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Cheat Your Way to a Beautiful Garden

15th May 2014

Isn’t it lovely when we can finally throw our garden doors open and let in the warm spring air? Then after seeing the state of the garden after it has been left untended over the winter, reality sets in and that feeling of warmth and joy is quickly lost.

For those of us who haven’t been blessed with the gift of green fingers, sprucing up our gardens for the summer months can be quite a daunting prospect. Rather than embracing the task, most of us find ourselves staring at the semi-wilderness in front of us, asking ourselves “Where do I even begin?”

Before you panic, shut the doors and close the blinds, you may be surprised at how easy it is to make a massive difference to your garden with minimal effort or know how. A good place to start is to focus on a feature area. Trying to tackle the whole garden at once will leave you feeling overwhelmed and it will be difficult to see much of a difference if your efforts are spread too thin. At this stage, you need maximum satisfaction for your hard work!

Take a seat 

Your seating area is a good place to start, as you are likely to spend the most time there. Firstly, get rid of the debris of winter, sweep up any leaves and then hire or borrow a pressure washer to blast your decking or paving and your furniture. If your table and chairs still look a little lackluster, a quick sand down and a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference… You could even introduce a splash of colour to coordinate with your bi-fold doors.

Artfully placed pots and planters can give a colourful boost to a gloomy corner, and they don’t have to cost the earth. Bold, bright plants, such as geraniums, give an instant Mediterranean feel, and pretty climbing plants such as clematis will quickly grow to disguise an ugly wall. Unsightly areas can also be disguised with garden screens and trellises.

Shabby borders can be hard to maintain, especially if you don’t have the time (or inclination!) to get stuck into weeding. The cheat’s way to keep them tidy, is to cover them up and accessorise them! After the initial slog of digging the borders over, you could simply lay a ‘skin’ over the soil to prevent weeds coming through and then cover with coloured slate chippings or pea gravel. Pots can then be positioned intermittently down the border, immediately giving a feeling of structure.


Accessorise your garden

For a truly unique look, you could have a rummage in your local vintage store for unusual things to grow plants in, such as old Belfast sinks. Alternatively, most DIY and garden centres stock a great range of traditional terracotta pots. For a more modern look, galvanised steel pots can look incredibly effective against slate chippings, and best of all, they look a lot more expensive than they actually are!

There are plenty of garden accessories available in the shops that can bring an area to life, especially in the evening. Fairy lights can be strung through trees and tea lights in jam jars can be surprisingly enchanting when hung around the garden. Solar powered garden lights can be found cheaply in most homeware stores, and as they spike into the ground, no construction is necessary.


The bigger picture

As for the main area of the garden, if you have a lawn, give it a cut. Even if the grass isn’t in tip top condition, it’s amazing how much neater it will looked if it’s trimmed and edged. The same goes for hedges; you don’t have to be a master in topiary to give them a quick tidy up. Don’t worry if you really don’t fancy tackling the job yourself, you will find yourself in good company! That’s why there are professional gardeners working in most areas who will happily tackle the job for you, often at a very reasonable charge.


Bringing your garden back to life doesn’t have to be a major job; it’s amazing how a few little bursts of colour can make such a difference. And remember, if it all seems just too much like hard work, you could always just put on your sunglasses!