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Garden Planning - by Marie Shallcross

12 tips for the first year of this new decade....

You can make this as light hearted or as serious as you want, you’re not being checked up on! In Plews gardening lessons, planning is one of the topics we cover and some of these ideas are taken from there.

Follow these ideas, or make your own. Write them in a notebook or on your computer, where you can refer to them, noting down when they’re completed. It is always satisfying to give oneself a well-earned pat on the back.

#1 Firstly plan to enjoy your garden

This is not as daft as it sounds; some people find gardening tasks turn into gardening chores. So ask yourself, what do you like doing in the garden and what do you hate doing? Perhaps you could find someone else to do the garden tasks on your hate list. Or have your garden re-designed.

#2 Do you take regular photos of the garden?

This year, take photographs once a month so that you can see how the garden changes. It will help you to remember what you liked and didn’t like at any particular season and give you a basis to work from in the future.

#3 Soil in good heart, fertile and free draining, is essential for healthy plants

This is true whether you have an alkaline soil or acid soil; clay soil, sandy soil or a silty soil. Aim for a rich, nutritious top soil down to the root depth of most of your plants.

#4 Compost

There are a variety of types of bins and methods of composting. If you already cold compost, why not add another method to your repertoire? Perhaps a bokashi system that would take cooked food.

A quick plug – my “Compost and Composting” eBook is now available on Kindle, see details at the foot of this blog

As a general rule use compost rather than liquid fertiliser on perennial plants. This way you’re feeding the soil which then feeds the plants.

#5 Pruning

Learn when and how to correctly prune your ornamental flowering shrubs. Not forgetting to first check if they should be pruned, of course! Some shrubs only need minimal pruning. Others respond well to regular trimming with secateurs and loppers.

Some gardeners may find it helpful to colour code their shrubs to remind them when they should be pruned.

#6 Clean Your Garden Tools

Specifically, hand tools such as secateurs and spades. Cleaning  and oiling can be quite a therapeutic task,

Keeping your gardening tools in good order is essential. Blunt secateurs will not cut the mustard, let alone the shrubs that need pruning.

#7 Garden Birds

If, like me, you have a selection of bird feeders in various parts of the garden, now is a good time to check on them. Should any be replaced? Mouldy food encrusted at the base of a feeder is not good for the birds.

Trim hedges early in the year before nesting begins or after nesting birds have flown. It is an offence under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act to knowingly damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird.

#8 Make time to sit in your garden.

Buy a new garden seat to relax in after all your hard work (I think you know where to look for some gorgeous ones…)

 #9 Plant a Tree

Winter is the optimum time for planting bare root trees. You can plant container grown plants at any time.

·         If you’re short on space, plant a patio sized fruit tree in a pot

·         More space? Go for a tree with style, such as Acer griseum, the snake bark maple, with its shiny red trunk

#10 Garden boundaries

Review those you have, front garden and rear garden, and their state of repair. Boundaries often form a large part of our gardens so shouldn’t be a cheap afterthought. Perimeter fences and walls provide security both real and visual. They can be attractive in their own right and a support for climbing plants. 

#11 Lawns

Not everyone can or would want to do away with their turf lawn altogether. But you may like to consider reducing its size. You could add one or more of these to your garden instead.

·         Herb lawn

·         Wild flower meadow

·         Herbaceous border

·         Edible garden

#12 Have a scented flower by the front door

By changing the plants this can be achieved year round. It’ll give you daily pleasure and remind you that gardening can be fun.

Hopefully these garden planning tips have given you some ideas for enjoying your garden in 2020.

If you’re panicking because your garden has an awful lot that needs doing, put the kettle on (or find the corkscrew, depending on the time of day) and sit down with a notebook.  Planning comes first.


Passionate about edible ornamental gardens where you have a beautiful, practical space, Marie at Plews offers Garden Design, Garden Consultancy and Gardening Lessons where your garden is your classroom. She writes a weekly award-winning gardening blog – Plews Potting Shed, gardening eBooks plus articles for magazines and websites


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Posted by Siobhan on January 29th 2020

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