Top 5 Evergreen Shrubs to Grow in Your Garden

Evergreen shrubs are a great choice for gardens so that you have some interest all year round. They will not lose their leaves and may even provide much wanted scent or colour to a garden which can otherwise look a bit bleak in the winter months. They can be used a stand-alone plants or put together to form hedging or a mixed border. There are lots to choose from and it is a good idea to get to know a bit about some varieties so that you can decide whether they will be right for you and your garden. Below are a few popular examples that you might like to choose.

Box

Box is a popular choice for a hedge as it is compact with small leaves but it can easily be clipped into a shape. It could be used as edging for beds, put in a pot or grown into a large bush. It is happy in shade as well which means that it is a versatile plant for spots that get little sunshine and can also work well under trees. It is happy planted into the soil or in a container and so suitable for different uses. It does like well drained soil, but if it is in the sun it will like more watering. If it is in a container it is more likely to dry out and need watering more often.

Camelia

Camelia has a really glossy and dark green foliage which is very pretty all year round. They also have very pretty flowers in the spring time which vary from pink and red to yellow and white. They can be large, but there are some dwarf varieties available which will stay smaller. They are happy partly in the shade as well, which means that they can be planted under trees. They will need an acid soil though and so if you live in an area that has alkaline soil then you will need to plant them in a tub with some acidic compost.

Aucuba

Aucuba is a very tough shrub which means that it will tolerate all sorts of conditions, such as full shade, dry soil and even salty coastal conditions. It comes with plain and variegated leaves and the green with yellow speckles is the most popular which has earned it the name ‘spotted laurel’. It has large leaves which are glossy and leathery. The female plants have bright red berries in the autumn as long as there is a make pollinator plant nearby. It can be used as a hedge but is also just a useful plant for growing in areas of the garden that other plants do not grow well in.

Lavender

Lavender is a pretty plant that comes in many different varieties. It has lovely flowers in the summer which smell lovely and they can be picked and dried to be used to scent drawers and other places around the home. It is a hardy plant which can be grown to form edging or hedges if left to grow large enough. It also attracts bees and butterflies so if you want your garden to become a friendly habitat to wildlife then it can be a great choice. The plants are most suitable for light and sandy soil and are drought resistant as well because they have origins in the Mediterranean.

Holly

Holly has really glossy, dark leaves which are spiny or smooth and there are variegated varieties as well. It will also have dark red berries in the winter as well. It can be used to make a dense hedge and it is also popular for taking a cutting from for Christmas decorations. It has spring flowers that attract bees and then berries will follow on the female plants as long as there is a make pollinator nearby. The berries are attractive to birds and so it is a great plant for attracting wildlife into the garden. It tolerates harsh conditions as well and so will grow in most gardens.

It is important to think about where you will be planting the shrub as well as what your soil conditions are like so that you will be able to make sure that the plant will suit your garden. Think about whether you want something that flowers or has berries or whether you are fussy bout what colour the leaves will be. There are more than these to choose from but hopefully, this will have given you some ideas of what you should be considering and what sort of choice there is available for you.

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Ways That a Garden Can Help Your Wellbeing

Many people find that their gardens can be a source of well-being. This can just be to do with being outside or the pleasure in making a lovely space. However, there are things that you can specifically do with regards to gardening that will help with your well-being.

Sharing With Others

There are different ways that you can use gardening to help you to meet up with other people. If you have a space, then you can invite others to visit you there and it can be a lovely way to get together with people. People with large gardens may open them up to the public, which will give them even more opportunity to meet up with other people. There are projects which could help as well such as community gardens or volunteering. These will allow people to combine their love of gardening together with being with others. Sometimes these projects can be specifically set up to benefit people with specific disorders or just to generally help everyone. The shared focus can help to build bonds and will help people form friendships and may even allow them a safe environment where they can speak out about their problems and benefits with being with others.

Physical Activity

It is well documented that mental and physical health are connected. All gardening needs some activity, even if you are sitting down weeding, you are still possibly moving more than you would if you were inside. If you want a big workout then digging, mowing and trimming can be beneficial but even some gentle pruning can be advantages. Moving those muscles can be a great benefit to gardeners of all ages. Once you have completed the gardening, you might be more likely to be happy walking around the garden, which will also help your physical activity levels as well.

Mindfulness

There are lots of small things to observe in a garden which can help to take your focus away from your worries and help you to concentrate on the beauty of nature. Whether it is observing leaves and flowers, studying the wildlife or even doing rhythmic activities such as snipping when pruning or trimming the edges of the lawn. These things can help you to focus on nature rather than thinking about any worries that you might have. You may need to concentrate on doing this, but with practice you can really enjoy the small things and concentrate on these. The smell of blossom, watching a woodlouse, the design of a leaf etc. It can really help to concentrate on these wonders.

Learning

Gardening is always an opportunity to learn new things. Whether you learn about how to look after the plants you have or new plants you want to buy, learn about the wildlife they attract, learn about garden design or anything else, there is always an opportunity to learn things. Learning all the time is really good for us as it helps gives us some focus and pleasure and is also great for our brain. It can also be a great way to help others. You will be able to help other gardeners out if they have questions and need help or tell them where you find out useful information. It can be lovely to share like this.

Giving

When you are growing things there is always an opportunity to give to others. This could mean that you give them cuttings, flowers or fruit and veg that you grow. Some people like to give away seedling that they have grown as well. It could mean that you give advice to other gardeners. It could mean that you give your time to do gardening for the community. You might also share your garden with others when they visit you. All of these things are great for our own mental health. Being kind and giving things to others will also give us a sense of satisfaction and love which can really help us to feel good. It can also be good for those that we give to as well because they will feel special and loved. Knowing they will feel like that or receiving thanks will also make us feel good as well.

A lot of these things will not only help your mental health but that of others as well. It means that by gardening you will be able to improve things for yourself and for other people. It can be very satisfying to do this and it can provide you with a calm and sense of wellbeing which is not offered by other activities.

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Ideas for Gardening in Small Spaces

If you only have a small space for your garden, whether that is a back yard, space in front of your house or a balcony, then it is still possible to have a lovely space. It is worth having a think and considering a few different ideas and you could end up transforming the space into a lovely garden or retreat.

Plan in Advance

It is important to start by thinking about what you want the garden for. If you want to use it as a space for entertaining, then you will need room to do that. If you want it to look pretty from inside, then you need to consider what you will need to do in order to achieve that. If you want to grow vegetables or plants that you can cut and take indoors then you will need a completely different approach. So, think about if it is going to be pretty or practical or both. Consider what sort of space you would like it to be and then you will be on your way to creating something that will match up with your expectations.

Look at Others for Inspiration

Do not worry if you do not have a detailed plan though. Just having an idea of what sort of use it will be for will be enough to get going. You will then need to plan in more detail. This might seem tricky but with the Internet on hand it can be much simpler than you think. Have a look at what other people have done with their small spaces and this will help to inspire you. You should be able to find plenty of articles and pictures online for this and it should help to inspire you for what you can do with your small space. You may want to take some ideas for one garden and others form another, you can mix and match ideas to get the space the way that you want.

Consider What to Do Under Foot

It is often not thought about that much, but considering what is on the ground can make a big difference. Having a path can make an area look larger if it winds around or leads to somewhere unseen. The colour can also make a difference with a brighter material reflecting light and making the space look roomier. You also need to think about what the garden will be used for and what might be practical. Stone will be flatter than grass for seating and will not need to be mowed. Grass is more comfortable underfoot than gravel. Slate or bark chipping could protect against weeds growing.

Screening

Most gardeners will use some sort of fencing to give privacy and security to their outside space. Many will use a standard fence but there are lots of alternatives which are worth considering. You can have horizontal fencing boards, for example or you might like to have a living wall of plants which will screen out noise pollution and create a colourful backdrop. A hedge is an alternative. Some people might prefer a brick wall as it is more durable than a fence, particularly if the garden is prone to windy conditions.

Plants

It is worth being thoughtful about the plants that you choose for your garden. It can be lovely to have something that smells good, is colourful or has berries and pretty leaves. Consider though, what the garden will look like all year round as a winter garden can look rather bleak unless you have hardy plants that have leaves all year long. There are also plants which change colour in the winter which give a pretty look to the garden. It is therefore worth thinking about how they will look as well. Consider all seasons, it is easy to just think about summer, when we will be in the garden more, but if you can see it through a window, then it can be nice to have it looking good all of the time.

Details

Consider whether you want any accessories in your garden. This could be a table and chairs or bench, BBQ, sunshade or something for accommodating people in the space. You could also consider a water feature or ornamental items. This birdbath, statue, decorative pots, sundial etc. There are lots of things that you can choose but you will need to think about what you need and what will fit in with the garden that you are planning.

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How to Grow Herbs

For some people growing herbs in their garden is an ambition for them. Herbs are something that many people enjoy using in cookery or for fragrance their home and they can also be pretty to grow as well. They do not have to take up much room and so they can be ideal for many different gardens. There are lots of different types as well and they can be a great way to save money, compared to buying from the supermarket. They can also look really pretty if you pick varieties with different coloured leaves and flowers.

Annual Versus Perennial

Some types of herbs will last all year round but others will only last in the warmer weather and you will need to think about whether you might prefer one type over another. You may want to have the herbs, not only to eat or use but also to look good in the garden all the year round or you may not mind whether they are there all of the time or not. It can be useful to know which types of herbs are annual and therefore will not last or are perennial and will last as this will help you to decide where to plant them. Annual herbs include basil, coriander, parsley, dill, chervil, marjoram, lemongrass, lovage and rocket. Perennial herbs include oregano, mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, sorrel and fennel.

Where to Grow Them

Herbs can be grown in the garden but also in containers as well, which makes them suitable for all sorts of types of garden. You can grow herbs inside but if you are looking to plant them in the garden then you will need to make sure they are in the right conditions. They tend to like sunshine and shelter from the wind. They need well drained soil, so if they are in a pot it will need holes in it to drain out excess water. They will not enjoy clay soil so you may need to add compost and grit to it so that drainage is better. Some will tolerate acid soil but most will prefer neutral to alkaline soils. In acidic soil you may need to add lime or perhaps grow in pots with the right soil type in them. Some are happy in coastal gardens which are salty so not all plants will tolerate them. Rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender are all fine though. If you have a shady spot then chervil, parsley, mint and chives will grow the best. It can be nice to have a dedicated herb garden as it is easier to harvest and it smells lovely. However, they can also look pretty in a flower border either along the edge or among the plants.

When to Plant Them

It is important to plant herbs at the right time. It is best to wait until March so that it is warmer and perhaps as late as August. Some are difficult to transplant and so it can be best to put them straight into their final growing places – particularly parsley, chamomile, dill and coriander. If you want a continuous supply then plant every 3-4 weeks. If you are not sure if it is warm enough you could plant in seed trays undercover and then harden them off before planting out once you are sure there is no more frost to come. Perennials are best planted in the spring undercover and slowly being hardened off before plating outside.

Looking After Them

Herbs are pretty easy to look after. If you grow them in pots they will need more attention a they will need watering and feeding which those in the soil will be less likely to need. Trimming in the spring will encourage new growth and deadheading as the flowers fade will also help new leaves to grown. In the autumn leave dead leaves in the plant as they are protective but make sure they do not get covered with fallen leaves or other debris as they may get fungal diseases as a result. When you are harvesting them you will need to remove leaves from the outside of the plant as then new leaves will be encouraged to develop in the centre. Leave at least two thirds there so that the plant can recover. It is best to harvest them in the morning as after that the essential oils may evaporate. The evergreens can be harvested all year round but they will not start growing again until spring.

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How to Control Weeds in Your Garden

All gardeners have trouble with weeds and it is something that some have a constant battle with. It is likely that different gardens will have different types of weeds. This will depend on what grows in the area, perhaps what weeds are coming through from neighbours and the type of soil. There are different ways to deal with them and some methods could be better than others so it is a good idea to find out a bit more.

Different Weeds Behave Differently

It is good to have an understanding that annual weeds will react differently to perennial ones. Annuals can be controlled with regular hoeing, but perennials will grow back stronger after being attacked with a hoe, so it important to know what you are dealing with. Annuals produce lots of seeds which could mean that you will suddenly get a huge growth of weeds when they germinate. Therefore, it is wise to make sure that you get rid of them before they flower so that they never have the chance to go to seed. Perennials benefit from being hand weeded to make sure that you remove as much of the root as possible. Some weeds can regrow from the smallest bit of root and so if you chop them, they will just come back and you could end up with more weeds than you first started with. Therefore, you need to make sure that you do your research. Identify what the plants are that you are trying to get rid of and find out what the recommended method is to get rid of them.

Prevent Weeds Growing

It can be good to try to prevent weeds from growing in the first place. This will make things much easier for you. It can be a good idea to consider using a weed barrier under gravel paths and mulch on the surface of the soil to make it much harder for weeds to grow and to make it easier to pull them up. It can be a bit of financial investment and take some time to do, but it will be worth it if you do not have to weed so often.

Tackle Regularly

It can be a good idea to make sure that you can control weeds. Making sure that you get rid of them before they get out of hand. Once they start growing they could be spreading seeds before you know it. Therefore, check weekly and remove the weeds so that they do not have a chance to spread. If you are planning on using a hoe then do it on a dry day as the cut parts will dehydrate on the surface of the soil and die.

Use Chemicals

Some people like to use chemicals but you need to be very careful. Consider whether there might be children or pets that could come into difficulties if they go near the chemicals. Also consider whether there is a risk that the chemicals might harm other plants in the garden. It is also a good idea to think of the general environmental impact of using these chemicals. Always make sure that you wear appropriate protective gear before using any sort of chemical. It is also wise to check whether they will be effective on what you are trying to kill. If you have weeds in your lawn or among other plants, then you will need to use a different type of product compared with destroying all weeds growing on a path, for example. Also make sure that it is not forecast for rain as this could wash off the chemical before it has a chance to take effect.

Organic Controls

Obviously, hoeing and hand weeding are organic, but they might be too difficult for you. A weed burner could be an alternative idea that you could try out. This will be easier and it could be more effective if you do it right. These come in the option of being gas or electric and you will need to buy one that will work for you. A large garden may not have access to electricity but a smaller one could do. Gas ones are more effective but you will have to buy the canisters of gas which could be less convenient than using an electric one.

At the end of the day it is worth remembering that weeds are simply plants in the wrong place. If you are battling a specific type of weed and struggling to get rid of it, then perhaps consider making it a part of your garden and then it will no longer be a weed.

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How to Garden for Less

Keeping a garden looking really good can actually be quite expensive. It might put you off doing your garden or making it look very different as you could be worried about the costs. There are things that you can do though, that will keep your gardening costs down. If you consider doing some or all of these, it could mean that you will be more encouraged to spend more time in the garden and make it look really good.

Have a Compost Heap

It can be expensive to buy compost but a lot of us do it. It might be to fill containers, hanging baskets or to treat the soil. Whatever you buy it for, it can be expensive. If you get a compost heap, then you will reduce the need to buy compost and save money. It will take time to rot down the items that you put in it before you can use the compost. You may also need to invest in a compost bin or else you could find that the items you put in your compost heap will attract rats or other unwelcome guests to the garden. If you use it just for weeds, grass clipping and other garden waste you should be fine. But if you are thinking of using it for household waste, such as left-over food then you could find that it will start to attract vermin. Therefore, make sure that you plan it carefully.

Buy Hardy Plants

There are lots of plants that you can choose from for your garden. A lot of people choose to buy plants each spring and autumn which will last a few seasons and provide colour and flowers for that time. This means that they have to replace those plants often and keep spending out money. It can be a good idea to buy plants which will last all year round and for plenty of years. They may be more expensive to buy, but once you have them, they will last a long time and you will not need to keep buying more.

Protect Fences and Furniture

There are some items that you have in your garden that will weather and so you may need to replace them regularly because they get damaged and rot. This could happen to fences, garden furniture, decking and perhaps even some pots or ornaments. It can therefore be a good idea to protect them so that they last longer. There are paints, stains and varnishes that you can use on wood which will protect it from the weather. Although you will need to buy them, it will mean that they will be likely to last a lot longer and paying for paint is a lot cheaper than paying for new items. With furniture and other movable items, an alternative is to move them into a dry area to protect them. Putting them inside a shed or garage can help to keep them protected from the weather. They could be left inside in the winter when they are not used and the weather is at its worst. If you have no shelter, then you could cover them with a protective cover. You can buy these at garden supply shops or online.

Reduce Weeds

Weeding can be very tiresome, but if you let weeds grow too savagely then you have a very hard job and you can be tempted to use expensive chemical weed killers to deal with the problem. You may also find that weeds will take over and strangle some of the plants you have growing and you may have to replace them. Therefore weeding can be a frugal thing to do.

Grow From Seed

Buying plants can be expensive and seeds are much cheaper. It is therefore worth considering whether growing things from seed will be worthwhile. You will need the right soil and pots, but you will be able to reuse these year after year. You could even use margarine tubs or similar items instead of pots or reuse ones you already have. You may also be able to swap some plants, once they grow a bit, so that you can have a bigger variety of items in your garden. It can be wise to grow things that might save you money. For example, if you grow herbs or vegetables it could be cheaper than buying them. This will depend on how much the plants or seeds cost you, how much water you pay for for the water to water them and the cost of the fertiliser. It can be good to experiment and then see which types of plants grow best in your garden as different soils and locations will be better for different plants. If you have any green-fingered neighbours then you could ask them.

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