The South West London Gardener

How to Ace Your Garden Maintenance

man mowing lawn

Caring for a garden isn’t always easy.

Busy work, social and family lives can often keep us away from our outside areas and lead us to neglect our garden. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Garden maintenance doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. As long as you can keep on top of the basics, you can have the beautiful garden you desire.

So how do you maintain the perfect garden all year round?

Let’s find out.

Keep it Wet

When living in the UK, it can be easy to forget about watering the plants and tempting to leave it to the wet weather.

But unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

The weather in 2021 was tough on gardens at times. The highs were very high (in July the met office raised its first ever amber extreme heat weather warning) and the rainfall was lower than average. It was great for sunbathing, but not for dry gardens.

Ensuring your garden has constant moisture is key to prolonging the life of your flowers and grass.

So how do you keep things constantly watered?

Well, it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the garden every night. In fact, most flowers only need watering one to two times a week. Setting aside a couple of nights a week should be enough to cover all your flowers needs.

In terms of your lawn, it is important to get an even spray that covers all areas well. It is also important not to overwater. If you are beginning to see puddles, then this could have a negative effect on the life of your lawn.

So when should you water?

Well, it’s best to do it at cooler times to give more water the chance of soaking into your soil so trying to get out in the early morning or later at night is always a good idea.

Look After your Lawn

Speaking of lawns, watering isn’t the only way to keep your grass looking great.

An overgrown lawn is a sure-fire way to make a garden look untidy. In the Summer when conditions are just right, grass can grow at a rate of 3cm a week. This means if you miss a few weeks, you will have some long grass in your yard.

Mowing your grass at least once every couple of weeks should be enough to maintain a healthy-looking lawn all year round.

Other ways to ensure your lawn is in the perfect environment for growth is to aerate regularly. This involves pushing a fork into the lawn and giving it a little wobble to make some space for your soil to breathe.

A lawn doesn’t grow well in compacted soil, so by keeping on top of your aeration, you will be sure that it has plenty of space to grow.

A lawn takes up a lot of garden space, so take good care of it. Trim around the edges and cut to the perfect length for your garden to always give a healthy look to your grass.

Store Things Away

Through the cold and wet months of autumn and winter, it is easy to neglect your garden. When you’re not spending as much time outside, you inevitably care less about how your garden looks.

A good habit to get into is to store your garden equipment away neatly. Whether you have a shed, a garage, or simply a storage box, tucking your rakes, shovels and forks somewhere they are out of sight can provide a big boost to the aesthetics of your garden.

Garden maintenance is about keeping a tidy garden, so not leaving things lying around is a big step to the ideal outside area.

Spare compost, wood and raked leaves may all need a place to live until you can fit them in the bin or put them to use, so find somewhere you can keep it all to keep your garden looking clean and tidy.

If you do have a shed or a garage, a few nails in the wall can provide loads of extra space to hang up tools and make them easy to pick out quickly when needed.

Cut Out the Weeds

The arch nemesis of a well-maintained garden are weeds.

If you don’t keep an eye on them, you can quickly find your garden has become overrun with dandelions, chickweeds and nettles.

So how can you make your garden weed-free?

Well, if you immediately reach for the weed killer, then you may be doing more damage than good. When spraying weed killer, especially at weeds growing in your flower beds, it is easy to spray onto surrounding plants and this can cause these to suffer.

The best way to eradicate weeds is to be on constant watch and always make sure you are ready to pull them up. The best time to do this is after a rainfall when weeds can be pulled by hand. In warmer times, using a hoe or trowel to cut back weeds is a way to kill them immediately.

One thing to always make sure is that you’re not just pulling up the tip of the weed, and that you are getting the roots as well. If you miss this, it will simply grow back.

So that’s the cure, but what about the prevention?

One way to cut down the number of weeds that grow in the first place is to pack flower beds tightly with seeds, so as not to give weeds space to grow.

Another technique is to get them at their source. By setting your mower to a low height, you can make sure you’re chopping the head off any weed that begins to grow. This won’t solve the problem fully but will keep the amount of weeds that sprout to a minimum.

Make the Most of Mulch

Another method of preventing weeds is spreading mulch. But that’s not its only benefit.

Things like wood chippings and compost are classed as mulch and can work wonders when spread around your garden.

When applying mulch, focus on getting an even spread around your plants that won’t stifle their growth. It is important to know when to use mulch, with the best time of the year being during the spring.

So what does mulch do?

Well, apart from smothering weeds and stunting their growth, it also provides a great way of giving moisture to your plants. Mulch soaks up water and therefore provides a gradual source to all of your flowers.

Not only that, but it also helps keep your soil at a good temperature, providing some cover from the summer sun, and also providing a layer of heat if the weather gets colder.

And there’s more.

Mulch looks good. It provides a level and tidy look to your flower beds that is sure to be a key component of your garden maintenance.

And finally, it is good for soil. Most mulch is organic, such as grass shavings and wood clippings, so as this breaks down, it provides a feast of nutrients to your soil that is sure to keep it fighting fit throughout the year.

Know When to Prune

Deciding when to get the pruning scissors out can be the difference between a bare garden, and one that’s full of colour and life.

When done correctly, pruning provides a platform from which your plants are free to grow into plenty of space. If you neglect to prune, you risk your plants outgrowing their space and beginning to crowd each other.

So, when do you prune?

Well, that depends on the plant.

For most, the best time to prune is early spring. This gives your plants enough time to heal before the growing season fully begins and will facilitate your plant’s growth.

For plants that bloom in spring, it is wise to prune them straight after they have finished growing and died away.

Of course, as you wander around your garden and take a good look at your plants, feel free to cut away any dead sections. Most noticeable on trees with dead branches or flowers with dead bulbs, cutting these back isn’t just beneficial for the health of the plant, but also will keep your garden looking full of life all around.

Spend Time with Your Garden

And the way to know what needs working on?

It’s simple. Be in your garden.

When some people hear the term ‘garden maintenance’ they may shudder as the image of back-breaking digging or long days mowing comes into mind.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, research has shown gardening leads to better mental health, physical condition and psychological wellbeing.

Caring for your garden should be great fun, and by constantly wandering around your outdoor area, you will quickly pick up on what work needs doing and come up with great new design ideas along the way.

Spotted a bare patch in your grass? Time to get some seed in there.

Noticed a batch of weeds that are growing? Go get them up.

A garden is a place to be enjoyed by the whole family, and by making your garden maintenance routine regular, you can keep on top of all the jobs you need to cover and make sure your garden is one you are proud of no matter what time of the year it is.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining your garden takes work, but the results make it all worthwhile. By building a routine and sticking to it, you can ensure your garden is always well cared for. And it starts with something as simple as taking a walk around every morning as you sip your coffee.

At The Southwest London Gardener, we hope you enjoy gardening, but if you need a little help in making sure your garden looks the best it possibly can, please feel free to get in touch today to see how we can help you.