We could all do with a helping hand in the garden. If you’re not really the green-fingered type or if you’ve just moved into your first house, it can be difficult to know where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve pulled together this handy beginner’s guide to help you get stuck in!
Start by getting the right tools for the job
For most gardens, all you really need to get started is a mower, spade, pair of secateurs, a hoe and some gloves. You don’t have to spend a fortune on garden tools, simply check out our great range of top quality essentials to help you get the job started without breaking the bank.
Lawnmower – It probably goes without saying, but if you have grass anywhere in your garden, you’re going to need to cut it. Invest in a good lawnmower to keep your lawn looking lovely.
Spade – Border spades are really versatile, being able to cope with heavy digging as well as those smaller jobs in the garden.
Secateurs – Essential for cutting back and keeping your garden looking neat and tidy. Choose from either bypass secateurs with a blade that slices in a scissor action, or anvil secateurs.
Hoe – Vital for weeding! Hoeing the soil will drag those pesky weeds to the surface and dry them right out. Starting at just £6, our garden hoe range is great value and will help save your pennies -and your back!
Gloves – It’s always a good idea to protect your hands from thorns, prickly branches and of course mud! Check out our wide range – perfect for the job in hand.
Show your lawn some love
The most important lawn care job is regular mowing! Try to cut the grass whenever it’s growing, which could be as often as every week as the weather warms up. Ideally, keep lawns between 2.5cm and 4cm in length. For lawns which get a little more wear and tear, aim to keep the grass slightly longer but no more than 5cm. Cutting it too short will weaken the grass, allowing weeds and moss to creep in! For more on looking after your grass, check out our guide to the perfect lawn.
Suss out your soil
For plants to flourish in your garden, it’s a good idea to find out what type of soil you have – it’ll help you make an informed decision about which plants to go for. Roses, clematis and delphiniums thrive in alkaline-rich soil, while azaleas, camellia, rhododendrons and pieris like acidic soil.
Our top tip is to have a little nosy into your neighbour’s garden to see what’s thriving. This can be a great indication of the pH level of the soil. If there seems to be a good healthy mix of everything then the soil is likely to be pH neutral. You can always take the guesswork out though with our handy soil moisture tester… a quick test could save you time and money in the long run!
Food for thought…
Healthy soil is essential for good plant growth. Check your soil to see what condition it’s in – if you’ve got lots of activity going on (such as worms and fungi) you’ve probably got good, healthy soil. If your soil comes up in hard clumps or water gathers on the surface, it may need some TLC. Give your soil a helping hand by using a good quality compost – don’t miss our great range of specialist and general purpose compost, which will help give your plants the help they need.
Have you ever thought about making your own compost? It’s the best way to reuse garden and organic kitchen waste, helps the fertility and texture of your soil, and of course it’s free! Read our composting made easy blog for everything you need to know about compost, including a list of what can and can’t be used.
You could choose to use manure, which can often be picked up from local farms and stables for free. Just make sure it’s composted and decomposed, leaving it looking dark and crumbly. If you add it straight to your soil without composting first, it can burn your plants and cause a real stink! When it’s ready, spread it onto soil during autumn and winter and let the worms work their magic by pulling it deep into the ground, or grab a spade and give it a good dig.
Ready, steady, grow!
Now that you’ve got the gear, and you know a bit more about what’s going to work well in your garden, it’s time to get planting! But with so much choice, it can be hard to know what to go for. Let us guide you through the most popular options:
Seeds are a cost-effective way to fill the garden, and there are three main types to choose from:
Seedlings should never dry out, so make sure you water them daily. Try and water in the morning if possible, before it gets too warm.
If you prefer plants in full bloom, it’s a great idea to do your research and plan out your garden first. If you plant everything that’s in bloom at the same time, they’re also likely to die at the same time and your garden will lose its colour. Make a list of plants that are at their peak at different times of year, or buy the best plant in bloom once a month to create year-round interest.
You don’t need loads of space to grow herbs, fruit and veg, even smaller spaces such as patios, balconies or windowsills will work. And just about any vegetable can be grown in a container. As long as you’re growing your fruit, herbs or vegetables in a good sized container and you have the right compost, you can’t go far wrong.
If you’ve got the space in your garden, the best thing for growing fruit and veg is to give them their own plot. Pick your location and either build a raised bed or plant directly into the ground. And have you ever thought about growing crops in your flower bed? Pick brightly coloured fruit and veg such as tomatoes or peppers for a pop of colour or build a wigwam of runner beans for even more impact.
Herbs are generally quick and easy to grow, making them a fantastic choice for first time gardeners. Growing herbs in your outdoor space is also a great way to make your garden smell gorgeous!
If you’ve always fancied growing your own fruit and veg but don’t know where to start, head over to our beginner’s guide to growing your own blog, where we’ll help you grow in containers, veg plots and allotments.
Putting everything to bed
When the hard work’s done, always clean your tools and store them in a dry, secure place to keep them in tip top condition.
Make sure you keep an eye on the forecast, as some plants may need potting up and moving indoors in winter time, or they might need to be wrapped in fleece or bubble wrap. And of course a hot spell may mean plants and grass need a little extra water! Our final tip is to have patience. Gardening can take time, but there are no real shortcuts – so don’t over-water in the hope that everything will grow quicker!