Gardening Tips

7 Quick Garden Fixes to Attract Buyers for Your House

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7 Quick Garden Fixes to Attract Buyers for Your House

Summer is here, and it’s a popular time of year for putting your house on the market. Maybe you’ve decluttered indoors, spruced up some paintwork and placed some strategic flowers around to brighten things up – but what about one of your most important assets? Is your garden really working to impress buyers? Your garden is one of your most powerful selling tools. If you have a front garden, it’s literally the first thing potential buyers see as they approach the house. And if it’s presented well, a back garden can be like another room in the house, making the whole place seem more spacious. Every buyer is looking for something out of a garden, whether it’s low-maintenance or potential, and as a seller, your job is to present your garden in the best possible way to meet as many of these criteria as you can. A messy, neglected garden with an overgrown lawn may well put buyers off; not only does it obviously need hard work, it sends a message that the rest of the house may be equally poorly cared for. But don’t panic. Even if your garden isn’t exactly Open House standard, there are a few quick things you can do today to dramatically improve that first impression that won’t burn up your bank balance. Hanging baskets and planters This is a quick fix that can immediately brighten up an area of the garden. It’s particularly effective for giving the front of the house an immediate facelift, or brightening up a bleak patio area. All you need are some planters and some easy options to go in them. To create hanging baskets yourself, you’ll need a basket, lining material, compost and plants to put in it, plus a bracket to attach to the wall if you don’t have one. All these are readily available at garden centres. Some easy and colourful planting options are fuchsia, pansies, violets and lobelia. You can even buy pre-planted hanging baskets or pots to save you any effort at all. Just make sure whatever you choose is watered regularly – every evening in hot weather. A hanging basket full of dead plants does not send a positive message about a house! Front garden blitz Your front garden is what welcomes a potential buyer when they first arrive. It needs to make an immediate impression, even if that impression is only of tidiness and good maintenance. Even if you only have a pocket lawn, concrete or a strip of border down the side of a drive at the front, take an objective look at it. Is it as tidy as it could be? Weed borders, mow lawns, clear away rubbish and prune any unruly plants to neaten them up. Fragrant plants We all know the old trick of brewing coffee and sticking some bread in the oven before a house viewing – scent is a powerful sense and can make a buyer feel at home as soon as they come through the door. But what about scents in the garden? These can be equally powerful, and can be achieved without too much effort. Pots of flowering lavender either side of the door will give off a delicious scent in the summer, and you could use other highly scented plants such as wisteria, roses or honeysuckle. You could plant these in pots and planters (or buy them ready-potted) and place them on a patio or steps for an instant effect. Lawn makeover Your lawn will make a subconscious impression on your buyers, even if they’re not examining it closely. If it’s overgrown, full of weeds...

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June in the Garden: Planting Shady Spots

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June in the Garden: Planting Shady Spots

The start of summer is finally here! June has arrived, and with the recent mix of some gorgeous sunshine and all that rain, everything in the garden is growing fast. We’re at the peak time of year for grass cutting, while those new shoots are growing like mad before it gets too hot, and it’s a good time to be keeping those weeds at bay before summer kicks in fully. If you’ve done your autumn and winter preparation, you should now be able to sit back a little and enjoy the results of your hard work as those tidy borders and clipped shrubs spring back into life. Planting shady spots Shady spots in the garden are some of the hardest to plant successfully. Even plants that are described as tolerating partial shade often don’t thrive in certain spots, and you can be left with unsightly bare borders or weeds. But never fear, we’ve got four great recommendations for herbaceous plants we love that really will do well in shade. Hosta These attractive foliage plants give a lovely array of different shades of green, with a wide choice of leaf shapes and sizes. Once they’ve grown to full size, which takes around five years, they can simply be left to their own devices and will cover shady areas year after year. Hosta are particularly good growers if the area is damp, and they do well in clay soil. But be warned, slugs are very partial to them so you may have to take steps to prevent them being nibbled to nothing. Ferns In most woodland areas of UK you’ll see a spread of ferns under trees, and you can use them in similar spots in the garden. Ferns are a classic choice for a shady spot under trees, bringing a touch of the wild forest to your garden with a beautiful array of greens and browns throughout the year. There are many different varieties of fern, and you can pick types that suit your soil and the spot you want to fill, whether it’s dry or damp or has acid or alkaline soil. Lily of the Valley A really pretty and traditional cottage garden option for a shady spot, Lily of the Valley produces scrolls of bright green foliage and strings of delicate bell-shaped white blossoms that give out a beautiful scent. It’s a great way of bringing colour and light to otherwise dull and shady areas, and they grow particularly well in damp areas, useful if you have a damp pond area you want to plant around. Hellebores Hellebores, commonly known as the Christmas rose or Lenten rose, are perhaps the most obvious solution for a shady spot; they produce pretty blooms in late winter and early spring when there’s not much other colour in the garden. They’re not keen on extremes – very dry or very boggy soil won’t suit them, but they’re happy in shade under trees. To make sure the flowers stay visible, remove older leaves, and you can propagate a plant by dividing and replanting in early spring. Late spring pruning June is a good time to get shrubby hydrangeas under control, pruning back the branches and dead flower heads from last year to the first healthy buds. Other flowering shrubs like skimmia japonica, mahonia and abelia can also be cut back before flowering in late spring and summer. With all these shrubs, especially on more established bushes, check carefully for birds nesting in the branches before pruning. Lawn and border care Our lawns are growing rapidly at the moment, enjoying the mix of wet...

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March In the Garden: Three Cottage Garden Climbers

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March In the Garden: Three Cottage Garden Climbers

Well, the weather really can’t decide whether to warm up properly or give us a bit more winter for good measure! But spring is definitely on the way, with trees showing blossom despite the occasional cold snaps and hail storms in Oxfordshire recently. I don’t know about you, but I think March is one of the most exciting months for gardeners as it’s when we get to plan our planting scheme for the coming year. The garden is your oyster in March, as you can plan almost anything you want, so it’s fun to grab those seed and cutting catalogues and get creative. Three Cottage Garden Climbers A climbing plant can be a really useful feature in a garden, covering up all manner of evils, from broken fences to boring walls. We’ve got three easy to grow climbing plants that give beautiful displays of flowers with a really traditional cottage garden feel for a dull corner of your garden. Wisteria Wisteria’s delicate drooping sprays of flowers come in many different shades, but we particularly like the striking purple-blossomed varieties that make a dramatic dark background to summer planting. Wisteria can grow up to nine metres in height and flowers between May and June. It requires some low level maintenance – you’ll need to prune around three times a year. And if you find your wisteria isn’t flowering as much as you’d like, give it potassium feed. Clematis Perhaps the most popular garden climber in the UK, clematis is a true country cottage classic. It’s extremely versatile and can be grown on walls, trellises or just left wild to grow through woodpiles or shrubs. Clematis is easy to train and climbs well without getting too big and straggly, so you can create lots of different effects with it. It flowers between July and September, depending on the species, and grows up to three metres in height. Jasmine The beautiful scent and delicate flowers of jasmine are its main draw for gardeners. It comes in a range of different varieties and colours, with the majority flowering between June and August, but you can buy some that flower in winter too. Jasmine can be trained and shaped effectively to create garden features around trellises or frames.   Spring Lawn Care March is a good time of year to be thinking about re-turfing any bare patches of your lawn. A common question I get asked is whether laying fresh rolls of turf or sowing seeds on bare patches is the best solution, so here are the pros and cons of each. Seedlings: a good option if you’re on a budget, because seedlings aren’t expensive and you can cover a lot of ground. There are also all sorts of speciality types available for problem spots or different textures of grass. The drawback is that once you’ve sown you need to give the ground two to three months before you can step on it, so that area of the lawn will be out of bounds. You also risk birds stealing the seed before it has a chance to grow too. Fresh turf: laying turf is much more expensive than sowing grass seed, but the advantage of that investment is that once its laid you can walk on the ground after only a couple of weeks, so this is a good option if you don’t mind some cash outlay and need the garden to be accessible quickly. As the weather warms up, keep cutting the grass on regular basis, setting the blade height slightly lower. While you’re doing this, check if your lawn could do with any...

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Installing a Water Butt in Your Garden

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Installing a Water Butt in Your Garden

February is an ideal time of year to start collecting rainwater to use in the garden. Using a water butt is environmentally friendly because it reuses naturally occurring water rather than drawing on the water supply, but it also has other advantages. It can: Save you money on water bill Avoid those frustrating hosepipe bans in hot weather Benefit plants, as it doesn’t contain the chemicals that tap water does. Choosing a water butt There are water butts available for all sizes of garden, from classic large round butts to smaller, square models designed to snuggle against a wall and take up less ground space. Placing a water butt It’s best to attach a butt to a building with guttering so that rain runs from the drainpipe into the butt. You can attach the butt at the bottom of a drainpipe, trimming the pipe to go into the butt and putting an overflow pipe into the drain below. Alternatively, you can fit a rain trap and a connecting pipe to a drainpipe to reach to a more convenient location for the butt. Installing a water butt Positioning the butt under the downpipe, raise the base off the ground with a stand or bricks so that you can fit a watering can underneath the tap. Mark where the top of the butt comes to on the pipe and take it off the stand. Saw through the pipe 3cm below the mark and attach the rainwater diverter to the cut pipe. Drill a hole in the butt 8cm from the top to fit the connector. Push the connector through the drilled hole and screw in. Attach the connector to the diverter with the fitting. Put on lid and secure it. Cover your water butt carefully to stop leaves and other debris falling in; this will help to prevent algae forming. If you do get slime or scum on the surface, you can buy a biological rainwater treatment to get rid of it. If you children use your garden, make sure the lid of the butt is secure and not accessible. Need help with garden maintenance in Oxford or installing a water butt in Oxford? Get in touch on 0845 543 8486 or...

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February in the Garden

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February in the Garden

February in the Garden The mild winter is continuing this month as we see daffodils already flowering along with snowdrops and crocuses. It may be unusual, but it’s creating some lovely unexpected colour in the garden. And that other sign that spring is round the corner is just about to start; the Six Nations Rugby!     February Planting It’s a great time of year for hellebores; those beautiful spring-flowering plants that grow well in shade and are great for brightening up the garden at this rather dark time of year. They’re flowering early this year due to mild conditions, so get planting now to see a display very soon. If you already have hellebores in the garden, you can increase their spread by dividing the plants. Divide into equal sections, making sure each section has a growth point, and water well in their new location. Hellebores are woodland plants and grow well in shade, giving a nice bit of colour under trees. As the plants start flowering, prune older, larger leaves to reveal the flowers underneath. Because of this wet, warm weather, it’s actually an acceptable time to start planting herbaceous plants. They won’t deal well with frost though, so check your local forecast for a couple of weeks ahead before planting. General Garden Maintenance It’s that warm, wet weather again; the weeds are enjoying it too! So you may find you need to get out there and start weeding a little early. You can also finish off the last of your leaf clearance from lawns and borders before the spring season properly begins. And keep on cutting that grass on regular basis, as long as it’s not too damp and marshy. Fruit and Veg It’s a good time to start prepping your veg patch for planting later in the year. Dig over the ground and put in compost and a soil conditioner to create drainage and add extra...

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Allotment Gardening Officially Good for Mental Health

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Allotment Gardening Officially Good for Mental Health

We’ve believed gardening is good for the soul for years and it’s now official: it’s good for your mental health. A study published in the Journal of Public Health found that 30 minutes a week spent tending an allotment isn’t just good exercise, it actually boosts self-esteem, raises your mood and dissipates tension and depression. The study, carried out by researchers at the Universities of Essex and Westminster, also found that while 7 in 10 people who did no gardening were obese or overweight, only 47% of gardeners were. The UK Faculty of Public Health is taking the research seriously enough to call for a wider provision of community allotments to give more people access to this healthy resource. And apparently, some of this well-being is coming straight from the soil. The dirt in your garden or allotment contains a natural antidepressant. The bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae has effects comparable to drugs like Prozac when naturally inhaled by gardeners working outside. The amazing stuff seems to boost serotonin levels, the chemical in the brain that makes you happy. So could getting an allotment make you a happier person? Who knows! But it’s a good excuse to get out there and start digging. Thinking of applying for an allotment? Here are some things to consider before you make your decision: It’s not all glamor! You may eventually get to harvest some beautiful veg and sit and enjoying the sun outside your shed but there’s a lot of hard work involved and much of it can be quite boring. Are you up for heavy digging and endless weeding? It might only be 30 minutes work a week, but it needs to be every week. Allotment gardening is a social activity; you’ll be part of an allotment association with rules and regulations and gardening in close proximity to many other people. Keeping things friendly requires cooperation and flexibility. Have you got the info? To get a good crop of veg from an allotment needs some gardening know-how, and if you’re more of an amateur it can be useful to have someone to ask for advice or even come along and give you a hand as you get started. If you’re clearing off an inherited neglected patch before you start, help may be particularly necessary. Image credit: Gerwin...

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