Following our previous blog about preparing a balcony for the summer months, this time we’re looking at gardens. Although there are many beautiful examples behind the houses of Leytonstone and Wanstead, not everyone is naturally green-fingered. So if you’re up for getting your hands (a bit) dirty, we’ve got some useful advice for getting your garden fit for summer.
A bag of lawn seed, a small garden fork, and a watering can is all you need to bring back a patchy lawn. Till the soil with the fork until soft, sprinkle the seed, press down softly and water with a ‘rose’ attachment so the seeds don’t wash away. Keep it damp and you should have a smooth green lawn in a few weeks. To encourage biodiversity, sow special meadow flower seed mix to attract the bees and butterflies. For neglected paving, jet down with a power hose (or burn some calories old-school style with a bucket, scrubbing brush and kneeling pad). Feeling lazy? Cover the offending area with a washable outdoor rug for an instant ‘outside room’ feel.
If your garden’s gone full Congo, simply cut it back using sharp secateurs: with very few exceptions most shrubs, roses and perennials can handle a good haircut (check the specifics for your plants online). Tie in anything straggling with bamboo canes and string. Where flower buds are already showing, leave the cutting back until after flowering. Still lacking flowers? Place potted flowering plants in the borders for swift colour and focus – you’ll be surprised how few you need for a sense of lush and cared-for greenery.
Garden designers always group plants in threes, fives and sevens: there’s something about prime numbers that pleases the eye. Try different types of foliage and flowers by pairing the dramatic with the pretty and fluffy to help define each one. It’s simple and elegant to have a single colour – all-white flowers look stunning at dusk and nighttime – but a riotous mix can also look fabulous. You choose.
Buying the right thing
Read the label before you buy a plant and follow the instructions on location and care: plants that need sun will not flower in shade (no matter how much you shout at them), while plants that need shade will shrivel and die in the sun. ALWAYS repot your plantd into a larger container once you get them home to give them room to grow and to stop the roots overheating in the sun (meaning you won’t have to water so often). Bees and butterflies only drink from flowers where they can reach the nectar, so check for plants that are suitable for pollinators. Birds not only add magic and life to a garden, they also eat many pests. Lure them with a hanging feeder or a simple shallow bowl (out of reach of cats and kittens) for a great bird bath.
Sit yourself down
If you already have some garden furniture now is the time to give it a cleanup and put it out for the season. If you’re looking for something new, there are many garden centres within reach of Leytonstone and Wanstead. Alternatively, if you’d like to reheat your creative side, tools find plenty of ideas for upcycling on sites like Pinterest. A current favourite is making a bench from two old wooden chairs: place the chairs facing each other and board the seats across to make one long seat (so the backs of the old chairs become the arms of the new bench). You can then add planks across the back to form a three-sided seat, or leave as an open-backed bench. Paint it your favourite colour for a uniform appearance then throw on some cushions for comfort and style: done!
Add a few lanterns or solar powered lights for night, and your garden is ready for summer socialising, family fun, or a quiet place to get away from it all.