It’s finally spring, making it the perfect time of year to put in some maintenance work on the garden so that it’s lush and beautiful by the time summer hits.
But having a garden is much more than pretty flowers and the occasional tomato plant — there are plenty of things you can do to keep your plants looking perky while helping the planet at the same time.
To help do your bit for the environment and to encourage wildlife into your garden, we've put together some handy tips you could use in your garden this spring from flower farmer and florist Nicola Cavanagh.
Nicola's tips prove everyone can become a recycling hero. So what are you waiting for? Get into the garden this spring.
Create your own compost bin
Home composting is one of the most environmentally-friendly ways of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it's very easy to do. Simply take a compost bin, fill with your food waste and you're good to go.
Nicola says, 'Not only are you reusing and recycling but you’ll be creating some great compost full of nutrients for your plants.
'To do this, fill a compost bin with a mix of both green waste such as grass cuttings, tea bags and old flower heads, in addition to brown waste like cardboard and newspaper. Make sure you turn it occasionally and don't add weeds to it.'
'This is a great green way to feed your plants with much-needed nutrients,' Nicola explains, 'To make it, you’ll need a couple of handfuls of garden compost and top it up with water in a bucket. Let it stew away for a while. You can then strain it through an old t-shirt.
'You’ll then have a nice concentrate that you can dilute with water to feed your plants with,' says Nicola.
And there you have it — an organic, liquid fertiliser!
Use water butts
We complain about the rain in the UK, but it can be a blessing for our gardens if we collect it and reuse it. Collect the water that runs off your rooftop via rain gutters and use it for watering your plants to save water.
Nicola says, 'Depending on the size of your garden you may just have space for one small collecting vessel, but it will save you lots of water.'
Attract wildlife and friendly bugs into your garden
'Not only is it nice to have butterflies and ladybirds in your garden, but they also make for a great biological control for pests because you don't want pesky flies and slugs ruining your hard-earnt crops,' warns Nicola.
Bug boxes are a great thing to make with the kids and will provide meals for frogs, hedgehogs and dragonflies — you need to find an open wooden box, then fill it loosely with straw, twigs and maybe a plastic plant pot or two. Turn it on its side and you'll have a bug playground, ready to house all sorts of critters.
Don't use herbicides on your weeds
You don't have to use strong chemical herbicides to prevent weeds in your garden. Nicola says, 'You can prevent weeds spreading by mulching around your plants with things like bark, leaf mould or composted straw. Just make sure you hand-weed by pulling them out or hoeing.'
Don't throw away your household items
You don't have to head out to the shops for all of your gardening equipment — According to Nicola, you might have things lying around the house that you can use to keep your plants safe and happy.
She says, 'Reuse items like empty plastic bottles. Cut them in half and you can create your own mini greenhouse to place over individual seedlings that you have planted out that may still be vulnerable to cold weather.'
There are also lots of different household items that you can use to plant seedling starters in — ice cream cones, hollowed out citrus skins and egg shells work perfectly.
With summer on the way, you're sure to be spending more time in the garden in the evenings, which means you'll be needing lighting. Why not use natural and free solar power to light your outdoor space in the evening? You can pick up our solar lights in store or online.