Gardening: Get set for summer

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However the weather turns out, act now to make sure the garden looks its best, writes David Overend.

It’s only a month to the longest day, when the sun will be high in the sky and flowers, fruit and vegetables will be revelling in the warmth of an English summer.

On the other hand, June could be what it normally is – cold, wet and miserable. But that won’t stop millions of Britons from getting out in the garden.

So we start with bedding. It’s now the right time for planting out the stunning flowers that will decorate beds and borders – and hanging-baskets – for months to come. Geraniums, petunias, marigolds, busy lizzies and verbena are favourites.

But with the faint possibility of a summer drought, it could pay to increase the water-holding capacity of ordinary composts used in hanging-baskets by adding moisture-retentive granules.

And improve the water-holding capacity of your soil by digging in plenty of well-rotted garden compost.

Meanwhile keep mowing your lawn regularly to keep it looking tidy. For stronger, healthier grass, trim it every week if possible. Taking just a little grass from the top will keep the grass stronger than if you scalp the lawn every fortnight.

Broad-leaved weeds are more than just a visual hiccup to a lawn – they rob the grass of moisture and available nutrients.

You can use granular lawn fertilizers that include selective weedkillers or you can spray. Whichever action you choose, fit the weeding in between lawn mowings. Apply your chosen product about three days after the last cut and leave another three or four days before you mow again.

Finally, strawberries will be flowering soon and setting the first of their fruits.

Place strawberry mats or fresh straw around each plant after applying a light sprinkling of slug pellets on the soil.

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