A fresh and tidy garden is the key to selling a property
NOW spring seems to have finally arrived, our thoughts turn to the garden. It is the first thing prospective buyers
NOW spring seems to have finally arrived, our thoughts turn to the garden. It is the first thing prospective buyers see when they arrive for a viewing so it needs to create a good first impression. A well-maintained garden will tell viewers that the property has been maintained, too. Some time spent now will reap rewards later in the year.
Here are some hints and tips on how to spruce up your garden before launching your property on to the market.
Before you begin to plant this spring, harvest the end of winter crops. This not only avoids waste but makes room for the planting of new crops.
The early birds may even have a few early salad crops ready for harvest. Not only can you enjoy the taste of summer on the horizon with early varieties of salad but you now have room to sow more crops to last throughout the season.
Weeding and tidying up plants
Now that the weather has warmed up weeds will put on a spurt. Removing weeds is easier to do now if the soil is bare. Use a sharp, long-handled hoe on a dry day for annual weeds before they set seed or dig out perennial weeds such as dandelions.
Weeds use valuable nutrients and water, competing with the plants you want to grow and some harbour pests and disease. Clearing weeds also makes a garden look well-tended and cared for so is worth the effort.
As well as weeding to tidy up flower beds, plants also need a tidy up. Lift and divide clumps of flowers such as snowdrops and carefully split. Replant the individual plants where desired as this will help to create variety within the flower beds.
As much as we love our wildlife, slugs create mayhem in the garden, especially when we have a sudden burst of growth. The easiest method to exterminate slugs is to scatter a few slug pellets around your crops, however these are harmful to other wildlife such as hedgehogs, moles, voles and shrews. A far more friendly way of becoming slug-free is to put a dish of beer around your plants. An experiment conducted a few years ago found Carlesberg Special Brew to be the most effective.
Spring is here so we can now begin to plant outdoors, especially crops such as beetroot, peas, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Always be prepared for a cold spell by setting aside some horticultural fleece to protect your plants from frost.
Tend to fruit plants
Now is the perfect time to plant out currents and berries. To create the best environment, ensure the soil is raked and well-drained. For more exotic fruits such as peaches and nectarines it is time to hand pollinate. This can be done simply by brushing the leaves with pollen with a small, light paintbrush.
Cut back grasses
If you have yet to tackle last year’s foliage, now is the time. Cut back and lift ornamental grasses to create brighter stems and fuller foliage for the summer.
Pruning for colourful stems
To keep the colour of beautiful bark shrubs such as dogwoods and some of the salix species such as the scarlet willow, it is important to cut them back hard in late winter (February) or early spring (March), before the leaves begin to appear on the stems.
This maximizes the time to enjoy colourful stems, and encourages vigorous new shoots and foliage for the coming season. However they can be left until mid April. In the second or third spring, cut back to 60 to 90cm from the ground for pollards or 5 to 7.5cm for coppiced (sometimes called stooled) specimens. Cut back annually or every few years to the previous stubs for the slower growing dogwoods such as ‘Mid Winter Fire’. The beautiful ghostly white (but incredibly prickly) old stems of Rubus Thibetanus ‘Silver Fern’ should be cut to ground level.
Make sure you leave bulbs in place and don’t cut or tie the leaves. Deadheading the spent flowers eliminates wasted plant energy. It is important to keep the leaves to photosynthesise in order to create next year’s flowers before they disappear for the next few seasons.
Don’t be daunted by the whole project — you can start with a small flower bed or even just some containers by the door. Once things are growing — and they will — you can gradually feel more confident about stuff like weed and pest control, watering and planning, and start expanding your operations.
Do it every day
If you aim to spend just 10 minutes a day wandering round your garden — maybe early in the morning with a cup of tea, or after you get home from work before you cook or crash out — you’ll form an invaluable bond with your garden. Along the way, you might pull up a few weeds, spot slugs or aphids on the move, or see a plant that needs watering. That way, it won’t become such a major operation at the weekend!
You want to enjoy your garden, not work in it, so leave it to nature as much as possible. If you choose the right plants in the first place, they shouldn’t need extra fertilising and feeding — they’ll grow at their own pace. And keep pruning to a minimum too — it encourages new, tender growth, which is vulnerable to pests and diseases.
Exotic plants can be spectacular, but may need more care and work. Our traditional garden plants and shrubs will put on a splendid show, and can often be left to their own devices for years.
Water in the morning, preferably before the sun is on the plants. And don’t just give plants a sprinkle — deep soak each time to encourage roots to grow down into the soil.
Use a purpose-built bin, or just start a pile in a corner, and add green kitchen waste (uncooked), lawn clippings, prunings and dead leaves. Spread it as top dressing on beds and lawns, mix it with soil in pots and dig it in wherever possible — it improves the soil every time.