Taking care of your garden is one thing you can look forward to and plan, regardless of any restrictions on other activities. As the summer approaches, many gardeners will be raring to go, and maybe looking for new ideas to change or get the very best out of their gardens. With a little imagination and some hard work, there are plenty of ingenious options out there. Read on for our pick of 7 of the best.
1 Garden Vertically
With space often an issue, especially for those living in urban areas, would-be gardeners have recently turned to vertical gardening as an ingenious way to allow plants and greenery into their lives. Growing upward rather than outward is becoming so popular that walls and fencing are now being used in much larger gardens. A good starting point is to use a staghorn fern on the amount as a focus for other hanging plants. Propagate plants in rows of wall vases, arranged on sturdy but discreet horizontal mounts. There are terracotta planter walls available, which fit onto existing fences and provide excellent bases for plants to flourish. Wrought iron flower pot rings are easy to install, and you can use well spaced trailing plants to add a flowing, natural effect; or go the whole hog and invest in a ‘living wall’ kit.
2 Repurpose Everyday Items
The garden is the perfect place to do it yourself, and environmental impact is always at the forefront of the modern gardener’s mind. For these reasons, there is a huge range of DIY gardening ideas out there, and many of them include repurposing household items. Making planters is a very popular starting point. With the right drainage, almost any object used to hold items can be converted into a planter; letter holders, desktop items, or even bathroom wall mounts for soaps and other products can be repurposed. Non-practical ideas include making artistic garden features out of discarded fixtures, like rolling up rusty fencing to create an organic looking, spherical ball of tumbleweed.
3 Hot Tub
More and more people are turning to inflatable spas such as the Monaco hot tub to add something special to their gardens; they offer the chance to socialize more with friends and family, especially in the summer months. Hot tub models come in many sizes and designs, to fit in gardens which may not have a lot of space, or have a number of other features. If you have the room and the funds, you may like to install a permanent hot tub, designed by a professional. These will require planning permission and are not suitable for all types of soil. Modern inflatable hot tubs, meanwhile, represent great value, especially when installed as part of good looking garden features. A flat surface is essential, so why not install a patio with a raised decking area?
4 Use Smart Plants
For border areas and features such as sunny corners, gardeners often turn to old favourites, depending on the climate and soil conditions in their gardens. Roses, petunia, lupins and others make superb contributions to the colour and feel of millions of gardens around the world. An ingenious take on these plants is to use breeds which serve more than one purpose. Roses such as the abelia need to be chosen according to climate, but careful placing – along pathways, or where there’s a breeze – will get the most out of their scent. For sun-baked walls, use an expandable trellis to host passion flower vines, which absorb the heat. Blueberry, thornless blackberry and raspberry shrubs are easy to grow and provide free fruit; while there are many plants which repel mosquitoes, if these are a problem in your garden.
5 Plant for Low Maintenance
Herbaceous borders and shrubs provide the frame for gardens of all sizes and give real definition to any shape you choose to employ. Once planted, however, a good idea is to make sure that the plants you use don’t need too much time spent on them; they should keep their looks and definition over a whole year. Layers of colour can be provided by shrubs which flower at different heights, and which are also hardy perennials. Rhododendrons are a firm favourite for these reasons; evergreen azalea, boxwood, mountain laurel, winter heath, golden euonymus and certain holly bushes are other excellent, hardy, colourful choices. Other low maintenance shrubs include weigela, spirea, winter daphne, Oregon grape, repeat blooming and peegee hydrangeas, and blue star juniper.
6 Use the Shade
Not all gardens get a lot of sun, for all sorts of reasons. Living in the city is the most obvious cause of prolonged periods of shade, but country dwellers may only see the sun for a couple of hours a day. Luckily, there are a number of shade-loving plants which can provide colour and texture to gardens in these conditions. The hosta is a perennial which forms the basis of many shade gardens, and has leaves ranging in size from the palm of your hand to as wide as a truck tyre; it also produces a huge range of colours. The hosta thrives in rich soil, and is a woodland plant which loves growing at the foot of trees. It combines perfectly with columbine, coral bells, and all types of ferns.
7 Keep it Tidy
For smaller gardens, tidiness is often the key to the best use of space. Geometric shapes such as squares provide a calming first impression, which is why many garden designers use paving slabs as part of rectangular patio space. Similarly, a simple lawn can often be the best solution for a garden of limited space. If well tended for, lawns combine nature with practicality. Caring for lawns, however, takes more effort than many people think; maintaining a lush, even, green covering throughout the year is something of an art. Maintaining lawn edges and keeping paved patio areas clean is something you can do all year round, and which has a massive visual impact.