Gardening know-how for new homeowners

Getting a foot on the property ladder and owning your own home is without doubt an exciting time. And if a garden is included with the property, all the better.

For many homeowners a garden is the crowning glory. Not only does it offer extra space – on warm summer days it is like having an extra room, relaxation space and dining area – but, if the work is put in, the rewards include splashes of colour and wonderful scents, and it provides a haven for insects and wildlife.

For those not experienced in gardening, overhauling your green space can feel daunting at first. But there are plenty of top tips you can put into practice to keep things simple, and perhaps even turn gardening into a satisfying hobby.

Planning your green idyll

First of all, ask yourself what kind of garden you want. The size of the space will of course determine many of the possibilities. Will you be spending plenty of time in it or mostly admiring it from a sitting room or conservatory? Do you want to put lots of work into seasonal planting? Perennials – for example lilies, lavender and clematis – usually require upkeep work such as deadheading and pruning, but their often rugged look also makes them suitable for beginners.

Ask yourself how keen you are to do regular maintenance work, such as mowing a lawn, ensuring water features run properly or sweeping up autumn leaves. Perhaps you wish to have a more untamed, natural garden that requires less upkeep?

Checks and questions

Before you begin any practical work, it is advisable to check out any potential hazards. Are walls, gates and fences in a safe condition and are there any overhanging or unstable trees? Keep in mind the position of your garden; south facing gardens enjoy more hours of sunshine than north facing. Then it’s a case of experimenting! Keeping things easy at the beginning is advisable, while you get the hang of all things green-fingered. Don’t expect to have a perfect garden in the first year – gardening is an art that takes practice and involves plenty of trial and error. Concentrate on tasks such as weeding, preparing the soil, creating a compost heap and planting annuals.

Colour schemes

Plant seeds and shrubs that will give colour all year round. Hardy annuals, such as begonias, geranium, marigolds and fountaingrass are a fool proof and aesthetically-pleasing option.

The four seasons generally determine other planting requirements and types of tasks that need to be done. Kitchen gardens are popular these days: herbs, salad vegetables and fruit such as rhubarb are easy to grow and keep on top of, and they also provide free, healthy food right on your doorstep. Vegetable patches and fruit trees also provide a bright, lush look for your garden. You could create a wildlife garden with bird feeders too, providing an enjoyable activity for children that is rewarding and educational.

However you want your garden to look, once the hard work is done you’ll be reaping the benefits for many years to come.