Gardening Basics

Wondering how to start a garden? Find your confidence with these expert gardening tips.

Never gardened before? No problem. Make your grow-you-own dreams a reality with these easy-to-follow tips.

1. Site it right.

Starting a garden is just like home it’s all about location. (out of sight, out of mind definitely applies to gardening).

2. Follow the sun.

Misjudging sunlight is a common pitfall when you’re first learning to garden. Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your garden before choosing an area for your edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun in order to thrive.

3. Stay close to water.

One of the best gardening tips you’ll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don’t have to lug water to it each time your plants get thirsty. If you need to invest in a hose reel why not take a look at our range here

The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that’s about one knuckle deep). If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

4. Start with great soil.

When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Achieve this just-right blend by mixing 3 inches of All Purpose Garden Soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil if you’re planning to plant in the ground. If you’re planting in a raised bed use a good vegetable Soil, which is the perfect weight and texture for raised bed growing.

5. Consider containers.

When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that’s large enough for the plant it’s hosting, and fill it with good quality soil.

6. Choose the right plants.

It’s important to select plants that match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room (or a trellis to climb).
Do your homework and pick varieties that will grow well where you live and in the space you have.

7. Learn your frost dates.

Planting too early (or late) in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don’t accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It’s also good to know your first average Autumn frost date so that you get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them.

8. Add some mulch.

Apply a layer of mulch that’s 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less.

9. Feed plants regularly.

We’ve already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success! So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with plant food like Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food. Be sure to follow label directions.

One last word of advice: Stock up on the basic tools you need to make it easier to grow.

Springtime Lawncare

This is the time of year that your lawn will literally ‘spring’ into action following the dark winter months. As the grass grows, it’s a great time to feed and condition, kill moss, get rid of lawn weeds and begin mowing. It’s also the perfect time to sow new lawns from seed. Follow the steps below to get a great looking lawn this spring!

Start mowing with caution

As the weather warms up during the spring months, the grass will start to grow more rapidly. However, don’t be tempted to cut grass if the soil is very wet or there’s frost or snow on the ground. Be gentle with the first few cuts of the season. Simply trim off the top third of growth with the mower blades adjusted to their highest setting.

Allow the lawn to recover for a few days and then cut again with the blades on a lower setting. At this time of year the lawn may only need cutting about once or twice a fortnight.

Get rid of weeds and moss

After the wet winter months, your lawn may be overrun with moss and weeds that compete with the grass for vital nutrients and soil moisture.

To kill off moss it is best to use an all in one lawn feed, weed and moss killer.  This will increase the nutrient levels of the grass which therefore kills off the moss. Aftercut All In One is a good product to use to do this. Apply the all in one a few days after mowing and lightly rake out the moss once it begins to die. Once the moss has been removed, you will be left with bare patches in your lawn. It is essential to grow new healthy grass over these patches to avoid them being overgrown by moss again. The patches can easily be repaired using Aftercut Patch Fix, which is a grass seed and seed soil mix. This is best done in the spring or autumn months.

Small patches of weeds can be dealt with effectively by using a Lawn Weedkiller, or by removing by hand. If you choose to use a weedkiller on your lawn, make sure it says ‘lawn weedkiller’ on it. If you use a normal weedkiller you will kill all your grass.

Feed and conditioning your lawn

All plants need feeding to perform their best in the garden, your lawn is no exception. For regular feeding throughout the season, apply products such as Miracle Gro or for a more natural option try Toplawn

Deal with compacted soil

Compacted lawns need to be aerated as this helps to promote healthy growth. Aerating improves the drainage around the grass roots. You’ll know if your lawn is compacted because it will be rock hard, slow to drain after rainfall. Paths across the lawns are often quick to compact as they have had heavy foot traffic.

A good time to aerate the lawns is in the spring. Ideally you should remove plugs of soil using a hollow tine aerator. Alternatively, you could use a normal garden fork and push the spikes into the soil to a depth of about 7-10cm (3-4 inches) if possible. After the lawn has been aerated, fill the holes with Westland Lawn and Turf Dressing. This contains a mixture of sand, peat, soil and fertiliser, which together, add exactly the right ingredients to the soil for premium grass growth.

Over-seeding

Early autumn tends to be the best time to do this, although spring is also a good time to over-seed any sparse areas of lawn. Sparse areas may appear where weeds or moss has been removed or where the grass has not grown very well.

To over-seed use a fork and rake to break up the surface to a finer consistency. Apply the seed, but only at half the recommended rate, then rake the seed into the surface. Grass should sprout within 7 to 10 days after sowing.

Gardening In February

Grow Your Own:

*Apply a general balanced fertiliser to all your tree and bush fruit at the recommended rate – water it in if it’s dry and don’t get it on the plant.

*Early flowering fruit such as Peaches and Nectarines can be protected from frost damage with fleece if needed – hand pollinate with a small soft brush if insects are scarce.

*If you haven’t already pruned your apple and pear trees, now is the last month to do it, remove all dead and diseased wood, including any old fruit from last year.

*Garlic and Shallots can start to be planted on light soils (don’t plant them where they have been before) and Broad Beans and Summer Cabbage can be sown outdoors – if your soil is heavy or the weather remains cold leave it a month.

*Parsley can start to be sown in succession to ensure fresh crops over a long period.

* A cloche can be a valuable addition at this time of year ensuring an earlier start to the season and flexible protection when needed.

HOUSEPLANTS:

*Deadhead Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) leaving the flower stalk to die down naturally. Keep feeding and watering and you may get the bonus of an extra flower in August.

*Houseplants will benefit from the first feed of the season now.

GREENHOUSE:

*Now is a good time to sow Tomatoes and Cucumbers if you have a heated greenhouse so you get a head start. Alternatively try a propagator or a warm windowsill in the house.

*Conservatory climbers can be pruned now.

WILDLIFE:

*Continue feeding the birds as they get ready for the spring.

*Start providing nest boxes in anticipation of the new season.

 

WATER GARDEN:

*Check your frost prevention is still working.

 

LAWNS:

*Rake off any moss or debris that has accumulated over the winter.

*If poor drainage is an issue try spiking the lawn with a fork and brushing a gritty soil mix into the holes.

*Turf can start to be laid as long as the weather is not too wet or cold. Do not walk on the newly laid turf and leave undisturbed for several weeks to allow to establish.

FLOWER GARDEN:

*Now is the time to plan your summer bedding and the first sowings can be made now in a heated greenhouse or windowsill.

*Start protecting Delphiniums and Hostas as they emerge from dormancy as they are very prone to damage from slugs and snails.

*Cut back ornamental grasses and perennials that you have left for winter effect and may now be looking tatty.

*Check frost protection is still in place (if needed) and that plants have not dried out (especially evergreens) and that slugs and snails have not moved in to mulches and straw that you have used.

*This is an ideal time to purchase and plant bulbs in flower – some like snowdrops establish better now than when dried off and it is easier to see where you have gaps to fill than in the autumn.

TREES SHRUBS AND HEDGES:

*Rejuvenate overgrown deciduous hedges by pruning back harder than normal and feeding and watering.

*Prune late summer and autumn flowering clematis hard back to the lowest pair of strong buds.

*Shrubs and trees can be fed at this time of year – use a good balanced feed- and for most varieties this will last the entire season. Remember that ericaceous plants such as Rhododendrons will need a dedicated ericaceous feed and be sure to water it in.

*This is the best month to prune your bush roses – cut them back hard by a half or two thirds to a strong bud.

*After you have pruned your roses give them a feed with a specific rose feed – don’t get it on the plant and water well in.

*Summer flowering shrubs such as Buddleja can be pruned hard back to encourage better flowers and to keep the plant under control.

GENERAL:

*Sterilise pots and seed trays before using this year to stop the spread of fungal disease.

*Try something new and plant a summer bulb border – let your creative side out and think about colours and heights for a stunning display

Here at Mere Park We have fantastic ranges of everything you’ll ever need for the garden, Order online or call instore – we’re located in Newport Shropshire (Nr Telford)

What To Do In Your Garden In January

Often the coldest month

January might be the middle of winter but as the days lengthen the garden starts to grow. Now is a great time to plan for the coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Enjoy the fresh air, on dry sunny days, and check your winter protection, stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather. Also put out food for birds and leave some garden areas uncut, a little longer, to provide shelter for wildlife in your garden.

Plan for the following year

Cold January days are the perfect opportunity for planning your garden for the following year. The snowdrops are beginning to emerge from the ground, scented shrubs are beginning to flourish and hellebores begin to show their faces in the shadiest patches of the garden. For me, January is a time to dream about the gardening season ahead and get my hands dirty too!

  1. Continue to clear away any decaying perennials from your borders to deter slugs and snails and allow spring bulbs to grow fully. Empty compost heaps that are ready to use as mulch and spread it on the garden. This will enrich your soil and provide you with healthy plants later in the year.
  2. Ensure that you continue to water pots and containers – particularly window boxes and containers that sit on balconies or the lee of the house. Containers planted with bulbs should be given a good water at least twice a week. Try not to water during periods of heavy frost and ensure tender plants are protected with fleece or hessian.
  3. Bare root trees and shrubs can be planted now, if the weather is good. Try planting scented shrubs such as Sarcococca confusa and Daphne odora by paths and doorways to enjoy their sweet scent.
  4. Garden birds are active throughout the winter months. Ensure that bird tables and feeders are kept clean and topped up with food regularly- We have a fantastic supply of Bird food available.
  5. Remove old hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge. I can never resist cutting a few stems for the house. Simply cut and sear the tips of the stems in boiling water for 30 seconds, before placing them straight into cold water. They will last in a vase for at least a week and cast away January blues.
  6. Plant amaryllis bulbs in pots now for beautiful indoor flowers. Other potted plants such as hyacinths, iris and narcissus can also be brought into the house for striking, scented indoor displays.
  7. Check dahlia tubers in storage and remove any that are showing signs of rot. Make sure that they remain dry and are not exposed to frost.
  8. Rose bushes can be pruned whilst they are dormant, cutting them back just above a bud. Dead branches should be cut out and any crossing branches removed. Ensure that wires, trellises and fences are strong and secure. Any loose branches should be secured with strong twine.
  9. Wisteria can be pruned now. Cut back shoots by two or three buds on a lateral stem for a healthy blooms in Spring. I prune my wisteria twice a year, to keep it strong and full of flowers in May.
  10. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy planning for the year to come. Look at old gardening books and seed catalogues for inspiration. Always remember to be realistic about the size of your garden and the time you have available.

 

Gardening In July | To Do List

Gardening in July; with the heat of Summer, comes good and surprisingly not so good times in the garden and garden centre.

The ‘not so good’ being all the watering that is essential to provide beautiful plants for sale and for show.

The ‘good times’ are relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying the beautiful sights of your garden, taking in the smells, sounds and sights of your surroundings when all the chaos and chores of the day are over.

General

  • Water and feed all areas regularly.
  • Enjoy the night sights by highlighting the garden with low voltage or solar powered lights.
  • Prune Wisteria new shoots back to five buds, to encourage next years flowers.
  • Trim Leylandi hedges to keep under control.
  • Prune shrubs that have already flowered to keep in trim.

Ponds

  • Check pump filters regularly to keep unblocked.
  • Remove blanket weed by twisting it around a stick.
  • Feed fish regularly.
  • Pond plants including water Lilies, can still be planted.

Vegetables

  • Water regularly, especially onions.
  • Continue sowing salad veg- lettuce, radish..
  • Dip up early potatoes
  • Earth up Main-Crop Potatoes
  • Feed vegetable plants with liquid manure or nitrogen feed.

Fruit

  •  Peg Strawberry runners down to propagate them
  • Harvest Raspberries
  • Spray for mildew on Gooseberries
  • Keep protection nets and cages secure.

Lawn Care

  • Liquid feed to maintain tip top condition.
  • Water in dry conditions.
  • Keep newly sown or turfed areas watered.
  • Raise the height of cut in dry conditions.

General Tasks

  • Feed all border Perennials with Rose Feed
  • Don’t forget to water newly planted flowers.
  • Water hanging baskets daily & feed weekly with Phostrogen.
  • Spray roses for greenfly, mildew & blackspot
  • Prune earlier flowered Perennials to encourage another flush of flowers.

Gardening in July is one of the best times of the year, and we everything you need to hit the ground running.

Gardening In June | To Do List

Gardening in June; the beginning of Summer is now upon us and it’s time to continue with those planned projects.

Brighten up borders, plant up hanging baskets and tubs with Summer colour and watch them bloom!

Greenhouse

  • Thin out hardy annual seedlings sown directly into soil.
  • To prevent scorching and over heating of tender young plants, paint the glass using a shade paint
  • Feed all plants at least once a week
  • Make sure your greenhouse is well ventilated
  • Plant cucumbers, melons and peppers.

Vegetables

  • Water onions well to ensure the bulbs swell.
  • Pinch out tips of Broad Beans to discourage blackfly.
  • Feed all plants and water regularly during dry spells.
  • Pull up soil around main-crop potatoes.

Ponds

  • Remove blanket weed from ponds by twirling it around a stick.
  • Check filters and pumps to ensure they are not blocked.

Flowers

  • Plant Summer bedding
  • Fill window boxes, troughs and hanging baskets.
  • Spray roses with Rose Clear 2 to control pests and diseases.
  • Water in well, all newly planted shrubs and perennials.
  • Watch out for pests and diseases in all areas and spray when necessary.

Lawn Care

  • Mow lawns more frequently.
  • To give tired lawns a boost, feed with ‘Miracle Grow’ lawn food.
  • Apply a combined feed and week if you have not already done so.

General Tasks

  • Harvest Rhubarb regularly- don’t allow flower spikes to form.
  • Protect soft fruit by covering with netting.
  • Place straw under Strawberry plants to protect from slugs.

Gardening in June is a pleasure not to be missed, so make sure you get your hands on everything we have to offer.

Gardening In May | To Do List

Gardening in May | May is probably the best month in the garden as everything starts to take shape, especially the perennials that begin to fill the borders again.

Late Spring blossoming trees provide colour and lots of planting and care can get under way.

Greenhouse

  • Plant out Tomatoes in an unheated greenhouse.
  • Continue to sow hardy annuals and vegetable seeds.
  • Beware of cold nights- be ready with the heater!
  • Prick out seedlings as they grow.

Vegetables

  • Sow many vegetable varieties now.
  • Plant out vegetable plants but protect from cold and slugs.
  • Keep the weeds down between rows.
  • Earth up Early Potatoes.

Ponds

  • Start to feed fish this month.
  • Clean out pumps & filters regularly and keep them running.

Lawns

  • Lay new turf
  • Mow the lawn, weekly if required
  • Apply Spring lawn feeds & weed killer if needed.

Flowers

  • The garden centre is bulging at the sides with trees, shrubs, flowers, fruit and vegetables ready to be planted now.
  • Harden off bedding plants in a cold frame or put outside in the day and bring inside at night.
  • Beware of slugs!
  • Purchase from our range of annual hanging baskets and plant up your own baskets and tubs, but keep in the greenhouse until frosts have gone.
  • Feed flower borders with chicken manure orrose feed.

Fruit

  • Plant all types of tree and bush fruit now
  • Harvest Rhubard
  • Spray fungicide for mildew, especially Gooseberries and for PEach leaf curl
  • Mulch Strawberries to keep of pests.

General Tasks

 Feed everywhere to put nutrients back into the soil, after the rainy seasons we have had.

  • Plant outRhododendrons and Roses now
  • Cover particular plants with fleece at sign offrost, e.g. Acers, Pieris and bedding plants.

Here at Mere Park we have everything you need for gardening in May, and every other month for that matter. Check out our wide range of products here.

Gardening In April | To Do List

Gardening in April | Spring is finally here – and the sight of Forsythia, Camelias, Magnolias and other Spring flowers are at their beautiful peak.

Now is a good time to do certain jobs that will help cut down on maintenance for the rest of the year.

The garden centre is now bulging at the sides with everything for the garden.

Greenhouse

  • A busy time for sowing all sorts in a heated green-house, inclduing tomatoes, peppers, marrows and other vegetable seeds.
  • Pot up cuttings of Fuschias and Geraniums.

Bulbs

  • Plant out Gladioli, Dahlias and Lillies.

 Mix in good planting compost when planting.

Seeds

Many varieties of hardy annuals can now be sown outside.

Lawn

  • Apply Spring lawn fertiliser.
  • Treat with moss killer.
  • Rake out debris (thatch) if you didn’t get chance last September.
  • Apply grass seed to bare patches.

Fruit

  • It’s a great time to plant trees and bushes as the centre is fully stocked.
  • Plant out Strawberries and Rhubard now.
  • Start to spray Apples and Pears to deter pests and diseases.
  • Mulch with manure.

Vegetables

  • Sow many vegetable varities.
  • Plant out onion sets and potatoes.

Many herbs and vegetable plants are available now.

Flowers

  • Plant trees and shrubs.
  • Hardy perennials and herbaceous plants can now be planted.
  • Feed all flower borders, after the washout winter, with a slow release fertiliser like chicken manure, rose feed or blood, fish and bone.
  • Prune back late flowering shrubs like Buddleia, Lavatera, Clematis, Lavendar and Rosemary.
  • Start spraying roses to keep on top of pests and diseases.
  • Plant alpines out now- choose from our wide selection.

Gardening in April is one of life’s greatest pleasures so make sure you are prepped and ready to plant.

March Gardening Jobs

The weather is hopefully improving, the soil is getting warmer and the sight of yellow drifts of Daffodils greets the Spring.

The gardening season now gets busier and busier.

Greenhouse

Start off many seedlings including annuals, summer vegetables like lettuce, cabbage and beetroot.

Seeds

Sow now -many varieties of annuals for summer colour.

Available in Store

Summer flowering bulbs (begonias, gladioli, lilies and dahlias) ready to be planted.

Bulbs

  • Plant now from a full range of bush fruit and fruit trees.
  • Mulch or manual or the fruit bed

Vegetables

  • Plan for some home-grown vegetables, however small a plot you have.
  • Plant asparagus, early potatoes and shallots.

Flowers

  • Prune roses.
  • Cut back and clean up winter flowering heathers.
  • Hebe’s need checking over after the winter frosts.
  • After all the rain washing through the soil, feed all borders now with chicken manure or fish calmer blood and bone or a mulch with farmyard manure.
  • Plant perennials and alpines in borders, troughs and walls.

Gardening In January | To Do List

Gardening in January | After the Christmas rush of fibre optics, trees and tinsel, we can return to focusing the garden centre efforts on gardening.

As the cold short days are upon us, we should make plans for the seasons ahead and catch up on reading some guidance about how to get your garden primed for spring. Our January tips help you to focus on the essential jobs.

Greenhouse

 Buy new compost for seed sowing.

  • Sow seeds directly into modules to save time and space.
  • Thoroughly disinfect the greenhouse with Jeyes Fluid before use.

Shrubs

  • Prune Wisteria side shoots to encourage flowering.
  • Our Winter Flowering shrubs are all looking good now.

Visit the centre to choose some now, you can leave the planting until the weather conditions improve.

Lawns

Service the lawnmower ready for Spring.

  • Keep off them when frosty.

Fruit

Prune soft fruit shrubs by removing old stems.

  • Plant new fruit bushes when ground is not frozen.

Vegetables

 Seed potatoes and onion sets will soon be arriving in the garden centre.

  • Dig over plots roughly and allow the frost to break down the ‘big lumps’

General Tasks

  • Apply Mosskiller like Algon to hard surfaces to prevent slippy paths.
  • See December’s monthly guide for a list of beautiful flowering plants looking good in January.

Flowers

 Plan which flower seeds you are going to grow in the borders or baskets.

  • Fill in any gaps in planted containers with Winter Pansies.
  • Check watering of tubs and baskets.
  • Check stored bulbs and replace rotting ones.

From lawn care and weed control to paint and landscaping, we have everything you could need for gardening in January.