How to make the most of your garden during lockdown - 08/04/20

Spring is here and the sun is shining, just. It’s a nice bit of positivity amid these difficult times and it’s the perfect opportunity to do a spot of gardening. We’ve detailed below some top tips to improve your garden space and your well being and we’ve borrowed ideas from articles published in The Independent and The Times last week.

No matter how big or small your space, you can start growing plants, flowers and other foliage now and throughout the summer months.  Remember however to limit the amount of waste you create when clearing the garden as its difficult to remove for councils during the lockdown.

The benefits of gardening

You may have been putting off the odd job here and there until the bank holiday but seeing as self-isolating means we now have lots of time on our hands, it’s a nice way to spend time in a garden, on your balcony, or even gardening indoors.

Plus, there are many benefits to gardening.  Scientists have found that spending two hours a week in nature is linked to better mental health and wellbeing.  It combines exercise and activity and the beauty of a well kept garden can raise your spirits. No matter the size, gardens can provide an escape from the news and break the monotony of being cooped inside all day.  It encourages children to become hooked on growing things rather than being glued to their phones or consoles and teaches that patience and effort can be rewarded.  Plus, they have something to tell their teachers and friends when they eventually get back to school! 

Growing your own food can transform our diets and fresh vegetables and fruit are essential for good health.  Planting the seeds now can pay dividends in the next few months and encourage you to be as self-sufficient as possible.  

What can you plant now?

According to experts including Guy Barter, chief horticulturist for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), this time of year is ideal for growing vegetables such as calabrese, carrots, beetroot, cabbage, chard, leeks, lettuce, onions (including spring onions), spinach, parsnips, radish and turnips.

If you prefer herbs, perhaps to incorporate into your mealtimes, chives, rosemary, mint, parsley, coriander, thyme and dill will take as little as a week to grow now.

As for flowers, start curating your own little colourful garden as the weather warms up with fuchsias, petunias and pelargoniums. Also growing coleus which has pretty coloured leaves, which you can then take cuttings of in late summer to have as indoor houseplants.

How to garden in a small space

If you’re not lucky enough to have a patch of greenery outside, then there’s plenty of options that you can successfully grow for window sills and balconies.  Pots are the way forward for small spaces and pretty much any veg will grow in a pot, but obviously the bigger the plant, the bigger the container needs to be.  Re-using old pots and old compost can be the best way to get started with limited access to shops for new replacements.

 “Compact hardy plants that suit balconies, window boxes and other limited spaces include creeping jenny, erigeron, heathers, herbs including rosemary and thyme and hardy succulents such as sempervivums,” says Barter, along with tender tomatoes, dwarf chillies and strawberries if you wanted to grow your own salad-friendly vegetables.

“Shade foliage is more reliable than flowers so evergreen shrubs such as euonymus, ivies and ferns would be suitable, but the more robust leafy houseplants, spider plants and tradescantia for example, also make good summer balcony or window box plants and can be brought indoors for winter use.”

The tools to use 

To keep a grass lawn in tip-top condition now is the time to invest in a lawnmower (ordered online of course although some DIY stores are offering click and collect).  Remember though to wash your hands thoroughly following a deliver or pick up.

Protect your hands from mess and irritation with a pair of gardening gloves, especially important as increased hand washing can leave skin feeling sensitive.  

Garden furniture & garden toys for kids

Whether you’ve spent a busy afternoon in the garden looking after your plants and deserve a sit-down or simply want to soak up the vitamin D, you want to be as comfortable as you would on your sofa so quality, long lasting furniture is important.

Children may feel cabin fever set in before you do, as schools are shut and regular routines are disrupted. Toys in the garden from swing sets to bats and ball are an alternative to PE lessons while keeping them active and stimulated.  A simple option is a trampoline, which can be the source of hours of fun and is a good sunbathing spot. It also tires them out so they might sleep at night for a change.

Spring is here and the sun is shining, just. It’s a nice bit of positivity amid these difficult times and it’s the perfect opportunity to do a spot of gardening. We’ve detailed below some top tips to improve your garden space and your well being and we’ve borrowed ideas from articles published in The Independent and The Times last week.