Does the rain get your fingers itching to make changes to your garden?
Or does the thought of all the work involved make you feel totally overwhelmed?
Gardens are essential to our well being and healthy life. Your garden communicates a message and feelings in others. As you work in your garden to create the refuge that you need, you let go of stress and you best reward being, when you sit back and say, ‘It is so peaceful out here’, hear the frogs croaking in your pond, see the butterflies and bees lazily drifting from flower to flower and the crested barbet hollowing out its nest. On the other hand untidy gardens drain your energy and make you feel tired and listless.
Resist the urge to jump right in into the deep end and start digging up your garden and purchasing plants and accessories. Do a walkabout and make notes.
Plan:Likes and dislikes: List details of the garden and yard clean-up and what you like and dislike in each area. Are there views that need to be screened and good views you need to enhance, do you want to change existing features or get new furnishings, move plants?
Dream: Sit down, visualise what you want to achieve to reflect your personality. Do you like an informal garden with flowing lines or do you like it symmetrical. Start your master list by dividing your garden into manageable areas that you can tackle in the time that you set aside, e.g. Saturday morning with your gardener. Like you would spring clean your home, one room at a time, you tackle the project, don’t over commit! Changes take time to implement, be flexible and most of all kind to yourself.
Investigate which plants grow well in your area. Look at low maintenance plants with foliage of different textures, shapes and colours. Plan a water wise, indigenous garden.
Design: Decide exactly where everything is going to be placed, play areas, garden features, focal points, containers, plants and don’t forget the dustbins and compost areas. Create a home for your garden equipment. Have a home for everything and you will overcome the habit of leaving things lying around for the lack of knowing where to put it.
Plan effectively and ensure that all the tools that you will need to complete a task are in good working order and at hand. There is nothing worse than starting a job only to find that your brother, who lives on the other side of town, borrowed your spade last season and never returned it.
Prioritise and schedule the chores. Schedule the most hectic early in the morning while you still have lots of energy and complete the task before moving on. DON’T TAKE SHORTCUTS, DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!
Get your hands dirty:
Clear the clutter. Remove the remnants of winter, dead leaves, plants killed by frost and weeds. Make your own compost and take what the earth has given to you and return it to a new cycle of life. Tackle one area at a time as a separate project. Prune shrubs and trees. Remove the plants that you want to move or that need dividing. Add compost, 2:3:2, bone meal and dig the bed over properly.
Let you garden grow: Divide plants that are losing vitality and when flowering declines, into sturdy tufts with strong roots. Replant or distribute to other parts of the garden. Give away those that you no longer need or want there will always be other gardeners too happy to share the loot.
Place garden features and plants. (Taller plants at the back to shortest in the front as an edging). Grow plants en masse for visual impact. Add shrubs to give the bed structure. Try out different arrangements, combinations and groupings before planting. If you are happy, plant and water well. Clean pots and garden furniture and revitalise with a lick of paint.
Focus on the task at hand, if you start feeling overwhelmed, take a break & reassess what you are trying to accomplish and what you have already achieved.
Clean up your equipment and put it away.
Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential. Create a habit of working in the garden at least once a week. Do not expect your gardener to know what he needs to do. If you can not be there give clear instructions.
Water is life and life depends on water. Water deeply twice a week depending on weather conditions. Mulch to prevent water loss.
Follow a good feeding routine for your plants.
Deadhead plants regularly to encourage flowering.
Control diseases with environmentally friendly products. Do not reach for poisons at the first sight of caterpillars – they might be the future butterfly in your garden.
Mow your lawn.
If you still can’t put your finger on how and why or do not feel like doing the work yourself. Get the advice from a qualified landscaper. Their expert advice might save you a lot of trouble later. Leave the specialised jobs to the experts; call a tree feller instead of playing the macho man with the chain saw and causing you serious bodily harm.
Treat your garden with love and respect and you will be rewarded a hundred fold! Sit back, enjoy the tranquillity of your garden and relax!
Enjoy getting in touch with the earth and do let me know how you get on. I’m always pleased to hear your stories and any tips for decluttering or storage that are working for you.
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