Summer is around the corner. Hopefully, this means the enjoyment of more sunshine, and thus more time in the garden. Pottering in the garden is always great exercise and good for our stress levels, but we should perhaps also give ourselves time for relaxing in the shade to read a book, or maybe chilling in the sunshine to get a tan (but don’t forget the sun protection after that first 20 minutes of bare skin to absorb plenty of vitamin D!) But perhaps rather surprisingly, summer is also an ideal time to start planning your garden for next year whether that’s just thinking about a few new plants to fill gaps in the border, adding some veggies to your plot, or a complete garden makeover!
Starting with the bigger picture
If it’s just you, then it’s easy to decide what you want to achieve. If you have a partner, maybe you have different ideas of what a garden should be like? If you have a bigger family, then perhaps the garden needs to be multi-purpose.
So, why don’t you decide on a date for a garden planning picnic lunch! By getting everyone involved in planning your garden for next year, maybe you will have more helping hands in the ‘doing’ as well. But most importantly, you will be able to think about the steps to take so that:
- You have a beautiful garden
- It suits the needs of the family
- It is wildlife-friendly – because we all know how important that is!
Once you are settled down, make sure you have a notebook at the ready. Obviously, this is meant to be a relaxed freeflow family ‘meeting’ but a few items to ensure you address:
- Would anyone like something completely new? A more defined play area; troughs for planting veg, a water feature or even a pond, seating in a shady area, an arbour, a greenhouse, even a self-contained office for work-from-home converts. Before you move on, discuss whether suggestions are realistic from both the perspective of your budget and the size of your garden and collectively dismiss any suggestions that are just not workable.
- Consider the aspects of your garden: does it face north, south, east or west. That will determine the best situation for new features such as places to sit and relax and to eat. Wildlife ponds, for example, thrive best in warm, fairly sunny sites.
- Consider the structure and privacy of your garden. Could you add some wildlife-friendly trees to provide both those elements?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your garden is too small for trees. This development of flats in Paris, for example, is covered in 2,000 trees, plants and shrubs, Wildlife-friendly trees can provide beautiful blossom in spring, a lush green backdrop and maybe fruits in summer, and often glorious autumn colour.
- Consider who is going to take responsibility for various developments and what everyone else is going to do to help. Even small children will enjoy getting involved if you are creative with your approach.
Once you have considered the above, it is list-making time!
You need to have lists of what you need both in terms of hard landscaping and planting. And you need to have a schedule of what will be done, when and by whom. Consider if you can do everything yourself or if you need to contract specialists.
In terms of planting, do remember that although most container-grown trees and shrubs can be planted all year round, autumn is often the best time for many items such as roses and trees. Bare-rooted plants are also much cheaper than container-grown varieties. By planning your garden for next year now and ordering early, you can ensure you get the items you want. It can be very disappointing when you have made up your mind to purchase something very specific and everywhere is out of stock!
Be very specific in your choices. Perhaps you have decided you would like a silver birch tree, for example, but there are so many different varieties to choose from. And roses – where do you start!
Research is needed so your list shows very specific details of the varieties of plants, trees and shrubs you want.
Our local garden centres are wonderful and we should all be supporting them, but it is very easy to be tempted by beautiful flowering plants we originally had no intention of purchasing. For example, if you have a few gaps in the borders, your garden centre will no doubt have loads of lovely annuals such as cosmos that will quickly fill those spaces and provide beautiful blooms, and that’s fantastic, but it’s always best to visit the garden centre with a clear plan of what you intend to purchase.
Many of our most famous gardens, such as Beth Chatto Gardens in Colchester, Essex can provide a great deal of inspiration and also have well-stocked nurseries.
Do also research online. You will also find that sometimes if you are very specific about what you want, it is easier to purchase products online. For example, the majority of flower bulbs need to be planted in the autumn for spring flowering, although there are many other types of flower bulbs that can be planted at different times and to flower at different times. Local garden centres are often limited in the options available.
But those early spring bulbs are such an important part of the gardening cycle. As the first snowdrops, crocuses and early daffodils peep through our often frosty gardens in February, we begin to look forward to spring. And as well as being a sight for sore eyes, daffodils and tulips can provide wonderful displays in the borders before the herbaceous perennials reappear.
When planning your garden for next year, you can order your spring-flowering bulbs in the summer-ready for delivery at the end of August. Ensure you purchase from a reputable UK-based supplier of course. Your bulb should arrive in good conditions with planting and storage advice to ensure you have beautiful blooms next year.
Have you got that date pencilled in yet for your family garden planning lunch?
Garden image by Peter H from Pixabay
Snowdrops image by katerinavulcova from Pixabay