The early part of the gardening year is when we eagerly prune and cut, dig and divide. But summer is a much more gentle time for our green fingers, when the garden becomes a place to enjoy alfresco dining, barbecues and garden parties with family and friends.
Think less hard work and dirty hand and more cream teas and G&Ts. That said, there's still plenty of things to get on with in the garden to keep it looking lovely all summer through- but with a bit of planning, it needn't feel like a chore.
Award-winning garden designer, Kate Gould, shares her expert, hassle-free tips for what to get going on in the garden this summer:
Call in some colour
Summer is the season of colour, and pots and hanging baskets are a great way of bringing a kaleidoscope of different shades to your garden.
These can be quite high-maintenance to look after though, so if you're short on time try planting some summer flowering shrubs and perennials in large containers instead. These will still need watering but as they grow large quite quickly, you don't have to buy and plant as much in the first place. Hydrangea or Agapanthus add a great splash of colour and work perfectly alongside Hosta and ferns for foliage.
To keep your garden co-ordinated, try to pick a collection of large containers that are all the same colour and design but in multiple different sizes.
Be wise with the watering
Watering is a big job in the garden, especially when we start to get to heatave season. The easiest way to keep your garden watered is to invest in a simple off-the-tap irrigation system, if you can hide the pipework discreetly.
Although it is a bit pricey, it can save you bags of time and especially useful if you tend to go away in July and August and don't want to come back to a sad-looking garden. Both Gardena and Hozelock systems are available off the shelf in most good garden centres and come in kit form so you can completely customise the system to what your garden needs.
Alternatively you can go almost water-free by planting succulents such Sempervivum, Sedum, Aeonium and Echeveria, which all look wonderful in terracotta pots mulched with gravel. Aeonium 'Schwarzkopf' is also particularly attractive with dark purple rosettes. Echeveria with their chunky glaucous leaves and coral coloured flowers look beautiful too.
The gravel that these plants sit in is not just decorative but helps hold in moisture, meaning less watering work for you. If you have the space these plants can be over wintered (meaning they can wait over the winter) in a frost-free place so that they be enjoyed again and again each year.
By going for a few big plant containers as opposed to lots of little ones, you'll free up more space in your garden for generous furniture. After all, summer is a time with warm balmy evenings sitting out in the garden so choose furniture that not only looks the part but also doesn't need much maintenance.
All weather rattan is great and can be covered with waterproofs (without having to heave it away inside) so when the sun does shine you can simply whip the covers off and have an instant terrace to enjoy.
- Kate Gould is an award winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes and a regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where she has been awarded three Gold medals. Find out more at www.kategouldgardens.com.
- There's more gardening advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.