Your garden is your sanctuary. It’s where you go to not only relax and replenish your energy but also to explore, dig and cultivate. As many gardeners will tell you, this is an inexpensive fun and easy way to do everything from putting food on the table to filling a vase with flowers – not to mention the perfect way to destress and recharge – try a little weeding when you are feeling frustrated!
All you need to do to lift your spirits is to step outside into a beautiful garden. If you need to feel rewarded for hard work, simply watch a new shoot emerge on a plant that you have been nurturing or the appearance of buds on your favourite bush in spring.
Sean Granger, General Manager of Granny Mouse Country House and Spa, is lucky enough to step out into one of the most beautiful gardens in the midlands when he needs some time out. He admits that it has taken many years of enjoyable, but hard work and some important planning as well to create a natural masterpiece that not only appeals to humans but is also the perfect place for nature to thrive.
Here are five tips on getting it right the first time and avoiding some classic mistakes whilst creating a beautiful garden that you can enjoy for years to come:
- Don’t scrimp on colour or contrast.
You want to have colour as it adds life to your garden. This can be anything from a group of colourful seedlings for the spring, a flowering tree or shrub that has been strategically positioned or even different shades on variegated leaves. You can either go for mass plantings of lots of colourful plants to create larger bursts of colour or team matching colours together, remembering that colours like blues and whites are relaxing, whilst reds, bright oranges and yellows stimulate energy.
- Remember to not over crowd
When planting, remember to leave sufficient space between your beauties so they can grow. Consult your gardening or nursery expert or read labels when buying so that you not only know where to plant them, but also how big they will grow and if they will spread. That way, your plants won’t look cramped up like commuters on a train in peak hour! Seriously though, crowded plants suffer from nutrient deficiencies, poor air circulation and then have to compete for moisture and sunlight, so you can’t enjoy them to the full.
- Understand shade and water for your garden
This is the most common of all landscaping mistakes. When you’re buying seeds or plants, don’t just grab a multitude of plants without taking into account the fundamentals – how much space you have, whether the plants you are selecting like to grow in the shade or direct sunlight (if you get that wrong they will refuse to grow and flower) and whether they need plenty of water or will die if they are over watered. Try to group plants with similar needs together so that you don’t have to water the whole garden every day and can just target a small group of moisture loving plants more often.
- Planting too early or too late
All seeds have an optimum temperature at which they sprout. Seeds that sprout at warm temperatures won’t do well if sown too early in the spring. The best way to avoid planting too early is to get a good soil thermometer and know the average last frost date for your area. It’s the same with planting too late, especially when plants freeze before their flowers or fruits have time to mature. Sometimes, simply googling can give you information about the best time to plant a specific variety.
- Under watering or over watering
Neglecting to water the garden can be a problem where the climate is hot or dry or both. Under watering is especially a problem for sprouting seeds or new transplants. A great gardening tip is the finger test which can tell you whether or not your garden needs to be watered. If your garden is loamy, stick your finger 4cm into the soil. If it’s moist, it doesn’t need water. For sandy soil, check 8cm down. Overwatering is worse, as the roots then don’t get to enjoy enough oxygen. When plants wilt can be the first sign. Just bear in mind many garden plants wilt in the daytime heat and revive when the temperature cools. Watering deeply and less often is a great tip. In hot climates, try to water in the early morning or late afternoon to minimize evapouration and mulch your beds with leaves or grass cuttings to keep in the moisture and discourage weeds.