News – 26 April 2023 April is National Gardening month. Gardening is a great way to get outside into the fresh air, improve your health and wellbeing, and make a difference to the environment. That’s why we have put together six tips to help you to get the most out of your outdoor space. Consider where you are going to sit You should think of your garden (or balcony) as an extension of your home. How are you going to spend time in your garden? Everyone is different, maybe you want to use it as a fitness space – for yoga, to eat breakfast, to host a garden party or as a space for the kids to play. You could include chairs, a blanket, a yoga mat, or even a log. Don’t go too big In the beginning, choose a small area to focus on. This will make it easier as you will feel less pressure, have more fun, feel a sense of achievement and it won’t break the bank. Think of a 1m2 area. Maybe focus on keeping an area clear for your yoga mat, a couple of flowerpots in your garden or some herbs on your balcony. Think about plants Think carefully about what you are going to plant. Some plants are expensive to buy and will need to be replaced each year. If you don’t have a lot of time or money, you should think about easy maintenance flowers (These are known as perennials, which are plants which come back each year). When choosing your plants, think about the picture you are trying to create variations in height, colour, and shapes of leaves and flowers. Whether you want a dense plant or something that you can see through to other areas of the garden. Choose plants that will remain green all year and mix them with plants that will provide a good seasonal display. Remember, small trees and shrubs add permanent structure to which you can add floral displays. For vegetables, plant what you like to eat, but at first stick to things that are easy to grow, like beetroot or potatoes. Search the web for things like easy-to-grow vegetables, perennial plants, drought tolerant plants, plants for shade, and plants for sun. This will reveal a lot of choices and help you tailor your garden. Garden with biodiversity in mind The bees and butterflies that visit your garden are good indicators of natural health. To provide the right environment for them, consider planting a wide variety of plants and flowers. Aim to have at least one plant in bloom throughout the year. You can find out more about biodiversity here. Learn to love weeds We are taught that weeds are bad and we should remove them all to have a perfectly manicured garden. However, not everyone is physically able or has enough time to have a completely weed free garden. There’s no point in getting stressed about weeds. Instead, you could try to embrace them. Alternatively, you should favour persistence over weed killer. Spending a couple of minutes every day pulling a few weeds is much safer, especially if you have children or pets. Repurpose and recycle Gardening can be extremely expensive if you buy everything new. Don’t be afraid to use preloved items like plant pots, chairs, or patio tiles. You can usually find a lot of stuff for free on local social media groups. Some more quirky ideas for repurposing items include using old tyres or wellies as plant pots and using bricks or stones to line flower beds.