Getting the most out of your garden can make you happy, healthy and wealthy
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As the sun makes a hotly anticipated appearance, we are all keen to celebrate the joy that is spending time in our own patch of the great outdoors.
And this year seems even more special, as it marks 300 years since one of England’s greatest gardeners, Lancelot Capability Brown, was born.
Gardens will be used to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, with this year’s Chelsea Flower Show also focusing on how wellbeing can be achieved through gardening.
And the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recently suggested that the well-loved English leisure pursuit should be available on the NHS – thanks to its physical and mental health benefits.
On the back of National Gardening Week earlier in the month, the importance of our gardens can be immeasurable in terms of personal reward.
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But they are also a fantastic asset to homes, especially in towns and cities where space is always at a premium.
So as well as improving your health and happiness, a well-kempt attractive garden can boost the value of your property and enhance your bank balance as well as your mood.
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St Albans-based property expert and estate agent at Collinson Hall, Steve Walker, sees every day how gardens can be priceless, in providing individuals, couples and families with a better lifestyle.
He said: “Having the ability to sit outside is important to your typical buyer. The preference for the size of the outside space varies, depending on the time of life. Enough for a beer and barbecue with friends might be plenty for people without kids - but something with more space for kids to play in might be a priority for those with young families.
“Facing the right way for daytime/evening sunshine can also be important and, of course, some people like to grow their own vegetables, keep chickens or just spend time gardening. As with all of these things demand will drive values and premiums will be achieved for properties with decent garden space.”
Sally Noakes from Strutt & Parker estate agent in Harpenden, recommends several top tips for making the most of your outdoor space:
The Great British Bee Count 2016 is next month and it can give you a great buzz to help attract bees, which are vital to our eco-system.
Sally said: “You need to plant flowers with high pollen and nectar counts with open, daisy-like flowers, such as asters, cosmos and geraniums. Purple is the most vibrant colour for bees so fill your gardens with lavender, bugles and borage.”
An otherwise dull garden can be cheered up by getting to grips with growing your own.
Sally said: “Planting your own fruit and veg can add interest to an otherwise bland garden. By creating areas dedicated to planting, you compartmentalise your space – almost like rooms, which is far more engaging to the eye and rewarding for you. Bees you recently enticed will help pollinate your fruits – win win!”
Small but interesting
If you don’t have much to go round, have no fear. Bigger is not always better when it comes to gardens. There is so much you can do with less space, which is often desirable due to being less demanding than sprawling lawns.
Sally said: “It’s OK if you don’t have acres to play around with. Smaller courtyard gardens are often preferred by buyers because of their low-maintenance appeal. But it’s still important to make this space look as interesting you possible.
“Use horizontal layers of different heights to create the illusion of depth, such as low shrubs before a slightly higher fence, flower beds and smaller trees near the house.”
Maximise your garden by ensuring plants that bloom at different times of the year. Choosing well will mean your garden is not just seasonal.
Sally said: “Evergreen foliage is great for winter, such as helleborus argutifolius, which have apple-green flowers between February and May. Grasses like elymus magellanicus have metallic blue leaves that keep colour and add texture to mild winters.
“Trachelospermum jasminoides is an evergreen climber with starry white flowers that look fabulous on trellises and a trained wall.”
Gardening events diary dates
If you feel inspired to get your green-fingered groove on, why not check out these to help spark further ideas and sow seeds of success?
24-28 May: RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Perhaps the most famous flower show in England, this event sees show-stopping exhibitions and inspirational garden designers setting the trend for the year ahead.
16-19 June: BBC Gardeners’ World Live
Set at the NEC in Birmingham, this offers practical advice from experts and showcases amazing plant displays. Dedicated hands-on gardeners gather and unite!
June: National Gardens Festival Weekend
A two-day event during which 380 English gardens open for visitors, allowing them to enjoy some of the best gardens in a friendly setting.
Throughout the year: The National Garden Scheme
A feast of more than 3,000 outstanding privately-owned gardens open to the public at different times across 2016. Some owners even offer tea and cake!