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The welcome appearance of snowdrops and primroses tells us that spring is coming and for many gardeners, quite rightly, that’s a reason to feel excited and hopeful.

After the dark days of winter, there’s a temptation to start ticking off that epic to-do list and launch head-first into a blur of activity, but the gardening season is a long one and it pays to pace yourself.

Start slow

When it comes to gardening, like any physical activity, starting slowly is important. Even Usain Bolt had to warm up to achieve his best performance.

If you haven’t been so active lately, ease yourself back into gardening with low-intensity activities such as seed sowing, pricking out seedlings and pruning.

Before doing more physical activities, you can replicate a warm-up as you would do for other strenuous exercise by walking around the garden and investigating changes over the winter, cutting out dead plant material here and there to stretch arms as well as legs.

Birmingham garden volunteer

Stretching will reduce the risk of muscle strains, increase range of motion and improve your physical performance; and there’s no doubt your body will thank you for it at the end of the day.

If you aren’t used to digging, raking, weeding and mowing, go easy to begin with and listen to your body.

Take regular breaks and if you find yourself over doing it because you get carried away with the task in hand, set yourself an alarm on your watch or phone. It’s better to work in short bursts and come back and do more the next day, than do a blitz of work and then feel unable to garden for a fortnight.

Get organised

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One of the great joys of gardening at this time of year is planning changes and thinking how you will evolve your oasis still further, which can connect you to the hopefulness that gardens provide.

Thinking ahead and planning your gardening time can make a difference to how you feel physically and mentally.

Consider the job you want to do and how you can make it easier. Get all the tools you’ll need to save trips back and forth to the shed or garage. Bags, buckets, garden carts and wheelbarrows offer ways to transport tools and keep them together.

When planting at ground level, use a kneeler or stool to sit on and tools to reduce over-reaching, such as a long-handled trowel to dig holes.

Embrace variety

Client potting up no visible face Charlie Garner 2019 lo res

Doing the same activity repeatedly will inevitably become a chore, and in the case of more physical jobs also take a toll on the body.

Vary what you do and include passive tasks, such as planting pots and containers, as well as active ones. It’ll keep you fresh mentally, as well as physically, and stop you getting into a gardening rut.

The key to gardening success

Gardening has a multitude of physical and mental health benefits which many people will be eagerly looking forward to enjoying this spring.

Half an hour of gardening a day can:

  • improve fitness
  • build-up stamina
  • strengthen muscles
  • help with movement, balance and dexterity
  • burn calories
  • alleviate stress and anxiety
  • improve mood and wellbeing

Gardening is one of the UK’s most popular leisure activities with 27 million people engaging in it every year. This underlines the most important thing to remember here – the key to gardening success is to enjoy it.

When creating or revitalising a garden, try to appreciate the different stages. All gardens evolve over time, even very designed ones, and the real joy is getting lost in the moment.

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