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Unlock your Outdoor Potential Part 2

Three steps to begin transforming your garden from weeds to wonder in time for summer

In our last article, we discussed the reasons you might consider reclaiming your garden from the weeds and begin its transformation into a beacon of colour and life. And while you may be sold on the benefits of a bright summer garden, you may remain a little bewildered as to where to start! It’s easy to point out that a little TLC could deliver your garden from neglect and decay, but where to begin? Here are some easy first steps to get you on the way to turning your yard into a summer paradise.

1. Plan your garden

“If I had eight hours to chop a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my axe” so said Abraham Lincoln. We may not be cutting down trees to build our garden (though some may!), we’re more interested in growing a few! The point of this quote is: preparation is everything.

Build a detailed plan of what will need doing, and when, and stock your cupboards, shed or equivalent with all the tools & supplies you’ll need before you start. Information for new gardeners abounds, and with the rise of the internet the quantity of advice available is staggering. You can master your garden without this, of course, but it will take more time, effort and money in the long run.

Use gardening forums to ask questions - they are a great place for inexperienced gardeners to put their queries to horticultural veterans, who are usually quite sympathetic go the plight of those just starting out. If the internet is not your thing (though if you’re reading this we assume it is) you can get ideas from magazines and books, or even radio and TV.

Decide what kind of garden you want- is a veg or herbs to enjoy, a lawn to relax on or flowers to sit amongst as you soak up the sun? Many gardens include some or all of these in some degree. You’ll need to decide on your own priorities.

Next you should envision where it will all go - this is a more important task that it looks! While there are many considerations - it may help some plants (and you) to be located close to spigots, or a compost heap- the main concern here is sunlight. Nearly all plants will require a certain minimum amount of bright sunlight each day, and while we can’t guarantee the British weather will always oblige, we need to ensure that when it is sunny, the right plants absorb as much of it as possible.

Bear in mind that warm places may be more vulnerable to dry soil, and that trees that in winter hold no leaves may obscure the sun once spring rolls around. Of course, some gardens will receive more sunlight than others, and you may find yourself rethinking your choice. The type & pH of the soil, and the local climate, will also be key factors.

When you choose your plants you may also wish to take into account the colours of flowers and the eventual size they might grow to, as well as any special characteristics or extra care they may require. Start to build a picture of what your finished garden will look like.

2. Prepare the ground

After all that planning and research, you’re probably ready to get stuck in! Of course the weather isn’t perfect for outdoor work just yet, but pulling weeds and digging out roots is enjoyable and fairly easy, and gives you the satisfaction of seeing the visible improvement in your garden as a result of your efforts.

First map out your borders and any footpaths or features you want to make room for in your garden. Once you’ve decided on the depth and location of your borders, or allotment, you need to begin digging! You’ll want to catch all the weeds, especially perennials, and dig them out in their entirety. Bits of rubble or debris beneath the soil will need sifting away.

This is a good chance to explore what’s really under your garden. Many have dug up interesting finds such as old clay pots or bottles, and we’ve found everything from clay pipes to a bathroom sink! If you live in a very built up, heavily urban area you may be more likely to uncover debris like this, and it’s possible you may find layers of old stone building works a few feet under your garden - do not panic - you’ll be surprised what can be coaxed into growing just above someone’s old floor.

Once your garden is clear and empty of weeds, rocks and old lawn furniture, you can make a start. Don’t worry if it looks messy- all that digging can leave the area looking extremely untidy, but soon you’ll be looking at some beautiful plants instead. Once you’ve cleared the border you’ll probably want to improve its fertility profile a bit- especially if the area has sat unused for some time. This is easier than it sounds, and involves selecting a type of compost and working it into the soil. There are different composts on the market with different characteristics and you’ll want to pick the right one for your needs.

3. Shop around

Make sure you get healthy, freshly potted plants from a good source. Of course there are plenty of other ways, however a healthy, well-developed plant ready to go will save you time and the difficulties of growing from cuttings, or from seed, and providing you perform the planting out correctly, should quickly establish a vibrant garden in time for spring. For vegetables, you will need to identify the best time and conditions for planting and when to expect a crop- for most vegetables this could be weeks, months or, for bushes and small trees, years.

In designing your garden most people want some lawn to relax on. While the amount varies, it can be a nice, light open space in which to lay back and unwind, or to play with pets or family. When it comes to turf, we believe the best way to proceed is select your turf supplier and prepare your lawn completely prior to laying. While it should be easy to find out how to lay turf, it’s important that you use fresh turf supplied soon after it’s collected, to minimise decay and ensure it’s laid as quickly as possible. For more information on this you can see our site.

We hope this guide is helpful! Remember, if run into difficulties, the online gardening community is a great place to make friends and learn.

Turfgrowers is a premium supplier of fresh turf and gardening supplies across the UK. Passionate about getting the most out of gardens, we provide only top quality turf via an overnight service to ensure health & freshness. For guidance on lawn laying, from how to lay a lawn to what kind of turn is best for your needs, visit our site: Turf Supplies Online.

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