A beginner’s guide to gardening

Having a beautiful garden can really complete the look and feel of a home. But taming hedges and tending to flower beds can often seem like quite a daunting task. That’s why we’re here with some tips and suggestions on how you can get started.
To help offer you the best advice, we spoke with Leon, an expert gardener from our landscaping partners, Milner Landscapes.
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What you should know before digging in

Start with the direction. Find out which way your garden is facing so you can understand how much sun you garden gets and whether it’s a morning sun-lover or an afternoon suntrap. You should also be able to notice which spots get the most sun.

Next, get to know your soil. See what sort of plants and flowers are already growing there. You could even do a soil test if you want a deeper understanding.

As for how it will look, Leon’s personal tip is to use gardening magazines to create inspirational mood boards. They can offer a great insight into colour schemes and layout styles.

Watch for weeds

Before planting, it’s important to de-weed. To give yourself the best chance of making sure weeds never grow back, you can lay a membrane under the soil before you plant anything. You can buy membrane from your local garden centre or online, and it’s easy to use. Just roll it out, cut the right size and bury it with enough soil on top that your plants and flowers have space to bloom.

Summer season suggestions

With summer well on its way, it’s now time to think about plants and flowers which will thrive in the coming months. A popular flower to start with is sweet peas. They come in a range of beautiful colours and can start flowering as early as May.  Perennial wallflowers are another great option. They typically flower in summer but have been known to flower all-year round too.

Leon’s all-time favourite is allium because they’re “a great statement, full of vibrant colour. When planted between spring and summer, they make for some of the most attractive flowers.”

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Easy growers and maintainers

If you’re looking for a bushy flower that covers a lot of ground, try roses. Shrub roses are not only beautiful but can double up as a hedge or landscape screen. It’s also not essential to prune roses. Some gardeners leave theirs and still have healthy rose plants that flower every year.

For plant lovers, lavender is the one for you. It’s easy to grow, easy to care for and looks lovely all year round – not to mention the delicate aroma it gives off. A tip to go by for plants is to pick ones that are native to the area you live in. Your local garden centre will be able to help you with this one.

Leon also suggests sunflowers. He advises, “one of the easiest flowers to grow as a newbie gardener is a sunflower. Most varieties are drought and heat tolerant and will attract summer wildlife into your garden – including birds, bees and butterflies.”

Other flower suggestions include: dianthus, marigolds, cosmos, pansies, lupines, fuchsias, geraniums and daffodils.

Watering your plants

Hydration is key! Plants and flowers need different levels of watering. Some can go without water for a long time, whilst others are incredibly thirsty. The labels on your plants will tell you exactly how much water they need (and so will Google). The best times for watering are early mornings and evenings – and extra during summer heatwaves of course.

The basics of borders

Planning a border isn’t as complex as you might think. If you want neat and tidy garden borders, plant taller plants at the back and low-growing ones at the front (the plant label should tell you how quickly your plant will grow). Also, don’t place lots of different plants in one area as that can end up looking quite messy.

If you’re creating a border next to a garden path you should also pick plants for their scent. Lavender works wonders, as does ‘butterfly bush’. It’s relatively undemanding, blooms spectacularly and has a glorious honey scent. As its name suggests, it’s a favourite for butterflies too!

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Essential garden tools

Ready to take that trip to the garden centre? Once you’ve picked out your plants, here are some essential tools and accessories you’re likely to need.

  • Spade: No introduction necessary. And no garden should be without one!
  • Rake: They have two uses – to clear up leaves and to loosen up soil.
  • Secateurs: Essentially strong, heavy scissors used to cut the stems of plants.
  • Trowel: A handy little all-rounder for weeding, planting, potting and seed growing.
  • Watering can: If you can, get one with a sprinkler attachment so it sprinkles water more evenly.
  • Gardening gloves: Those green fingers need to be taken care of!
  • A love for the outdoors: Perhaps the most valuable tool for any garden.

Gardening is wonderful for heart and mind – we hope you enjoy looking after yours, come rain or shine.

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