Gardens appeal to the senses through a pleasing structural layout – whether formal or natural – and the effective use of colour, scent and features. However, by also being practical and comfortable, a garden can become an actual outdoor room for one to enjoy. As the end of winter nears, however, our outdoor space can look decidedly jaded.
Don’t despair though because spring beckons and now is an ideal time to take a hard look at the garden area and make changes or improvements.
Starting at a basic level, all garden areas should be clean and clear of clutter, so prepare for a thorough spring clean-out. Beyond this, a range of various annual checks and remedial works might be required. For example check to ensure that the fencing and paved areas are in good condition. Are trees and shrubs neat and tidy? Are lawn areas green, groomed and refreshing or simply jaded weeded patches?
Lawns should be in good condition, evenly cut with crisp well-defined neat edges, weeded and clear of all fallen leaf and grass cuttings. Pale looking lawns can be restored to vivid green with the application of fertiliser. If problems are more serious and lawn is infested with weeds, consider replacing the old lawn with new roll turf.
Whatever the area size, a well maintained level and groomed lawn is a major contributor to the overall look of the garden. If like most people you do not like strimming, why not consider installing a lawn edge. A natural stone cobble edging (set in sand and cement and approx 25-mm below ground level) not only provides a practical mowing strip but clearly defines the lawn profile.
Patios can show results of ‘greening’, particularly if they are located in north facing sites, which tend to be shaded and damp during winter periods. This greening, along with any residual grime, moss, and weed, can be removed by power washing, which will restore the stone like new.
Environmentally friendly stone cleaners/treatments are now also available that can be applied annually to prevent the greening effect. Consider adding some extra colour and drama to the patio area with a few strategically placed colourful planters.
Fencing should be checked for any signs of damage or repairs. Tired looking fencing can be re-juvenated with a fresh coat of paint. Use colour creatively; use light tones for bright and warm results, whilst darker tones make a more dramatic effect to
emphasise plant forms and a more contemporary look.
Shrubs, trees and herbaceous flowers all require trimming and pruning. You should dead-head (i.e. remove) faded blooms and old flower heads; trim and prune trees and shrubs, especially low hanging or overgrown branches around windows or over footpaths. If there are obvious or unsightly gaps amongst the existing plants, consider carefully the importance of colour when selecting possible replacements.
To bring out the best in colour and impact, consider planting in groups (block planting). Do not overlook the importance also of scent in the garden. Effective ways of experiencing scent throughout the garden include planting in patio areas, near windows and along footpaths. Some popular scented shrubs varieties include Lavender, Rosemary, Santolina, Helichrysum, and Daphne.
Water features add a new dimension to any garden and there are a wide range of styles and sizes available. Water features are always eye catching and the mesmerising and soothing qualities of running water is very appealing. The best position for locating water features tends to be near the patio. With the addition of some architectural planting and subtle lighting, water features can take on a different role at night. Use garden lighting to illuminate the gently cascading water makes for a stunning focal point during darkness.