Your Essential Guide to Spruce Up Your Garden for Spring
With many of us spending most of our time at home, our gardens are now more than ever a place to escape and find a few moments of calm away from the craziness of the world.
If you’re adjusting to the new challenges of working remotely or home schooling, stepping out to enjoy some fresh air is a great way to break up your day and reawaken your senses.
Spring is in the air. Mother nature carries on regardless making preparations for the better weather. Maybe taking a leaf out of her book isn’t such a bad thing.
With all this time on our hands our minds have been freed up to focus on all those little domestic jobs we’ve kept putting off. Now those niggles are what get us up in the morning and gives us purpose. I know I’m not alone judging by the pretty constant purr of lawnmowers and the growl of rotary saws drifting from back gardens in my neighbourhood.
Spring is, and always will be, a time for renewal. The time of the year to clean and tidy our ‘nests’. Let’s use this time to reflect, build and grow so when life resumes, we can welcome our families and friends to share and enjoy our gardens.
We’ve drawn on the expertise of some outdoor living specialists to contribute to this guide to sprucing up your outdoor space ready for a staycation summer and (hopefully in the not too distant future) a grand unveiling for a big reunion.
Treating Your Breeze House
You can easily breathe new life, or even change the whole look of your garden building with a coating of wood treatment.
When your Breeze House wooden gazebo was first crafted, it was treated with a wood preserver, specifically Bird Brand in Light Brown. We suggest you treat your building 12 moths after installation and then again every 3 years thereafter.
Any secondary treatments will significantly darken the colour of the building, so you may want to consider using a clear preserver, also available from Bird Brand.
Whichever colour you opt for, the treatment doesn’t need to be applied thickly with a brush, but rather gently rubbed into the wood and along the grain with a clean piece of cloth. The preservative will take time to cure and drying times will vary, depending on things such as weather conditions – watch out for staining on any clothes for a few days after treatment!
Alternatively, if you would prefer a more polished look to the finish of the wood – especially to the floor boards – consider using a wood oil instead. We recommend using Osmo Oak UV Protection Oil in 425 Oak Transparent. To be applied by brushing on, only one coat should be required. As with all wood work, preparation is key; be sure to give the wood a quick clean and a light sanding before applying the oil.
As with all paint and stains, please remember to test a small, discreet area first to make sure you are happy with the result before starting on a larger surface area.
The thatch on the roof of your building requires no maintenance; it benefits most from being left undisturbed. As with all types of thatch, it is expected to shed reeds over the years. Cape Reed thatch will almost immediately begin to mature and age to a darker, grey colour; whereas combination thatch keeps its colour longer.
Typically, Cape Reed thatch lasts approximately 6-10 years and combination thatch lasts approximately 8-12 years. However, other factors such as weather and the positioning of the building in your garden can impact the life expectancy.
If removing moss from cedar shingle tiles, then best to do it after a dry spell of weather – you can simply brush the roof lightly, which should do the job nicely.
For keeping moss or greening at bay you could use a clear, no colour Barrettine. When using, put only a minimum amount on the brush end; or use a rag/cloth to dab the solution lightly onto the tiles – this is to avoid the solution bleeding through and to avoid seepage. The solution should just coat the exterior of the tile and allow to dry. Ensure you apply this treatment during a dry spell.
Re-Imagine the Landscape
Clear away any overgrowth and debris to create a clear path to your garden retreat, if you have one. Then you can let your imagination run wild and start planning your garden’s design.
Garden Designer Tom Gadsby of Structured Growth Garden Design brings many years of experience to the task of creating gardens that delight their owners. He achieved a Diploma with Distinction from the Inchbald School of Garden Design and is a member of the Society of Garden Designers. We called on Tom to share some of the tricks of his trade…
Garden Design With Tom Gadsby
“In many ways I am convinced that a garden can design itself. If you look carefully all the clues are there. Look at plants that grow well in the surrounding area, look at materials that are used in your house in the boundaries or in the local area, think about how you would like to use the space, and finally look at the shape and outlook of the house itself.
The site can give you so many clues. The surrounding area, both in terms of soil and climate will dictate what plants grow well. Look at your neighbours’ gardens and make a note of what is flourishing and, most importantly, what you like. Take photographs (with permission where necessary) and start to put plant combinations together. A garden should be inviting all year round so look at combinations for different seasons.
You will need to consider hard landscaping materials. Take your cue from what is already present. Is the house built of brick? Consider using brick for the paths through you garden. A slate roof on the house could be echoed in a slate wall in the garden. Oak-framed windows could inspire a wooden summer house.
How will you use the garden? Or do you have multiple ways in which you would use the space? Would you like an area which is hidden from view so that you can relax in peace? You could screen a corner with hedging or other high planting. A place for entertaining with easy reach of the kitchen might be on your list. Consider adding zones for different uses and different moods”.
Prettying Up Your Outdoor Space
Selina Lake is a successful stylist, author and columnist. Her work has been exhibited at RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival and can be seen in the pages of Country Living, The English Garden and Country Homes & Interiors. She has produced ten books for Ryland Peters & Small, including bestsellers Botanical Style and Garden Style. Her latest title Shed Style reveals how to create the shed of your dreams and is brimming with hundreds of styling and decorating ideas.
We asked Selina how she’s coping with lockdown and for some much-needed inspiration:
“I’m definitely trying to stay positive during these troubled times so I’ve been out in the garden everyday with my husband Dave, he’s been digging over our raised beds and planting out vegetable crops and I’ve been taking some of my own advice from my books, and prettying up our deck, shed and patio.
Having spent some of this enforced downtime so far trying to get my head around what’s going on, gardening to escape the news and doing what I can for my local community, I now I want to put my creative styling skills to use in the hope of inspiring you so I’m sharing three of my easy Garden Styling tips to help you spruce up your outside space…”
Showcase your favourite pots, plants and gardenalia and add a decorative touch to your garden. Any surface offers an opportunity for a mini display. An old bench? Top of the log store or under used table. If your available surface is moveable position outside your garden room or against a wall or fence so you have a backdrop for the display.
Think about using items of different heights to add interest, you can use old bricks, upturned pots or wooden crates to create different heights.
Now is the perfect time to transform your out-building or shed if you have one into a versatile room, perhaps it became a dumping ground over the Winter or just needs a bit of attention. Start by giving your space a good tidy, clear the decks to assess the space then think about how you want to use this extra room over the next few weeks or months.
No outdoor building? How about making an open-air lounge space by placing garden furniture around an impromptu coffee table, an upturned wooden crate will do the job nicely.
Use seasonal flowers from your garden to jazz up your garden fence or outbuilding and recycle at the same time.
Gather together washed glass bottles or jars, some string, a hammer and some hooks, or nails. Then find a good spot in your garden for a floral display, a sturdy fence or the side of a shed or other building will work well. Now hammer in some nails (please take care doing this) cut lengths of string to wrap tightly around the necks of the vessels and tie them securely onto the hooks or nails. Now fill the jars and bottle with water and go on a flower hunt around your garden cut enough stems of foliage and flowers to fill the jars.
No available tools or fence? Plunge sturdy sticks into the ground and tie your jars and bottles directly to them.
Selina’s Lakes latest book, Shed Style: Decorating Cabins, Huts, Pods, Sheds & Other Garden Rooms is out now from Ryland Peters & Small