We recently caught up with Rune Sovndahl, co-founder of service business FantasticServices.com, to get his top tips and advice on how first time buyers can get started doing some gardening and making the most of their new outdoor and indoor space
Congratulations on your new home! Moving into your new place can be a really exciting time; bringing your personality to your home with new furnishings and paint and adding style with accessories. But have you thought about your garden? Now’s the perfect time to get your garden ready for spring. Whether your garden’s big or compact, my top tips will help you make the most of your outdoor and indoor space – so even if you live in an urban flat, you can still enjoy the benefits of gardening…
Spruce up your new garden for spring
With winter finally giving way to spring, it’s time to cut back, tidy and prepare your garden for milder weather. From tackling the overgrown bushes to planting your produce, I’ll help you get it sorted.
Take out weeds
First and foremost, it’s best to invest in some good gardening gloves and a weed remover. If your grass or paved area is full of weeds, the weed remover tool can do all the hard work for you. I like to do things the eco-friendly way where I can, so I wouldn’t recommend using any weed killers as they can be damaging to the environment. If you’re planning on creating a veggie patch or flower bed, weeds can interfere with your produce, so it’s best to remove them.
Mow your lawn
When it comes to mowing the lawn, it’s best to start with the fiddly bits first, which is usually the edges. I find that getting these out of the way first can help you concentrate on finishing the job. Next, pick your pattern. Stripes can add a great look to your garden but remember to switch up your pattern to help maintain the grass quality. We often pay too much attention to being neat, meaning we tidy away all the lawn clippings, but actually, grass clippings can add nutrients to your soil, so it’s best to leave a few on the ground. If you like to get that perfectly trimmed look, make sure you don’t cut your grass too low – just the top third is best for regrowth.
Trim edges, prune trees and shrubs
If your new garden hasn’t been tended to in a while, chances are your bushes and trees will be overgrown. It’s best to trim these back and cut off dead branches to encourage regrowth. Make sure you dispose of cuttings to prevent any disease spreading in your garden.
Prepare for planting
If you’re planning on creating a small veggie patch or flower bed, it’s best to prepare your foundations for successful results. First, dig up your soil, remove weeds and break up any large lumps. Add some organic matter over the top (over time you can make your own organic compost with a garden composter), then rake over the soil backwards and forwards. Your area is now primed and ready for planting!
Make your own kitchen garden
Whether you’re dealing with a small garden but still want to bring that rural vibe to your urban space, or have acres to play with, raised beds are an easy way to bring
home-grown produce to your slice of the great outdoors.
Go for raised beds
Raised beds, whether small or large, are perfect for keeping flowers and veggies in a one tidy space. They’re great for drainage, help your soil to increase in temperature which is great for growing and they’re really easy to cover when temperatures drop. Why not start with a kitchen garden? Think of those herbs and ingredients you like to put in your cooking, from thyme to mint, and if you have the space, you can plant vegetables you like to eat. Choosing things you actually like will help prevent wastage.
Prepare the area
Make sure your kitchen garden is in a sunny spot and decide on the size of your raised bed. Make sure you don’t dig too much and find that your area is too large to tackle by yourself. Next, use a shovel to turn over the dirt. Break up clumps and remove weeds and then add compost or topsoil and some manure. Decided on your veggies? Next comes the planting…
Plant your produce
Before you dive in head first, there’s an art to planting seeds, so it’s best to read each packet for advice. Dig holes with a small spade, add your seeds or bulb and fill the hole back with soil and then pat down. Add some mulch to protect the plant and help keep moisture in. Water using a watering can, being careful not to expose the seeds. Finally, don’t forget to label your seeds.
The best way to help your kitchen garden thrive is to attract pollinators. You can do that by planting flowers in and around your veggies. Cosmos works great with cucumbers, calendula works well with butternut squash and sweet peas are perfect with runner beans.
Beginner’s guide to apartment gardening
Don’t let lack of space put you off growing. If you don’t have the space outside, you can grow little herb gardens on your windowsill, they’re perfect for popping into your everyday cooking.
How and where to grow plants in your apartment
The best thing for plants is bright areas and sunlight. Windowsills can work well for a growing area. You can incorporate stylish pots instead of plastic plant pots to help blend in with your home decor.
Best plants for apartments
Mini herb gardens are great for growing in containers. When they sprout, you can snip off your chosen herb and add it to your dish. Spinach and lettuce are also great for growing indoors – they don’t need specific growing conditions, just plenty of water. Like heat? Go for a chilli plant – if you’re starting from seed, make sure they’re covered for 7-10 days first to allow for germination and then keep them in a warm area. Love garlic? A great fuss-free idea is to fill a pot with soil and add a garlic clove – the green shoots it produces will continue to grow and will taste perfect in a salad. If you want to add style, go for a houseplant that doesn’t need much light, like a Peace Lily or Philodendron and make sure you choose a plant that grows upwards instead of outwards.
Caring for your apartment garden
Water is key to caring for your herbs and plants. But make sure you don’t over water. Test the soil with your finger first to see if it’s dry. Fertiliser helps with growing plants, but make sure your potting mix doesn’t already have fertiliser in it before you add it in. Even though you’re indoors, you’ll have to keep on top of pesky plant pests. If your plants and flowers have diseases, make sure you trim them, and if your plants have attracted aphids, spray the plant down with a simple mix of washing up liquid and water. Lastly, your space is small, so you need to keep things under control – grow what you know you’ll eat so you’re not left with waste and overgrown plants.
Need help with tackling your new garden? Our gardeners can help; head to fantasticservices.com/gardening