Whether yours is a Lush Garden or not, March is the ideal time to get your garden ready for the new season. I guarantee that if you spend an afternoon or a weekend maintaining your garden now, you’ll reap the benefits for the whole year.

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. Just follow my simple 5 step guide to March maintenance.

1) Chopping

Most people have lovely Butterfly bushes (or Buddleja) in the garden, but you need to cut them down HARD in March! Buddleja can become ugly and woody if left unchecked, so be bold and cut the long stems right back to the main woody stem or trunk every year. Similarly, if you have Dogwood (Cornus alba, grown for winter stem colour – and incidentally if you don’t have any, you should!) cut these hard back to about 20-30cm from the ground. They will grow right back up throughout the summer and then you’ll get the best winter colour.

2) More pruning

Bright cheery Forsythia is one of the first shrubs to come out in early spring. Make sure you cut it back after it’s flowered – take the long stems back by at least a third, to a healthy looking bud. This will keep them neat and full of flower. As a general rule for woody shrubs: if it flowers BEFORE the end of May – don’t delay (ie. cut back immediately after flowering). If it flowers after May leave your pruning until winter or early spring.

3) Weeding

March is a good time to have a good clear up of garden leaves and dead bits of perennials. Weeds are usually really easy to spot at the moment, as they are quite often the greenest thing in the border. They are also easier to dig out as the soil is usually still very wet. Keep any eye on weed seedlings and hoe them off on a dry sunny day so they’ll perish.

4) Muck spreading

Once you have done Step 3 and you can see the soil, you can heap on some well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost. This will give the soil good structure and nutrients and will also give a little protection to the emerging plants from any late frost or snow. You don’t have to dig it in – just spread it over the top of everything and let it work its magic.

5) Cut the grass…

…but only if you are forecast a few dry sunny days, and the soil is not waterlogged. Adjust the height of cut on your mower if you can. Give your lawn a light trim and as the weather improves you can cut a bit shorter next time.

If you mow while the soil is water logged, you will just make a muddy mess running the mower over it. The grass will be fine to leave for a while if the weather and soil conditions are not ideal, so don’t sweat too much over this one.