May 24th, 2022 by
So, you want your garden to look nice, but you don’t really know what you’re doing? Or maybe you are just looking to pick up a new hobby but aren’t sure where to start? Don’t worry, you can create a beautiful outdoor space without needing to know everything about gardening. Here are some frequently asked questions about basic gardening skills that should help build your confidence a little and get you started.
How often do I need to water plants?
This depends on a number of things such as what types of plants you have, where they are in the garden (and therefore, how exposed to the sun they are), and how much rainfall we’ve had. However, as a rule of thumb, if the weather is very dry, you will need to water your plants usually it’s actually better to give them a really good soaking less often (eg once a week) than to water them a bit every day.
How do I know what plants to buy?
Plant choice is subjective to a degree, as everyone has different tastes, but one thing we all want is for our plants to thrive. Otherwise, what’s the point? Rather than just choosing plants on the basis of them looking pretty, you can make more of an informed decision if you understand which plants are likely to grow well in your specific garden. This isn’t as hard to determine as you might think. All you need to do is understand what areas of the garden get the sun and what type of soil you have. Once you know these, you can choose plants that grow well in these conditions. Just monitor how the sun progresses around the space and for the soil you can buy a soil testing device that will tell you how well it retains moisture, how acidic (or not) it is, and how much light penetrates it. You can buy these for around £10. Plant labels will usually tell you whether they like sunny or shady areas and what type of soil they do best in. If not, you can do some quick research online, for example, search ‘which plants grow well in slightly acidic soil?’. This is a great starting point and will make it easier to get into the swing of tending plants.
Do I need to feed outdoor plants?
While outdoor plants obviously have access to the two main things they need; water and sunlight, most can benefit from being fed over the summer months, especially if soil quality isn’t as good as it could be. This is as simple as sprinkling some plant food (which usually comes in granule form though can be a liquid) into the soil every couple of weeks. Remember to water it well so that it can dissolve and be absorbed.
How do I get my grass looking green?
A gorgeous vibrant green lawn will make any garden look better. Obviously, you will need to mow the lawn regularly over the season as more hours of sunlight will make it grow rapidly, but don’t cut it too short (this can be tempting to save you having to do it so often). If it’s too short, it’s not able to absorb water as effectively, plus it could overexpose the roots to sun heat, which can kill it off. Maintain a length of around 4-5cm throughout the season. Adding iron sulphate to the grass will help it get stronger. This makes it better able to absorb nutrients, more resistant to pests, and more robust to deal with general summer use. It will also make it greener. Just apply and thoroughly water or do it before a rain shower is forecast to water it in for you.
Can I make my garden environmentally friendly?
There are a few things you can do in your garden that are eco-friendly and beneficial for the environment. For example, try installing a water butt to capture rain so that you can use this in the garden during dry spells rather than using mains water (the ambient temperature of the water will also be kinder to plants). Composting garden and non-animal food waste is not only a better way of getting rid of it but will benefit your garden next year when it’s rotted down and creates a nutrient-rich mulch for your borders.
You can also do your bit for the planet by choosing plants that help the bees and attract butterflies, which both need protection, and you can build habitats for wildlife if you would like to encourage creatures such as hedgehogs and even frogs and toads into the garden. Fruit bushes and trees will bring birds in, and that can be a lovely thing to witness while relaxing in your garden.
How do I improve my hard surfaces in the garden?
Dirty looking patios, decking, or paths can let the whole garden down and you may well find that general cleaning doesn’t improve the appearance. For many of the contaminants that appear on these surfaces, you will need a specialised product. Patio cleaner will get rid of general outdoor dirt as well as green mould and algae. Black spot remover will get rid of the ink-spatter-like blotches, that is black lichen, which cannot be removed with conventional patio cleaners. For weeds coming up through paving stones, it’s most effective to apply a weed killer to regrowth after pulling or trimming weeds back.
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