Advice for first time gardeners

I love being at home in the garden, especially when the weather is good.  There’s always something to do, whether it’s cutting the lawn, feeding the chickens or just general tinkering to keep things in shape.  We chose our current house because of the 90 foot garden, somewhere for the kids to run around, space for small live stock and a great private space to enjoy the summer months.  It was everything we had dreamt of, not too small and not overwhelmingly big… Or so we thought.

Having previously lived in a maisonette without any outdoor space we were dead excited to purchase our first house together and own this seemingly large garden.  But what we didn’t realise was how much effort it took to look after it.  We soon began the transformation to simplify and put our mark on it which was exciting and at the same time, very time-consuming.  With two small children we struggled to complete everything and almost five years on we’re still configuring and changing to find the perfect look and functional space we had in mind when we first viewed the house.

With this in mind there are a few things to consider when it comes to managing your outdoor space:

  1. Get the right lawn mower!  We started off with a small electric mower from the local supermarket.  This was a mistake.  It took over an hour to cut the grass, having to empty the cuttings every 5 minutes.  No, no, no.  This had to change.  We now have a suitable petrol mover that gets the job done in 20 minutes with only two empties.  I’d considered a sit on mower but Victoria talked me out of this, which was probably for the best.  Where was I going to keep it?  So I think it’s important to think carefully about what the most suitable mower is for the size of garden you have.
  2. A decent hose will help you reach all areas to keep plants fed during the summer season and provide great entertainment for the kids.  We used to have a basic hand winding hose which took what felt like an hour to retract when fully extended.  But now we have a Verve auto retracting hose which has changed my life.  I can now pull the hose to the bottom of the garden, water the plants and top up the chickens water and simply give it a little pull and it retracts back with little or no effort.  This is a great time saver and keeps everything neat and tidy.  Very cost effective too at under £50.
  3. Leveling the grass.  What a mission and it’s still not right!  To keep things simple we decided to remove a number of the boarders and just stick to grass which meant digging and laying turf or sowing seed.  This kind of job can be strenuous and very time consuming if you don’t have the experience.  What we have been left with is a number of rather large divots in the lawn and a very uneven surface.  Sometimes, with jobs like these it’s worth getting in the pros. They’ll have the tools and knowledge to get the job done quickly and to a high standard. Check out this website of gardeners where you can find local professionals to help with those tricky time consuming tasks.
  4. Storage space.  We never seem to have enough storage space in the garden.  We invested in a long metal shed which was perfect for all of 6 months before we ran out of space.  I then brought a large 12 x 10 foot workshop for all my bloke stuff and again we are out of space!  Where does it end?  We definitely need somewhere for all the kids toys now as they’re accumulating under our veranda, so I’d like a nice wooden storage area that’s small and discrete. Another thing to add to the ‘to do’ list for the near future.
  5. A sheltered seating area to enjoy the elements.  As I mentioned we have a veranda attached to the back of the house.  This is a great addition to the garden as we can enjoy outdoor living even when the heavens decide to open. I built this myself and you can see how I did this in my other post here. I couldn’t imagine the garden without this.

We’ve achieved so much in the time we’ve lived in this house, but looking back it’s not exactly what we had in mind when we moved in.  I think it’s important to understand your limitations on gardening in general as it’s a very complex world when you’ve not had any previous experience. Also take into consideration time and how much you have. And remember, no matter how long you think something is going to take, double it!

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