7 tips to make gar­den­ing eas­ier

Han­nah Stephen­son re­veals easy-peasy ways to keep your out­door space look­ing great

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS -

Gar­den­ing char­ity Thrive, which uses horticulture to im­prove phys­i­cal and men­tal health, and the RHS, of­fer the fol­low­ing tips to make life eas­ier for gar­den­ers. 1. Use ‘no dig’ meth­ods if you have

a veg­etable gar­den — if your soil is pretty healthy al­ready and not too heavy, don’t break your back by dig­ging it over, which will only de­stroy any nat­u­ral tun­nels and pock­ets which pro­mote air cir­cu­la­tion and free drainage, as well as en­cour­ag­ing root growth, Thrive rec­om­mends.

The ground will need added or­ganic mat­ter, so cover the bed with a thick mulch, such as news­pa­pers, and then a top layer of ma­nure or com­post. Worms and mi­cro-or­gan­isms will help break down the soil, and the mulch will act as a weed sup­pres­sant.

2. Choose plants care­fully — the RHS rec­om­mends that if you have high-main­te­nance peren­ni­als which re­quire stak­ing, cut­ting back, and lift­ing and di­vid­ing reg­u­larly, you may want to re­place some peren­nial bor­ders with shrubs. Avoid grow­ing a lot of tender plants which re­quire sea­sonal TLC, such as win­ter wrap­ping or mov­ing to a shel­tered spot in the cooler months. Go for plants which can be left out­side all year round.

Bed­ding plants may look colour­ful, but they can be hard work, es­pe­cially if you’re grow­ing them from seed, hard­en­ing them off and plant­ing out. Then you have to dis­pose of them at the end of their flow­er­ing sea­son — and start all over again.

3. Be wa­ter-wise — if you don’t want to be a slave to the wa­ter­ing can, choose plants that like drier con­di­tions — par­tic­u­larly for dry parts of the gar­den, or if you have free-drain­ing soil. Drought-re­sis­tant plants in­clude Cordy­line aus­tralis, Artemisia ‘Powis Cas­tle’, hebes, laven­der, eu­phor­bia, echinops, heuchera and os­teosper­mum, as well as pelargo­nium, Se­dum spectabile and many or­na­men­tal grasses.

Many drought-tol­er­ant plants have sil­ver or grey­green leaves, their light leaf colour re­flect­ing the harsh rays of the sun. Some have a coat­ing of fine hairs on their leaves. There are lots of hardy ev­er­greens which, once es­tab­lished, will re­quire lit­tle care.

4. Think about con­tain­ers care­fully — save on wa­ter­ing time by se­lect­ing the largest pot you can, which will take the most com­post and there­fore re­tain the most mois­ture. You can also add wa­ter-re­tain­ing gel or gran­ules to the com­post, and put a saucer un­der­neath the pots to catch the wa­ter dur­ing dry pe­ri­ods.

5. Take ac­tion to stop weeds in­vad­ing — use deep or­ganic mulches, such as bark or wood­chip, to smother weeds around plants. Keep them topped up to a min­i­mum depth of 10-15cm to smother es­tab­lished an­nual weeds.

If you have re­cently cleared soil in prepa­ra­tion for new bor­ders or beds, spread land­scap­ing fab­ric over the soil to sup­press the re-growth of old weeds and pre­vent new ones from emerg­ing.

Good ground cover plants are also ideal can­di­dates for sup­press­ing weeds. Try cranes­bill gera- ni­ums, Al­chemilla mol­lis, Eu­phor­bia amyg­daloides ‘Pur­purea’, Euony­mus for­tunei ‘Sil­ver Queen’ and Hyper­icum ca­lycinum — but there are many more.

6. Cre­ate raised beds to ease main­te­nance — peo­ple who have dif­fi­culty bend­ing may find raised beds an at­trac­tive ad­di­tion to a gar­den, says Thrive. They can make dig­ging, weed­ing and plant­ing eas­ier, and al­low you to in­tro­duce dif­fer­ent soil types. Beds at dif­fer­ent lev­els also add shape, form and fo­cus to the gar­den. You can even use higher raised beds to partly screen items like com­post bins and sheds.

Plants grow­ing in raised beds have a lim­ited source of mois­ture and nu­tri­ents, so the soil or com­post used to fill the bed must be of good qual­ity and wa­tered reg­u­larly. 7. De­sign tips for time-sav­ing gar­den­ers — hedges re­quire cut­ting back. To make things eas­ier, con­sider al­ter­na­tives, such as a wall or fence with climb­ing plants cov­er­ing the sur­face. Avoid large lawns and curved edges, as they will be more time-con­sum­ing to main­tain. Con­sider hav­ing a semi-wild lawn with mown paths. Splash out on an au­to­matic ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, so that you don’t have to think about wa­ter­ing.

RE­FRESH­ING: wa­ter­ing plants can be a chore

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.