How to improve your garden this summer
Money saving tips for your garden…
Well it seems that summer is finally here and at last you have the chance to get out in your garden!
However, there are a couple of problems with that.
The first is that with all the recent rain, chances are that your garden is not looking its best right now. Everything is very overgrown and you’ve not been able to get out there and do anything about it.
The second is that summer is an expensive time, and now that you have the opportunity to get out into the garden, you may not have much spare cash to spend on making it look good again.
So here are ten money saving tips to help you improve your garden this summer without breaking the bank.
- Make the most of the sunshine
As we all know, sunshine is not as reliable or regular as we might like it to be. So you need to make the most of every minute. When you are planting something new, make sure you locate it where it will get the best combination of light and shade.
If lack of sunlight is a major problem in your garden then you may want to invest in a greenhouse and maybe a grow light, to keep plants in warm light conditions. This need not be costly as we will see later in this article.
Another essential ingredient if you are trying to plant and grow is the right kind of soil. You need to understand what type of soil you have and what will grow well in it. Otherwise you can waste time, effort and money trying to grow things that simply won’t.
If you do not have good soil or your garden is very rocky, then you may need to bring in some good soil from elsewhere. You can often find soil being given away for free on sites such as Gumtree. You may choose to build raised beds for it, or you could simply lay out the bags of soil, punch holes in and plant seeds directly in the bag to give them a good strong start.
- Use compost
Compost can really help your garden grow well. It does take a few months to be ready to use but if you start now then it will be ready for autumn. The ideal recipe for compost is a half and half mixture of green and brown ingredients. Greens include kitchen scraps such as vegetable and fruit peelings and tea bags, old flowers, grass cuttings, and weeds. Browns include leaves, twigs, bark, cardboard and egg boxes.
- Grow from seeds
If you want to fill your garden with colour, it is far cheaper to grow plants from seed. You don’t even need to use the whole packet so you can either save the rest for next year or share packets between other gardening friends. It’s also a good idea to sow both annuals/perennials that should still flower this summer (for example marigolds, asters, hibiscus) and biennials (for example foxgloves, hollyhocks and sweet williams) which will produce some wonderful flowers next year.
- Take cuttings
Another cheap and easy way to fill your garden with colour is to use cuttings. Lots of floral plants including pelargoniums, fuschia and marguerites will take easily from cuttings. All you need to do is remove a section of stem from the plant, around 10-15cm long. Aim for the middle section of stem, firm and ideally not flowering.
The cutting will begin to wilt quickly so it helps to first put it into either cool water or a sealed clear plastic bag to retain humidity. Then plant in compost and cover with a clear plastic bag, keeping the cutting moist and out of direct sunlight until new leaves start to appear.
- Make your own products
We have already seen that you can make your own compost, but you can also make other garden products for a fraction of the cost of buying them. For example white distilled vinegar makes a very effective weed killer and is much safer to use than many commercial weed killers.
You can also make an effective plant nutrient liquid by combining a mixture of one part vinegar and eight parts water with a mixture of one part sugar and eight parts water.
- Upcycle garden furniture
If you need some new garden furniture it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You may be able to find something at your local recycling centre, a car boot sale or on Freecycle that you can then upcycle to add your own personal touch. Whether you go for a nautical theme, brilliant white or shabby chic you can add style and practicality to your garden without breaking the bank.
- Shop around or buy second hand equipment
It’s not just garden furniture that you can find cheaply. You don’t have to spend a fortune on tools and garden accessories. If you want to buy new then you may find items on offer at your local supermarket or hardware store, often much cheaper than at garden centres.
Also keep an eye on what’s available on sites such as eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle. Another option to consider is setting up a sharing system between friends or neighbours, or seeing if you can get some kind of tool hire or swap scheme up and running in your local community group.
- Plan for next year
As you gradually get your garden in shape this summer, keep an eye on the longer term plan and start preparing for next year. You can often get more life out of bulbs by removing their seed heads, and feeding and watering them. This may result in the bulb flowering again next year.
If you are planting new seeds and bulbs then do remember to keep a plan of what is where so that next spring you will be able to differentiate between desired plants and weeds!
- Consider the alternative
If all the above is making you realise that you are not a natural gardener then perhaps now is the time to think about using the space differently? Rather than grass and flowerbeds you might want to consider paving all or part of your garden in time for next summer. Then you can add colour by having pots of plants around.
If you choose this option then there would be the initial outlay of getting it done, but after that you would save money as there would then be very little ongoing maintenance to do. So if you enjoy spending time outside but don’t necessarily need to be completely surrounded by greenery demanding your attention, this could be worth considering for next year.
We hope that you have a wonderful summer now that it’s here, and that these money saving tips help to get your garden back into shape. Check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Loans 2 Go.