We all have a lot more time on our hands these days with the lockdown and furloughs and, with Spring in full flow we are starting to drift out into our gardens. There will be instances when you look at your garden and start to get the gardening itch but not everyone is Alan Titchmarsh.
Starting gardening for the first time can be a little daunting, so in this article we aim to give you some hints and tips to get you going and also look at some simple projects to hopefully ignite a lifelong love of gardening.
Basic gardening tips
Before you dive in to planting new borders or changing out your existing plants there are a few things to consider:
1) Buy plants suited to your soil type. Plants definitely prefer a certain soil type and if you plant the wrong ones then they won’t thrive. The RHS has a great guide on how to determine what type of soil you have.
2) Pay attention to the light suggestions for each plant. If you have a shade loving plant, don’t plant it in an area exposed to the sun all day long and vice versa, don’t plant sun loving plants in shaded areas.
3) Give your plant the space they need to grow. If you plant too many too closely to each other they will not all survive. Ensure you follow the guidance for each plant species.
4) Abide by the watering guideline for each plant, under or over watering will kill off your precious plants.
5) Be gentle with new plants. If you are removing them from an existing pot, gently squeeze the side of the pot to loosen the soil inside rather than pulling on the stem.
6) Water the roots when you remove a plant. You do not want to plant a dry root ball.
7) Weed brutally. Your worst enemy is weeds. Dig up weeds and remove the entire root. Don’t throw weeds onto a compost heap as you’ll only reseed them when you use the compost.
8) If you are planting in tubs, make sure there are drainage holes and layer the bottom of the tub with pea shingle to aide drainage.
9) Chat to the folk in the garden centre as they will have a lot of knowledge and be able to advise you as to what plants go with what and where to put them.
Taking these tips into account for any planting that you do will allow you to get the best out of your plants and your garden.
Getting started with gardening needn’t be difficult and with some relatively minor activity you can really make an impact, you will find as your garden grows you will have a wonderful sense of achievement!
Shape your lawn
More often that not, we have rectangular or square lawns which can all look the same. Using a little bit of imagination, you can change the shape of your lawn to something slightly less symmetrical and give your garden a really unique look. You can choose from a simple circle to a totally free flowing shape simply by marking out the shape you want with string and pegs and then cutting away the extra grass. Better Homes and Gardens has a great article on different styles you could consider.
Build some raised beds
If you want to add some height to your planting, then why not build some raised beds using railway sleepers? Simply decide on where you want the sleepers to go and what shape and size you want your bed to be. Sleepers are relatively easy to buy these days and you can choose from brand new to reclaimed which have a little more character to them. Level out the ground if needed, put the sleepers in place at 90° angles to each other, screw them together and then repeat for however many layers you want. Once you have the structure, attach a layer of plastic sheeting inside to protect the sleepers from the wet soil and then simply fill the bed with soil and plant your plants. Some alpines would be a great addition at the edges as they will fall over the edge towards the floor.
Build a Rockery
Rockeries can look beautiful and aim to replicate an alpine mountainside so you will need a sunny spot, ideally on a slope with free draining soil. Obviously, you can build a slope and sort out soil with good drainage but don’t put your rockery under a tree or against a wall or fence which would keep it in the shade.
If you are building up your rockery to get a slope you will need lots of hardcore and rubble and don’t underestimate the amount of rock you will need. The first thing to do is make a plan, you really don’t want to be lugging all that rubble, hardcore and rocks around more than once. Once you have your plan, starting at the bottom of the rockery, loosen the soil and put hardcore and rubble underneath to improve drainage. Work up your slope as you go until you have the right area and slope. Then start adding your rocks. Amateur Gardening has a great step by step guide to follow. You are now ready to plant your alpine flowers. In this article by David Domoney you can find 10 of the most popular rockery plants. Lay your plants out where you want them and then plant them.
You might not be the best gardener in the world but then gardening doesn’t need to be complex or difficult. Make sure you match your plants to your soil and their light preferences and you are more than half way there! There are plenty of other very simple gardening projects which you can do to change your garden significantly and we have covered just three in this article but each one will create a brand new garden with some great talking features.