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Improving your garden on a budget

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The one thing the recent lockdown and social distancing rules seem to have taught us is the importance of the safe, open space represented by a garden. Little wonder, then, that we reported back in April how tenants were attaching much greater emphasis on finding rented accommodation with access to a garden.

April seems like some time ago now, and although there are sunny days still to come, we will soon be into the last dregs of this year’s summer. But that also means that there’s no time like the present to make the most of your garden while the fine weather lasts and to plan ahead for a still more verdant spring and summer next year.

For many, the past few months are likely to have been straitened times financially, with income significantly reduced compared to normal. So, here are some tips and suggestions for gardening on a budget:

Layout

  • if you are moving into a new home, with an uncultivated garden, or simply want to be able to start over from scratch, the autumn is an excellent time for planning and laying out the garden you’d like to see come springtime;
  • the most popular designed are likely to incorporate a patch of grass or lawn, surrounded by borders, and with paths granting access to every corner of the garden;
  • your lawn and its borders are going to take some hours’ of good honest labour – which comes free of charge – and even the pathways can be made using gravel rather than the more expensive paving slabs;

Seeds

  • attractive gardens are full of plants, and while it’s possible to stock up on these through frequent visits to your local garden centre or nursery, you’ll soon discover how expensive that can rapidly become;
  • a far cheaper way of going about things – and, for many, an altogether more satisfying challenge – is to grow your garden plants from seeds;
  • whether they are flowers or vegetables, standard packets contain more than enough seeds you are likely to be able to sow – and they are especially affordable;

Division

  • as you look around your garden now, there are almost certain to be clumps of perennials (geraniums, astrantia or geums, for example) that have grown and spread nicely during this year;
  • a cost-effective way of spreading the joy of such plants still further around your garden is to divide the clumps and plant them on in areas that are looking at all bare – so that they give you new areas of colour and interest for next season, suggested an article in House Beautiful magazine on the 14th of May 2020;

Containers

  • planting in containers is a convenient and readily accessible way of creating colourful displays of flowers and foliage;
  • the containers can be placed anywhere around your garden and are an especially space-efficient solution for the smaller garden or patio;
  • of course, you could spend a small fortune investing in stylish, artful, or imposing containers – but equally stunning effects can be created by re-purposing existing plants holders for a fraction of the price;
  • an article in Up Gardner, for example, explains how you can paint otherwise bare brown earthenware pots with colourful designs or even recycle plastic bottle as individual plant holders to hang on a wall or wire fence;

Hanging baskets

  • it’s no wonder that you see so many hanging baskets – they’re so versatile, colourful, take up little space, and can be planted quite cheaply, too;
  • use commonly available plants such as petunias, fuchsias, and verbena or combine colourful appearances with something more useful by growing tomatoes or strawberries in your hanging baskets;

Old furniture

  • exercise your imagination and creativity by finding new uses in the garden for old furniture for which you no longer have any purpose – you might be surprised how some items might find new life in your garden;
  • an old desk or dressing table, for instance, could make the potting table you’ve been looking for, while unused basins, sinks, bathtubs and even toilets can make the type of plant container that’s sure to be a conversation piece for visitors;
  • quirkier pieces of furniture might be crafted into bespoke bug hotels or compost bins;

Trees for life

  • the onset of autumn marks the ideal time of year for tree-planting, says the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) – and trees, of course, are very much a long-term investment for life, and excellent value for money in light of that fact;
  • positioning is crucial when planting a tree, but also take care to select those with healthy roots, and plant when the weather is neither too wet nor too cold.

With a host of ideas for – cheaply – transforming the shape and beauty of your garden, you’ll probably be eager to get cracking. On the other hand, you might want to make the most of these last few days’ of summer by simply lying back in your chair and soaking up the sun.