Cheat’s spring clean

Use these clever tricks to turn your bare, messy gar­den into a thing of beauty...

Rutherglen Reformer - - House & Home - Diarmuid Gavin

AS YOUR gar­den wakes from its win­ter slum­ber, you can feel over­whelmed by the tasks you need to carry out.

But while not ev­ery­one has the time to do them all, whether it be work or fam­ily keep­ing life busy, we all de­serve a beau­ti­ful plot. And, of course, there’s a cheat’s guide to achiev­ing that.

So here are a few sim­ple tips that will al­low you to show off your Eden to its best, what­ever its state:

Easy care plants

OPT for easy-main­te­nance in­for­mal shrubs, such as hy­drangea, vibur­num, choisya, weigela, sar­co­cocca and clump form­ing bam­boos.

Shrubs can pro­vide in­ter­est through­out the year, with their flow­ers, scent, ber­ries and fo­liage colour.

Avoid lots of dif­fer­ent peren­ni­als and roses which need ex­tra care and in­stead choose grasses and bulbs.

Use good-look­ing ground­cover plants, such as hardy gera­nium, pul­monaria, epimedium, brun­nera and pachysan­dra, which smother bare soil so weeds haven’t a chance.

Weed wars

DIG up weeds be­fore they flower and set seed.

Use a fine grade of for­est bark to sup­press weed growth, pre­serve mois­ture around the roots of your plants and make things look neat and tidy in a flash.

In­stant stars

Con­tainer-grown plants de­pend on you for wa­ter­ing and feed­ing so get them in the ground in­stead, where Mother Earth will pro­vide such ser­vices.

Grow plants that per­form in­stantly – species that be­gin to grow at a rapid pace as soon as they are bed­ded in the soil.

The per­fect ex­am­ples are sweet pea and nas­tur­tium, which will climb up a bam­boo wig­wam sup­port or race up a fence clad with some net­ting to pro­vide a grip.

They flower within weeks, bring­ing colour and scent to your plot. Paint a wall Use paint for an in­stant lift. Take in­spi­ra­tion from the cobalt blue of La Ma­jorelle in Morocco or warm up a wall with some Mex­i­can Pink. Use pots of colour, sin­gle hues or a clash­ing ca­coph­ony.

For a taste­ful ap­proach, try ranges from the likes of Far­row and Ball. For the DIY way, have your own ma­sonry paint matched to a favourite shade at a home im­prove­ment shop.

Ar­ti­fi­cial grass

Take a prac­ti­cal view. If the lawn isn’t work­ing due to football games or is too much in the shade, dig it up.

Or – even eas­ier – get some­one in to do it. Then have some ar­ti­fi­cial turf put down.

In­stalling ar­ti­fi­cial roll­out grass does re­quire the pro­fes­sion­als to en­sure your Wem­b­ley is level, has ad­e­quate drainage and re­mains weed-free.

But ar­ti­fi­cial turf is a re­ally sen­si­ble so­lu­tion to some dif­fi­cult ar­eas – or def­i­nite re­quire­ments for your out­door space.

Bright ideas

Af­ter dark, you can hide a mul­ti­tude of is­sues by using clever and cre­ative light­ing.

The ul­ti­mate for me is what I think of as fair­ground lights – bare bulbs set along a length of ca­ble, draped over your ter­race space.

The warm white or se­lec­tion of coloured bulbs cre­ate an in­stant wel­com­ing at­mos­phere.

If that’s a bit of a stretch, try out­door can­dles, es­pe­cially those that give out the de­li­cious scent of cit­ronella as these will keep the midges away.

Sim­ple can­dles or night lights in jam jars hung from trees make great cheap gar­den light­ing so­lu­tions too.

Also, plant some night-scented stock for that sen­sory ex­tra magic.

EASY PLEASY Hy­drangeas are sim­ple to main­tain and bring a mas­sive splash of colour

Go potty: Mul­ti­ple pots to­gether can bring an in­stant colour hit

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