Category Archives: Expert advice

4 Ways to Create an Amazing Vegetable Garden by Tim Graham

Rows of salad vegetables at Great Dixter - © John Glover/GAP Photos

Rows of salad vegetables at Great Dixter – © John Glover/GAP Photos

Many homeowners are torn between a garden full of vegetables and a garden full of colourful flowers. There is good news, you can have a vegetable garden that is as pleasing to the eye as any flower patch.

All it takes is a little thought and ingenuity, and you will have both, fresh, healthy veggies that are grown in a garden that no longer resembles a plain vegetable patch.

Mix, Match, and Colour
There are many vegetables that you can add to a vegetable garden to add lots of colour and texture, Kale is an excellent example of a flowering vegetable, and then you have different lettuce types that have different coloured leaves. These dark leaves can add contrast to the regular splash of green. You can also add some flowers into the mix for another dose of texture and colour.

There are other benefits of introducing flowers in and around your vegetable garden. These flowers not only make your yard look beautiful and colourful, but some are also edible. There is a second reason, and it is one that helps your other vegetables. These flowers not only attract insects which help with pests on your vegetables, but they also confuse the pests of where your vegetables are in the first place.

Layout
The overall impact of your vegetable garden can make it appealing to the eye, and without compromising on your growing capacity. One thing you do have to have is pathways, these are a necessity to make sure you can reach both sides of your beds. Many gardeners keep to the natural earth paths and rectangular shaped growing beds.

Depending on the size of your area, there is no need to stick to these conforms. Beds that are irregular shapes can lead to some fascinating path patterns. If your growing beds are a permanent fixture, you can take your paths to the next level and opt for pavers or brick. Even gravel can be used, yet this is not so good if you have a wheelbarrow to push around your garden.

Raised Beds and Seating

Woman planting lettuce - © GAP Photos

Woman planting lettuce – © GAP Photos

A raised bed can add a wealth of dimension to any vegetable garden layout, not only do they look good when constructed in irregular shapes (an L shape a good example) and they keep your garden clean and tidy. If you are starting from scratch and have the budget, you can easily incorporate seating into the design of your raised beds. Generally raised beds are made of wood, yet it is as easy to have them made from stone. A simple bench placed here and there gives you a chance to relax after a hard mornings gardening, and it gives you a place to sit while you check which vegetables you have ready to harvest.

Structures and Containers

Woman planting Courgette 'Bambino' - © GAP Photos

Woman planting Courgette ‘Bambino’ – © GAP Photos

If you wish to add structure to your garden, so it does not look flat. You can add structures for climbing plants to grow up rather than an ugly old pole. There are many climbing vegetables you can place around structures that will transform your garden. Cucumbers, beans, peas and even vine tomatoes. Some gardeners also go as far as incorporating wire formed archways into the garden which give another depth once your vegetables grow up and over.
Containers are another great way to decorate your vegetable garden. These can be placed pretty much anywhere depending on what you are growing in them, from herbs to tomatoes, they all change the look of your garden.

When you opt for containers, you are not limited to round pots that will quickly become plain and boring, a little ingenuity and your garden will look like no other. One prime example for your garden is the use of barrels, these can be cut, either horizontally or vertically giving you two very different shapes and design.

Summary

Cucurbita pepo harvested in trug - © Friedrich Strauss/GAP Photos

Cucurbita pepo harvested in trug – © Friedrich Strauss/GAP Photos

When you want to create a fantastic vegetable garden, you will find that you are only limited by your imagination. It is possible to do pretty much anything that can transform a somewhat flat garden into a thing that has vegetables growing up, across and even down. All you have to do is incorporate a little more planning into your garden than you would as if you were sticking with a regular vegetable garden.

It might seem a little more time consuming, yet it is something you won’t regret. You will have a beautiful looking garden which comes with one significant benefit. You will find that you can grow more produce when you grow upward and outward.

BIO: Tim Graham is the head writer over at yardandgardenguru.com where he writes about his passions in life yard care, gardening and getting outdoors.

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8 Ways To Make Your Life Easier In The Garden

Overview of the Dahlia borders planted in raised beds constructed from WoodBlocX. Dahlia 'Garden Wonder', Thunbergia alata - © GAP Photos

Overview of the Dahlia borders planted in raised beds constructed from WoodBlocX. Dahlia ‘Garden Wonder’, Thunbergia alata – © GAP Photos

Gardening is one of the most therapeutic hobbies a person could have. From running your fingers through the soft soil in the ground to pruning away at your rose bush – having such a direct impact on nature and the environment is a feeling like no other.

However, it can sometimes become more of a chore than a hobby, you may feel like your garden is getting a bit too far ahead of you and it’s becoming difficult to control.

Gardening is fun, healthy, and an ingenious way to enhance you and your family’s lifestyle. So, simplifying aspects of your gardening tasks can make them a lot easier and more enjoyable – allowing you to spend less time working in the garden, and more time relaxing in it.

The following tips will make your gardening experiences easier and more enjoyable, while still retaining the therapeutic elements we all love.

Remember to Mulch

Healthy plants obtain fewer diseases, attract fewer insects, and require less feeding – but how do we get healthy plants? With healthy soil.

The most effective natural way to get healthy soil is from mulching. Many gardeners see mulch only as a decoration, as composted mulch is a lot more aesthetic than the average soil. However, mulch has a range of benefits: it keeps soil and plant roots cool, retains moisture, prevents weeds from sprouting, and feeds the soil with all essential nutrients.

That handful of benefits will cut down on the time you spend on watering, weeding, fertilising and feeding!

Raised Beds and Containers

It is sometimes difficult to properly define boundaries within your garden for different plants, and this can make it harder to cater for all the needs of your variety of plants.

By installing containers and raised beds, you give yourself ultimate control over your garden. With containers, you monitor the soil type, water dosage, light exposure and even the amount of growth of your plants.

Raised beds can isolate your garden beds from their surroundings. This means you’ll have full control over the borders, and due to the looseness of the soil, you’ll find fewer weeds sprouting.

By raising your garden beds, they’ll be out of reach from many pests, they’ll take up less space in your garden, and you’ll be saving your back from the constant bending as they can be as high as you like.

Group Plants with Similar Needs

Heavy maintenance chores like deadheading, watering, and harvesting takes up a lot of your time in the garden, especially when your plants are scattered all over the place with different requirements.

The saying “the right plant for the right spot” is only the start of saving time in your garden. Putting sun lovers in the sun and ground covers in a load of space is great. But imagine putting all your water loving plants in one section of the garden, and all the plants that require regular deadheading in another section.

That way, you can still mix different bloom times and everything else, but all the heavy tasks will be consolidated in one or two specific areas, saving a lot of time in the long run.

Add Drip Irrigation

A drip irrigation system doesn’t just save water; it also saves a lot of time. Gone are the days of you waking up early to water the plants: with an automatic system, your garden will already be fully watered by the time you’ve woken up!

Now, many people expect irrigation to be an expensive investment for their garden, but this is rarely the case. There is obviously an initial cost, but in the long run, irrigation could save you heaps of money on your water bill – unless you solely rely on rain to water the plants.

Drip irrigation is one of the most efficient ways to water your plants. Plus, every drop you use goes exactly where your plants need it most!

Use New Tools

You’d be surprised how effective a good set of tools can be in the garden. Gardening involves a lot of repetitive motions which can be stressful for your joints – mainly the wrists, knees, and back.

Thankfully, modern tools have been manufactured with the gardener in mind. Nowadays, the tools work with gardeners a bit more, taking some of the bending and squeezing out of the labour-intensive work. Things like bent rakes, cushioned handles, and ratchet pruners are just a handful of helpful tools you can grab at a low price.

Picking tools that are the right size for you and fit comfortably in your hands is essential to ensure you’re working efficiently.

Another great tip is to keep your tools nice and sharp. Shovels, pruners, and every other tool works best when sharpened.

Artificial Grass

A grey area for many gardeners. Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Although many will choose natural grass over artificial grass, it is still an excellent time saver.

Modern artificial grass can look very realistic, and there are a number of style choices on offer.

It takes a lot of time and effort to produce the perfect lawn. Constant watering, seeding, cutting and repeating is required until you’ll be happy with the outcome.

Not only will artificial grass save you money on watering and grass seeds, but it also allows you to eradicate the most monotonous task in the garden – mowing the lawn!

Check out this guide to artificial grass and decide whether it’d be a good fit for your garden.

Use a Wheelbarrow

It may seem obvious, but using a wheelbarrow will save so much time when gardening!

How many times have you thought about reorganising your garden, moving your potted plants about, and replacing your outdated birdbath with a brand new water feature? More times than you can count I bet!

But, the thought of spending hours carrying things back and forth has always put you off, hasn’t it?

Using a wheelbarrow will at least half the time you would have spent carrying out these tasks on foot.

And it doesn’t stop there. You can use the wheelbarrow to carry your tools, move plants, remove weeds, and harvest your vegetables!

Get Your Children Involved!

Getting your children and grandchildren involved is one of the best ways to make your gardening a little bit easier.

Teach them how to weed and water plants; show them bugs, worms, roots, and sprouted seeds. Anything from mucking around with soil and water, to planting and harvesting will be hugely beneficial to the children.

Learning about the environment and everything that comes with it should be an essential part of every child’s education, and learning about it in the garden is one of the best routes to take.

Maybe having your children/grandchildren in the garden won’t necessarily lessen your workload, but they will be great company and will make the tasks at hand more enjoyable!

Author Bio
Kevin is an avid gardener and DIYer and enjoys reading related gardening and home improvement articles. Working for Grabco, he gets to see a lot of the projects that homeowners embark on and the resulting transformations. He also picks up a lot of fresh ideas and current trends, so enjoys writing about them to share with other like-minded readers.

Top tips to give your front garden a spectacular new look by Chris Martin

Front garden to Victorian house is filled with Verbena bonariensis, dahlias and salvias - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Front garden to Victorian house is filled with Verbena bonariensis, dahlias and salvias – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Picture the classic British home; red brick, sash windows, freshly cut grass and filled flower beds out back. But what about the front garden? This area is often forgotten or neglected, but it can be a great asset to any home, framing the house and offering a space to show off your gardening style for all to see. Remember to follow these tips to ensure you’re the envy of your neighbours:

Layout: Failing to plan is planning to fail, so be sure that you start with a solid design for your front garden’s layout. Grab a pencil, a ruler, some paper and get sketching, consider symmetry, the path of the sun and how your garden will frame your front door – as well as welcome visitors to it.

Spacing: Be sure to consider how much space you have to play with when it comes to planning plants, window boxes, pots or garden ornaments. You do not want your garden to look cluttered or have plants get so out of hand that they block light to your windows and cause you lots of unnecessary work.

Be sympathetic: Design a garden that is both sympathetic to your property as well as the street that you live in. If you live in a period property, then think about restoring your garden’s original features and complimenting them with new planting, window boxes or pot plants to add your own style.

Planning permission: If you are considering making large scale changes to your front garden, like adding a driveway, a large wall or building any kind of structure then you will need to check with your local council to see if planning permission is required for your project.

Colours: Do you prefer modern, stylish, muted tones such as greys? Or are you after a bloom of colours and life to bring attention to your front garden? Colour can be a valuable tool and one of the most important factors when considering how to match your front garden against your home.

Plants: Depending on your personal style and the age of your home, you can consider a variety of plants for your front garden. Small, potted trees and hardy shrubs are popular plants for contemporary homes or for those who want all round foliage with minimal effort involved. Country cottages might suit flowers, planted in beds or windowsill planters full of colour. If you live near a busy road, it’s also important that any plants can withstand a polluted environment.

Always remember that your front garden can be just as enjoyable to design and maintain as your back one. It can add value to your home, show off your creative flair and be a noteworthy addition to your street. Be kind to your neighbours and give them a fantastic front garden to look at when they walk past!

Chris Martin.

Chris Martin

Chris Martin

Chris is the owner and head designer of The London Front Garden Company. Chris specialises in restoring Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian front gardens in South West London. If you would like to find out more please visit the London Front Garden Company website – http://www.londonfrontgardencompany.co.uk/