I was very lucky as a child. My parents loved gardening and encouraged me and my siblings by giving us our own patches to look after.
And they taught us practical skills, like how to mow the lawn, dig a border, clear weeds and plant up pots. Not forgetting how to use a drill and hammer and nails.
These skills have stood me in good stead and I hope I’ll pass them onto my children.
I think it’s important that people don’t shy away from looking after their garden, and while you may not want to start growing, doing some basic tasks will make your garden a nice place to enjoy.
Here’s some tips to get you up to speed with common garden jobs.
1 Boost the lawn
Getting a lush green lawn is not as difficult as people think. Feeding a lawn is the key to strong green grass. Feed in spring and summer to boost the leafy growth and autumn for strong root growth.
Lawns can go brown when they don’t get enough water, but you can keep them looking fresh without turning on the sprinkler. Simply don’t cut the lawn too short. If long periods of dry weather are forecast, raise the blades on your lawnmower to about 2 inches high.
2 Dig over the soil
The secret to a successful garden is to look after your soil. Dig it over with a fork or spade before you plant anything new to help its structure. Turn over the soil to a spade’s depth and add some compost as you go for extra goodness.
3 Water well
Properly hydrated plants will give you a rich and colourful display, so watering the garden properly is vital.
Make sure the all the plants are fully hydrated. A good trick is to aim the shower spray at the base of the plant and count to 20 – deep watering is better that little and often.
4 Grow evergreens
Keep your garden low-maintenance with evergreens. These are plants that keep their leaves through the winter, making sure the garden doesn’t look bare.
Try euonymus, escallonia, photinia and pyracantha. I also love conifers, which come in a huge range of colours from blues and greens to gold.
5 Clean garden furniture
Keep your patio furniture in good condition by cleaning it in spring. It’s simple. Put a bit of washing up liquid in a bowl with some warm water and wipe down the furniture to get rid of dirt build up.
6 Pull weeds young
Pull out any weeds by hand, making sure to keep the roots as intact as possible. You can use a trowel to help lift the weed out, or water the soil before weeding to make it easier to pull them out. Throw them away or burn them – don’t put weeds on the compost heap.
Weed before they flower and seed, or they will spread around the garden. Find more weeding tips here!
7 Fertilise new borders
If you’re planting a new border, give plants a boost with a general-purpose fertiliser. It contains extra nutrients to encourage plants to get established. Fork some Growmore fertiliser granules into the soil before planting.
8 Pots and containers
Get bright, colourful pots and containers with seasonal bedding, such as geraniums and petunias. They are inexpensive plants that flower for months on end. Fill a pot with compost and plant them. Remember to water regularly, especially in warm weather.
Pruning plants can’t be easier. We prune plants to keep them in shape and to encourage strong new growth. The simple rule is to cut out the three Ds: dead, damaged and diseased branches. Also remove any branches that cross over each other, and aim for a symmetrical, balanced shape.
10 Clean the patio
Clean the patio before you start using it regularly in summer. Simply brush in a patio cleaner and disinfectant and spray it off with a strong jet of water to lift any dirt and algae. Then brush some kiln-dried sand over the top to fill any cracks and stop weeds taking over.
You can master practical gardening tasks for yourself, and it gives such a good feeling of accomplishment!
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.