Nine simple tips to refresh your garden this summer
1. Water early in the morning or in the evening, especially on hot days
To keep your plants strong, healthy and looking their best, it’s vital to keep them well watered, especially on hot days. Experts recommend watering early in the morning or in the evening, because it’s cooler then and the water won’t simply evaporate.
Check whether the soil a few inches below the surface feels dry (it should be moist), and water your plants near to the stem to make sure moisture isn’t lost on the leaves, where it could cause disease.
Gardeners’ World magazine says that in warm weather, a thorough watering every two to three days is better than a lighter sprinkling daily for garden plants.
Plants in pots, containers and greenhouses, and vegetables like cucumber and tomatoes, are likely to need more frequent watering, so check them once or twice a day.
2. Add bright colours with bedding plants
Buying ready-grown trays of bedding plants is a brilliant way to add some quick colour to your garden.
You can use them to bulk up your borders, or fill decorative containers. As well as using pots and planters, with a bit of imagination you can repurpose all sorts of things to create dazzling displays – from washing up bowls to old wellies.
There are a huge range of bedding plants to choose from. Vibrant flowers that often do well include petunias, snapdragons, lobelia, geraniums and marigolds.
Before you place each plant, check advice for that variety to see how much sun it needs. Then get some good compost, plant them with enough space to thrive, and water well.
3. Revamp pots and containers
This one’s super simple. If you’ve already got some blooming pots or containers, give your garden a speedy makeover by painting them in new colours.
Or even easier: just move them around. With a fresh arrangement you could create a colourful corner, brighten up a drab part of your garden, or make the area around your door a joy to step out into.
4. Remove dead heads and clear faded foliage
Many plants will give a second summer bloom if you cut off dead heads and encourage them with a bit of watering. Removing old flowers also keeps things looking neat.
Even if you only have 10 minutes, you can pop out with a pair of secateurs and spruce things up a bit. Not all flowers need to be deadheaded though, so check specific advice for the plants in your garden.
If your spring flowering plants have fully died off, clear any dry, yellow foliage to make more room for other things to grow. It should be at least six weeks since any bulbs last flowered before you remove old leaves.
5. Look after your lawn
In the summer months, grass needs regular trimming to keep it in good shape.
The RHS recommends mowing your lawn twice a week in summer, or just once a week during dry periods. Don’t do it soon after rain, as mowing wet grass can damage the lawn.
The RHS says lawns can usually cope without watering, and will bounce back from dry spells when the rain comes.
If your grass is struggling, you could use a lawn fertiliser to revitalise it. But take care to get the right kind: later in the summer the soil needs different nutrients.
6. Keep on top of unwanted weeds
When the sun’s out, weeds will grow quickly and suck up nutrients and water that the rest of your garden needs, so it’s important to keep on top of them if you can.
Try to do a few minutes of weeding every few days, so you can catch new shoots before they grow too big – and crucially, before they seed more.
The easiest way to tackle smaller weeds is to wear gardening gloves and pull them out by hand. Try to do this after it’s rained, as the soil will be softer and it’ll be easier to get the roots up.
7. Keep the slugs at bay
Slugs can cause chaos in our gardens, especially in the summer. Here are three organic tactics to try to keep them under control:
• Encourage garden predators such as birds, frogs, toads, slow-worms and hedgehogs. A healthy garden ecosystem is a good defence against slugs.
• Copper should stop slugs in their tracks, so use copper tape on pots or place rings in the soil surrounding your most susceptible plants. Just watch out for stray leaves sticking over the edge, which can act as bridges.
• Go out at night with a torch and some gloves, pick up any slugs you see, collect them and dispose of them far from your garden.
8. Get a bird feeder
Give your garden a new lease of (wild)life by installing a bird feeder to attract all sorts of avian visitors.
There are plenty of ideas online for how to make a bird-friendly feeder at home. One of the simplest involves a half an orange and a piece of string.
You’ll just need to hang it somewhere you can see it, keep it topped up with nuts and seeds, then sit back and watch the show.
Be sure to leave a dish of water for the birds to drink and bathe in too.
9. Scrub down the patio
Start by sweeping the patio and pulling out any weeds that have grown in between the paving slabs or around the edges.
Then take some soapy water (washing up liquid will do), and a hard-bristled brush or broom, and get scrubbing. Wear gloves and test your method on an inconspicuous area first to avoid accidentally damaging your paving.
Once you’re done, rinse the patio with clean water and leave it to dry. You should be able to see a real improvement with a bit of work.