Quick and Easy Gardening Tips for Green Thumbs

garden toolsGardening is a very pleasant and rewarding activity, one that really does give out more, the more you put into it. Yes, it can be hard work – backbreaking at times, especially if you are just starting out from scratch – but all that spent effort will not be wasted: you will have a beautiful garden which you can be proud of at the end of it.

And although the work is never going to be particularly easy, there are some things you can do in order to lighten the load somewhat. Here are some of our favourite quick tips; have a quick read through and learn how to make your life that little bit easier.

Green Thumbs, Clean Fingers

One of the most commonly hated issues about gardening is the way that you will end up with a load of dirt and mud stuck under your fingernails. If you don’t want it to accumulate like that, then we have a very simply solution for you.

All you need to do is to rake your fingernails across a damp bar of soap. This will cause a build-up of soap underneath your nails, essentially sealing them against the dirt. Then, once you have finished your gardening for the day, just use a nailbrush to clean it out again. Hey presto – beautifully clean nails!

Stop the Strimmer Stalling

We’ve all encountered this annoying problem, and it can be a real pain in the nick to sort it out at times. There is a really easy way to prevent this annoyance from ever occurring: you simply make sure to treat the line with a few sprays of vegetable oil before you pop it into the strimmer. Nice and easy!

Measure for Measure

Sometimes, you really need a measuring tool to hand. Frustratingly, this always seems to be at the most awkward of times – such as when you are trying to plant flowers and you need your hands free for your spade.

Here’s our expert trick for this situation: you turn your garden tools into ersatz measurers! The next time you have a few minutes to spare, grab a few of your tools and lay them on the ground. Then you can use a measuring tape and a permanent marker to turn the handle into a measuring tool. So simple!

Keep Your Markers Natural

Instead of sticking bits of plastic into the soil to help you tell which shoot is which, why not try this lovely, all-natural alternative: write the names of each plant on a flat face of a stone, before placing them in front of the relevant plant. Not only is it great for the environment, but it looks nice to boot!

Car-Dry Your Herbs

Okay, so we just invented that term. But it’s a good one, no? The quickest and easiest way to dry your herbs is to grab a sheet of newspaper and pop it on the back seat of your car, lay the herbs on top with no overlaps, then shut the doors and leave it for a while. Bonus: fantastic-smelling car.

8 Garden Essentials for Summer

Gardening tools and flowers

Whether you’re hosting a family BBQ, soaking up the rays on a Sunday afternoon or enjoying a glass of crisp, cold wine in the evening, nothing beats time spent in the garden over summer. Now that spring is just around the corner it’s time to get yours looking ready for the warmer months and your garden will be the envy of the neighbourhood with our eight essentials.

Copper Plant Markers

Copper is all the rage in the interiors world at the moment, but it doesn’t just have to extend to your living room. Keep your blooms neatly labelled and add a touch of sparkle to your flower beds. The grease pen that comes with the kits makes labelling and relabelling a breeze.

Wooden Garden Tools

You won’t get very far in the garden without some garden tools, but you don’t have to stick to the boring plastic green shades. Wood designs give your tools a chic feel and are an ideal gift for any gardening enthusiast.

Watering Can

A true symbol of Britain, the classic watering can is a must in any garden. Keep your seedlings well-nourished and do it in style with a beautiful galvanised steel design. Not does it look stylish, it’s also rust-resistant in case you forget to bring it in after use. Just don’t forget to empty it after watering.

Mason Jar Herb Garden

You don’t have to be green-fingered to add a touch of life to your garden. Perfect for those who aren’t budding gardeners or who simply don’t have the luxury of a huge garden, these will not only give your windowsill a little something extra, they’re great for adding into new summer recipes too.

Outdoor Planters

If you’re short on time, planting perennials and greenery in your garden is a great way of making it look stylish with minimal effort. Best of all, there are a huge variety of planters out there that you can choose from so you can find the perfect one to suit your style.

Weeders

Okay so they might not be the most exciting or stylish addition to the garden, but they’re a must to keep it tidy and free from weeds that can be detrimental to the health of the other plants in your garden. Great for getting rid of pesky dandelions and crabgrass, the long and slender ends can get deep into the ground and pull weeds up from the root.

A hat

There are lots of stylish hats out there so you can look good while you garden, but a hat is important for much more than aesthetics. The skin on your scalp is very sensitive and prone to sunburn, so if you’re planning on spending an afternoon in the garden make sure you’re covered up to prevent burn and keep the risk of skin cancer at bay.

A BBQ

We couldn’t write this list without including an old favourite – the classic barbeque set! And since you’ve worked so hard in the garden, it seems only fair that someone else mans the BBQ so you can out your feet up and enjoy a nice cold drink.

Winter Gardening Tips

If you’re feeling green-fingered (or blue-fingered, rather, it’s freezing out there at the moment!), you’ll love our simple winter gardening tips. From digging over your soil to stop it from becoming water-logged to sprucing up the garden path, although you can put away the mower come winter, there are still plenty of things you can do whilst pottering around the garden on one of those rare winter days illuminated by watery sunshine. You’ll need some garden tools and some thick gloves: it’s going to be cold!

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  • Turn over the soil, provided that it is not water-logged or frozen: it’ll loosen up weeds, stones and anything else that could potentially cause the soil to become water-logged which means that your plants, flowers and ferns won’t grow as well come springtime.
  • Dig a trial patch (again, when it isn’t wet or super cold) in your lawn (where no-one can see) and check for things like thatch, moss and damp. That way, you can start weeding, feeding and mowing to get your lawn back to its lush green best.
  • Prune back your shrubs by approximately 1/3 if they’re particularly large, making sure that strands from different plants or trees do not overlap each other.
  • Clean up the garden path – grab a stiff sweeping brush and get rid of dead leaves and any accumulated dirt, stones, sticks and weeds. If the path is particularly grubby, give it a good hose down and then add a thin layer of coloured gravel between paving stones and around the edge of the path to jazz it up a bit. Plus, the gravel will help to prevent weeds from coming up in the spring.
  • Protect tender plants and herbs from frost either by bringing them indoors – into a greenhouse or inside your home before the frost sets in, or by covering them with fleece/a cloche in situ. Many people also cover the tender ends of pruned plants with plastic to protect roots from moss and rot, but whether you choose to do this really depends on how hardy your plants are.
  • Planting native and local trees and shrubs will not only help to maintain the greenery in your local area, but it’ll provide plenty of food and shelter for local wildlife – particularly plants with lots of very thin stalks and berries.
  • Provide water stops for birds by ensuring frost-free birdbaths – pop a floating ball on top and it should stop the water from freezing. Help them to forage by creating piles of leaves in borders or by leaving a small patch of grass uncut to attract bugs and wildlife. You could even make a bug hotel – arrange a few logs in a pile, or build a hedgehog stop. Attracting local wildlife to your garden will help with pest control and if you’re savvy about the plants you choose, they’ll work with your garden helpers to shield your petunias and your tomatoes from those nasty garden bugs.

Source: Country File

Nifty Tips for Perfect Potted Plants

Your garden can look a little sad and drab at this time of the year – all of the colour starts to fade away and you’re left with an orange/red autumnal garden and a few evergreen plants. But you can add some colour and some pizzazz with our nifty tips for the perfect potted plants. Take a look at this link for gardening materials – and gardeners – to help you get started.

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  • Plant bulbs into pots for an immediate hit of colour and interest – then, if you want to plant them out in the spring, just pop the whole pot into the border.
  • Growing things in pots is actually very easy, but what you must remember is that the second you put something into a pot, you’re taking away its food and water supply which means that in order for it to flourish, you need to be responsible for it.
  • Using terrocotta plant pots means that they’ll absorb more water than ceramic or plastic pots, and so they’ll dry out more quickly – which means plants will die more quickly if you don’t keep an eye on them. If you’re going to use terracotta plants, drill holes in the bottom and line with an empty compost bag to prevent the water from draining too quickly.
  • Remember that nature will always fill in any gaps in soil, so although the idea of an minimalist potted plant or shaped tree might be tempting, you’ll have to weed it regularly to keep the base of the plant pot clear. An alternative is to fill in the gaps using a creeping plant, or use a smaller plant pot and a smaller plant so that there’s less space for weeds. Or, cover the top of the plant pot with a thin layer of stones so that the soil can still get through.
  • Attract bees and other garden-friendly insects into your garden by arranging scented potted plants – lavender, mint, chives, various herbs and things like daisies and ornamental grasses are all popular with garden critters, and they are all fairly happy in pots. Generally, they need both sun and shade and plenty of water or plant feed.
  • Bright colours will wash out and overwhelm shaded areas, so use cooler colours in your pots, such as purple, blue and green. In bright, sunny areas, ramp up the impact with bright reds, oranges and yellows.
  • Remember that many fruits and veggies can be started off in pots and they’re very pretty, too. Blackcurrants, blueberries and tomatoes are all brilliant choices.

Source: Daily Mail

DIY Tips: Top Tips for Designing a Garden Part Three

Creating the right garden for you and your family can be tricky. Do you want to add plants and blooms? Or are you worried that little fingers will dead-head your roses? Or should you opt for indestructible grasses and shrubs instead? Follow our top tips in the third and final part of our garden design series and take a look at this link for tools to help you get the job done.

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  • Think about making your garden functional as well as pretty. For example, you could plant a herb garden into the border – mint grows exceptionally quickly, as does rosemary, and they provide wonderful fragrance too. Chives are also fab and thyme provides not only wonderful fragrance but is pretty, too, with variegated leaves. Lavender is also good – pretty and fragrant
  • A really simple way to make your garden more interesting is to put in different levels. That could be a slightly raised decking area, raised borders and beds or a sunken pool. If your garden is naturally slanted, make the most of it with several different levels, each with a different theme
  • For a clean, contemporary and fresh look, show a little bit of restraint when you’re shopping for garden accessories. For example, if you’re putting in decking and plan to buy wooden garden furniture, choose woods in similar tones and colours. When you’re choosing flowering plants, look for similar colours and patterns and if you’re using plenty of pots and containers, either choose them in the same style or in the same colour to keep the look harmonious
  • Alternatively, if you love all things bright and colourful, feel free to go wild with a splashes of colour all over the place. We often stick to boring colours for garden fences and sheds – forest green or an orangey-brown. A lovely way to brighten up your garden is with pastel colours for a vintage feel, or combine contrasting hues like deep aubergine with flashes of lime green or bright orange to create a cool lounge area that just happens to be outside
  • Another brilliant way to design your garden is to think of it as just another room in the house. Think about all of the elements that you’d use to decorate a room in your house – you’d buy furniture, put colour on the walls and use accessories to bring life and personality to the space. In terms of what you can do in the garden, you can put colour onto fencing, use garden furniture with fabric cushions, accessorize with flowers and plants and add life and personality with things like outdoor beanbags, planters and vintage-style birdcages

Souce: 4Homes

DIY Tips: Top Lawn Care Tips

Keep your lawn in tip-top condition, with lush, green grass, by following our top lawn care tips. You can leave your lawn to its own devices during the winter months, but you’ll need to follow this guide once you cut it for the first time in the spring. You can get a perfect, green lawn – it just takes a bit of love and care.

lawn

Lumps and Bumps

Get rid of lumps and bumps in your lawn very simply by creating an H-shaped cut in the turf using a heavy garden spade. Fold the two flaps of the turf back, then scrape away the soil or whatever is causing the lump before folding the flaps back down again. Viola! A flat, lump-free garden.

Getting Rid of Weeds

If your lawn is covered in dandelions, use a long and thin tool like a screwdriver to dig it up at the root without making too much of a mess of your lawn. Get all of the root out, otherwise the dandelion will just grow back. If your garden is a little bit water-logged and is mostly shaded, you might well have trouble with moss, so dig out your rake and rake the grass quite aggressively to get it all up. Improve drainage and prevent the garden from getting water-logged in the future by using a garden fork to create holes in the surface of the lawn.

Bare Patches

After a particularly dry summer, it’s common for your lawn to turn a bit patchy. Get rid of your bare patches and improve the look of your lawn by adding plenty of grass seed, but don’t just sprinkle it on top of the lawn. You’ll need to re-seed, so use your garden fork to break up any compacted soil and remove any weeds. Make sure that the surface is fairly smooth, then evenly sow the grass seed. Cover it over with a thin layer of soil, then give it a good watering.

Mowing Your Lawn

Mowing your lawn is fairly simple – in most cases, you can just switch on the mower and go. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Don’t mow the lawn if it’s frosty or wet, as it’ll compact the soil and leave it water-logged, which means that it could end up mossy and full of weeds. Adjust the blades on your mower to make sure that it’s not cutting the grass too short, as the grass will become weak and will just end up looking flat, dull and lifeless. Finally, remember to mow little, and often. It’s best to mow when there is only a little bit of growth, rather than a lot – plus, if you keep on top of it, you’ll be able to zip round the garden in no time at all.

Source: UKTV Home

DIY Tips: Tips for Dealing with Flooded Gardens

Severe flooding in the UK over the last few years has resulted in a vast number of ruined homes and gardens. But how can you fix a flooded garden? Take a look at the tips below to learn how to prevent damage and how to deal with the damage, then check this link for gardening tools to help you get the job done.

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  • Improving drainage is really the most important step in preventing flood damage. Ensure that soil is aerated – regularly press it with a garden fork and add plenty of compost. The more compost, the better. Plant shrubs and trees on top of mounds of soil – shrubs in particularly are very susceptible to damage from water as they cannot really put down strong root systems and so they don’t really cope well when under water for prolonged periods of time. Planting everything into raised beds or on raised mounds will go a long way in preventing damage.
  • Use strong, heavy stakes as they’re much more likely to withstand particularly wet or stormy weather. Make sure water courses are left open and when putting in patios or decks, ensure that they’re positioned at a slant so that rainwater runs away from the property rather than towards it.
  • If the plant has been underwater for less than a week, it may well survive. But it’s a good idea to take cuttings so that you can replant, as a plant that has survived initially may die off the following year.
  • Prune ornamental plants right back if they’ve been underwater for a little while – you don’t want energy to be wasted on growing green shoots, as it’s much more important that the root system grows back strong and healthy and that the core of the plant is strong.
  • If your veggie patch has been flooded, give your local council a ring to double check whether or not the water has been contaminated. Don’t eat leafy salad veggies as they probably won’t taste particularly good, and give root veg a thorough wash. Fruit might be more susceptible to rot than veg, but what you eat really depends on how long the veg was underwater for. Anything that you’re not sure of, throw away. Cook everything very thoroughly before use.
  • Improve drainage in pots by adding gravel or compost and use plenty of mulch to prevent the ground from becoming too waterlogged. If soil is still very damp once the floodwaters subside, be sure to aerate it very thoroughly – and if your lawns are particularly soggy, make sure that you don’t walk on them. Compacted soil means that roots cannot take in water properly and so the plant ends up starved of nutrients.
  • If plants are damaged, remove dead or dying roots, flowers, leaves, fruits, and prune back as much as you can.

Source: BBC

DIY Tips: Dry Weather Gardening Tips

Although Britain has a fairly high average annual rainfall, the most common cause of plant death in the UK is lack of moisture – so learn how to protect your plants from dry weather and keep them blooming throughout the year with our dry weather gardening tips. To help you get started, take a look at this link for gardening tools.

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How to Tell if Your Plants are Suffering

Plants that are suffering with drought tend to be fairly easy to spot. Generally, leaves and stems will appear limp and wilted, because water is no longer running through the plant. Leaves might turn yellowish or brown in colour and if the plant is particularly lacking in moisture, might drop off. Fruit and flowers might drop or shrivel and the plant might die. Typically, you’ll see signs of drought at the top of the plant or on the outside of the plant first and the drought will then work its way to the centre of the plant. Check to see if the plant needs to be watered by checking the soil. If it’s moist, don’t water, even if the plant is showing signs of drought. The signs of over-watering can be similar to drought, so it’s important to work out whether or not the plant is actually lacking in moisture or whether it has too much moisture.

Soil, Compost and Mulch

To improve moisture levels in soil, follow these tips:

  • Add water-retentive gel to compost in pots and hanging baskets, or choose compost that already contains water-retentive gel
  • Add gravel to pots and hanging baskets to retain and trap moisture
  • Add mulch and organic matter to soil when planting and through the spring

Lawns

Lawns are fairly resilient, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind when looking after your lawns in dry weather.

  • Cut the lawn less often and raise the height of the mower blades – cutting grass too short and too frequently will result in brown, patchy grass
  • Use a sprinkler on the lawns in the evening, if there isn’t a hosepipe ban in the area
  • Scarify the lawn in the autumn, then aerate the lawn in the summer using a gardening fork so that moisture can penetrate the grass

In Greenhouses

Greenhouses are really useful for protecting smaller plants or seedlings, but in the summer, the glass can magnify the heat of the sun, resulting in dry, shrivelled blooms. If you can, fit shades to the inside of the greenhouse windows so that you can control how much sunlight gets in. On sunny days, keep the door open so that plenty of fresh air can get in – just be sure to shut it at night.

For more tips and gardening advice, take a look at the rest of our DIY Gardening Tips articles.

Source: BBC

DIY Tips: Autumn/Winter Lawn Care

Autumn and winter are typically the quietest months in any garden – but in order to keep your lawn in tip-top condition and to ensure that it grows lush, green and vibrant in time for spring, there are a few simple lawn care tips that you’ll need to follow over the cooler months. To help you get the job done, take a look at this link for gardening tools.

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Autumn

Keep mowing the grass throughout the autumn. Raise the height of the cut a little bit as the rate of growth will slow as the weather cools. You’ll also need to scarify the lawn – this means that you should rake the grass with a little more force than usual to get rid of any debris, weeds or moss. Scarification will remove moss and will also encourage lawn growth.

If the lawn has been growing a little patchy throughout the summer, you should also add some fertiliser in September or October if it’s still warm. If the grass is really patchy, sow some grass seeds in sparse spots. You should also spike the lawn with a garden fork before sprinkling with sand or a top soil. Regularly brush the lawn to remove debris and dirt and be sure to rake the lawn often to remove dead fallen leaves.

In November, cut the grass one final time once it stops growing, then store away your lawnmower and any other lawn tools you use for the winter.

Winter

Although you won’t be using tools or your mower on your lawn through the winter, there are still a number of things you need to keep in mind when using your garden at this time of the year. Do not feed the grass and do not use fertiliser over the winter months, as this could result in over-fed grass, which could speed up the rate of grass growth. If the grass grows too quickly or comes through in winter, it could kill off parts of the lawn. Don’t step on the grass if you don’t have to during the winter, especially if it is completely frozen or water-logged, as this could damage the lawn and leave you with a huge problem come springtime. When digging out driveways and pathways, try not to heap more snow onto the lawn or onto beds as this will not only weigh down the plants but also over-water them, which could encourage fungal growth.

When it comes to gardening and lawn practicalities, if you’re planning on returfing your garden, make arrangements in the winter for your turf to be delivered when spring rolls around – and if you haven’t serviced your lawnmower for a while, do so in the last few months of winter to avoid the rush that will come in the first months of spring.

Source: 4Homes

DIY Tips: Organic Garden Maintenance Tips

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t more difficult to take care of an organic garden. You will need to do plenty of regular maintenance, but with a little love and care, your garden will flourish. Take a look at the gardening tips below and look at this link for gardening tools to help you get the job done.

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  • Buy a high-quality, well-prepared top soil or make your own with plenty of homemade fertiliser or compost. You should also rake it over and add extra top soil as and when you add new plants or do any major gardening work. A high-quality top soil will ensure the health of your entire garden and will help with plant growth as well as improve plant health. Quality soils are also more able to absorb nutrients and will help to protect your plants from disease.
  • Place ice cubes on top of hanging baskets and around the top of pot plants. As the ice melts, it’ll water the plant with just enough water to keep it moist – instead of wasting water by using a hose. You can also do this indoors.
  • Check plants regularly for signs of disease or pests. A few greenfly or aphids can be picked off and gotten rid of before they have a chance to destroy the plants. If you spot any signs of disease, like black spots, you can trim them off and get rid of them before the disease has a chance to take hold.
  • Regularly trim back and prune plants, trees and shrubs in your garden and in your borders. Dead-head plants once flowers have died and prune back plants regularly to encourage new growth and fresh flowers next spring. If you’re working with soft plants, you can use your hands and for woodier, tougher plants, use garden secateurs.
  • Never use too much water. Using lots of water could essentially drown your plants but it also encourages the growth of mould and fungus and this could cause disease. Instead, think about using the ice cube technique or a spray bottle of water instead. Water plants in the morning so that they can absorb the water throughout the rest of the day, rather than at night. You should also make sure that the ground is moist but not too wet.
  • Make use of a greenhouse, or if you don’t have room, grow plants, seeds and shoots indoors on a windowsill. It’ll protect your plants from bugs and pests and all you have to do is look in on them now and then for water and to give them a trim.

Source: 4Homes