Right now, we’re spending most of our time at home or in the garden. And if we’re not in the garden, we’re at the garden centre, or on our daily walk looking at our neighbours' garden.
All of these factors (plus the beautiful weather) have led to a massive surge in gardening across the UK. Under lockdown, the demand for mail-order plants has skyrocketed, and many of us have started visiting our local nurseries again, since they reopened on 13th May.
It’s not surprising that gardening is so popular during this challenging period. Research has shown that spending time outdoors nurturing plants contributes to both our physical and mental well-being, and can help us get through tough times in our lives.
The good thing is, we don’t have to go far to reap the rewards. If you're lucky enough to have your own outdoor space, nature is available on our own doorsteps. Doing up the garden (or backyard) doesn’t have to cost the earth. We uncover ten ways to tidy up your outdoor space on a budget.
Grow from seeds
Buying pre-grown plants can be ill-advised. As well as preventing you from literally watching the fruits of your labour develop, they’re also more expensive than seeds. Growing plants from scratch can save you cash and it enables you to nurture the plants yourself, giving you a lot more satisfaction. Plus, seeds are easier to buy online if you’re self-isolating.
Taking cuttings from plants is another excellent way to grow your own. If you’ve got a healthy plant, could you take cuttings and replicate it elsewhere in your garden? Perhaps you could swap cuttings with a friendly neighbour if one of their plants has taken your fancy.
Moving certain houseplants outside during the milder season is also possible, but make sure you do your research and get them acclimatised first.
Avoid expensive advice
Gardening manuals do provide sound advice, but in this digital age, you can discover so much information for free. The internet is awash with blogs and other resources for green-fingered novices. The following websites are all helpful places to start:
Any gardener will tell you that compost is hugely valuable when it comes to increasing the nutrients in your soil. Instead of buying it from the shops, you could use elements of your own food waste to start making your own pile quite easily. Here are some tips on how to do so.
Speed up growth with tea and coffee
Composting is useful but it does take a while. So if you want to add a quick boost of nutrients to your soil, then add used coffee grounds or tea leaves. Be aware though that coffee isn't great for mulching (we'll explain that below) and can be dangerous for dogs. So check it's suitable for the needs of your particular plants and garden space first.
Mulching is when you apply a layer of material to protect the soil. You could use your home-made compost for example. Mulch can prevent weeds from growing, retain moisture and, if even improve the aesthetic quality of your garden. Other benefits include deterring pests and protecting plant roots from extreme changes in temperature.
Repurpose old items
Your household is probably full of things you can re-use in your garden. Have you got old children's wellies that no longer fit them? They'll make for a super cute plant pot, as would a wicker basket on an old bike.
If it can withstand the elements and hold a decent amount of soil, you can transform it into a garden resource. A lick of paint will help you personalise objects. Here are some other ideas for inspiration.
Make your own weed killer
As well as being expensive, weed killers can harm the environment. There are ways you can make your own naturally for dirt cheap. All you need is some basic household ingredients like soap, lemon and vinegar.
Go for perennials
In horticultural terms, ‘perennial’ refers to plants that last for as long as you look after them (whereas annuals only flower once). So when you buy plants, plump for perennials to save yourself hard work and expense again next year.
Update garden furniture with paint
Old sheds and benches can look out of date, but treating them with a lick of paint will breathe new life into them. It’ll mean you won't have to replace them in the near future. If you're smart about your colour scheme, your shed could even compliment your flowers.