Summer Gardening Tips

English garden in summer

We all want to make the most of the Great British weather in the summer months and make sure our garden looks in tip-top condition for when we’re enjoying a glass of wine in the yard after work, dining alfresco or hosting a BBQ. From mowing the lawn to getting rid of pests, we’ve rounded up the best summer gardening tips to make sure your garden is always ready to impress.

Know when to water

We all know that watering our lawn and plants regularly is important when the weather heats up, but how often should you be giving your greenery a drink? Generally you should be watering the entire garden once or twice a week whilst hanging baskets can require watering up to two times a day. Hedges can be watered with a trickle hose and larger shrubs and trees should be left with a hosepipe at the base for around an hour.

Make sure you’re prepared for unexpected weather – it is Britain after all – and keep plants susceptible to frost covered up if a cold night is forecast.

Watch out for pests

You won’t be the only one enjoying your garden this summer – pests such as aphids and caterpillars will be out in force and can transmit viruses. Catch them early on and they can be dealt with by hand.

Birds need water too

We all look out for birds in the winter, but hot and dry weather can also make the ground hard meaning birds struggle to find food. Leaving some seeds out for them not only supplements their diet through the summer but helps them build up a reserve for the winter too. The dry summer months also make it more difficult for birds to access water, so also consider investing in a bird bath so they can have a drink and splash around.

Remove dead flowers

Getting rid of the flowers that are past their best not only improves the aesthetic of your garden, it supports new growth too. Without the wilted flowers the plant can then concentrate on the fresh flower instead. It also discourages pests and fungi – wilted flowers are a breeding ground for them! You’ll also find that certain summer shrubs such as larkspur can re-flower in the autumn if they are cut back once the summer flowering is over.

Plant winter seeds

By the time August rolls around the gardening season will be almost over, so don’t forget to plant seeds for your winter vegetables. In your vacant patches try sowing seeds for vegetables like lettuce, spinach, winter onions and radishes.

Cut your hedges

To maintain strong and healthy hedges that grow densely and evenly it’s important to cut them several times a year. Though this should be avoided during the bird mating season between March and July, after this time has passed you can start to cut them again.

Clean up the decking

During the rainy winter months, leaves and squashed berries can not only leave your patio and decking looking grubby, but they can be pose a slippery threat. It’s easy to clean them up – simply blast away the dirt and stains with a pressure washer – no chemicals required!

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.

How To Get Your Children Helping In The Garden

Two cute little children planting flwores in front or back yard, woman gardening in the backgroung

Cultivating an interest in gardening from a young age is a wonderful way to promote a healthier lifestyle for your children. It also gives them the knowledge and skills for later in life, so they can tend their own garden effectively. Furthermore, it’s an excuse for outdoor play, exercise, and fresh air. Let’s take a look at how you can get your kids helping out in the garden.

Inspire Them With Stories

A great way to get kids interested in most things is to read them a story about that subject, or show them a cool film that will appeal to their tastes. Once you’ve sparked their interest in gardening, it’s easy to encourage them to come help you. The Secret Garden is a lovely film that just might help them get their green fingers, about a girl who moves to the Northern British wilderness, after spending her childhood in India. That’s just one example out of many!

Get Them Their Own Equipment

Whether for their birthday, Christmas, or just as a random surprise, buying them their own gardening equipment (mini versions, of course) will mean that they can do more in the garden, and they will also be excited to have their own tools.

Give Them Their Own Space

Everyone loves a little space to call their own. Allow your kids to have their own creative freedom over a patch in the garden and grow whatever they like. Encourage them to have full responsibility over this area, including going out to water the plants during the week.

Record Your Process

Keep a garden scrap book. Press flowers. Draw pictures of what you’re planting and what has grown in the garden, or what’s ready to harvest. This is a lovely way to follow your progress over time, and to have an excuse to do some crafts.

Make It Into A Learning Experience

Gardening is such a fun way to learn, and not just about planting itself, but about wildlife and flowers. It may sound clichéd, but learning really can be fun. Think about working in something new and interesting into each gardening session, so your child keeps learning.

Harvest As A Family

The fun bit is almost always reaping what you sow…literally. Harvesting is a great reward for all of your efforts. Get the whole family involved and make a delicious meal from all of the food that you pull from the soil. It always trumps the supermarket-bought stuff.

Show Off Your Produce

Take pictures to show your friends, or share what you’ve grown with family members. A great way to truly appreciate the bounty that you’ve received is to encourage your children to give it to others. Invite your kids’ friends over for strawberries and cream, with the strawberries that you’ve grown in your own garden. It will give your kids a chance to show off what they’ve done, which is another surprisingly good way to get them interested in helping.

What To Do In Your Garden This Weekend

garden

Are you wondering what you can do in your garden this weekend? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with an itinerary of different activities. Here are just a few things to add to your to-do list on Saturday morning.

Bulb Planting

If you haven’t started laying down bulbs in your garden, now is the time to do so. You can have flourishing flowers, ready for Christmas (Hyacinth) or spring (Daffodils, Snowdrops, Bluebells). Bring a little colour to your garden, after some of the barest winter days. It’s nice to start planting things now, in anticipation for fresh blooms later.

Look After Your Hanging Baskets

Although some hanging baskets start to decline now, others will last until the first frost, as long as you keep feeding, watering, and dead-heading them. Keep your blooms going until the weather really takes a turn for the worst. You may be surprised at how long they keep, as long as you give them a little TLC.

Tree Planning

Trees that are planted now, while the weather is wet, but the ground is still warm, will do well when they sprout up the following year. Get them established now, before the frosts come along, and give them a good start.

Keep Deadheading Your Roses

Keep deadheading your roses, to encourage further flowering, before the winter cut back. If you have any climbing roses, prune them, unless they are repeat-flowering. Many roses will last it out during colder weather.

Keep Harvesting Your Crops

Now is a great time to keep harvesting your vegetable garden. Soon, you’ll be lacking a number of crops, so make the most of yours, and freeze off anything that you’ll want to dip into later – it will still be as fresh as the day that it was picked! You could also try pickling or drying your produce. Experiment with new preservative measures!

Pumpkins

To make sure that you have plenty of pumpkins, ready for Halloween, remove any leaves that are covering the fruit. This will help them ripen, ready for October 31st. If you see any pumpkins touching the ground, it’s often worth laying a wooden board or slate underneath them to help prevent rot.

Pimp Up Your Garden

Start to think about composting and collecting water, if you haven’t already. Creating your own compost station and water butt is a great way to enhance your garden, be more environmentally-friendly, and drastically reduce your bills. When you start to have less to do around your garden, it’s a fantastic idea to get these projects underway, especially with the autumn leaves coming (awesome for leaf mulch).

Plan For Next Year

Nope, it’s really not too early to plan next year’s garden. In fact, now is the perfect time to draw up what you’re going to plant and where. This way, you can get everything in the ground at the perfect time, and it will give you an opportunity to ensure that something is always flowering in your beds, and that you have a great supply of veggies throughout the year.

Autumn Work: How To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

Young woman raking leaves autumn pile garden veranda housework sweeping

Now that we are slowly moving into autumn (just one month to go!), it’s time to start letting go of the beautiful flowers in your garden, and prepare for the spring. As a gardener, you’re always planning ahead. The preparation that you do now will mean that you can reap the rewards next year. Before you know it, winter will be over, and gorgeous flowers will be blooming. There are plenty of fun and interesting things to do, in this winding down period, which should keep you motivated, while the garden starts to look a bit bare. Here’s how to prepare your garden, ready for the big chill.

Look After Wildlife

When a lot of colour and life has left your garden, you can encourage it back in again with a number of tricks. Birds are always a lovely sight, and they will need your support during the colder months. Where you can, set up feeders throughout your garden. You can make your own (it might be something nice to do with the kids) or you can buy what you need from most garden-related stores. You will be able to see a number of UK birds flitting around your garden, while you relax next to the window, with a nice cup of tea.

Looking Ahead To Spring

In autumn, start planting spring bulbs, while the ground is still warm enough. In September, look to plant your Daffodils, Snowdrops, Bluebells, Tulips, and Anemones, for some colour when the weather gets warmer. When spring comes around, you will have a cheery array of flowers, after the dark winter season. Planning ahead can also be quite fun, so get those bulbs in the ground!

Winter Evergreens

If you still want your garden to have some pizazz during the Christmas season, make sure to get rid of any fading summer flowers that won’t blossom next year, and replace them with evergreens. Many evergreens even flower, so look for some that will add colour to your borders. They really can add some joy to the festive season. For some evergreen suggestions, check out this article from The Royal Horticultural Society.

Try Leaf Mould

If your garden is bombarded with autumn leaves every year, rake them up and try to make some leaf mould. This will be really beneficial for your plants, and leaf mould is a joy to work with. It couldn’t be simpler to do either: using a bin liner, fill to the top with leaves (and pour in water, if the leaves are dry), tie off the top of the bag, and pierce down the sides and the bottom. Store somewhere protected, and your leaf mould should be ready to use the following autumn. You can shred up the leaves in advance, to help the decomposition process.

What is your favourite part of gardening during the autumn months? What are you looking forward to in the spring? Let us know!

Tips For Taking Your Garden To The Next Level

Beautiful Garden With Bench And Little Pond To Relax

Have you got a gorgeous garden already, but you’re wondering what adjustments would make that extra bit of difference? Taking your garden to the next level is all about the small changes that have a huge impact. Here are just some ideas for getting more out of your favourite place at home.

Water, Water, Water

Especially through summer, be sure to support your garden by regularly watering your plants; this is extremely important if they live in pots! This can be a bit of a drain on your resources, however, so try to be as economical as possible here, for your own sake. An eco-friendly automatic watering system can be a fantastic investment for your garden this year, to keep it looking lush and happy!

Diminishing Space Solutions

Running out of space in your garden? It’s time to break out the crawlers! Over arches, up the side of the house, across fences…wherever there is a vertical wall, you can grow climbing roses, honeysuckle, or any other gorgeous plant that likes to scale upwards. Even if this is an after-thought of such, it could swiftly become the most beautiful feature in your whole garden. It’s definitely worth growing towards the sky!

All Things Container-Related

For areas of your garden that don’t have plantable soil, it’s time to break out the containers. You don’t need to immediately move towards ordinary plant pots; you can get pretty creative with containers. For example, you could use empty wine boxes to plant herbs for your kitchen, for a lovely vintage look. You can even hang containers off the side of fences to make the most of the space available.

Rain Barrels

A great solution for conserving water for your garden is to set-up your own water-butt. It’s actually easy to create one at home, but otherwise, you can try to claim a second-hand one online. Ebay is a good place to start, but look for sellers in your area, so it’s easy to pick up in person.

Water Feature

Water features in your garden can attract wildlife and add an interesting extra element to your already pretty back yard. It can be as simple as digging a hole, laying down tarp, and lining with rocks, to create an immediate pool. If you want a running water feature, take a look at this guide for making your very own at home, with little fuss and a little DIY skill.

Attracting Wildlife

Half of the fun of having a garden are the animals who take up residence there; birds, butterflies, bees…try to make them all feel welcome. For bees, this is as simple as planting lots of flowers that they like; cosmos and lavender are lovely options. For birds, this could be hanging up bird food or creating spaces for them to nest in the spring. Butterflies can be encouraged in by creating a feeder for them; here is some really useful information on how to go about that.

How To Grow Strawberries In Your Garden

straw

Strawberries are surprisingly easy to grow in Britain, and they can make a fantastic addition to your garden. Strawberries flourish in a variety of soils, although well-drained, rich in hummus ground is best. Between June and September, strawberries can be grown outdoors, perfect for classic summer dishes. Try to plant strawberries in full-sun and out of the wind. You can expect the plants to bear fruit between 5 and 6 years, as long as you take good care of them.

Which Strawberries Should You Grow?

It entirely depends on what you want to come to fruition in your garden. You can go for the classic, bell-shaped strawberries that everyone naturally thinks of, or you can consider alpine wild strawberries, which produce very tiny fruits.

Prepare The Soil

Fork in nutrient-rich compost or mulch, to make the perfect bed for your strawberries. Be sure to fish out any weeds that you come across too. Leave a good amount of space between plants, so they are easy to pick, and they have enough space to flourish.

Use Nets

If you’re worried that birds or squirrels will steal your crops, nets are a great solution. However, only use these if you’re desperate, as they’re not always necessary. If you choose to use nets, be sure to remove them, once the fruiting season is over, so animals can help pick off pests.

Pick Strawberries As They Ripen

Every couple of days, while your strawberries are coming to fruition, pick any that are ripe. If you leave them to rot, they can damage the plant and the surrounding strawberries too. Picking tip: collect the fruit first thing in the morning, when the strawberries are at their juiciest. Pick the strawberries carefully, so you don’t damage the plant, and also be gentle with the fruit itself, so it doesn’t bruise.

Late May Straw

To stop weeds from taking over your strawberries, you can lay down straw. It’s also a great way to keep moisture in the ground, when the hot weather starts parching the soil. And, if that wasn’t enough, it helps to stop the fruit from getting damp and rotting. Before laying down the straw, be sure to pick out any rogue weeds that are taking over.

Baskets

Do you think an army of slugs will come and ruin your plants? Strawberries do really well in baskets, as long as you remember to water them every day. It’s a great way to keep your plants out of harm’s way, without having to resort to nasty pesticides. This is also a great option if you don’t have a lot of outdoor space. They are like hanging mini-gardens!

Misshapen Strawberries?

Don’t forget that you can turn any strawberries that you don’t want to eat fresh off the plant into homemade jam. Here’s a handy guide to get you started. You only need a few ingredients and it’s a fun activity that you can do with the family – so much better than the store-bought stuff.

Gardening For Beginners: Where To Begin

Female hands in pink gloves planting flowers, close-up

Have you moved house recently and acquired your very first garden? It can be both a blessing and a curse. You should accept now that you’re going to have to spend a lot of time – and sometimes, money – to have the garden of your dreams. But, seeing as you have no experience, how do you begin?

All The Gear – No Idea

Don’t go crazy in Homebase and buy every tool on the shelves. There are some core things that you will probably need: a robust shovel, a fork, some clippers, and a trowel. Maybe some gardening gloves too. Other than that, you are good to go! Don’t waste more money than you need to.

Creating Paths

Laying out your vegetable beds with clear, small paths will help dissuade slugs and snails from launching hungry warfare on all of your plants. Think of it as a natural answer to slug pellets. While they are trying to travel across to your vegetables, they are more likely to get snapped up by birds (so, you should encourage birds into your garden too, by putting out water baths and bird trays). It also looks nice, when you segment off the different areas of your vegetable patch.

Improve Your Soil

Before you try to plant anything, be sure to improve the soil. Depending on your soil type, there are many ways to do this, but generally speaking, giving it a good forking – and removing any weeds – is a good start. Then, add a good mulch to enrich the ground, providing much-needed nutrients to your plants.

Have A Plan

Don’t just approach your garden with no clue as to what you’re doing. Sketch out a vague plan of how you want your garden to look and where you are planting what. Location matters, so – depending on which areas are in full-sun and which are in the shade – you will want to plant different things. Research your flowers’ needs in advance.

Also, if you are using seeds, don’t be tempted to plant them earlier than the packet says. If you plant your seeds at the wrong time, they aren’t likely to survive the climate at their most delicate stage – the rules are there for a reason!

Make Your Own Compost

Homemade compost is always the best. Be sure to compost all of your cuttings and organic food materials in your garden, so they can go back into your soil. If you’re not sure how to make your own compost, check out this guide.

Plant Vegetables

Some great vegetables to plant in the UK include courgettes, cucumbers, elephant garlic, potatoes, rhubarb, sweetcorn, Jerusalem artichoke, peas, strawberries, pumpkins, lettuce, and tomatoes. These all thrive, if they are taken care of, and they are far superior to supermarket bought vegetables. Consider planting herbs in pots too, as these are often expensive to buy from food shops. If you have space, a fruit tree is a lovely way to appease sweet-teeth and welcome in even more wildlife.

Tips For Making The Most Of A Small Garden

Small garden in springtime with dachshund dog sitting on the lawn.

With all of this beautiful weather, are you wondering what you could do with a small garden and a little handiwork? Never fear; it’s not too get your hands dirty, so you can make the most of the summer in a beautiful garden.

Stay Away From Bulky Plants – Keep It Small

Although it is tempting to plant things like potatoes and leeks – which actually take up a phenomenal amount of space – stick to delicious, small plants, such as herbs and chillies. Fresh herbs cost a pretty penny from the supermarket, and you can easily grow your own at home. Choose plants that you can eat all year round, such as perennial kales, Welsh onions, and artichokes.

Raised Beds – Height

Raised beds are the answer to growing plants on areas that were previously unusable (such as tarmac). This means that you can even grow vegetables or flowers in surprising places (like your shed roof!). You might be surprised at how many plants will thrive even in shallow soil. Do your research beforehand, to make sure that you have the best seedlings for a raised bed!

Use Pots

Pots – very similar to raised beds – are another great way of maximising your space. You can even place them on windowsills or on your doorstep. Use every cm that you can, to make the most of your garden. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still grow your own herbs at home.

Water, Water!

With plants in pots, you will notice that they dry out really quickly. The secret is to keep watering your plants; especially during summer. It might be worth reserving some space for a water butt – or carrying a mop bucket into the shower with you – to save on H2O, if you are worried about that!

Bright Colours

As you have a limited amount of space, really make what you have work for you. Bright colours can make a home look idyllic and seem light. Some eye-catching flowers can work wonders on your small garden, if you are looking to wow passers-by.

Attract Wildlife

Enrich your outdoor space by encouraging wildlife into your garden. Not only could this work in your favour, as many animals act as natural predators to bugs and pests that attack your plants, but it’s also wonderful to support the bee population, as well as the bird population in winter. You can do this by planting bee-friendly flowers in spring/summer and putting out bird food in the winter.

Create Privacy

Small gardens often have a serious privacy problem. Don’t be afraid to put up climbing plants and trees to create a feeling of seclusion. Pergolas and arches can help keep your garden isolated and blossoming with beautiful flowers. If you want to amaze people with scent, go for honeysuckle, roses, and jasmine. Climbers really don’t take up any space but have a huge impact.

What are your tips for making the most of your small garden?

How To Make Your Garden Bee-Friendly This Summer

Biene sammelt Pollen fr Honig

If you’d like to do your best to support the bee population this year, it’s as easy as putting out a few pots of flowers. But not all plants are made equal, when it comes to being bumble-friendly. Flowers rich in pollen and nectar are best. Some plants are genetically engineered by horticulturists to be attractive, but they have lost their pollen and nectar content, as a result. Some examples of flowers that aren’t that useful to bees are pansies and begonias.

Avoid using pesticides in your garden, as they are bug killers and can seriously harm bees too. Try to keep things as organic as possible. Often, planting certain species next to the flower or vegetable that’s being attacked can hugely dissuade pests – this is called “companion planting”.

In terms of where you can find the flowers to spruce up your garden, you have lots of options to suit any budget. It really doesn’t need to cost a lot of money, but it can make a huge difference to the local bee population.

Garden Centres And Nurseries

Garden centres and nurseries can be an expensive option, but your flowers will be ready to go! As they are often displayed outside, you can just follow the bees and find out which plants they seem to like the best! Your local market may also be good for this, and will be cheaper. All the flowers that you find should be ready-to-go, which is a big bonus of this option!

Mail Order Plug Plants

Plug plants can be ordered online, and they come very small, with an established root system. All you have to do is plant them and hope that they grow. This is cheaper than buying them from a garden centre, but you may have to wait until next year for them to flower – it’s a long term choice. You also run the risk of the poor plant getting accidentally damaged in transit.

Seed Packets

Super cheap, and available almost everywhere (online, in supermarkets…), only the annuals will flower in the first year. Otherwise, this is another investment for next year! It should tell you on the packets exactly when to plant them and when you should expect them to bloom. Seeds keep, so you can plant more whenever you like.

Cuttings And Wild Seeds

If your neighbours know their way around plants, you can ask for cuttings from some of their flowers. This is a free way to have gorgeous plants blooming in your garden. Alternatively, go on a walk to find wild flowers that seed, and then harvest them for your pots. You won’t have to spend anything at all.

Some Fantastic Flowers That Bees Like

Spring

Bluebells
Daffodils
Flowering cherry
Forget-me-not
Crab apple

Summer

Foxgloves
Snapdragons
Everlasting sweet pea
Cornflower
Globe thistle
Lavender
Heather

Of course, there are many more flowers that bees adore! This is just to get you started.

What are you doing this year to make your garden more bee-friendly?