Easter gardening tips from the Royal Horticultural Society

The early spring chill could have a big effect on our gardens according to the Royal Horticultural Society. Photo: Peter Sutherst

Gardening experts are warning we need to brave the chilly weather over Easter if we don't want to get caught out when spring finally arrives.

The Royal Horticultural Society says spring may be running at up to 20 days behind but gardeners who get disheartened by the cold weather and neglect their gardens now do so at their peril.

"There is no guarantee that spring, when it arrives, won’t be warm and sunny and gardeners who don’t get ahead on their plots now could find themselves struggling to catch up when spring finally arrives."

– Guy Barter, RHS chief horticultural advisor

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A frosty March morning at Graveley near St Neots in Cambridgeshire Credit: Frank Hay

Easter is traditionally a time when the nation heads out to garden centres on masse, shopping for plants and seeds and heading outside over the long weekend to start getting their garden into shape ready for a colourful and fruitful summer. Although Easter is early this year and spring late, the RHS has put together some advice on what you can do to get your garden ready, despite the weather, to ensure you have a summer of colour.

  • Use windowsills as mini-greenhouses to sow seeds in pots in preparation for spring
  • Be prepared for an onslaught of slugs
  • The cold has held back budding roses so there is still time to finish your pruning
  • Spike, feed and moss–kill ailing lawns, so that, if need arises, you can over-seed (sprinkle extra grass seed onto turf) to fill in thin spots once the warm weather comes
  • Buy and plant hardy trees, shrubs, climbers and perennials – they will still be nicely dormant and as they are cold hardy
  • Dead-head any spent bulbs so all their effort goes into producing bulbs for next year rather than seeds
  • Mulch plants with bark chips or other well-rotted organic matter to feed them, suppress weeds and conserve moisture in summer
  • Use very cold days to stay in and re-pot house plants now that light levels are creeping up
  • Winkle out dandelions, docks and other deep-rooted weeds – their grip is less tenacious at this early season
Budding aconites in January at Thurlton in Norfolk Credit: Sandra Bell

The RHS added:

Remember, if it’s a very wet day you should avoid walking on your soil as you will compact it, reducing drainage and doing more harm than good. Instead lay a plank or, better, a sheet of exterior grade plywood on your soil and work from that to spread out your weight.