It’s the middle of winter and no one really wants to be thinking about gardening, but spring is just around the corner. Now is the time to get planning if (like me) you want to get your garden in order this summer.
My gardening woes
When Grumpy Dad and I bought our home in summer 2016 we were both excited about having a garden again after so long. We rushed out to buy a composter and started making plans to dig vegetable patches, install a path, and completely overhaul the front yard. Fast forward to today and the composter is neglected, the vegetable patch comprises of two scraggly looking blackberry bushes, we have no path, and the front yard is a mess of weeds and unidentifiably shoots which appear to be turning unto trees.
We were probably being a little over ambitious with our plans, particularly as I’ve managed to kill every pot plant I have ever owned (including ivy!) and wouldn’t know a weed from a geranium. But for some reason I was under the impression that I would miraculously become green fingered the moment I had a garden to tend.
Our biggest gardening failure was our attempt to install a vegetable patch. We chose a spot, which in hindsight would have been awful as it was directly under some rather large trees which drop enough leaves to bury a small child! Despite this we started to dig, and quickly found that the trees posed another problem… roots! We spent two days digging, cutting and removing roots, only to find the remains of an old farm building underneath them. I’ll admit that I found the foundations filled with bits of metal, bottles and animal bones, fascinating. But it signalled an end to our vegetable patch aspirations and our gardening enthusiasm.
In 2018, I’m determine that we will finally have a garden we can enjoy and after much research I’ve come up with the following tips for readers who want to be green fingered but don’t have a green bone in their body!
Top tips for gardeners who can’t garden
Practice low maintenance planting
If you want some plants in your garden but are lacking a green thumb, only choose low maintenance plants or shrubs. This may sound obvious but it’s easy to be seduced by pretty flowers only to discover that they need to be pruned, fertilised and played Mozart three times a day.
If you want flower beds or a vegetable patch, try planters or window boxes instead. This will take the pain out of digging up all that grass (and who knows what underneath) and will be easier to weed and maintain.
Get some help
Sometimes you it’s best to admit when you’re out of your depth and get professional help. This is the stage that we have reached with our front yard. As much as I hate to admit it, we will need the help of a trained gardener if we’re ever going to reclaim the front of our house from the weeds and overgrown plants.
As someone who has never hired a gardener in their life I was a little intimidated by the idea of trying to find a gardener who didn’t turn out to be a “Jack the lad”. Luckily, I’ve discovered a service called fastgardener which is a similar setup to Uber. Instead of going to a gardener directly, you book all of your garden services through fastgardener who send out one of their pre-vetted local gardeners to complete your job. You also have 24 hours to approve the completed work before payment is taken. This is a feature I particularly like as my 90 year old great aunt has in the past been pressured by gardeners in to paying for poorly completed work. Using this service I can ensure that never happens again.
Even the worse gardener can usually manage to cultivate some grass… unfortunately mowing that grass may present a problem. In the summer months grass can grow at an alarming rate, causing your beautiful lawn to turn into a jungle in the blink of an eye. You could opt for laying a patio or gravel, but as fake grass has advanced to a point where you won’t even realise it’s fake unless you get up close and personal with it.
Plant some bulbs
If you want a garden full of flowers, bulbs are the way to go. They do require a little bit of planning as you will need to plant them a good few months in advance. But so long as you drop them in the ground “pointy bit” up, you can’t really go wrong. The biggest advantage to planting bulbs, beside how easy they are, is that they will return year after year with very little intervention.
Don’t give up on the veg
You don’t have to give up on the idea of a vegetable patch just because you’re not good at gardening. There are lots of vegetable plants like potatoes or broad beans that will practically grow themselves.
Automate your watering
Sprinkler systems on timers are most commonly seen on American sitcoms drenching unsuspecting victims, but they are also available in the UK and they’re cheaper than you might think. If you’re in the habit of killing off your plants by forgetting to water them, this might be the perfect solution.
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