Our gardens are now a true extension of our home and are becoming as important as any other room. Terraces and patios help add extra usable space for al fresco dining, socialising with friends and family or simply enjoying the evening sun with a glass of wine and a good book. With summer in full bloom, it’s time to get out there and enjoy your garden. Here are our top tips for maintaining your garden through the summer so you can make the most of your outdoor space.
Weeding – kill em off!
Weeding is one of those dreaded tasks but if you can keep on top of it, it can help make the task a lot easier. Try to weed kill little and often – look out for signs of new weeds growing and remove them before they grow bigger. Consider using mulching to supress weeds and make life a little easier…
After weeding, carefully sweep away debris and dirt ready for pressure washing. Pressure washers are a fast and effective way to bring back the colour to paving slabs and rejuvenate a dull-looking patio. If you don’t own a pressure washer, a garden broom and soapy water can do the job just as well.
Side note: It is important to choose child and pet-safe weed killers if appropriate.
There’s so mulch you can do!
Using mulch to dress borders and flower beds not only looks smart, but it also reduces weeding, helps retain moisture in the soil in the summer and protects plant roots during the winter. Biodegradable mulches such as wood chippings, compost and leaf-mould release nutrients into the soil as they break down and will need to be replaced as they rot. Non-biodegradable mulches including slate chippings, decorative pebbles and stones do not add anything to the nutrient content of the soil but are a good way of suppressing weeds and help to maintain moisture levels. Non-biodegradable mulches do not need to be replaced on a regular basis as with biodegradable options and can add a polished look to any garden.
Perfecting your patio and driveways
The warmer summer months provide the perfect opportunity to clean up tired-looking patios. Start by pulling up weeds that have surreptitiously grown between slabs and block paving. Be careful to remove the roots to prevent future regrowth. There are several different weed-killing options on the market, from fast-acting sprays to chemical free weed burners. However, the good old-fashioned method of pulling up weeds by hand is eco–friendly, effective and it’s free!
Side note: It is best to treat wooden decking in the spring or autumn to avoid the hot summer sun from drying out the treatment before it is fully absorbed into the wood.
It’s time to cut back
Keeping hedges neat and tidy is vital for a well-maintained garden, making the space look well-cared for and inviting. Cutback excess growth using shears or an electric hedge trimmer, being careful not to disturb nesting birds. Hedges can be pruned to look informal and natural or can be carefully trimmed to look more formal with crisp, sharp edges. Use a green bin to discard of larger, thicker hedge trimmings, smaller cuttings can be added to the compost heap, if you have one.
Side note: Conifer clippings release tannins which can harm other plants. Any excess clippings must be composted on their own for at least 3 months
The grass really can be greener
During the summer months, lawn mower blades should be set a little higher than during the rest of the year. Try to keep the height of your grass at around 5cm as this prevents the soil beneath becoming scorched thus stunting future growth. It’s easy to forget to water grass but aim for once a week if you can (your lawn will really thank you for it!). For an extra special touch, you could even add some stripes for that Wimbledon feel! Strawberries and cream anyone?
Keepin’ it cool
As important as it is to keep yourself cool in the summer, the same goes for your garden. By keeping your garden cool it helps to keep your soil fertilised, which allows garden insects such as worms and ladybirds to survive and your plants to grow.
A way to do this is to invest in an irrigation system. An irrigation system not only keep your garden cool, but it is time efficient and uses water more efficiency than a traditional hose. Water timers and mini sprinklers are also good alternatives to irrigation systems as they help to keep grass and plants hydrated.
The best time for watering your garden is in the early morning or later in the evening as this avoids evaporation and allows more of the water to be absorbed into the soil. When watering, it is best to dampen the soil, concentrating on the root point rather than the leaves, as this can result in leaf-mould diseases. It is best to water flower beds only once or twice a week but do ensure that you are watering sufficiently without waterlogging the soil. Installing a water butt is a great way to save money on your water bills and it’s much better for the environment, using a watering can instead of a hose is also a good way to keep costs down.
Even if you are renting a property, water systems are a good investment as it saves time in watering an entire garden manually and is good gardening practice for when you own a property.
Plants, plants, plants:
Plants are the aesthetics of your garden. It is important to choose plants dependent on different conditions, such as weather, season, soil condition etc. and consider this when buying plants because they have to be able to survive where and when you plant them. During summer, choose plants that require little moisture and little shade as they are often easier to maintain. Your local garden centre will be able to offer advice on what plants to buy. If you are not a homeowner, you can still invest wisely on plants. Hanging plant decorations and balcony plants are a great way to add greenery to smaller garden spaces and are more versatile if you choose to move to a new property. You can also plant this in your front garden to make your house look pretty!
The birds and the bees… and everything else:
If you are investing time and effort in maintaining your garden, it is also important to consider making your garden more wildlife friendly. Adding bird feeders to trees and bushes will help to entice the birds to your garden. Not only are they beautiful to watch, but they also help remove pests and other critters within your garden. You can also make your garden friendly for bees by planting wildflowers to attract them and help spread pollen. They also provide nectar which is important for food pollination as they offer a source of food for birds. Why not consider planting nectar-rich plants like salvia and lavender. Buying or making little homes such as bird houses and bee hotels help to allow birds and bees and to repopulate and allows for general shelter throughout the colder seasons.
Enjoy your garden! After all the hard work, make sure you take the time to sit down and admire your beautifully maintained outdoor space this summer. Whether you are renting a property, or you own your home, you have the guidance right here to make sure your home is loved and cared for this summer.