THE days are noticeably longer and, despite The Beast From The East doing its worst, the sun should be starting to warm the soil at long last.

The garden is suddenly visible from early in the morning until early evening and can’t be ignored or hidden behind the drawn curtains any more.

All those jobs that have been waiting for your attention now need to be tackled, before the garden bursts into life. Start with the essentials so that you have a good idea what will need doing in the coming months to get the garden ready to enjoy through the summer.

Start by tidying up

If you’ve hardly ventured into the garden through the miserable winter, get out there now and have a really good tidy up. Remove weeds and dead foliage, and deadhead anything that has ‘gone over’ but leave the leaves to die back naturally. These could be tied up neatly with garden string. Cut back any shrubs that haven’t started budding. Tidy up borders, turn the soil (avoiding new spring flowering bulbs) and add some compost or fertiliser.

Prepare for colour

Prepare a patch of ground to plant a wild flower area. Dig out any coarse-leaved grasses, weeds etc as they’ll over-power the more delicate flowers. Rotavate and rake over the soil and water if necessary. If you’re sowing seeds, be prepared to wait a couple of years before anything flowers but you could use wild flower plugs and plant out in April.

Going for Green

Your grass will be actively growing now (along with the weeds!) so you should be cutting the lawn regularly, first with the blade on the highest setting, and then gradually reducing the height until the grass is at your desired height. Lawn fertiliser can be applied, combined with weed and moss killer as required. Scatter grass seeds over any areas that might have got damaged over the winter, or where moss or weeds have been removed. Carry out any edging as needed.

Multiplying the joy

Spring is a good time to divide and re-plant your perennials like hardy geraniums, Crocosmia (montbretia) hostas, solidago (golden rod) astilbe, peonies and snow drops. This will ensure healthy, vigorous plants that will continue to perform year after year, and will also offer the opportunity to multiply your plants. Swop clumps with neighbours and friends so you both benefit from more variety without the cost.

Spruce up the pond Check your pond for debris, such as dead fallen leaves and clear them out with a fish net. If you have to remove any fish first, use a holding tank with water from the pond. Lift out over-crowded plants, split, divide and re-pot. Don’t ignore waterfalls and streams – give them a good clean too, and carry out any repairs. A water feature attracts a variety of wildlife, including dragon flies, frogs and newts, but, if it is well-stocked with fish, it might also attract herons!

Re-plant and re-arrange

Now’s the time to move things around in the garden if you feel something might be in the wrong place. Perhaps that shrub should be in full sun, or that small tree could plug a gap at the fence. Dig the new hole first – bigger than you think you’ll need to allow for roots and accompanying soil. Put some well-rotted compost into the new planting hole. When digging out the plant, try and keep as much soil intact with the roots. Place it on a plastic sheet which makes it easy to drag it to its new position.