabulous hue to introduce to your plot this spring.
The team at Dobbies agrees, taking the hue as inspiration for both outdoor furniture and planting schemes.
In terms of plants, Marcus Eyles, gardening expert and Horticultural Director of Dobbies, shares a few recommendations to brighten up your springtime borders. For hardy plants, he suggests Forsythia 'Lynwood' and Cytisus 'All Gold', complemented by the fiery-tinged tones of Acer 'Orange Dream'. Beautiful bedding plants include the 'Golden Yellow' pansy and the delightful primrose 'Veristar Lemon'.
And when it comes to furniture, why not soak up the sun from a vibrant seating set-up such as the one above? It makes a cheerful addition to our best bistro sets, and is foldable too, making it a great choice for small spaces.
8. Give miniature containers a springtime twist
These small planters truly capture the essence of spring. For as we think you'll agree, combining a nest-like structure with verdant moss and elegant bulbs results in a beautifully-curated display.
It's a wonderful way to brighten up a more sheltered spot, or to bring all the joy of spring inside as part of your indoor plant ideas.
9. Create a spring-themed window box
Speaking of beautiful displays, spring is a wonderful time to give your window boxes a boost (or to add some to your garden, if you don't already have them).
The team at LECHUZA suggests to create a bright arrangement using mixed spring flowers of various heights – think pansies, tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinths. And if you're using potted bulbs bought from a garden centre, they share their top tip: 'Look for ones that are just beginning to bud for a co-ordinated bloom time.'
Another option is to pick one spring favourite such as these delicate Violas, and pair with glazed pots in soothing hues. For plenty more window box ideas, take a look at our feature.
10. Get a picture-perfect lawn
Why does freshly mown grass smell so good? According to the team at Squire's Garden Centres, it's because it reminds us of summer and weekends, which boosts our mood. Just as well that spring is the time to get mowing!
You can also start preparing ground for new lawns in early spring, depending on the soil's condition, says Marcus Eyles, gardening expert and Horticultural Director of Dobbies. Then, sow new grass seed in April onto firm, level ground. For quicker results, you can lay new turf, leaving it undisturbed for a few weeks to allow the new roots to establish, he adds.
Marcus also suggests to straighten up lawn edges using a half-moon edging iron. And for really lush growth, you might want to add a nitrogen-rich lawn feed towards the end of March.
Looking for more advice on how to get your lawn looking tip-top this season? Check out our spring lawn care tips.
11. Plan ahead for summer
There are lots of jobs to be cracking on with in spring, to make sure you're organised for the growing season ahead.
If you love our cottage garden ideas, then now's the time to start sowing hardy annuals such as Nigella, Centaurea and Calendula, says Marcus Eyles from Dobbies. Sweet peas can also be sown straight into the ground in spring.
Marcus also suggests to plant new cottage garden plants now – they will establish quickly for a stunning display come summer. You can also re-invigorate existing plants that look a little lacklustre or congested. Simply lift and divide them, before planting into new positions.
You can plant summer flowering bulbs now too, such as Gladiolus and lilies, Marcus adds. And, in the greenhouse, continue to prick out and pot on seedlings and cuttings. There's top tips on how to transplant seedlings successfully in our guide.
12. Welcome feathered friends
Goldfinches, woodpeckers, and wrens are just some of our favourite feathered friends that, if we're lucky, will visit our gardens in spring.
If you can bear the early morning, listening to the 'dawn chorus' – when birds sing to attract mates and defend their territories – is a lovely thing to do to mark the arrival of the season. Squire's Garden Centres suggests to pick a day with fine weather and little wind – the birds will begin to sing about an hour before sunrise.
Find tips on how to attract birds into your garden with our guide.
What flowers can you plant in early spring?
There are lots of beautiful flowers you can plant in your garden in early spring to get your plot looking gorgeous throughout the season. Here are some of our favourites:
- Tulips – try 'Black Parrot' for a sultry look, whilst 'Purissima' is perfect for white gardens.
- Daffodils – the pale-hued 'Thalia' is an elegant choice, but if you love a sweet scent and double blooms, go for 'Bridal Crown'.
- Primulas – the pale-yellow, wild variety will add a dose of cottage-garden charm to any plot.
- Hyacinths – all varieties offer wonderful fragrance, and there's lots of vibrant colours to choose from too.
- Snake's head fritillaries are a classic if you love a more natural look.
- Muscari latifolium have a fabulous, two-toned appearance and broader leaves than the usual variety.
- Crocuses – the silvery-lilac 'Blue Pearl' with its yellow centre is a timeless choice.
- Pulmonaria – sporting an attractive, spotted foliage and blue-purple flowers (although you can also get white varieties), these are a pretty and easy-care perennial.
What should I add to my garden soil in the spring?
Spring is the perfect time to add extra nutrients to your garden soil, to give your plants a boost for the growing season. To do so, Chris Wood, Horticultural Expert at Waitrose, advises to apply organic fertilisers to borders. Seaweed meal or fish meal are perfect for this, he says.
You can then add manure, says Marcus Eyles of Dobbies. Hoe your borders first, to remove any weeds, and then apply a thick layer over the surface to lock in moisture and improve the soil.
We've got all the advice you need in our ultimate guide to mulching.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!
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