No matter how small or large your garden is; it is there to be enjoyed. It seems such a shame when people complain about maintaining their outside space. After all, in an over-crowded world we’re very lucky if we do have a place outdoors to call our own.
The key to get getting weighed down by the responsibility of a garden is to make it a fun place to be. Somewhere you can kick back, relax and enjoy time with the family or friends, not just somewhere that chores are waiting for you.
This might mean a little planning on your part, when you first create a garden for yourself. And, if you have little knowledge or interest in plants themselves it can be a little daunting. The thing is, you don’t need to be a horticultural expert to create a space that is inviting, and rewarding to both be in, and maintain.
Forget about spending lots of money (unless you want to and can), or having to learn lots about plant care. Just sit down with a pen and paper and get the essentials down; the things that would entice you to spend more time outdoors and would make life more enjoyable at home:
- Consider what is already there, and use existing plants are structures to your advantage. A little pruning, or a lick of paint can transform a neglected area into a new “made by you” garden.
- Somewhere to sit – this is crucial and often neglected. I don’t mean just dumping some patio furniture outside. Think more about creating a little oasis where there is always something to sit on. It might mean a bench hidden under a tree at the end of a garden, or a formal seating area by the back door. The more places there are to sit and enjoy a cuppa and the garden itself, the more likely you are to spend time out there. A fallen log placed “just so” can be all you need to find yourself a comfy spot to spend a quiet few minutes.
- Be honest about how much time you want, or have, to spend maintaining plants. If time is short go for slow-growing plants, drought resistant things and planters. A group of pots filled with something nearly indestructible, like the geraniums pictured, along the back wall of the house will cheer you up, and won’t need too much interference from you.
- Really think about the lawn. I know the perfectly manicured lawn is sort of expected in any modern garden. True, they’re great places for the kids to play. But they come with a price. To keep a lawn looking as good as you might like takes some serious dedication. If you don’t want to spend every Sunday mowing, edging, feeding an aerating get rid of it, or at least reduce it in size. Or create a wild-flower meadow instead if that suits your style better!
- Plant a tree. There is something amazing about seeing a tree grow. They are the back-bone of our eco-system and knowing you have established one, really is a great feeling. Just make sure you plan what kind of tree, and just how big it will be before digging the hole!
- Try to make your garden useful in the evening, not just the day. This might mean adding some lighting, an outdoor fire pit or patio heater. For many of us, for at least part of the year evenings are cool and dark. This can mean the garden is out of bounds, which is a real waste. If you have just a few solar lights, or a way to keep warm an evening such as putting an outdoor fire pit in the yard can be far more pleasant than sitting in front of the TV.
- Choose plants wisely. Now, if you don’t know your dahlia from your daisy you might think that’s a bit difficult. You don’t need to know about all the plants you could buy. Find a few specimens you like (check out neighbour’s gardens for things that will flourish in your neighbourhood), and write down the names. When you hit the garden center or nursery don’t get too side-tracked by pretty new things. Try to buy multiple quantities of the things you know and like. Plants generally look better in groups, so five cheap hebes for example will often look more impressive (and expensive) than 5 individual plants you aren’t sure will cope in your particular conditions.
It is worth bearing in mind (if you’re new to gardening), that cheaper plants are usually easier to grow and propagate, so should be easier for you to keep alive! Plants that are growing outside, rather than in heated “posh” garden centers will also cope far more easily with the move to your new garden.
Above all, remember there are no rules (well unless you live somewhere with particularly interfering neighbours!). The garden is somewhere to have fun and enjoy yourself. It that means adding a pink flamingo “sculptures” who am I to argue!
You might need to consider the needs of your family, but the garden is also somewhere you can really experiment and have fun!