Gardening, Gardening Year, Planting, Scott, Weeding

Summer officially runs from June to mid-September when your garden will usually be looking its very best. You can continue the blooms you’ve seen emerge in spring and you will have plenty of time to entertain in the garden now the warm weather is stable. To ensure you enjoy a summer garden that’s filled with colourful flower beds,  preparation is key. Your window of opportunity for this starts around mid-March (depending on the weather) when the warm weather starts to become more consistent and the ground is ready for summer bulbs.

Summer Garden Flowers

When is it too late?

There are no hard-set rules for when it’s too late. But as a rule of thumb, as close to March as you can start work, the better. This gives whatever work you do time to settle, develop and be ready for summer. 

You can be doing work that will bear results in summer as late into the season as you want. But the earlier you start and the sooner you get your preparation done the better your results will be and the longer the season of colourful flowers you can enjoy. 

Reasons to get outdoors now

There’s work to be done

Spring will begin to fill your garden with spots of colour that can be very inspiring. There are few ways you can ensure that trend continues into summer. Check out our March, April and May garden job posts for more details.

Garden Wildlife

Enjoy the sun as soon as it arrives

Preparing your garden now will set you up nicely for when the warm weather becomes more stable so you avoid rushing when the sun hits.

Garden Furniture - Sofa Set

Let your plants really blossom

Preparing your soil and garden beds with a though-out plan will make for a beautiful display come summer.

    • Plan how your flower beds will continue to bloom with colours, patterns and textures
    • Check any bulbs that you’ve stored over winter
    • Keep watering your spring blooms 

Spring Flowers

Get the most from summer

Summer is when your garden shows off its best assets. Putting in a little effort now will only enhance the success of summer.

    • Watch out for pests by using natural techniques like companion planting
    • Begin to mow your lawn often so its lush and green in preparation for the social season

Lawn Mower from Greenworks

What one thing should I definitely do before summer?

The return of warmer weather means the return of life to your garden when things will really start to grow again. That includes all of your beautiful flowers but it also includes weeds. You want to keep on top of weeds as soon as they emerge, otherwise, they could overwhelm and ruin a summer garden.

  1. Use a hand fork to get right under the roots of a weed and pull it right out of the soil
  2. If you break the weed and leave part of the root in the soil and can’t remove it, spray it with a dose of weed killer before covering with polythene to starve it of sunlight.
  3. Collect all of your weeds together and put them in a separate pile – do not put them in your compost heap as they may start growing fresh in your compost!

Garden Weeds

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

 

Bulbs, Flowers, Gardening, Planting, Plants, Scott

There are a wide range of plants for spring that you can sow now in April. Read our quick guide below to some staple planting options for your garden.  

Pond Plants

Pond Plants

With the weather beginning to warm now is a great time to introduce plants to your pond. The warmer temperatures will give them plenty of time to establish. Try not to delay too much between purchasing and planting these as drying them out can be damaging. Plant into mesh containers and fill with aquatic compost before submerging. Be sure to include some oxygenating plants like Hornwort to help keep the water clear.

Perennials

Spring Plants - Digitalis

Getting plants into your garden beds now will ensure you have a beautiful display come summer. Plants like Digitalis or Campanula are perfect plants for spring and for adding colour to your garden whilst also being a great source of pollen for bees and butterflies. Water new plants regularly to help them get established and give an extra helping hand with occasional top-ups of organic compost or well-rotted manure. 

Summer bulbs

Spring Plants - Dahlia

Dahlias, Gladioli and Peonies are all perfect summer bulbs for getting in the ground now in preparation for summer. Make sure they get a sunny position in the garden with some well-drained soil. Planting across a number of weeks will give your garden a procession of flowers emerging one after the other so you can enjoy continuous colour outside for the season. 

Climbers

Clematis

Climbing plants are a great way to update a space and bring new life to areas of your garden. They can be used to cover trellis or pergolas in characterful blooms or serve a practical purpose of transforming unsightly walls or buildings. They’re also a great asset for smaller gardens where space is a premium and growing vertically make the most use of available space. Plants such as clematis, honeysuckle and Ipomoea are all great varieties to try sowing.   

Nicotiana 

One of the best ways to step up your garden game is to plant for all of the senses. You don’t want to limit the enjoyment of your garden to just what you see – think about your other senses, in particular, what you can smell. Nicotiana has a delightful fragrance that is very enjoyable on summer evenings. Plant these in March and April to enjoy when summer rolls around. 

Poppies

Spring Plants - Poppies

Instantly recognisable with luscious scent and colour, poppies will always bring delight to your garden. They can be sown from March to May in time for blooms in summer and autumn – a great plant for creating lasting colour with variations of interest. 

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

 

Birds, Bulbs, Flowers, Gardening, Gardening Year, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Planting, Plants, Scott, Wildlife

With Spring truly on its way now and the clocks going forward, there’s plenty to be doing in the garden. March gardening is all about setting yourself up for the return of warmer days. With a little preparation, you’ll have an outdoor space filled with colourful blooms and happy wildlife. This is an important month for wildlife when insects start becoming more abundant, birds begin working on their nests and smaller mammals come out of their winter hibernation.    

march garden

General

  • Mulch to protect soil: bare soil is in a vulnerable state as it’s coming out of frosty weather and heading into drier, warmer days. This means water will start evaporating from the soil; to ensure that doesn’t happen too much, a good layer of organic mulch can keep water in and also help stop the growth of unwanted weeds.  
  • Begin mowing the lawn: grass will now start growing more steadily. A lawn will stay greener the less you take from it each time you mow so little and often is ideal this time of year. 
  • Plan your summer planting: start thinking ahead to summer and begin planting your summer flowering bulbs.
  • Protect plants from pests: warmer weather means more pests will be coming into the garden. Try to stick to natural pesticides where possible and if chemicals are required be sure to use it late in the day when the majority of beneficial insects will have made themselves scarce. 

garden mulch

Plants

  • Plant summer bulbs: you may be enjoying some colour from spring bulbs but now is a great time to think about summer planting. Plan out your arrangments now to ensure you get the full benefit of their colours come summer. 
  • Plant in containers: lots of plants can successfully be grown in containers; a great option for when space is limited to perhaps just a balcony or patio area. Hardy plants like roses can be an excellent choice for providing dramatic colour without taking up lots of space. 
  • Relocate shrubs: if you want o re-arrange the layout of your garden a little, now is a great time to move evergreen shrubs. The shrub will not have begun taking water from the soil yet so moving it now will give it time to recover and prepare for a good growing season. 
  • Control weeds: use a fork or hoe to get ahead on clearing garden weeds. This can help prevent more serious outbreaks later in the year.

summer flowers

Produce

  • Prepare seedbeds: break down large clumps of soil before raking over to create a ridge effect. Apply an organic fertiliser two weeks before sowing any seeds and your bed will be ready for growing success.  
  • Plant shallots and onions: a perfect grow your own project that can be used in all sorts of dishes. Onions can begin growing in march and finish off in the summer. 
  • Plant early potatoes: seed potatoes can be planted in trenches with an organic fertiliser to get off to the best start.  
  • Sow herbs: hardy herbs like chives, dill, marjoram and coriander are perfect for sowing this time fo year. Plant seeds into drills and pant out when large enough o handle. 

herb garden

Greenhouse

  • Plant summer seeds: you can propagate summer blooms like marigolds in the greenhouse in preparation for warmer days in summer when they can be transplanted outside.
  • Clean the glass: with the warm weather returning you can give the glass a good clean to remove the marks left by winter and maximise the amount of light getting through.
  • Plant summer vegetables: courgettes, cucumbers, squashes and sweetcorn are ideal for planting in the greenhouse ready for transplanting to the outside when the summer warms the garden properly. 

summer saplings

Animals

  • Prepare for hedgehogs: hedgehogs will start coming out of hibernation. Having food and shelter in your garden as well as easy access in and out can make your garden a preferred hedgehog spot. 
  • Feed the birds: this time of year can see a scarcity of wild food for birds who will be working hard to build nests in preparation for chicks. Give them a helping hand by putting out appropriate foods. 
  • Provide a home: butterflies and bees will begin to emerge. Having bug hotels and feeding stations in your garden can make your space a sanctuary for these important pollinators.  
  • Top up birdbaths: make sure the birds in your garden have open access to water for cleaning and drinking. 

hedgehogs

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Alice, Garden Design, Gardening, Gardens, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting

Fed up of bending over while you weed, or struggling to grow in poor-quality, claylike soil? A simple raised bed can offer an array of benefits to your garden, and thankfully, they’re not difficult or costly to build. Read on and discover how to build a simple raised bed, and you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time. 

how to build a raised bed

What is a Raised Bed?

A raised bed is a flowerbed or planting space that has been raised above ground level. It functions similarly to a large planter, however, it has no bottom or top; it simply consists of additional soil held in place by wooden plants, concrete blocks, or similar.

Which Plants Can You Grow in Raised Beds?

You can grow almost any type of plant in a raised bed, however, they are particularly useful for vegetables; soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries; small trees and shrubs; herbaceous perennial cuttings; and ericaceous or lime-hating plants such as heather or rhododendrons. 

Benefits of Raised Beds

  • Reduces the need to bend; great if you have limited mobility
  • Great solution for gardens with limited space
  • Best solution for poor-quality or claylike soil
  • Improves soil drainage which increases soil temperature
  • Longer growing season
  • Option of matching soil to the plant type
  • Deeper soil enhances root health
  • Fewer weeds
  • Keeps plants out of the reach of pets and small children

How to Build a Raised Bed

how to build a raised bed

You will need:

  • Edging material. You can purchase a ready-made raised bed from our range, which will save you time and hassle. If you would rather make your own, material you can use for the edges includes wooden planks, concrete blocks, wattle, or logs
  • Soil, plus organic matter such as compost or manure
  • A garden spade
  • Wooden stakes, nails or screws, and a hammer, if you are using wooden planks or similar for the edging
  • Newspaper or cardboard, if you are setting your raised bed on grass
  • String (optional)
  • Bark chippings, paving, or grass, if you wish to create a path around or between beds
  • A tamper tool, if you are using concrete edging (optional)

Step 1: Mark your edges

The first thing to do is to plan where you are going to place your raised bed (or beds). Raised beds are usually rectangular or square, however feel free to experiment with different shapes as you see fit. Choose a sunny area and mark the edges of where each bed will be using string. Alternatively, if you are using wooden planks, you can use the boards to mark out the edges of the bed. 

Keep your beds below 1.5m (5ft) wide; it is not advisable to stand on the beds so keep the width to something you can reach across. It is also best to keep them less than 4.5m (15ft) long. If you are creating multiple beds, allow at least 60-90cm (2-3ft) for wheelbarrow access. In regards to height, allow at least 25-35cm (10-14in) to accommodate strong roots, although they can be up to waist height to allow maintenance without bending over.

Step 2: Build the sides

Next, you need to fix the sides of your raised bed into place. If you are using a ready-made raised bed, this is pretty straightforward as all you need to do is follow the instructions for easy installation. If you are making one yourself using wood, insert stakes 30-45cm (12-18in) into the ground at the corners, then at least every 1.5m (5ft). Nail the planks to the stakes using nails or screws and a hammer; set the lowest board 5cm (2in) below ground level. 

If you are using concrete blocks, make sure to level the ground beforehand by removing the grass if it is uneven and using a tamper tool if desired. Make sure to place cardboard over any remaining grass under the blocks to prevent it growing into the beds.

Step 3: Prepare the ground

The next stage is to prepare the ground ready to create a raised bed. If you are building your bed over grass, line the bottom with sheets of cardboard or newspaper and wet it thoroughly. Ensure any staples are removed from the cardboard. If you are building the bed directly onto soil, dig the ground deeply, adding as much manure or compost as you can. If your soil is poorly draining, add a layer of course gravel, hardcore, or stones. If your bed is deeper than 50cm (20in) remove the top layer of soil and replace with subsoil, rubble or old inverted turves. 

Step 4: Fill in the soil

The final step to creating your raised bed is to fill your newly-created space with soil. Fill with a mixture of topsoil, compost, and organic matter such as manure, to create a nutrient-rich environment for your plants to grow in. You can adapt the soil to the types of plants you wish to grow, for example filling the beds with acid soil to grow ericaceous (lime-hating) plants. 

Once filled, allow the soil to settle for two weeks before planting. Soil in raised beds can dry out more quickly, so make sure to water frequently. 

Step 5 (optional): Build a garden path

A garden path can improve access and create a tidy look, particularly if you have more than one raised bed in succession. If you desire, you can use bark chippings, paving, or grass to create a path around or in between your raised beds. You can keep the edges tidy using flexible edging if necessary. 

 

Raised beds take a bit of setting up, however they can be done so inexpensively and without a huge amount of time and hassle. Before you know it, your plants will have a great home with improved drainage and quality soil, and you’ll have less bending down to do to reach them!

Looking to use your raised bed to grow vegetables? make sure to check out our guide to how to grow crops.

What are you growing in your raised bed? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!