Since we had a baby and have been flat out working on getting the renovations in The Crap Shack finished, one thing has definitely suffered – our garden.
I actually really enjoy working in the garden... although you might not think it if you were to pop over our place right now! Although I am not an expert, I used to interview a lot of landscapers and professional gardeners when I was writing stories for the paper and let me tell you there is nothing like writing about gardening to get you inspired to get stuck into working on your own! But when you have so many other things you have to get done, it is easy for something you enjoy to turn into yet another chore that you put on the backburner.
So in our garden the weeds started amassing, the hedges and vines grew wild and overgrown and the grass started to creep into the garden beds. Mr Nerd and I both kind of turned a blind eye to our garden recently until the other day. Mr Nerd was cutting a piece of wood to use as a window ledge in our kitchen, put in on our outdoor ‘coffee table’ (a huge slab of stone propped on some limestone blocks) and the stone cracked from a regular lack of sealant… oops.
How you design your garden, the soil and climate of where you live, which plants you choose and the amount and type of hardscaping will all determine how much maintenance it needs. Typically speaking though, there are a few absolute basics that most gardens regardless of design and climate will need.
With Little Nerd now taking longer daytime naps (bliss! I hope his daytime catnapping stage is over) we’ve had the luxury of time to get stuck back into our garden. So today I’m sharing ten easy tips for a prettier garden.
Invest in pruning equipment that will make the job fun.
When I was a teenager (and full of all the usual causes of teenage angst – failed maths test, eyebrows that didn’t match, unrequited love, flares that weren’t big enough, Sun-In attempts gone wrong etc) I used to take to the garden with shears whenever I was feeling particularly angst-y and hack away at things. One afternoon after two “E”s on Intro to Calculus tests I came home and took out my rage on two trees and cut down a 40-year-old rhododendron bush. I felt wonderful after – hedge trimming is very cathartic – but my dad came home from work and was so upset by the big brown, bare spot in his beautiful garden he sat quietly in his dark lounge for three days afterward, totally depressed. (They got me a maths tutor shortly afterward).
Most trees and bushes need pruning to encourage new growth and this is particularly the case for hedges and vines which need to be cut back regularly. This encourages denser foliage which provides a better screen for privacy, noise and shade. The plants you are growing will determine their rate of growth and how often you need to do this. Some varieties can and need to be heavily cut back to avoid ‘leggy’ growth which looks unsightly and forms large gaps in your hedge. You can seriously slash the amount of time it takes you to prune by investing in a hedge trimmer from specialists like Ryobi. We used our hedge trimmer to prune the trumpet vine hedge that was choking our lovely old dragon tree and the trimmer made a hard job a LOT easier!
Not only will you end up with a better-looking hedge if you use a good hedge trimmer, it will grow faster and rather than dreading pruning, you’ll probably end up finding it quite cathartic and enjoying it (a la myself in Year 10, post-calculus test).