Posts tagged with “Gardenscape”

This month’s task: Building a raised bed

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Getting out in the garden doesn’t always have to be about what you sow and grow; building outdoor constructions can also be incredibly rewarding. Your new creation will likely enhance your outside space greatly, whether that’s through providing you a handy space to keep tools, a new area to grow prize veggies or a place where you can shelter from the elements with a cup of tea.

One project that’s definitely worth pencilling in before the weather gets too warm, is building a raised bed. If you can, build it in late winter or early spring. That way you can get plotting and planting straight away and see the benefits of your work for the rest of the year.

What are the benefits of building a raised bed?

There are a lot of reasons why a raised bed might be a great addition to your garden. For starters, if you’ve only got a small garden, the addition of a raised bed gives you a new area of your garden to experiment with growing plants or vegetables that you may not have space for in your regular borders. Raised beds are also handy for anyone who finds bending down to tend to their plants a struggle. Watering your bed is also much quicker and easier than doing the whole garden.

One of the great things about a raised bed, is you can choose the soil you fill it with, which means you might also be able to grow plants you wouldn’t usually have success with in your borders. Adding an ericaceous soil will give you the opportunity to grow acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons, heather or blueberries. Drainage is another benefit of a raised bed - because the bed is above the regular ground level, the soil drains much more easily. It also means the soil warms more quickly - great for getting things growing!

How do you build a raised bed?

There are several ways you can create a raised bed, whether that’s making it from bricks, wood, stone or even paving slabs. However, our preferred method is by using one of our raised bed kits, which contains everything you need to create your own 2.4m raised bed.

Each kit contains premium quality softwood sleepers cut to size, screws, a drill bit and our quality growing media for filling the bed.

Before you start building your raised bed, you’ll need to choose where it’ll go.Choose somewhere that gets a decent amount of daily sunlight, ideally five to six hours. Dig over the area so that it’s level, and remove any weeds, then plot the bed using string.

Our raised bed kits come with assembly instructions so you can ensure you’re fitting the sleepers correctly. Once you’ve put them together, you can add the growing media, and then start planting.

What can I grow in my raised bed?

Raised beds are suitable for growing a wide variety of plants, but are especially popular for growing fruits and vegetables. Soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries do well in raised beds, and most vegetables will also work well.

You could also use your bed to create a cutting garden, growing herbaceous perennial plants and flowers.

Plants that require good drainage, such as alpines will do well in a raised bed, and this may give you the opportunity to grow new plants that hadn't performed well in your regular beds and borders.

If your regular soil makes it tricky to grow certain plants, then creating a raised bed will give you the opportunity to experiment with other soils and grow items you've previously struggled with, such as ericaceous shrubs which typically struggle in alkaline soil.

Where can I buy a raised bed kit?

If you’d like to try creating your own raised bed, you can purchase one of our raised bed kits here.

For more ideas for what to do in your garden this month, see our blog. You can also get lots more tips over on our social media pages, including seeing what our brand ambassador Tom Strowlger (@garden_with_tom) is creating with our Gardenscape product.

Welcoming Wildlife

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The arrival of spring also marks the appearance of many creatures, great (well, modestly sized), and small to the garden. If you're wild about wildlife, here's some ways to encourage animals into your outside space.

And, if critters are causing chaos in your garden, we've got some tips to help there, too.

Welcome water

The addition of a pond to your garden can provide a much needed breeding area for frogs, newts and dragonflies, and also creates an area for birds to drink from all year round. When selecting the site for your pond or water feature, choose a place that's not directly under trees where there's the likelihood of falling leaves - that way you won't be constantly fishing them out and cleaning up debris.

Short on space? Even a bird bath or a plant pot filled with water can help birds and other wildlife.

Lawn living

Something so simple as grass in the garden can be incredibly beneficial to lots of wildlife, all year round.

Short grass helps birds search for food easily - sometimes even the early bird needs a little help catching the worm!

Some people like a neat and tidy lawn at all times, but allowing some long grass helps to feed a number of other creatures, such as butterflies. Or, go one step further and grow flowering plants in your grass, which will also encourage various wildlife. If having meadow flowers in your lawn ruins your aesthetic, choose a section of the garden to create an area where you can grow wildflowers.

Boundary benefits

More than a simple border to divide your garden from the neighbour's, hedges offer shelter to many animals all year round, as well as giving birds a place to nest. A hedge is also one way to offer animals in the garden protection from the elements, whether that's a hot summer day or torrential rain.

Flower power

Filling your borders with bright blooms not only makes for a colourful garden, it also helps to provide for wildlife, too. Grow flowers for bees, butterflies and other visitors - choose a range of annuals and perennials, and incorporate flowers with pollen and nectar to give the bees a helping hand. Sunflowers are a particular favourite for worker bees, and once they’ve flowered, the seeds also make a great source of nutrition for birds and insects.

Small but mighty

A small outside space doesn’t have to mean you can’t encourage wildlife to it, you just have to get a little creative. Even pots and containers on the patio can have benefits for wildlife - small insects can shelter underneath, while pollinators can enjoy what’s planted inside. Hanging nuts and seeds can help birds especially in winter, and these feeders take up relatively little space. Or, a hanging basket not only looks lovely, but can also provide nutrition to wildlife, plus a place to shelter or even nest.

Wonderful waste

Compost is not only great for the garden, but it also helps out a huge number of creatures in the garden. The compost itself encourages wildlife such as worms and mites, who are all a part of the composting process, so will help that matter to convert from your old potato peelings and grass cuttings to compost. But, having these insects and invertebrates inhabiting your compost is also great for the birds, who can feast on what they find.

Keeping wildlife out

Sometimes, you might not want to encourage certain wildlife into the garden. Perhaps you’ve got some prize carrots growing that you’d rather not share, or a cat who brings you back ‘treats’ they find in the night.

● Installing a fence to create a barrier is one way of keeping critters at bay, especially stopping rabbits from munching through your crops. To prevent them from burrowing under and feasting on your produce, dig it in about 250mm deep. ● Elevating your plants and crops is another way to keep some animals at bay - raised beds can limit the damage they’ll do, as will window boxes which are out of harm’s way for hungry bunnies.

● To stop birds stealing your fruit crops, place netting over your berry bushes just before the fruit ripens.

● If you like a tidy garden, then perhaps consider a wild area - this will encourage wildlife to forage here for food first, rather than heading to the places you’ve carefully planted your crops. And, it’ll give somewhere for mice to hide, so that your pets don’t find them as easily and bring them back for you as a gift.

● Finally, while compost is a great way to encourage wildlife into the garden, it can attract some unwanted pests. To avoid this, keep your compost tidy in a compost bin.

Your garden in March

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For many gardeners, March is their favourite month. As signs of spring start to creep in, there's the opportunity to get back out into the garden, with the lighter evenings and warmer temperatures affording us a little more time in the great outdoors.

That said, gardening in March is very much led by the weather, which at this time of year can be unpredictable at best. So, while there's plenty to be done in the garden, choose smaller tasks to begin with, which take less time - that way if snow and storms do interfere (not unheard of in March!) you'll still be able to make some progress in the garden.

Container Care

There are many benefits to growing plants in containers. Not only do they help to brighten up dull corners and empty spots in the garden, they're also relatively easy to care for, once you've got everything in place.

Now is the ideal time to plant up containers, as it gives time for the roots to become established. The essential things plants in containers need are plenty of water, and a good quality compost to ensure the plant gets the ideal balance of air and water. Top dressing your containers with a compost that provides good drainage and keeps the roots from being too saturated is ideal.

Bin Benefits

Creating your own compost is easy to do, and there’s no better time to start than at the beginning of spring, so that you have the whole season ahead of you to collect that precious waste and start reaping the benefits. To get started, you need the right balance of nitrogen rich materials such as grass clippings and tree foliage, and carbon materials like wood cuttings and cardboard. Then, you’ll need somewhere to store it, so consider making your own compost bin to keep your matter tidy.

Lawn and order

It might be a while since you showed your lawn any love, but as spring arrives, it’s time to turn your attention to your turf. The beginning of spring is the ideal time to give your lawn a boost - put in the work now and it’ll thank you later.

One way you can boost your lawn is by aerating it, which helps to avoid waterlogging. Use a garden fork to spike the ground, and aim to leave around 15cm gaps between the incisions. It’s also worth using a good fertiliser on your grass - this will provide your lawn with the nutrients it needs throughout the season.

Summer shades

If we're afforded a mild March, then you can make a start on planting out some summer bulbs. Lilies and Dahlias are both good options and will bring plenty of colour to your garden come summertime.

Dahlias are not frost hardy, so you'll want to plant these about 6 weeks before the last frost - they take about this long to make an appearance, by which time hopefully weather conditions will be milder and the dahlias can thrive.

Lilies can be planted out in pots and will grow well in sheltered areas, or you could place them in the greenhouse until they're established.

Border control

No, it's not the most exciting of tasks, but the sooner you start weeding your borders, the less you'll have to do later down the line. Set aside five or ten minutes a week and get out in the garden to do a quick weed removal session. How you get rid of them is up to you - some people prefer to use a hoe or trowel, others prefer to pull them out by hand. Once you've tackled the worst of the weeds, mulch your borders with compost to keep them at bay.

The art of slow gardening

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Every once in a while, a buzzword comes along. There was hygge (the Danish concept of enjoying a cosy lifestyle), KonMari (living a less cluttered life by following Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo’s advice), clean living (where we were only expected to eat nuts and berries) and now, there’s another concept - slow gardening. With more of us than ever becoming green-fingered ( thanks in part to several lockdowns), this approach to gardening brings opportunities for amateurs and professionals alike to take stock and embrace a new pace.

What is slow gardening?

The concept of slow gardening subscribes to the idea that we need to take a more ‘hands off’ approach to gardening, and to a certain extent, let nature do its thing. Rather than spending lots of time outside raking, weeding, pruning and chopping, with slow gardening you take a step back and see what happens. So, rather than immediately reaching for the plant spray at the first sign of disease, you would see whether the plant could fight off disease without intervention.

The good news is slow gardening is less about perfection and more about letting nature take its course. Essentially, gardening should feel enjoyable, rather than like a chore, and getting outside should be more about what you want to do, rather than what needs to be done.

Slow gardening is also heavily centered around connection with nature and the natural world, including enjoying the gratification that comes with growing your own food, rather than buying it, or being able to pick flowers from your own garden and appreciate the time they took to grow, instead of buying a ready prepared bouquet.

Sounds great, but how do I actually do it?

Disappointingly, slow gardening isn’t an opportunity to be lazy. While it does promote an unhurried and less deliberate approach to gardening, it’s more about working with the seasons and following your own rules than it is lying on a lounger with a book in hand.

Slow gardening encourages you to fall back in love with your garden, by only focusing on the aspects you enjoy, and removing those that you don’t. If you find weeding tedious, then consider taking a more freehand approach to your borders and allowing some of the plants to grow. Hate mowing? Lose some of the lawn and grow wildflowers instead.

Forgoing the use of power tools in favour of manual tools is another way to embrace slow gardening. Yes, the tasks may take longer, but as you complete them you’ll be getting to know your garden in a whole new way - and you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment, too.

What do I need to get started?

A garden does help, and other than that you mostly just need patience. The slow gardening ethos is all about things taking their time, so if you’re the type of gardener who usually spends every weekend outside hacking, pruning and planting, then you may need to take a deep breath and step away from the secateurs. Spend time walking around outside, observing the space and the season, and think about a few things you’d like to achieve and how you’ll get there, rather than frantically working your way through a list.

While slow gardening isn’t about buying a huge amount, there are a few things you may want to invest in - a good quality soil conditioner to help anything you grow to thrive, fruit and vegetable bulbs, seeds or plants, to help you grow your own produce, and some new hand tools that are sharp and ready to tackle anything you throw at them - the gardening might be slower-paced but it doesn’t need to be done with a blunt instrument!

What should the outcome be?

The beauty of slow gardening is that there isn’t really an end point. Think of it as a lifestyle rather than a project - from season to season there’ll be new things to do in the garden, but ultimately the outcome is your wellbeing and a renewed appreciation for your outside space.

Your Garden in February

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The cold February weather often leavesa lot to be desired when it comes to getting out in the garden. It’s the time of year when very little is growing, and everything can look a little lacklustre. But, it’s also the month when you can get things going in the garden, and start looking forward to spring. While you won’t want to spend hours outside unless a heatwave arrives, there are still some tasks you can do that won’t take too long and will really help to make that garden glorious in the months to come…

Raise your game

If you’re keen to start seeing progress in the garden (and let’s face it, who isn’t when it’s cold and bleak?), then creating raised beds could be a game changer. These will give you a head-start in the garden because the soil warms up faster due to better drainage, meaning you’ll see signs of spring a little earlier than you would planting directly into the ground. Drainage will also see trickier soils such as clay become a little easier to work with in a raised bed. As for what to plant once you’ve created your bed - almost anything goes. Herbaceous perennials, ericaceous plants, vegetables and soft fruits will all benefit from the new home you’ve lovingly crafted for them.

Spud starter

Now is the time to get your potato growing underway if you’re hoping to enjoy homegrown mash, chips and jackets later in the year. You can begin by chitting them, which just means encouraging them to begin sprouting before you plant them. The best way to chit potatoes is to use an egg carton or seed tray, and stand the potatoes so that the area with the most eyes is at the top. Keep them in an area that’s cool but light, and then wait for shoots to appear. This process can take up to six weeks, but they should be ready to plant out in March.

Feathered feeding

Spare a thought for our feathered friends at this time of year; harsh winter temperatures can make it difficult for birds to find food and water, so give them a little helping hand if you can. Keep bird baths topped up with water and make sure they’re not frozen over, and consider hanging fat balls in the garden for them to feed off. You can make your own using old yoghurt pots, suet or lard and a combination of nuts, seeds and grains - although you can also pop some leftovers in too, like breadcrumbs. They won’t be using it just yet, but you could also set about making a nest box for the birds, so that they have somewhere safe to lay their eggs come spring.

Cut back

While there might not be a lot of planting going on in February, there’s plenty of shrubs looking to have a trim ahead of spring. Clematis, Wisteria, Hydrangea, Buddleia, Cornus and Mahonia can all be pruned this month.

Some plants are trickier to prune than others, so make sure you’ve got all the information before you make the cut. Clematis falls into several categories, and only some will need pruning now - avoid pruning a Clematis Group 1 (flowers in early spring and is evergreen), prune Clematis Group 2 (flowers in late spring) carefully, cutting shoots back to just above a strong bud, and with Clematis Group 3 (flowers summer to early autumn), you can be a little more insouciant with your pruning.

Let it snow

Snowdrops make a lovely addition to the garden in winter time, and if you don’t currently have any in your garden, now’s the time to plant them. They grow well in soil with grit, which aids drainage.

If however, you do have snowdrops but would like a few more, then February is also the time to divide them, so that they’ll multiply and carpet your garden with flowers next winter. Snowdrops aren’t natural pollinators due to them being winter-flowering when insects are dormant, but instead, they will split and then grow new flowers.

To divide them, carefully dig up the bulbs in clumps of three or four, lift them out, and then replant at around their original depth.