Thursday, 18 July 2013

The garden gets a makeover...

 
 

 

...and boy, was it about time!!

 
 
I have already confessed to being less than green fingered....and with the good weather arriving so late this year, our little garden was in quite a state...
At least that's my excuse...
Truth is: I have never really had any interest in gardening, and could always think of a million other things I'd rather do. When we moved into our place a year and a half ago, the garden was in an OK state...nothing special, but neat and tidy. But apart from Mr occasionally running the lawnmower over the grass, we have done nothing to it...nothing!!
Nothing but use and abuse it: Its been a playground, a workshop and a dumping ground...and it was looking a little battered...
 
 
 
I had made a few feeble attempts to prettify it, putting out some potted flowers here and there....But through pure neglect they soon died...
So our garden was full of pots filled with dead flowers and covered with weeds...
In the last couple of weeks I have been using the garden as my painting workshop, and therefore have been spending a lot of time out there....I soon became acutely aware that our garden was in an embarrassing state: Apart from the obvious weeds and lack of upkeep...it was crawling with ants (that also had started to make their way into our bathroom!!!!EEEK!) and bees had made home in one of our old outdoor toilets (that has been converted into sheds) at the back of the garden...
SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE!!
As I am starting my SUMMER KIDS CLUB next week, and are having some of Little Miss Moo's friends around on Monday for some crafty fun in the garden , IT HAD TO BE DONE FAST!!
 I decided to treat the garden as another project...So this week I have been giving our poor neglected garden a long overdue makeover!!
 
 
So the first thing I did was to tackle the weeds...
.....and boy, was it hard work!!
In the sweltering heat (we have had a heat wave her in the UK recently), there was blood, sweat, but luckily no tears....I kept pretending I was Kim Wilde (the 80's pop star turned TV gardener) to get me through it, singing "we're the kids of America" on top of my voice....the neighbours must have thought I'd lost the plot!!
So anyway, when I finally had removed about a zillion dandy lions, and got rid of all the dead flowers, I sprayed the affected areas with a mix of 10% vinegar and some citrus oil to kill off all the weed roots....You can of course buy some weed killer, but I didn't like the thought of spraying the garden with chemicals....You can also use boiled water with salt to kill off weeds...
I also uncovered the home of our ant-problem, and pored some boiling water into their nest...(I know this sounds cruel, but I genuinely believe that this was (slightly) more humane than using shop bought chemical ant killer)...I also mixed up some mint oil with vinegar that I sprayed around the areas I had noticed the ants frequenting...Apparently ants hate strong smells like mint, rosemary and cinnamon. Click Here for some more simple and natural ant control remedies...
As I told you in my Monday post, I called the pest control guys out to deal with the bees...( this is not a problem I would recommend you should ever try to tackle yourself (unless of course you are very brave and know what you are doing!!) as the bees can get quite aggressive...)
I also spent last Sunday cleaning up our garden furniture....I used some sugar soap mixed up with warm water...soaked the wood with it and let it sit on for about 15 minutes before scrubbing with a scourer...
 
 
I was planning on painting the furniture, but decided against it; as they are in a bad condition, with the wood cracking in places and I don't think they will last us till next year..... it would be a waste of both money and time...But simply giving them a good clean, has made a huge improvement...
 
 
Before and after..
 
 
So with all the weeds, bees, ants and dead flowers removed, the hardest part of operation "garden makeover" was done....phew!!
Now came the fun part:
Making it all pretty!!
I got Mr to pick up some white gravel from homebase on his way home from work, and put this down in areas.
 
 
 
Now the garden was looking neat and tidy, and just needed some colour injection...so off I went to the garden centre! I usually don't like spending money on flowers (as I am known to kill them off in a couple of weeks...), but on this occasion, I decided it would be an investment, and promised myself that this time I will not neglect them!!....I guess time will tell!
So I came home with 3 big carrier bags full of flowers to brighten up the garden...
I did also pick up a couple of cheap terracotta pots, but as I (as always) was on a tight budget, I decided to use what I already had of pots...
 
 
This half dead rosemary shrub, for instance was left behind by the previous owners of our house, and was in this ugly, terracotta look plastic pot...the bottom of the pot was gone, but I decided I would keep it (as rosemary should help ward off the ants) and try to revive the shrub and simply give the pot a lick of paint...
 
 
I gave the pot a quick clean, then I used some duck egg exterior satin paint...
I also painted the rim of the terracotta pots that I bought to match...
 
 
The previous owners had also left behind these old hanging baskets...
 
 
 
I decided to spray paint them blue, but used a primer first to make the finish a bit more weather proof..
 
 

Planting...

 
 
Like I said earlier, I am not really a gardening sort of girl, so I didn't brave any planting directly into the soil in our garden, but stuck to filling my various pots and pans with flowers (clearly marked "easy to grow" in the shop...)As I am no expert, I might have done this all wrong, but what I did was basically this:
I filled the bottom of my containers with bricks and rubble (to "pad" it out a bit), then filled with multi purpose garden soil before adding my plants and flowers...
 
 
 
Then I gave them all a nice shower of water with some miracle grow plant feed...
 
 
A huge improvement to how it was before...don't you think?
If you are wondering what is going on with the half dead rose bush in the picture above: I am trying to save it, as that is "Magic", our late cat's ashes are in the soil, and I feel quite sentimental towards it...
 
 
I have not done anything for now to improve the lawn, that is very dry and patchy...that will be a job for next year, as I think it will have to be dug over and relayed....a major job!!
The battered old cooking pot, that I've filled with pansies, used to belong to my morfar (mums dad)...and he used it to empty his boat of water when he was out fishing...
Mr thought I was nuts for dragging it with me all the way from Norway, but I love it!!
The glass floats hanging on the wall of the old loo/shed also used to belong to him... 
 
 
I've also used an old enamel piss-pot to plant some pansies in...
Use what you've got, I say...
 
 
 
 
 There is still a huge pile of rubble at the back of the garden, that Mr has promised me to take to the dump at the weekend, and I am still working on the seating area I will show you on Saturday, but I am really pleased to finally have a garden I don't need to be embarrassed about....
Yes it's not perfect, but at least it is weed and bug free, and looking tidy and colourful....
...just in time for Little Miss Moo's summer holidays...
So now when I've finished writing this post, I am going to sit in my pretty little garden with a cup of coffee and enjoy the fruits of my (very hard) labour...
Hopefully I can keep it this way...
 
Apologies for this post being a day late, but I managed to lock myself out of the house yesterday, so couldn't get back in to finish the post...
I may have to find a secret place to keep a spare set of keys in my lovely "new" garden somewhere...shhhhh!
 
Thanks for popping by...
If you have any gardening advice for me, it will be greatly appreciated...
Please leave a comment below!
 
xxx
June
 
 

2 comments:

Mitchell Knapp said...

For someone who claimed to have no interest in gardening, you did pretty well with the garden makeover project. I know you’ll be reluctant doing those things so often, but the more time you do the little things for your garden, the less work and expensive the job will be in the long run.

Mitchell Knapp @ Scenic Landscaping

june olsen said...

Thanks for the advice Michell!

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