The weather may be confusing, but one thing is for sure: Spring is springing.
One of the biggest effects of lockdown on the 2020 property market was a massive surge of interest among buyers for gardens and balconies, and not just from green-fingered enthusiasts. People who'd never given gardens a second thought were suddenly sold on the value of being outside at home, and the demand went through the roof.
That blooming market has continued this year, with gardens and balconies still noticeably high priorities for buyers, so it's really worth making the most of your outdoor space to maximise its value and amplify interest in your home.
Colourful spring flowers look wonderful in photographs and on viewings. From window boxes inviting people to view, to fully-planted borders encouraging them to stay, they bring a natural vibrancy that boosts any image or visit. Even if you didn't plant any bulbs last year, you'll see it's not too late to have an enchanting display to captivate every viewer.
Grass rarely looks great after winter, but with increased sunshine encouraging active growth, it's time for some TLC and dusting off that hibernating mower.
Wait for a few dry days in the forecast, then start with a trim on the highest setting when the ground is firm and free of dew: not only better for the grass and your mower, it'll save you churning the soil into mud with the mower's wheels.
Most lawns suit a length of 2-4cm, but where there's lots of wear and tear or footfall, go a little longer at around 5cm. For very shady areas, up it to 7cm. Remember that grass is a plant and needs its blades working to photosynthesise, so don't go scalping it!
Moss, dead grass and other debris can impede healthy growth, so remove them with a spring-tine rake. Use a garden fork or hollow-tined aerator to reduce waterlogging and improve drainage, or go for the hands-free option with a pair of aerating shoes.
Finish with a bit of top dressing and feed. With all-in-one products like Miracle-Gro Evergreen 4 in 1, you can fertilise the grass while treating weeds and moss.
PATIOS AND BALCONIES
It's incredible how fast sludgy green growth like moss and algae can settle over winter on paving, decking and walls, but there are some easy and eco-friendly ways to tackle the job.
A jet washer will shift the weeds and muck. Not only highly effective, they're incredibly satisfying to use - simply hook up to your water supply and get blasting! Use the highest setting on pavers and concrete to watch the dirt slide off like butter, while a lower setting for timber decking or walls with paint or render will avoid damaging the surface.
No outdoor tap? No problem! Widely-available organic cleaners like Algon are free of nasty chemicals, making them safe for pets and wildlife. They restore the natural colour of virtually any surface with no need to scrub or rinse: just apply with a sprayer, soft garden broom or paintbrush on a dry day, then walk away!
BUYING YOUR BLOOMS
This year's fashionable planting trends are very much naturalistic and concentrate on supporting pollinators, but don't panic if you're a complete novice. You can find ready-made, expert-curated combinations to suit any setting, making it very hard to go wrong.
Websites like Suttons, Woolmans and J Parkers are great places to start and have so much to choose from. They mainly sell 'plug plants', which can be delivered right through your letterbox by the postman: equally perfect for containers or for spaces in the ground left by anything that didn't quite make it through winter.
Many supermarkets have also expanded their plant and garden offerings this year, and you can buy a wide selection of tulips, narcissi and even bluebells when stocking up on your pantry essentials.
To stay on-trend through summer and autumn, mix in some salvias with your choice of spring blooms: cheap to buy, low on maintenance and varied in colour, there's one for every taste, and they'll flower through summer and autumn.
Super-organised gardeners will have been out planting their bulbs last autumn, but you can still get beautiful results with pre-planted or 'in the green' bulbs.
A great trick to make your shop-bought bulbs go further is to separate them for planting. They'll be potted close together in a bundle of competing roots, but by teasing them gently apart with your fingers, then spacing them out in your beds, you'll see more of the individual blooms across a larger area.
Your bulbs will also perform much better as their roots begin to spread, soaking up all the nutrition and water they need in their spacious new home.
You don't need a huge garden – or even a small one – to bring in the spring: flowers still look fabulous in pots, boxes and baskets. A bright selection of bulbs and bedders by your front door – or on your window sills – makes a cheery welcome for anyone viewing your home, either in person or online.
Classics like tulips and narcissi look brilliant when combined in containers, while primroses are another favourite at this time of year. The perfect companion for bulbs, they'll naturalise too, giving you new plants year on year. Gorgeous in pots, there's a reason they're such eternal garden stalwarts.
For hanging baskets, try mixing fuchsias, petunias and lobelias. Keep them watered, and you'll be rewarded with a glorious eye-level display of interest, colour and form.
A spring clean and some clever planting will give you immediate seasonal colour that buyers will love and that you can enjoy right now. There's no time like the present, so go outside, soak up some vitamin D and get your hands in some soil: it's good for the soul, and great for your sale!
If you have a property in Southampton and you’re making plans to sell, we'd love to help you get your seasonal presentation just right. Get in touch today on 02380 987720 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let's work together to put the spring into your move.