Is your garden looking a little lacklustre and in need a some TLC?
The current Covid-19 lockdown means we are spending more time in our gardens, so now is the perfect time to invest some time and effort and enhance the place we spend most of our time at the moment.
Here are some ideas that will transform your outdoor space and on a budget!
Now that we are starting to get some rain in to the soil now is the perfect time to do the weeding.
If you can avoid using chemicals and remove manually, and ensure you remove the entire root system.
The RHS has some great advice on controlling weeds.
Annuals - examples are hairy bittercress and chickweed. Perennials - for example dandelions. Trees - like Hollies and Hose Chestnuts which have strong roots and can be hard to dig out once established.
Annuals - dislodge by shallowly working the soil. If you work too deeply you may bring ungerminated seeds to the surface. Chickweeds thrive in rich soils and will smother borders. Remove by hoe or hand before it flowers. Nettles, again favouring rich soils, common in the late spring and summer. Remove with gloves to avoid stings.
Perennials - Ground Elder create underground stems beneath the soil surface. Remove the underground stems or alternatively lay a weed control membrane. You can also apply a glyphosphate-based weedkiller. Dandelions are often difficult to get rid of and you will need to ensure you remove all of the long tap root, or spot treat with a glyphospate stick.
For more on weeds go to the RHS page on Controlling Weeds.
Here is a useful video on this.
Some great ideas from the RHS - click here (click on the pop up image to scroll through).
Removing trees is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Dead trees should be removed anyway for health and safety reasons, but live trees should be removed when they interfere with other trees or overhead wires. But think it through as a replacement will take years if you decide to replace at a later date.
This advice is for trees less that 10 inches in diameter and less than 20 feet tall. For larger trees you should use a Tree Surgeon (and you can do this using the Compare Tradesmen on this site, and selecting Garden Work followed by Tree Surgery).
First, check the surrounding area for obstacles.
Second, stand back and check the way the tree is naturally leaning. The best fall would be its natural angle of growth.
Third, establish two escape routes leading safely away from the fall line.
Important to note: Before you start on the work, remember that cutting a tree down is a time consuming piece of work - not only does it take time to cut down, but you then have to cut the trunk in to sections to transport away (or use for logs on the fire), cut and transport all the smaller branches, and dig out or cut away the remaining trunk.
Next, make an 'undercut'. This is a V shapred notch cut in the direction you want it to fall. Then make start cutting the 'backcut'. This is on the opposite side about 2 inches higher. Once the tree starts to fall, stop your chainsaw and start moving down your chosen escape path.
Another note: Coniferous trees (spruce, balsam, etc) are very sinewy and sappy and can bind to your chainsaw and cause kickback and injury).
The next step is 'limbing'. Start at the bottom of the tree and remove the branches. Then cut the log in to smaller parts for tranporting or storing for later use as firewood.
Trees are fantastic as a habitat and fod source for wildlife, so we always encourage the planting of trees. They also give a structure to the garden, and can be planted in all sizes of garden; from a small acer in a pot, or a flowering cherry in a back garden; to a birch, whitebeam and hornbeam for larger spaces.
In fact a growing trend is multi-stem trees - creating canopies lending themselves to layered underplanting.
The colour and style of your paving/patio system can make a big impact on your entire garden. Grey or white paving laid in random patterns will create a French country look, while black or silver in a regular design will suit a more sleek/modern scheme. A golden stone in a mixed pattern will suit more of an English country feel.
You can co-ordinate your plants with the patio scheme - grey/white stone for purple and white blossoms, black and silver stone for red, orange and yellows; and golden paving for pink, lavender, and yellows.
A nice feature to add and creates a focal point in the garden.
The best garden design starts with structural plants infilled with flowering plants. Use evergreens at the end of each border and as punctuation along the way. Then infill with pretty flowers. Stick to 5-6 different types and repeat.
A garden room is a great way to realy boost the look of your garden, and provide a great place to have drinks with friends and a barbeque on an outside patio area.
For ideas, see the selection on House Beautiful.