A garden that thrives, whatever the weather
WET weather has meant we have found it difficult building gardens recently. The deluge has soaked the soil, making for a very sticky, messy working environment.
It seems that the weather in general and rainfall in particular are becoming ever more unpredictable. With this in mind, the types of gardens we plan in the future may need to change to ones that don't get too affected by the weather.
The summer is the time when we use our gardens the most, but the wet weather this year meant that barbecue opportunities have been quite limited.
By adjusting gardens to account for harsh weather we can maximise their use. We have been coming up with ideas so that gardens can be used as much as possible throughout the year, also keeping in mind that we have had many periods of drought.
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If stepping outside means getting wet and muddy shoes, then it's time to change the outdoor surface to one for all conditions.
One solution is artificial grass, which we have incorporated into several recent projects. Modern versions are quite life-like, with various shades of green that give the appearance of a real lawn.
It is easy to lay and can blend in with the rest of the garden; it is free-draining and can be walked on after a shower, which means kids can play on it all year round, without getting in a mess or carving up a real lawn. Also, it doesn't need any maintenance, so gone are the days of cutting and weeding.
Other features that work well in times of excess rainfall include raised beds, which quickly transform the look of a garden and allow any excess rain water to drain away, allowing plants to grow happily.
Raised beds can be made out of a variety of materials: wood, old sleepers, stone or brick. They are easier to maintain than normal beds as gardeners don't have to bend down to the ground.
Finally, a cheap and simple way to help drainage in a garden is to make sure flower beds are well mulched. We try and add mulch to all our gardens.
The mulch absorbs plenty of rain water and slowly releases it into soil, and helps it run off during a downpour. It also stops soil drying out too quickly in dry weather. Mulch looks good and can highlight plants in a border, as well as suppress weeds. A thick layer will also give plants additional nutrients.
For information, visit www. secretgardenweb.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.