Ten green finger gardening tips

Don’t know your dahlias from your daisies?

Well, don’t worry. Gardening’s not half as hard as you think and it can be great fun.

So roll up those sleeves and let’s see if we can give you green fingers with these handy tips that will get you started down the gardening path.

It’s well worth it and not just for the pleasure it brings to your life. A well kept garden can add thousands to the value of your house, so head outdoors and make the most of the sunshine!

1. Got a patch of grass? That’s a great start!

Your lawn doesn’t have to be a bowling green you know. Keep it mowed and tidy during the summer and it will look smart enough to set the rest of your garden design off. Though to be honest, every lawn will benefit from a ‘weed and feed’. This is something you can either sprinkle on or apply with a watering can, so it couldn’t be much easier to give your grass a facelift.

2. Take it easy in the bed

Does the thought of heavy spadework in the flowerbeds put you off? Well, avoid the backache and just concentrate on clearing any weeds wherever you plan to do any planting.

In fact, there’s a really simple way to improve the appearance of you borders and that’s to use decorative bark as an attractive topping. This not only looks great as part of your garden design, it also helps to suppress weed growth.

3. A floral display is so bloomin’ easy

Now the best part – adding those splashes of colour that will attract admiring glances for your handiwork from the neighbours. Drive down to your garden centre and you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Many pot grown plants are ready to pop into the borders for instant displays that will last way through to autumn. Choose perennials and they’ll be back again next summer, so you get lasting value for money.

Not sure what to choose? Ask the staff and tell them what sort of garden you have - sunny or shady, facing north or facing south. They’ll be happy to advise you and help inspire your garden ideas.

4. Water, water, everywhere . . .

Don’t forget that flowers get thirsty, especially on long summer days. Treat them to a drink and they’ll thank you for it with healthy growth and longer lasting flowers. A watering can is handy, but think about investing in a hosepipe to get the job done quicker. Oh, and don’t forget the lawn needs a good soak, too!

5. Shape up those shrubs

Add some height – and interest – to your borders with a few selected shrubs. Think about evergreens, so your garden will still have something happening in winter. A word of caution though. Check to see how big they’ll eventually grow, because you don’t want to end up hacking them back.

On the other hand, what about shrubs that you can prune into shapes? Go on, try your hand with something such as box, yew, laurel or privet.

6. A tree can bring welcome shade

Even in smaller gardens, there’s often room for a tree. Evergreen or deciduous, there are many varieties that are perfectly suited. They don’t grow too tall or spread too wide, but give just the right proportions and it can bring you blossom in the spring and berries in the winter. And, of course, a shady spot for you to sit with a long cool drink.

7. Climb the heights of delight

If you have an unsightly fence or wall you want to disguise, here’s a great tip. Put a trellis up against it and plant some climbers. Then hey presto . . . that eyesore becomes a feature! There's a host of climbers to give you a cascade of colours and if you go for scented varieties in your garden ideas there’s an extra bonus.

8. Bugs and slugs . . . and what to do about them

There are all kinds of pellets, sprays and potions to deal with creepy crawlies and pests. But even the best gardener will occasionally have unwelcome visitors, so sometimes you just have to learn to live with ‘em. And remember, there are lots of insects that do your garden good, so welcome the bees and ladybirds.

9. Create a landscape you’ll love

Get creative and give nature a helping hand by adding some hard landscaping ideas. Brick paving, pebbled paths, patios and planters all add a special touch that turns your garden into an outdoor extension of your home. Be as adventurous as you like with lighting, a water feature or built-in barbecue.

And if you have kids or grandkids, think about a swing or climbing frame to your landscaping design. (Anything that will stop them trampling in your new flower beds!)

10. Relax. Make your garden your new living room

The big trend now is to use the garden as ‘room’ that all the family can enjoy – especially if you’re having guests round for a meal or drinks. And let’s face it, there’s often more room outside the house than inside!

There are now whole ranges of stunning and stylish designer furniture designed just for this. And the beauty is that you can leave it out all summer without worrying about the weather. So next time you’re having a get-together, make it a ‘garden’ party.

There, that wasn’t so difficult was it? And while it might not be Chelsea Flower Show, if you’ve followed these tips you’ll have added a whole new dimension to your home. But now you need to look after it in more ways than one.

With potted plants and furniture, you’ll have quite a lot of valuable features in your garden now. So think about adding them to your home insurance - and make sure that you check exactly what is and isn't covered!

After all, you don’t want anyone light-fingered undoing all your greenfingered work!

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