Thursday, March 3, 2016

5 Tips For A Spring-Ready Garden (And Why I Spend Every Weekend At Homebase)

I had to question my priorities recently when I climbed into bed at 9 p.m. on a Friday night with a self-satisfied sigh and a copy of a paving catalogue (exactly what it sounds like) - all while looking forward to our visit to Homebase the next day. These trips have become a near weekly occurrence: John joked that we should just live there.

When we bought our house last summer, the front and back gardens were a mess. And today? They're still a mess. Our trips to Homebase have only increased since we hired a landscape designer to completely overhaul both of them. In the end, I'd just love a place in the back that we can sit and chill out in with our friends in the spring and summer, plus a front that looks warm and inviting when I walk up to the front door (rather than a place for people to leave their chicken bones and candy wrappers, and where foxes poop - which is what it currently is. A fox toilet).

With that said, here are 5 things I've learned about getting a garden ready for spring:

Buy good quality tools. Our previous property was a rental flat, but we were responsible (I use that word loosely) for keeping the garden "tidy". This basically involved me peering out the window, muttering, "Yuck," under my breath at the bald patches near the back of the lawn and returning to my cup of tea. I pulled out weeds with my hands (when I needed to) and halfheartedly scooped up leaves like that too.

But for the garden in our new house, we bought a proper hand trowel, hand fork, and digging fork from Homebase. We figured that even if we didn't know what we were doing, we'd at least look good doing it. In all seriousness though, there's no point in buying cheap garden tools (been there, done that) because they break. And then you have to get on a crowded bus with a shovel again.

Pin. Pin, pin, pin to Pinterest like your life depends on it. Before owning a home, I had boards entitled, "The Perfect Heels" or "Leather Bucket Bag Wishlist". Now it's like, "Dream Bathrooms" or "Dream Kitchens" or ... "Dream Paving Stones". But it's also a great way for you to think about what you'd might like in terms of garden design. Before we met our designer, I had zero idea of what we wanted. But he came to pitch to us armed with a Pinterest board that had our names on it and I was impressed.

If you're planning a major overhaul like we are (i.e. removing a shed that's the size of a small house, uprooting a tree, or planting a "wildflower meadow"), get a proper survey done of the garden. We'd never thought to do this before, but our designer insisted that it was a good idea - and it made sense. It's probably not so important if you're not doing any major structural work, but we want to move a whole retaining wall back and - am I boring you yet?!

Be honest with yourself. I'd love to think that I'll be spending all my weekends and spare time in the garden once it's "done", planting and pruning and prettifying. Wrong. I'll probably gaze out the window absentmindedly and call out, "John ... the grass needs mowing ..." just as I did before. I kill succulents. This is a fact. So, as much as I'd love beautiful hydrangea to pose in front of while I take a fashion selfie, I've asked our designer to incorporate hardy, perennial plants, where possible. Lavender, I've learned is a pretty good self-subsisting plant that needs little attention. Looks nice and smells good? Bingo.

Get a handful of different quotes and ask for personal recommendations. This is important. Gardens are expensive (WHO KNEW?). It's worth asking for recommedations on local community forums. We asked neighbors, friends of friends, and I also posted on Facebook and Streetlife.

We're only at the start of our garden re-design project, but I am already looking forward to (fingers crossed) sharing with you the finished results!

Our Burgon & Ball gardening tools were generously provided to us by Homebase, the place where I spend most of my Saturdays. No lie. Mostly because they have succulents and pretty watering cans. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Angloyankophile!


  1. Aw yay!! That's super exciting! I actually didn't even realize that you had bought your house last year! Congratulations xxx I'm super excited for your garden, too!!

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah Elizabeth! Yeah, I've been addicted to "prettifying" my house although it is such a slow process! I'm really impatient and I like things to look "done" as I walk in, but it's been fun picking out new furniture, art, etc. with John whenever we have a spare moment. I've got a few posts on here about interiors, etc. if you fancy having a read! Thank you for your support xxx

  2. I never had a garden (lived in an apartment my whole life), but my mom did growing up, and she misses it so much. She used to have mango trees, guava trees, and banana trees in her backyard. Good luck with your garden, once you get used to tending it, it'll be something that you'll look forward to everyday!

    1. GUAVA TREES?! MANGOES? That's the dream, Farrah! Where did your mom grow up? Can you imagine having a garden with all those, and palm trees too?! That would be amazing. Thanks so much for stopping by to read!

  3. Honesty is just so important when designing your garden, you're right! That's why ours is still a mostly tamed mess...


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