How to guides
how to guides

Create a beautiful outdoor space

Spring is here and the weather is warming up so it's time to get busy in the garden. From pruning roses, planting bulbs and cutting back winter shrubs, these are the garden jobs to tackle in March to create a beautiful outdoor space.

Sitting in garden

Prune roses and cut dogwoods

Finish pruning roses early in the month. According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), cuts should be no more than 5mm above a bud and should slope downwards away from it – cuts must be clean, so keep your secateurs sharp. Cut out dead and diseased stems and saw away old stubs that have failed to produce new shoots on established roses. Prune all newly planted roses hard to encourage vigorous shoots (except climbing and shrub roses). Cut dogwood and willow right down to the base to promote new growth.
Family in garden

Plant onions and early potatoes

Most potatoes need planting in April but early potatoes can be planted in March. “Prepare the soil, remove any weeds and dig 15cm deep trenches spacing the potatoes 45cm apart,” says Amy Stubbs of British Garden Centres ( “Make sure you maintain 60cm between rows. When the shoots reach 20cm, rake the soil around the base and cover the half shoots. Remember to water the crops too.” Onion and shallots can also be planted in March from easy to grow immature bulbs called sets. 

Sow hardy annuals

Some of the best hardy annuals to grow in March are Calendula, Cornflower and California poppies. “When sowing these plants, make sure to use peat-free, multi-purpose compost and sow directly into the soil in pots and planters,” adds Stubbs. “Water them well and keep them near a heated propagator while they bloom.” 
Child in garden

Plant summer-flowering bulbs

Plant lilies and other summer-flowering bulbs in pots and borders. As spring settles in, the soil will be warming up, says Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express (, making it a good time to plant bulbs and seeds so they’re ready for the summer.
Child in garden

Hoe and mulch weeds

Tidy up borders, remove weeds and mulch generously with garden compost. “Mulching is an effective way to enhance the soil, stop weed growth and retain water,” says Bonnett. “Mulch can be made using organic matter like decaying leaves, bark, straw or compost. Firstly clear any weeds from the beds or borders and then spread the organic material evenly on the soil. The mulch will eventually decompose into the soil, enhancing it with vital nutrients.” 
Child in garden

Feed your lawn...and mow on dry days (if needed)

Spring is a great time to feed your lawn using fertiliser either shop bought or made from composted material. First loosen up the soil and break up any compacted areas using a rake or cultivator and then spread the fertiliser over the entire lawn. Water the lawn thoroughly and if possible wait until after it’s rained before mowing so that all the nutrients have had enough time to soak in properly, says Bonnett.  

DON’T FORGET TO…Tidy up alpines as they start to flower and mulch with grit and feed ericaceous shrubs like rhododendrons and camellias with an ericaceous fertiliser. Protect new spring shoots from slugs and aphids and top dress containers with fresh compost. Plant strawberries in hanging baskets to keep away from slugs and water frequently.