Saturday, 10 June 2017

Getting my garden ready for summer with Love your Garden expert Katie Rushworth and Tesco

Katie Rushworth

Last week I was lucky enough to get some gardening advice from Katie Rushworth from ITV's Love your Garden who gave me some top tips on getting the garden ready for summer.  It's not very often you get the opportunity for a professional gardener cast an eye over your garden, so I was very excited to see what she might say about mine.  

We were meant to talk on the phone, but due to our work commitments we decided that email was the way to go! I was asked to send some photos of the garden and three questions for Katie to answer, which sounds great, but when you're selecting photos for a professional gardener to case their eye over you suddenly get a bit nervous.  I'm very much a beginner, and so although there are parts of the garden I'm quite pleased with there are other areas that are either in need of work or just look a bit of a mess.  

I chose the following photos because they illustrated the problems I'm currently having, but please bear in mind that these are aspects of the garden that are usually carefully edited out!

You can read Katie's answers below, and I've also selected a few items based on her answers that are available from the impressive gardening range at Tesco. 

The choisya is the white flowering shrub in the centre of the photo
Question: The Choisya is beautiful but is getting too big and overcrowding the border. I'm nervous about pruning it because when I pruned a previous one I noticed it began to turn brown and a few weeks later it was dead (not sure what I did wrong). When is the best time to prune, and can you give me some tips on how to prevent damaging it.

Katie: You need to prune it immediately after it has flowered. Always cut back to an outward facing new shoot and make your cut diagonally. Try not to remove more than 50% of the plant, that way it won’t be too shocked. Then mulch around the base of the plant with either well-rotted manure, homemade compost or a general fertilizer. Last but not least, give it a nice big drink of water. 

Flower girl secateur pruning set
Heritage cream metal watering can

Question: I had a huge cherry tree pruned earlier this year to let more light into the garden, as a large proporion of the garden including the the lawn was very shady.  Do you think that was that a factor in the lawn being so patchy? What your advice for making it look green again? 

      Katie: Yes, it is very likely that the tree was an issue. You can patch it up in the same way as you would any lawn however I would suggest you buy grass seed specifically for a shady area (it usually states very clearly on the box that is a suitable for shade)

Make sure you remove any bare patches by getting rid of any dead grass and moss from the area. Then sprinkle some topsoil, followed by some lawn seed. A final fine dressing of topsoil will keep any wildlife from eating the seed as well as ensure that the seed comes into contact with the soil. Lightly water to prevent any of the seed from being disturbed.

Hand push cylinder lawn mower, perfect for a small lawn like mine

Complete 4-in-1 lawn food

Question: Over the last year or so, the decking and pergola area has been badly damaged in storms. I want to replace it but I'm on a tight budget, what would you suggest?

      Katie: Given that you want to keep costs down I would first clear out everything that is broken and overgrown. I’d also re-paint the brick wall and re-stain the decking along with some old pallets. Stack the newly stained pallets on top of one another (usually only two high) to create a corner seating area, dress with big cushions and make a canopy from some strung up some festival lights. 

Mason Jar Solar Lights

Water resistant pallet seat cushion

UV resistant sail canopy

And just because I love it, and we have a resident hedgehog, how about this gorgeous little hedgehog house:

I've already taken on board some of the advice, and I've pruned the choisya and reseeded part of the lawn.  I'm also planning to start work on clearing the decking area and making a seating area with lighting.  I'll be updating with photo evidence soon, and hope that I haven't done more damage than good.

Do you have any gardening tips?  What would you do with that messy decking and pergola area?  

This post is in collaboration with Tesco. Words, photos and selection of items are my own.