Our gardens can be a place of solace and relaxation or a bottomless pit of chores we never get round to doing –often both at the same time! As the autumn days get colder, wetter and darker, it becomes all the more difficult to get out there and get your garden ready for the onslaught of winter. The temptation to sit back and pay for a gardener to do what are often rudimentary tasks grows with each blustery day.
Nevertheless, our yards need a last bit of care and attention so, if you are like me and want as little maintenance as humanly possible, here are five handy tricks that I have come across to facilitate some no-nonsense, DIY gardening.
Use what you have around you
Forget endless trips to the garden centre to forage for supplies! It might seem like a necessity but often you’ll find everything you need within arms’ reach. Have you got some wooden planks lying around in the shed, some old unused fence panels? With a bit of craftsmanship and a quick step-by-step guide, you can turn your spare wood into a trellis in no time. Don’t throw away old watering cans, cooking pots or kitchen sinks. These can be transformed into quirky makeshift flower pots, herb gardens or small habitats for animals.
If, like me, you live somewhere which gets pretty stormy in the winter months, you end up spending your life repairing fences that have blown over or have started to rot in the damp conditions. Yet there are plenty of more durable alternatives that don’t require such regular maintenance. Gabions, for example, are metal cages filled with hard materials like concrete and stone which provide a far sturdier perimeter to your garden or plant borders. Order to your preferred specifications (height, depth, inner material etc) and you can build a wall that would make even President Trump jealous!
Choose what you plant wisely
This almost goes without saying but now is not the time to be planting delicate flowers or orange trees. If your garden is looking bare and you would like to add some vegetation, now is not really the time to be growing plants from scratch… unless of course you want to grow some root vegetables or garlic. Your best bet is to pick out a healthy plant that is already at least partially grown (preferably one that is native to your home country/region) with solid roots and make sure you dig a deep enough hole for it to take to the soil. Always remember to plant bulbs the right way up.
Soap shavings for squirrels
These little critters are cute but they can be a real nuisance to any gardeners. They dig up bulbs and eat into your bird feeders. One way to deter the furry fiends is to spread shavings of barred bath soap over your plant beds. Once it rains the soap will dissolve into the soil (it’s harmless to your plants so nothing to worry about) the scent will keep the squirrels away for several weeks at a time.
Make your own compost
Making your own compost might seem like a faff to begin with but once you’ve decided on a container and filled it out with a good base material, all you need to do is add to the pile with household food waste, newspaper clippings and those incessant falling leaves. It’s best to start your compost pile in the spring when there is a lot of grass mulch after mowing. Be sure to buy grasses which provide plenty of mulch for your compost pile. With a little bit of graft now, you can make sure you put your feet up over the winter months!