Are You Ready to Have a Good ‘Thyme’ in Your Garden
We have some great tips & advice to help you complete your garden & landscaping projects
A common question among DIY gardeners is, “when is the best time to start planning garden and landscaping projects?”, and the answer is the moment you decide that it needs to change.
When it comes to landscaping ideas and plans you need to think about a budget, types of materials, a layout that works for you, and of course planting.
So, the big question here is not when do you start, it is where? We are here to help with some great ideas and advice on how you can achieve your dream garden.
Find your inspiration
Every homeowner’s desire is to have a garden they can enjoy and be proud of.
Some want their garden to be blooming with flowers and wildlife, while others prefer to have a garden which requires less maintenance.
If you are unsure of what it is you want, or struggling to “make it work”, why not try browsing online or flicking through some garden magazines?
You can get some great ideas which you can use and adapt to create a garden you can be proud of.
Decide your budget
A key part of the planning stage is to decide how much you are willing to spend overall and think about the price of individual items for your garden project.
It is almost too easy to get carried away with ideas and you can find that your costs soon ramp up. So, having a figure in mind right from the start can help to spend your budget more wisely, or you might realise that you need to allocate more funds to your project to get the garden you want.
Taking the time to understand the full range of landscaping options available to you will make it easier to decide what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and how much of your budget needs to go towards each part of your project.
Plan your DIY garden project
It is important to remember the choices you make now are likely to be there for years to come, so it is worth investing some time to think about what you want to achieve which can help to avoid costly mistakes.
Look at the size and shape of your garden and take into consideration the direction it faces, taking into account where the sunny or shady spots in your garden are, and if this changes as the sun moves throughout the day.
Now is also the time to think about what materials you need to add texture, character, and structure to your garden. A good place to start is deciding if you want a new fence, a lawn, some decking, a paved patio area and whether you could use some decorative aggregates or bark to add that finishing touch.
Once you have decided on what materials you need, it is good to estimate how much you need, where you will get it from, and how this affects your budget.
Finally, another important factor to consider is whether you can do the work yourself or do you need to hire a garden landscaper, as this will affect your budget too.
Complete the Look
Pick the perfect paving
Laying a new patio or paving area can dramatically change the look of your garden and there are many materials and styles to choose from.
Natural Stone is a popular choice for patios and paths for its beautiful colour and texture. It is a porous material, and the colour will darken over time, and unless well maintained this type of paving can be susceptible to algae and moisture and become slippery in wet weather.
Porcelain is relatively new paving product, but it has become very popular due to its durability and more uniform finish. Unlike Natural Stone, Porcelain is a relatively low-maintenance option, and its non-porous properties makes it resistant to water and naturally slip, frost and algae resistant.
Generally, the initial cost of Natural Stone costs less than Porcelain paving, however it is worth remembering that over time, Natural Stone will need some upkeep which makes Porcelain cheaper in the long-term.
Determine your decking
Researching what material you would like to use is key if you choose to have a decking area in your garden. Timber and composite are the two most chosen materials for decking.
Timber Decking is an environmentally friendly material which can be sourced in softwood and hardwood, providing a natural look and feel to your garden, although this decking can splinter if it is not properly maintained and can become slippery in wet weather. Hardwood decking is more robust than softwood and costs similar to composite decking, whereas softwood is considerably cheaper when compared to hardwood or composite decking, but it can damage more easily. Both softwood and hardwood require regular maintenance through staining or oiling to ensure that your decking is always looking its best. But if well maintained, timber decking can last for a lifetime by sanding down and re-treating the decking or replacing any sections which have been affected by rot instead of replacing the entire structure.
Composite Decking is made from plastic and wood fibres, and if selected carefully, you can find a supplier which has used recycled materials to make their product. This decking will last for around 20-30 years, is considerably less slippery that timber decking, requires much less maintenance, and is available in a range of colours and finishes. However, composite decking is more prone to scratches due to its plastic content which can be harder to repair. On its own, composite decking is not as strong as timber decking, but by placing the joists closer together, this can provide more support for your decking and prevent any sagging or breaks.
If you are looking for a non-slip and low maintenance decking, then composite decking is the one for you. However, if you are looking for a more natural look, the best option is timber decking.
Choose your fencing
Garden fencing is the perfect way to change the appearance of your outside space, create a beautiful outside living area, and give you increased security and privacy.
You can start by choosing which materials you want to use for your fence posts. Timber fence posts match the wooden fence panels, trellis, gates, and fence caps you choose, giving a seamless look throughout your garden, and you can add a touch of design using decorative fence caps. The weight of a timber fence post is much less than that of a concrete post, so they can be installed easily so you are likely to be able to install these yourself. If you are concerned about your fence rattling in the wind, you can screw the fence panel to the post which will make it sturdier.
Concrete fence posts require less maintenance and are known for their durability because the strong material is not easily affected by strong winds, rot, mould, or insect attacks. However, typically the cost for concrete posts is more than that of timber ones and with each post weighing over 40kg, they are difficult to handle and often require 2 people to lift them, so you will be more likely to require a professional to install them.
Once you have built the fencing, you can easily transform your fence in a budget friendly way by using a fence paint or wood treatment, and there is a wide choice of colours available to choose from.
Take a Stand on Your Lawn
If you have chosen to have a grassed area in your garden, it is now time to decide whether you are going to lay down some turf, or if you want to opt for artificial grass instead.
Live turf is better for the environment, and a well-mown lawn can increase the aesthetic quality of your garden to complement the plant and insect life in your garden. However, when it comes to deciding which option you will go for, it is important to consider that although the initial cost of live turf is less, a lot of maintenance is required to keep it looking healthy, especially in areas with high foot traffic.
Generally, artificial grass is more expensive than turf, and there are several factors to consider with the cost of installing artificial grass, including the area you are covering, which type of artificial grass you choose, ground preparation, and whether you choose to use an installer or take the DIY approach. However, an artificial lawn will last for approximately 10 years and requires minimal maintenance and holds aesthetically pleasing appearance all year round, despite changing temperatures and seasonal elements.
So, if there is nothing that you enjoy more than the smell of freshly cut grass on a bright spring morning, or you are not wanting to spend too much on the initial outlay of your grassed area, then live turf is the choice for you. But if you are wanting a grassed area but not the maintenance that comes with it, then the artificial lawn is the definite winner.
Decide on your decorative aggregates
Using decorative aggregates and bark is a great way to soften, enhance and add texture to your garden.
There is a range of colours and materials including decorative stone, gravel, and slate chippings available to suit the aesthetic you are trying to achieve for your garden and ensure your garden has all the perfect finishing touches.
Due to its brittleness, Slate chippings can get worn down quite quickly which can create dust, so it is not advisable to use this material to create a garden path. However, this is a great material to highlight key areas of your garden where the footfall is lower or to fill any awkward gaps.
Gravels are commonly used for garden paths, but this material can also be used to lighten up a shady area of the garden, or control weeds when used in addition to some landscaping membrane.
Decorative stones add a bit of colour and give an attractive and contemporary feel to your garden. This is a more robust material compared to slate, so it can also be used to create a garden path.
It is also important to consider the cost of delivery for the decorative aggregates. Generally, buying decorative aggregates in bulk gives better value, but you do not want too much excess, so it is important to calculate how much you need and work out what is the best for your project and budget. You should also think about whether there is suitable access for the delivery vehicle and work out how easy it will be for you to move the material to where you have planned for it to go in your garden.
Maintain the Aesthetic
Manage your garden maintenance
From pruning, grass cutting, hedge trimming, tidying up, removing weeds, and collecting leaves, general garden maintenance is a job for the whole year round. In addition, there’s also essential cleaning, updating, refreshing, and painting jobs which can be done seasonally.
Pavestone chemicals provide a great range of deep cleaning solutions to keep your patio, garden path and driveway always looking their best.
Updating and treating garden furniture on an annual basis will prolong its life and keep it in tip top shape. When you are looking for the right garden furniture treatments, there is a wide choice of garden paints, wood stains and decking oils, available, so make sure you check the label to make sure you are choosing the right product for your use.
Always have the right tools
Gardening tools come in all different shapes and sizes, so whether you need hand tools, power tools or other useful tools for your garden project, having the right ones for the job makes all the difference.
You can also make your life a little easier by using buckets, flexi tubs or wheelbarrows to help you move materials around your garden, and effortlessly water your plants with watering cans and hose pipes. Also, preparing your bed with landscape fabric before planting will help with controlling weeds further down the line too.
When thinking about your garden project, consider including somewhere to store all your tools when you are not using them. There are many options available to suit your new garden design, including garden sheds, free-standing shelves in your garage, tool storage units, and garden store boxes.
Grow your own fruit, vegetables & herbs
Prepare to Plant & Prune
There is always plenty of pruning jobs you can do in the garden, whatever the time of year. It can sometimes be hard to know what to prune, when to prune it and how to do it properly, so why not let the RHS experts give you some great advice?
Get rid of those garden pests
Protecting your vegetable patch and plants from those pesky garden pests can seem like a full-time job, and sometimes it can be hard to know which products to choose. From slugs and snails to greenfly and vine weevils, take a look at the RHS Common Pest Guide to discover what’s in your garden and how to deal them.