Top tips for keeping that much loved Christmas plant alive. We've tested a plant sensor and mixed it up with some good old gardening knowledge...
Gardens, like children, should really come with a how-to guide.
So you’ve bought a new house, and it comes with a garden. A wild, weedy garden, full of plants that you don’t recognise or know what to do with. Don’t panic! The good news is that if you really don’t have time, most of the plants will last a couple of seasons while you unpack and renovate. When you do want to tackle your suburban jungle, here’s our emergency to-do list.
- Maintain the lawn
The number one trick to making your garden look better and increase your chances of getting into it is to tend to your lawn. In general, you won’t have to do much more than to mow regularly (the longer you allow the grass to grow, the bigger a challenge it is to cut) and to use an iron fertiliser in Spring. If you’re unlucky, you may also have to deal with the two main enemies of the perfect lawn: moss and moles.
- Trim the hedge
A scruffy hedge (literally) overshadows your whole garden so it’s important to fertilise and trim your hedge in spring and trim again in mid-summer to keep it tidy. Trimming the hedge will also prevent complaints from neighbours and passers-by, which is probably a good start to life in a new neighbourhood! Evergreen hedges offer the screen throughout the whole year so some of the most common types are privet, laurel, and cypress.
- Get to know your garden
Check what you’ve already got in the garden. It’s likely that you might have some popular plants like:
- Shrubs and trees: common varieties in the UK include hydrangeas, rhododendrons or azalea, roses, dogwood, buddleja, viburnum or honeysuckle. Most of these don’t require much more work than giving them some slow release fertiliser every couple of years, and pruning them.
- Herbaceous perennials (plants that come up every year, like delphinium, geraniums and African lilies) will appear in your flowerbed during spring. For the first couple of years, you can do little damage by simply spreading general purpose fertiliser on flower beds and deadheading (removing withered flowers) to encourage more flowers to grow.
- Bulbs: Again, you’ll probably only discover what bulbs you have in the spring when new shoots come up. Likely suspects are daffodils, crocus and gladioli. If you don’t yet know how to take care of bulbs, leave them undisturbed; they’ll fend for themselves.
- Climbers: usual suspects are climbing roses, climbing hydrangeas, vines, wisteria, honeysuckle, ivy and grapes.
- Make your own mark!
Once you’ve identified which plants are already in your garden, look at where there are bare patches or the planting pattern is a bit dull. Look for inspiration for new plants to add to the garden and start to make your own mark.
- Garden waste
Don’t forget to dispose of garden waste responsibly. For a small garden, the kerb collection for bio-degradable waste might suffice. Larger waste can be burned on a bonfire or composted.