Working in harmony with Mother Nature is all about planning ahead of the game. For example, if you’re wanting grounds to be proud of in summer then spring is the ideal time to plan. Don’t worry if this fills you with dread; we have all the information you need in this blog for your project to truly blossom this year. Whether you’re looking after a large commercial site or live in a city centre apartment, these simple tips will help create the ‘wow’ factor you desire.
Ideas for transforming your garden
The first step is always the most difficult ‘where to start?’. There’s a good chance you’ve allowed your grounds to become very much a ‘I’ll get to it’ job that you, ultimately, never get to. If you’re looking at the garden at home - have you allowed your shed to become weathered or never fixed those loose paving slabs that make navigating the garden a laborious challenge? Likewise, the grounds surrounding your commercial premises, do you have benches that would breathe new life with a lick of paint or a welcome that sign that isn’t quite welcoming? Start by making a list of these jobs and set time aside to actually do them. They’ll act as a springboard of motivation to dive head first into planning and planting.
Whilst tackling the jobs, you can also make mental notes of which flowers you would like and where. You’ll be surprised how useful this time can be for thinking about planning or even repurposing areas of your grounds. It’s also a great opportunity to consider removals; do you have any shrubs that require pruning or trees that need a bit of TLC? If you’re unsure when’s the best time to prune different species, look no further. Most flowering shrubs will need pruning once flowering stops, in order to avoid chopping off flowering buds. We recommend pruning evergreens to regenerate and ensure a good shape and foliage for next year. The table below can be used as a rough pruning guide for species commonly used in Britain.
Now you’ve began drawing up plans in your head, actually put them into practice to see how they would work. Thinking of changing the walkways or adjusting the borders? Use an old hose to lay this out on a 1:1 scale – you might stumble upon a slightly better angle to approach this redesign. Always bear in mind where the sun reaches, or doesn’t reach.
Use the same discerning eye on your hard landscaping. Retaining walls, guttering, steps… make these improvements while we’re in the ‘sweet spot’ after all the winter mud has gone but before the long hot summers arrive (we can dream).
Remember it’s all about planning and preparation; tackle those niggly jobs now whilst planning out your transformation. Once the prep work has been done it will be time to plant and we can’t stress enough how valuable this time of year is. If you were to miss this opportunity the next time to make these adjustments with any amount of meaningful will be in late autumn.
Being objective is key here because once your hard landscaping is complete; you can now work on the next stage which is planting.
A big stumbling block for many is the overwhelming choice of what exactly to plant. Are you looking for a low maintenance garden with blossoming flowers or would you like be hands-on and grow your own fruit and vegetables?
If you’re thinking of flowers and most notably low maintenance, perfect for commercial grounds, what herbaceous perennials do you currently have planted? (Perennials are plants that come back year on year, flowering from late spring to early autumn). Splitting these is not only simple to achieve and healthy for the plant but is also great for low budgets; just carefully dig up the plant and split this with a spade. You can do this now in early spring, or wait until winter – the plant needs to be dormant at this stage.
In contrast, if you’re hands on and were dreaming of growing your own fruit or veg, now is also the time to begin planting. Consider implementing raised vegetable beds for this and calculate which root vegetables you’re looking to start with (carrots, radish and beetroots are easy to grow from seed at this time). It’s also a good time to start sowing indoors cucumber, cabbage and celery. If you’re dreaming of sweet strawberries for summer, sow and grow alpine strawberries now.
Weather and your location are two factors that you should always take into consideration. The microclimate in Wales is completely different than in Scotland, for instance. That’s why you shouldn’t always trust the information given on your seed packet. Also keep in mind that sometimes spring comes early, other times it’s freezing cold for what seems like an eternity.
Where should I plant?
By the time it actually comes to planting you should have a fool-proof plan of action but it’s always good just to glance over it once more. Are you planting shrubs creating too much, or too little shade in an area? Which area will receive the most and least sunshine? Have you planned on replanting your borders?
Additionally, people often forget to utilise the space within their own home or office. Windowsills, terraces and entrances offer a great place for flowers to flourish, and is actually where you should begin if you want to start from seed as your plant needs time to grow at the optimal temperature (which is 21 degrees). Once the seedlings begin to grow, make sure you remove the weak ones - those that aren’t as tall or appear leggy.
Aromatic herbs are also great to start indoors. Basil, oregano and parsley will grow slow at first, but once the heat hits the leaves they’ll keep on growing. With Mediterranean herbs, remember to pinch the tip of each stem (just above the node) to encourage it to grow bushier – the stem will branch into two.
Finally, don’t forget to label your pots… it’s very easy to forget which ones have which species in and when you planted this.
When it comes to relocating your new plants; be sure you only take them out of the pots when you’re ready to plant. Exposing the roots, even for 5 minutes in the sun could potentially kill the plant before you’ve even had chance to enjoy it.
Be objective. The best way to start is by completing those jobs you’ve been say you would for the past year. This also gives you the perfect opportunity to inspect large trees or shrubbery for any TLC work required.
Hardscaping. Prime time for making changes to your garden and grounds is now. Take advantage while you can otherwise it’s another 6-7 months before you’ll be able to make any real impact.
Be realistic but creative. It’s great to change up the design of your garden but be sure the renovations you’re planning are realistic. If you think otherwise; consider repurposing certain areas to breathe new life.
Split plants. Perennials offer you the chance to save time, energy and money by simply splitting these up and giving you new flowers for free (it’s also healthy for the plant!)
Grow vegetables. Even if it’s just one raised bed, give it a go. You never know, it could become your new favourite hobby.