Cheat’s spring clean
Use these clever tricks to turn your bare, messy garden into a thing of beauty...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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