Tis the season.
One sunny day and we’re all looking outside and wishing our gardens were how we wanted them to be.
'Come and sort my garden out!’ the messages say (or words to that effect). I get it, I really do. The sap is rising, and we just feel compelled to get it sorted, right now. Panic ensues and out of that panic, all our deep-seated fears and doubts bubble softly up to the surface.
They generally take the form of three myths:
- I don’t have time to do this myself.
Do you have time to scroll? If you have time to scroll, then you have time for your outdoor space. All it takes is five minutes a day.
- I don’t know enough to do this myself
Are you a sentient human being? Are you open to a learning experience? Then you can do this.
- I don’t have ‘green fingers'
Green fingers don’t exist. It’s about becoming interested enough. We become interested when we actually DO stuff.
Okay. Now for the reason you clicked on this post:
How to get your garden sorted, by yourself, FAST.
What follows is a list, in no particular order, of things you can do right now, which will make your garden really lovely, and somewhere you’ll want to spend time in. You’ll notice that none of the things on this list is particularly planty or complicated. In fact most of these things are more to do with husbandry (outdoor tidying) than anything else. Before you begin though, remember one thing:
Start at the back door.
Don’t look beyond the first thing you see and just work on that. Do it for five minutes and then call it a day. I promise you will end up doing more, and wanting to do more.
- Sweep. Find a broom and sweep all the paved or decked or hard bits. Terrace, paths, steps. If you have algae on your deck or paving then hire a pressure washer and clean it off. This will make the garden safe; not breaking your neck is key to enjoying your garden.
- Mow. If you have a lawn, mowing will do more for your garden than any other single job. You can get away with murder everywhere else if you mow. Truth. SWEAR.
- Remove. Give away or freecycle anything that’s not working for you, or spoiling your space. This could be garden furniture, but more specifically, I’d advise you to get rid of any flower pots smaller than 40cm diameter. Too many pots or containers, particularly if they are small ones, will not only increase the workload (watering, tending etc) but also look hectic. A small number of large pots is less work and looks immeasurably better.
- Chop. Anything that’s dead and crispy. It’s probably last year’s shoots on a perennial plant, and if you look at the base there will be new leaves appearing. Chop the dead stuff.
- Weed. Anything that you know is a weed. Google common weeds and see if you can identify plants that you think shouldn’t be there. Weeding sounds boring but it’s actually really therapeutic and even fun. First, get yourself a good tool. I like the Hori Hori knife or this widger by Burgon and Ball. Or just go round the garden and tug at the weeds. Some of them, like chick weed, will just come up easily, roots and all. If you don’t have a good weeding tool right now, just go out and find weeds that you can easily remove with a tug. Other ones, like couch grass, or bindweed (google them) will need more ingenuity. Some weeds, like herb robert, are so lovely you should probably consider removing just a few. A kneeler helps too, and so does a really good podcast. Be gentle, but firm. Calm and assertive. Do one area at a time. Don’t look up. Stay focused.
- Feed. Put some bird food out, somewhere you can see it. Srsly. you need to see those birds, doing stuff. You need to.
- Loiter. Spend five minutes every day in your outside space. You don’t have to do stuff, you just need to linger there (add wine if you want). You may want to provide yourself with somewhere to sit. Put your phone away. Listen. Sniff. Watch. Do I sound like I knit yoghurt? I’m not quite there yet, but I have learned that my garden provides me with something nourishing, that I like to call Vitamin G. You should try it.
That’s it for now. It's just the start. Let me know how you go.