Getting your soil into shape

Good quality soil is fundamental to all we do in the garden.  There’s still time to get yours into shape and on the way to producing bigger flowers and heavier crops, with better resistance to pests and diseases this season.

Mulched bed
Photo: Mulched bed – Madingley Mulch
Alpina TI2648Li Cordless Cultivator
Alpina TI2648Li Cordless Cultivator

Soil should be cultivated regularly to allow air in to warm up the soil and speed up plant growth – it also aids drainage and makes weeding easier.  Winter frosts may have broken down large lumps, and repeated re-digging or forking will to help to get the crumbly texture mentioned in gardening books.  Many of us will use our trusty spades, forks and hoes to do this work, but depending on the size of your garden and the state of your back, a cultivator could be a worthwhile purchase. Dig in plenty of organic matter to add nutrients and improve the soil’s structure and fertility (garden compost, manure, leaf mould or composted bark) – about half a wheelbarrow load per square metre should do it.

Manure In Hand
Photo: Well-Rotted Manure – Riverside Quarry

Work through your beds and borders forking over the soil between plants to loosen it up, removing weeds and plant debris as well as slugs and snails as you go.   Work from the back of the bed to the front to avoid compacting the soil.

When it’s weed-free, spread a layer of mulch around plants.  Mulching will save you time and work for the rest of the season by suppressing weeds, reducing evaporation (so less watering) and encouraging worms to drag the organic matter down into the soil to improve the structure.

Spring Garden Tidy Up

Spring is the ideal time to get those heavy jobs done before the growing season gets underway. Perhaps you’re thinking of changing the structure of your garden to incorporate a new pond or water feature, or some raised beds?


It’s a good opportunity to build a new compost bin or install some water butts too, so you’re ready for summer watering. And what about somewhere to sit to enjoy the fruits of your labours when the warmer weather comes? Crocus have a range of benches and garden sets to suit classical or modern schemes.

Once we’ve thought about any structural work we can concentrate on sprucing up any neglected areas, cutting back perennials, removing debris and raking up leaves and twigs.

Image: Gardners-World

Then it’s on to the pruning. It’s much easier to cut plants back before old growth starts getting tangled up in new growth. It’s a job we’re often unsure about but a very general rule is that plants that flower before mid-summer are best pruned after flowering, and those that flower later should be left until the following spring, but there are exceptions so you will need to check the requirements for each plant. Whatever you’re pruning, cut the stem at an angle so that rainwater can run off it. The team at Gardeners’ World have a step-by-step guide to getting it right.

Buddleia needs pruning in March and so do modern bush roses, otherwise they’ll grow so tall you can only enjoy the flowers from your upstairs windows! Most climbing and rambling roses are pruned after flowering but very vigorous types that are difficult to prune in summer can be tackled now.


An invaluable aid for these tasks and many others throughout the year is a decent ladder. Our Henchman Platform Tripod ladders are amazingly lightweight, stable and designed specifically for working safely at height or on uneven and sloping ground as they have just three legs and there are options for one or all three of the legs to be adjustable. The ladders are multi-tasking – brilliant for hedge-cutting, topiary and pruning and also come into their own for window cleaning, house painting and lightbulb changing!

Offer of the month

Henchman Ladder Feet
Henchman Ladder Feet

Buy any Henchman Tripod Ladder before the end of March 2018 and receive a FREE pack of 3 rubber feet worth £22. Designed especially for the tripod ladder range, the rubber feet are easy to apply and remove. The durable, non-slip rubber is perfect for gripping hard and indoor surfaces, keeping them free from scratches or dents.


Call us on 01380 828867 or order online and put ‘Free Feet’ in notes.