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Top 5 Tips For A Perfect Summer Garden

 

The summer sun has Brits in their droves stepping out into their gardens for the first time in months. And with the copious amount of sunshine we’ve been having, it’s provided the perfect environment for plants to grow… wildly out of hand! If you’re hoping to have the neighbours round for a BBQ without having to bushwhack their way to the outdoor dining table, follow our five steps to the perfect summer garden and have your neighbours beaming with envy.

1. Taking Care Of Your Lawn

First things first: before you head to the nearest garden centre to load up the cart with exotic looking plants, let’s begin by getting to work on the uncultivated meadow that’s replaced your lawn.

Mowing

Time to dust off the mower! The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommends mowing the lawn twice weekly during summer months and once a week during droughts.

Feeding

If your lawn starts to lose some of its verdancy, the RHS recommends feeding your lawn with a summer lawn fertiliser when the soil is wet or when rain is forecast . Check the packaging for directions on how much to use and how frequently to use it.

Watering

You shouldn’t need to water your lawn over summer - even if the grass starts to turn brown - as the colour will return once it rains. However, if it’s looking a little parched, use a fork to aerate the lawn and water once a week in the evening to prevent water loss through evaporation.

Weeding

Finally, for a perfectly consistent grassy lawn, you might want to deal with weeds. Since we prefer to avoid nasty chemicals at The Bird Box, there are ways to deal with weeds without resorting to weed killer. If dandelions, daisies and crabweed start to pop up on your lawn, use a small fork to loosen the soil around the plant, then pull it up from as close to root as possible using your hands.  Good Housekeeping (GHK) recommends smothering weeds using newspaper to stop the sunlight getting to them. And you get the double benefit of providing compost to your lawn as the paper starts to break down. GHK also recommends boiling water as a great way to kill young weeds immediately.

 2. Finding The Right Plants For Your Garden

If there are trees, shrubs or fences near your garden, it’s likely you’ll have parts of your garden that are in shade, and parts that get a lot of sunlight, so it’s important to select your plants based on the environments they thrive in. We’ve listed a few plants that bloom during the summer months in the handy table below to help you map out your garden:  

Flower Colour

Plants That Love Sun

Plants That Love Shade

Purple

Lavender

Liriope muscari (Big Blue)

Purple

Clematis

Iris

Multiple

Geranium

Yellow

Marigolds

Sulphureum

Pink

Petunias

Foxgloves

Pink

Rosealind (Shrub)

Cyclamen Hederifolium

Pink

Lythrum salicaria 'Blush'

Tiarella (Pink Skyrocket)

Blue

Loddon Royalist

Cherry Ingram

Red

Devil’s Tobacco

Astrantia Major (Gill Richardson Group)

White/Blue/Violet

African Lily

Snowdrops

 

 3. Maintaining Your Garden

Once you have your lawn weed-free and perfectly green, and your garden borders blooming with an array of colourful plants, you’ll need to work hard to maintain it throughout the year.

As the summer months roll on, you’ll inevitably need to start pruning shrubs and hedges to prevent them from growing wildly out of control. Regular pruning also helps to improve the health of a plant, and encourages new growth and flowering in plants such as roses once its flowers start to fade or die. To remove dead flowers from a rose (aka deadheading) trim the stem at a 45 degree angle down to a five-leaflet leaf, which basically means the first set of leaves that has five leaves on it. If you prune it down to anything that has less than five leaves you run the risk of producing a stem that won’t flower! If you need to prune a shrub or tree, a general rule of thumb is to cut just above a bud and at an angle.  

Not all plants require deadheading however. According to the RHS, fuschias and salvias deadhead themselves and certain plants such as sunflowers and cornflowers produce seeds that birds love so it’s best to leave them.

4. Getting Rid Of Garden Pests

One of the biggest challenges you’re likely to face when maintaining your garden is keeping pests at bay. Before you reach for the bottle of pesticides there are plenty of nature friendly ways to deal with unwanted visitors in your garden.

Aphids adore roses and can devastate your plants if left unchecked. Examine your roses regularly for infestation. If you discover a small cluster on your roses, one very effective way to deal with them is to pour warm water mixed with washing up liquid over them. Rinse away the soapy mixture (and the dead aphids) after one or two hours to avoid damaging the plant. Repeat if you have reoccurring infestations.  

Spider mites are a common pest and feed on the sap of greenhouse and indoor plants. Tell tale signs are easy to spot on the leaves as they develop a white mottling on infected leaves. In some severe cases you’ll also find webbing on the leaves. To reduce the damage caused by these critters, the RHS recommends removing infected plants from the greenhouse. Spider mites enjoy warm dry conditions, so regular spraying of plants in greenhouses to create humidity will help to reduce the likelihood of the severe outbreak. The most effective way to deal with spider mites is to use their natural predators such as predatory mites and rove beetles which can be ordered online. The RHS has a handy list of suppliers where you can order from on its site.  

Slugs and snails take the top spot as most irritating garden pest! You’ll know they’ve paid you a visit by the silvery slime trails left everywhere, and by the oddly shaped holes in your lush green plants. Although a lot of people resort to using slug pellets to control numbers, these are also poisonous to hedgehogs and thrushes which are the natural predator of slugs and snails which throws the food chain off balance, so opt for environmentally friendly alternatives instead. One of the most common methods of keeping these slimy little suckers at bay is to surround your plants with sharp grit or broken egg shells to make it uncomfortable for the pests to take a pit stop at your plants.

Copper rings placed around your plant pots can also be effective, as it’s claimed the rings emit a small electrical charge to zap slugs & snails as they pass.

We’re a huge fan of our four legged feline friends at The Bird Box, but we know the neighbours don’t appreciate it when our moggy heads to their flower bed to go to the toilet rather than their litter box! There are a few methods you can try to prevent this from happening. Lion dung is effective at repelling cats as they’ll think there’s a large predator nearby.

Mulch can be useful as it covers up the fresh soil making it less appealing for pusses to poop in. Cats are also not too keen on the feel of mulch under their paws.

Water jet sprayers that trigger when a cat approaches are known to be very effective and aren’t too pricey.

5. House Plants

If you’re in need of some greenery but you don’t have an outside space of your own, utilise your indoor space instead! There are plenty of really beautiful house plants available, and they require minimal upkeep. If you’re not within walking distance of a garden centre, there are online services that deliver plants straight to your door such as Patch or Crocus. Research from NASA has shown plants have a dramatic effect of indoor air quality, and there are certain species that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as spider plants, aloe vera plants and snake plants (which absorb CO2 at night & expel oxygen so perfect for bedrooms!) amongst others. A 2008 study found that indoor houseplants can also reduce stress levels so they are the perfect addition to any home.