Wheelbarrow with soil in and a shovel next to garden plants and flowers.

What You Need to Know About Seasonal Planting

Every season brings its own tasks in the garden, whether it’s making long-term changes, preparing for the months ahead, or maintaining it in the present. Do these jobs at the right time and in the correct order, and caring for your garden will be easier, quicker, and more satisfying. Your plants will benefit, too.

Spring

Early Spring

  • Cut back ornamental grasses, prairie-style borders, and autumn-flowering perennials.
  • Prepare beds and borders for planting; weed and dig over the soil; add organic matter where appropriate.
  • Prune late-flowering shrubs, early summer-flowering clematis and roses.
  • Pollard willows and coppice dogwoods.
  • Cut lavender hedges back.
  • Apply a granular fertilizer around shrubs, trees, and perennials.
  • Sow half-hardy annuals indoors.
  • Pot up plug plants indoors.
  • Lift and divide established clumps of perennials.
  • Plant hardy grasses.
  • Plant snowdrops “in the green”.
  • Regularly deadhead spring-flowering bulbs and bedding plants.
  • Repot Christmas trees.

Mid–Late Spring

  • Plant perennials; summer-flowering bulbs; and pond plants.
  • Inside, plant Thai herbs.
  • Plant indoor hanging basket.
  • Sow hardy annuals directly outdoors; sow tender annuals indoors.
  • Sow vegetables, and plant potatoes.
  • Sow a wildflower meadow.
  • Mulch the soil.
  • Start weeding.
  • Prune early-flowering shrubs and early clematis after flowering.
  • Stake herbaceous perennials.
  • Start mowing the lawn.

Summer

Early Summer

  • Harden off tender seedlings sown indoors.
  • Plant out summer bedding and vegetable plants.
  • Plant up containers and hanging baskets.
  • Protect young plant growth from pests, especially slugs.
  • Put houseplants, including citrus, outside for summer.
  • Feed flowering shrubs and roses with a rose fertilizer to promote flowering.
  • Prune evergreen shrubs, and hornbeam, cherry, and pear trees after flowering.
  • Earth up potatoes and harvest after flowering.
  • Sow beet, radishes, spinach, and lettuce every two weeks.
  • Take softwood cuttings.

Late Summer

  • Sow spring cabbages.
  • Trim lavender hedges after flowering.
  • Prune wisteria to restrict growth.
  • Take semi-ripe wood cuttings.
  • Make an insect hotel in time for winter hibernation.

All Summer

  • Water containers and new plantings frequently, particularly in hot weather.
  • Weed beds and borders.
  • Mow the lawn as required.
  • Deadhead flowering plants to extend blooming.
  • Prune hedges and topiary as required.
  • Tie climbers in to their supports.

Autumn

Early Autumn

  • Prepare beds for spring planting.
  • Plant spring bulbs, except tulips, in beds and lawns.
  • Plant containers and baskets for winter color.
  • Take hardwood cuttings.
  • Sow sweet peas for an early display the following year.
  • Plant wallflowers for spring color.
  • Bring houseplants back indoors, checking for pests and diseases first.
  • Protect slightly tender exotics from frost by wrapping in fleece.
  • Cover slightly tender perennials with a thick mulch of straw or bark chippings.
  • Move tender dahlia tubers and cannas inside.
  • Turf or sow lawns.
  • Apply an autumn lawn fertilizer to established lawns.
  • Lay chamomile lawns.
  • Make a woodpile shelter for wildlife.
  • Prune hedges for the last time.

Late Autumn

  • Plant shrubs; roses; trees; hedges; climbers; and fruit bushes.
  • Plant tulips.
  • Sow broad beans.
  • Plant onions and garlic.
  • Grow trees from seed.
  • Indoors, plant amaryllis bulbs, and prepared hyacinths and narcissi.
  • Trim late-flowering shrubs to reduce winter wind-rock.
  • Rake up fallen leaves and make leafmold.

Winter

  • Plant bare-root trees and hedges.
  • Take root cuttings from perennials.
  • Prune wisteria, and most trees, including apples and pears.
  • Prune late-flowering clematis.
  • Prune trees to create multi-stemmed specimens.
  • Harvest winter crops.
  • Chit potatoes in late winter to plant in spring.
  • Plan your vegetable and flower beds.
  • Order flower and vegetable seeds.
  • Group containers for stability in high winds and for insulation.
  • Wrap terracotta pots in bubble plastic or hessian for frost protection.
  • Build a raised bed.
  • Put up new bird boxes.

Any Time of Year

  • Make a compost bin; fill, turn and empty when necessary.
  • Make a wooden obelisk.
  • Create a bog garden.
  • Dig out a pond.
  • Make a border and lawn edge.
  • Make a rose arch.
  • Check tree ties, and loosen if necessary.
  • Look out for pests and diseases, and take appropriate action.
  • Cut out dead or diseased wood.
  • Clean all cutting tools after use to prevent spreading plant diseases.