How easy is it to grow bamboo?

Bamboo makes a great statement plant in any garden and as long as the variety is one that grows in clumps rather than the species that spreads it can be grown in a sunny spot in large and small gardens alike.

Bamboo thrives best in soil that is rich in organic matter, so a good quality compost or better still homemade compost is necessary to ensure a healthy plant that will produce lots of canes. Patience is needed initially then after a year or two the colour of the bamboo canes begins to develop. Although the traditional yellow and golden cane variety is popular the more recently cultivated black bamboo will provide a dramatic backdrop in the garden or create a stunning feature in a corner of the outdoor space.

Bamboo varieties can be grown in large tubs if you want the flexibility to move the plant to different areas of the garden space and although it will be quite heavy to move it is possible with a wheeled pot base or a few strong people.

Ongoing maintenance of the bamboo is quite straightforward and by simply pruning out the oldest canes as the colour fades the plant will stay looking impressive for years to come.

No more fence painting for me

Any homeowner who has fencing around their garden will know that the regular painting or treating of the fence panels is a nightmare. Even using a paint sprayer does not make the job any easier as the paint ends up on the concrete fence posts unless they are covered over beforehand. Painting or treating both sides of the panels is advised but is sometimes difficult to organise so, you will be pleased to find out that there is now an alternative on the market that will make life much easier when it comes to maintaining the fencing around the garden and that these products are usually guaranteed for more than twenty years.

This type of fencing is made from a type of metal that can be manufactured in a range of attractive colours to suit all tastes. It can be made in different styles, with or without trellising. The beauty of this type of fencing is that it will not warp or shrink and so will be unlikely to be affected by strong winds a problem that besets many homeowners and that can be costly to sort out.

Negotiating with neighbours about installing this maintenance-free fencing option may result in being able to share the cost which would make it an affordable option for many people.

Easy ways to keep on top of a large garden

If you are fortunate enough to have a large garden then you will be aware of the need to keep up with the maintenance of it in terms of mowing the lawn, weeding the flowerbeds and other general tasks required in a garden. This can be a time-consuming job and unless you can afford to employ someone to do these menial tasks for you and can mean that every weekend will need to be spent in the garden. So, are there any easy ways to make keeping on top of a large garden more manageable?

Well firstly is it possible to convert some of the outdoor space into low maintenance areas for instance install one or two slabbed patio areas? This will cut down on the mowing and provide a seating area for guests.

Planters and pots are a good way to contain plants instead of having large flower beds and take far less time to maintain.

It is a popular idea to leave some areas of the garden to grow wild as this provides food and habitats for wildlife and will encourage birds of different species to visit your garden so leaving some areas to get back to nature benefits both you and the environment.

Are certain plants taking over your garden?

When it comes to gardening you do not need to be an expert to do the basics. Things like cutting the lawns, pulling out weeds and watering the grass or plants are all very easy steps you can take to help maintain your garden.

Certain plants and shrubs can grow very fast and can quickly start to take over. Plants such as Ivy can grow up fences and walls and spread at a reasonable pace. When it starts to grow it will often weave in and out of fence panels and become intwined in brick. You need to take care when removing this to ensure that you do not cause any damage to the thing that it has wrapped itself around.

Some plants like to wrap around others and basically strangle them. You might find that nothing else can grow in that area. If this happens you need to remove the culprit or face it spreading further and killing off all other plants that you have growing.

If you are unsure of what or how to do it then you may want to enlist the help if a gardener. They will have all the correct tools and knowledge to remove it properly and quickly. When getting rid of any plant or shrub, it is important that you remove the route too. If you leave the root in place then it is likely that it will just grow back again.

If you like the plant then you may decide not to get rid of it but instead to contain it. You could buy a trellis that it could climb up and keep cutting it back to ensure it doesn’t grow beyond a certain size that is manageable. If you find maintaining flower beds hard work then why not grass the area instead or even put down bark / gravel. This will ensure that it is lower maintenance. You can then add in flower pots filled with brightly coloured flowers to liven the area up. It is a lit easier to look after flower pots than to have to weed large flower beds. You can even just throw away the plants if they have died off and plant new ones next year. Gardening doesn’t have to be really hard work you just need to ensure that you adapt your garden to work for you and to only need as much time and attention as you can give it.

Which plants are best for hanging baskets?

It is at this time of year that gardeners need to be thinking about which flowering plants they want to plant in hanging baskets, tubs and planters so that there is sufficient time to plant seeds and grow the young plants on before final planting. There are a variety of plants on the market that are suitable for hanging baskets and ideally there needs to be a mixture of upright varieties and trailing ones. Buying from a garden centre is advisable as the quality of plants is usually superior to those bought from a supermarket.

One of the first considerations is the colour scheme that will be used. Some people prefer a riotous mix of colours in their hanging baskets whereas others like to have their baskets with a definite colour theme. Whatever choice is made there are flowering plants to suit most tastes.

Petunias are a popular choice for hanging baskets as their trumpet-shaped flowers last throughout the summer if they are dead-headed regularly. They can be found in a range of colours from bright pink through to blue and create a wonderful display in a hanging basket.

Fuchsias can be found in both trailing and upright varieties. There delicate flowers look delightful in a hanging basket when planted with other trailing plants such as geraniums and begonias.

Grow your own potted potatoes

Even if you do not have a vegetable garden it is still possible to grow your own produce as long as you are willing to be a little bit inventive. Most vegetables and salad can be grown in pots either on a patio or a balcony so that the resulting produce can be enjoyed without too much effort.

Potatoes usually take up a lot of space in the ground but if you choose a smaller variety they will grow quite happily in a large pot. Once you have bought the seed potatoes from a reputable supplier the process of chitting will need to be done. This basically means that the seed potatoes are kept on a windowsill until they are sprouting.

Once they are ready, the seed potatoes can be planted out quite far down in a pot that contains compost. After watering, the pot with the potatoes in needs to be placed in a sunny spot on the patio or balcony. Check each day whether the soil is moist and only water when it is dry as too much water will cause the potatoes to rot.

Once the plants have grown and flowered usually about fifteen weeks after planting, the potatoes should be ready to be harvested and enjoyed.

It’s easy to grow your own herbs

You do not have to be a gardening expert to grow your own produce and this is even more the case with growing your own herbs. All you need is a suitable container, some soil and either seeds or young plants to start you off.

It is a good idea to have a range of different herbs in the herb garden so that you have a variety to use in different recipes. Some herbs are easier to grow than others and some will completely take over so a single pot of mint for instance is preferable to mint planted with other herbs.

Different varieties of the same herb can be grown together such as flat leaf parsley and curly parsley, large leaf Italian basil and large purple sweet basil.

Chives are an easy herb to grow and can be used in potato salad or as a garnish for soups. They are a particularly rich source of vitamin C and beta carotene.

Herb plants can be bought from many supermarkets and can usually be planted in an herb garden to prolong their life however growing herbs from seed is simple to do and produces lots of plants which can be shared with friends and family.

Is replacing a hedge with a fence a wise move?

Many of our houses have a boundary around them whether it be a conifer or privet hedge, brick or stone walls or the common larch lap fencing. Each of these types of boundary has its advantages and disadvantages so which is the best option when you decide to replace a hedge?

Choose fencing over hedging is usually done because maintaining a hedge means it needs to be pruned at regular intervals which in turn means having to purchase a hedge trimmer or employ a gardener to prune the hedge for you.  Getting rid of the hedge trimmings can be a problem if you do not have the means to transport them to a local recycling centre or do not have a kerbside collection service for garden waste. Although fencing does still require some upkeep such as painting this will only need doing every few years.

Despite the increased maintenance required many householders still prefer a hedge to fencing. This may be because they are concerned about the decline in natural habitats and so may be in favour of conserving hedgerows and garden hedges as they provide nesting sites for native birds and food and habitats for many insects and other small creatures. The number of birds visiting a garden increases if there are hedges for them to use to hide from potential predators.

Is gardening enjoyable?

For some people, there is nothing better than getting out in the garden and getting your hands dirty, for others, there is nothing worse! Gardening really is one of those things you often either love or hate. You may not enjoy gardening but do it because you get satisfaction out of it looking nice afterwards.

Some people find gardening therapeutic and choose to spend much of their spare time doing it. They get enjoyment out of planting seeds and watching them grow. Brightly coloured gardens and neat borders are exactly what some people need to boost their wellbeing.

If you are not sure if you like gardening or would like to try it but don’t really know what to do then why not enrol on a gardening for beginners course which will teach you the basics. You can then get more of an idea as to if it is something that you would like to take up as a hobby.

If you really despise gardening then you could always hire a gardener to come and give your garden a once over every couple of weeks or so. They will usually charge around £15 an hour and will often come as and when you need them too.

How to build the perfect rockery

If you have an area of land within your garden that doesn’t have a purpose then you may want to turn it in to a rockery. A rockery can look extremely attractive and once established, is often very low maintenance.

To create a rockery you first need to lay the foundations. You may wish to raise the area by putting bricks or rubble in a pile. This will not only make it look more appealing once it is finished but it will also help with drainage and give you a good base to start. Next you need to cover this with torn up turf to stop the soil falling through the gaps. Once you have done this stage you can then add a layer of soil and then place your rocks out on the soil to see how they will look.

You may need to move the rocks around a number of times to find a place that you are happy with their positioning. Once this is done and you are happy with the layout of the rocks, infill the rocks with more soil to secure them in to place.

There are certain plants which are better suited to a rockery such as Heathers, Ferns and other Alpines.