A great way to exorcise those winter blues is to start preparing for some spring planting. Identify any areas of the garden that are due for renovation and remove whatever vegetation is there roots and all. For vegetables and annuals a good rule of thumb is to spread a 10cm layer of well-rotted organic matter (either animal manure or compost) and dig it thoroughly through the topsoil, being careful not to disturb the subsoil too much. If the soil is hard to dig with a fork or spade use a mattock to break down any compaction before adding the organic matter. Then leave the soil fallow and every few weeks fork it over to destroy any weed seedlings that germinate. If the previous plantings were not doing well it may be worth testing the soil pH to see if any amendments are needed. Your local garden centre should be able to help you with such a project.

If you are planning to plant trees and shrubs they will respond to appropriate soil treatments. Specific information on a plant’s requirements can usually be gleaned from its label or from product labels of the various soil amendments that are commercially available. For instance native plants such as waratahs, grevilleas and banksias require low phosphorus fertilisers and a slightly acid pH. Digging the soil over will aerate it and create a more root friendly environment and any additives can also be incorporated at the same time.