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Garden Design

  1. The Chelsea Flower Show 2017

    The Chelsea Flower Show 2017

    A Day Out at the Chelsea Flower Show 2017

    What a privilege it is to go to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on press day: no crowds, the chance to get up close to the gardens and plants, plus a bit of celebrity spotting. And the sun shone. Well, someone’s got to do it.

     It is well documented that the actual number of gardens is lower this year than in the past, but the eye for detail and amount of care taken in the design and production of the gardens that are there is immense. There's always something for everyone at Chelsea but for me designer Chris Beardshaw’s ‘Morgan Stanley Garden' is superb. Breathtaking plants, immaculate design and the whole lot is donated to a charity once the razzmatazz is over. And plenty of lupins – always nice.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2017 Chris Beardshaw

    F Cadwallader The Poetry Lover's Garden Chelsea 2017

    One of the artisan gardens was a treasure of design and planting. 'The Poetry Lover's Garden' designed by Fiona Cadwallader was everything I love about a garden. Somewhere to sit (obviously!), superb plants, clever combinations all under the dappled sun. Simply gorgeous. And it was all done without a major sponsor – something that I imagine is getting more difficult year after year.

    BuSalvia Crystal Blue Chelsea Flower Show 2017 2t while all thSalvia Crystal Blue Chelsea Flower Show 2017e attention seems to surround the show gardens, I love a bit of a rummage in the Great Pavilion. Under the massive structure are the world’s best nursery folk. All specialists in what they grow and all willing to share their top growing secrets. It's a great place to learn and to fall in love with new plants. The Chelsea Plant of the Year competition is held in there and this year a dwarf mulberry won. However, for me the runner up - Salvia Crystal Blue - was the best. A stunning shade of light, sky-blue blue flowers perfect in pots or mixed borders. Email me and I'll see if I can get a few sorted. 

    Then of course there are the celebrities. You may have heard Chris Evans doing his radio programme from the show. I saw it! I was as close to Mary Berry as Paul Hollywood ever got. I deliberately didn't stare as Joanna Lumley strolled by with Nigel Havers and an actress I was supposed to know – sorry, there was a stunning delphinium in full bloom that caught my eye. Ainsley Harriot looked smiley as was Carol Kirkwood, weather presenter (you know, the one who did Strictly). There were more, lots more, but the plants far outshone anyone there. Sadly, I was booted out before the Queen and her pals arrived. Maybe I can stay longer next year.

    Phil's Chelsea Flower Show 2017 Fact File

    · Chris Beardshaw’s garden 'only' got a silver-gilt medal – what do those judges know?!
    · The beautiful artisan poetry garden received a silver – ditto!!
    · The mulberry is sold out but I'm doing my best to get my hands on that salvia.
    · Never wear new shoes to an event where you have to walk for miles.
    · London Plane trees make me cough. A lot.
    · One lukewarm coffee and a piece of dry flapjack costs £6.
    · Is it really that interesting to photographers to record Jennifer Saunders buying a packet of carrot seed? Apparently so. The word 'scrum' sprang to mind.
    · Lupins are in.
    · Purple coloured blooms are everywhere.
    · Chelsea is and always will be a special place for all things gardening.

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  2. Collector's Items

    Collector's Items

    Things sneak up on you whilst you're not looking.

    I'm thinking about the inability to put your socks on without sitting down, the decline in efficiency of the car brakes, obviously greying hair and expanding waistlines. But plants do it as well.

    I was having my morning stroll around the McCann estate when I noticed a previously unremarkable repetition. Daffodils. Don’t for one minute think I have a massive garden with rolling hills and fields. Far from it. But my patch is now home to a few different daffs. It all started a few years ago with a traditional daff – yellow trumpet, no frills, no spills just a straightforward daff. But one variety is lonely. And those white ones looked nice. Up to two. But they all seemed to flower around the same time. 'Maybe a few of the really early ones would be nice' – and in they went.

    One thing led to another, and another and then another; soon, without realising it, I was custodian to twelve different types.

    It didn't stop there. The worse thing any gardener can do is to visit another garden. I know I'm always going on about open gardens for charity, Yellow Book gardens and even shows, but they only tempt you into more plants. After a particularly beautiful day at a large stately home type garden I was inspired (infused?) to gather up more daffy varieties. Twelve turned into fifteen that soon, with the addition of some irresistible blooms that to me resemble Cadbury's Creme Eggs, totalled twenty. It didn't stop. It hasn't stopped. I know in my heart that it will never stop. Twenty-six is this morning’s count. All in flower, with two more still to open. Only a few of each, no massive drifts, but they all count.

    But I'm not loyal to one flower. Oh no, the same is happening with dahlias. That all started with a dark-leafed variety called 'Bishop of Llandaff'. Not a plant you can ignore and definitely one you should have. That grew strongly as the collection diversified into a few of those gorgeous pompom types with blooms the size of golf balls. Reds, pinks and white. And loads of them. Of course, I had to try some of the whoppers, the really big 'uns with claims of blooms reaching 25cm diameter. I did. I now have four different types ('Sir Alf Ramsey' is one of the best).

    I've just realised I also have seven different varieties of gladioli on the go; four different carrot seed varieties ready to sow and the snowdrops, now fading away to rest and recuperate for next year, total seven different types. At the moment. None of those numbers will be static.

    So, let me know if I am alone in my collecting habits or if you have a predilection for peonies, an itch for an iris or a tilt towards thyme.

    Notes to editors and fellow gardeners: Other chocolate other than creme eggs is available but as yet I am to find any plant that resembles a Kit-Kat, family bag of Revels (no one likes the coffee ones surely?) or Crunchie. I will keep trying though.

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  3. What's Your Favourite...?

    What's Your Favourite...?

    What's your favourite...?

    I was out en famille at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate along with some friends the other weekend. It's always a beautiful garden, was packed out with visitors and looked great in the warm spring sunshine. Then the inevitable question from one of our party cropped up: ‘So, where's your favourite garden?' My heart always sinks when I hear it. How can you ever choose?

    Labelling a garden as your favourite isn't as straightforward as say choosing a biscuit. Actually, thinking about it, that can be complicated too. Sometimes I'm in a right old Jammie Dodger mood; other times, only a slice of juicy Garibaldi will do. Maybe it's like coffee or tea. Hold on - latte, cappuccino, mocafrappoespressochino, strong, fortnight (too weak), green or herbal?

    But my friend wouldn't let go. 'You have to have a favourite.' Well, actually… no, I don't. It really depends on what you want from a garden. And most importantly, what's right in that particular moment. I might want a superlative veg garden to gain inspiration from if I'm in GYO mode, or a romantic rose filled affair if that's what's needed to tickle my fancy. I may want to study a family of plants so a clinical encyclopaedic garden would be my favourite there and then. It all depends.

    He got the message regarding overall gardens, yet still persisted with his 'What's your favourite?' line of enquiry. 'What about plants? You must have a favourite plant?' Well, again it isn't clear cut. He wasn't happy.

    'I like roses.'

    'So do I,' came my honest reply. I love them. But not at the expense of everything else. They are part of a mix.

    'I like daffodils.'

    'Yep. Me too.' I have quite a few different varieties in the garden. But they also look terrific near my tulips, currently making strong strides to be the stars of the garden.

    He sulked a bit. We strolled admiring the gorgeous alpine house ('What's your favourite garden structure?’) and the lawns ('So, is it fine fescue or dwarf perennial rye-grass then?'), commented on the thick mulch on all borders ('Surely you are a spent mushroom compost man? Or shredded bark perhaps'), eventually reaching our predictable destination, Bettys tea rooms.

    By this time, it was mid-afternoon and the perfect time for an ice cream. We queued and by the time we reached the front I had made up my mind.

    The children ordered theirs, I went for chocolate and then Mr Question Time dithered. Raspberry, vanilla, chocolate or brown bread (I know – a tad unusual) were all on offer.

    ', what do I feel like?' he said hesitantly. He looked at me. I didn't need to say anything.


    For the record my favourites are (in order of appearance above): 

    Biscuit: custard creams usually win outright

    Drink: hot Vimto scores top marks in the beverage stakes

    Plant: Amelanchier takes some beating for year-round interest

    Garden structure: my own greenhouse (self-indulgent, I know, but I love it in there!)

    Lawn: ryegrass mix for hardwearing cricket sessions now we have light evenings

    Mulch: home-made compost is still better than any other mulch

    Ice cream: chocolate ice cream, preferably with chocolate chips, is a sure-fire winner

    Garden: I told you, it depends! 

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  4. Launch Competition

    Launch Competition

    Celebrate the launch of our fantastic new garden website with us! Enter our incredible Facebook GIVEAWAY!

    We are hosting the giveaway over on our Great Little Garden Facebook Page 

    At Great Little Garden, we love to celebrate gardening and to help you make the most of your garden, balcony or patio. What better way to celebrate than by having a BBQ with friends and family?

    That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to win one of our fantastic Barbecook Major Charcoal BBQs worth £149.99. The prize includes a Barbecook Major Charcoal BBQ with quick start and quick stop systems, a height adjustable grill, windshield, warming rack and an easy to remove ash catcher. Plus, in striking chili red- one of this season’s most fashionable colours - this new barbecue will make you the most stylish BBQ chef around.

    All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this great prize is VISIT our Facebook PageLIKE our Facebook page, LIKE one of our competition posts and then SHARE the post on your own wall for your friends to see. Easy!

    Deadline for the entry is the 21st of May 2017 and the winner will be announced the following day.

    Terms and Conditions:

    • This competition is for UK residents only.
    • You must be over 21 years old to enter this competition.
    • Deadline for prize draw entry: midnight of Sunday 21st May 2017
    • There is no voucher or cash alternative.

    In order to be entered for the prize you must follow the steps below:

    • Visit our Great Little Garden Facebook page and press the ‘Like’ button, find any of the competition posts to ‘Like’ and then share the post on your own Facebook wall.
    • Users can only enter this competition once.
    • There is no cost to enter this competition and it is not endorsed by Facebook.
    • One winner will be chosen from a random draw of entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.  The draw will be performed by a random computer process.
    • A winner will be announced on Monday 22nd May 2017 via personal message and a post on Facebook.
    • The winner has 48 hours to reply. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, the prize will be transferred to another winner.
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  5. Fruit & veg - 10 a day?

    Fruit & veg - 10 a day?

    I've just been reading about new research suggesting that instead of the 5-a-day guideline for fruit and veg, we should all up it to ten! Ten a day seems a lot. For a start, my fridge isn't big enough to take it all. I haven't got room for another fruit bowl. There is only one thing for it – grow more of my own.

    Grow your own

    There a few ways to get any garden more productive for the kitchen table. Mixing veg and flowers is the main one. Lots of different types of veg looks terrific when mooching about in beds and borders. Take the feathery fronds of your average carrot. I'd quite happily grow a block of them just for the look of the leaves. The tasty roots are actually a bonus. And now I’ll have to grow more as I need to cram in ten a day. Carrots are easy to grow. You can put a few seeds directly into the soil and away they go. Or you can buy ready growing seedlings and do the same. You don't even have to put them in soldier straight lines. Scatter the seeds thinly in a block or a drift, rake over and stand back. You might not win any silverware at the village show but you soon will be pulling crunchy roots to nibble on.

    Containers and hanging baskets

    Containers are another wonderful way to get more edibility into a garden, and that means anything that can hold compost. Recycle old cans, hassle your local restaurants for catering sized metal containers (any place serving up olives will have decorative containers piled up outside ready to throw away – ask and get your hands on some of the trendiest plant pots you will ever get for free). Hanging baskets are also a great opportunity to grow a few of your ten-a-day. Cherry tomatoes are a popular choice. Beautifully compact plants, stems all bunched up and trusses of the sweetest toms you will ever eat. And all hanging just outside your door. Grab a handful for your lunch on the way out or pick a few as a snack as you walk around your garden. Chin-dribbling deliciousness. When growing in containers, whatever you manage to use, always ensure you drill drainage holes in the base and always use a quality compost. Plants may only be in there for a few months but it's a good idea to give them the best start possible. And most veg needs a sunny position to really thrive. Other than that, that's the start of a few more of your ten-a-day.

    See our best plants for containers here

    Fruit and vegetable garden

    Of course, you can turn a patch or the whole of your garden over to fruit and veg. And why not? All those years ago (can it really be 45 years?) Barbara and Tom in the Good Life gave it a go. But honestly, you don’t have to take the spade to everything. Keep it small and simple at first and grow just a few fruit and veg. Prove to yourself it's a good idea and that you can do it. I get that. Redcurrants are easy if you have a wall and a bit of time to fix pieces of trellis or wires, and any upright supporting roses or sweet peas can also be used for climbing French beans (the variety called 'Cobra' is superb).

    Clever, tasty and productive

    Then of course you may decide that 'No -  hanging baskets are not for veg' and 'No - the front lawn is staying put.' And even 'No - veg does not belong in the gladioli bed. Veg is veg and that means a veg patch.' OK, you can still grow more. Have a go at this – sweet corn as an upright support for French beans and down below, sprawling all over the place, keeping the roots cool and the moisture in the soil is a heavy cropping courgette. Three crops out of one small space. Clever, tasty and productive.

    But even if you just try to grow one more veg, it will make a difference. And honestly, once you have succeeded - and you will - you'll never turn back. Ten-a-day? Pah - make mine twenty. 

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  6. Clocks spring forward

    Clocks spring forward

    TING (one hour is up)

    Clocks go forward

    It's that turning point of the year. The clocks spring forward and we all have an extra hour of light in the evening. Beautiful. A whole extra hour to do…what exactly?  60 whole minutes. Fingers at the ready because your one hour starts... wait for it... now!

    Sowing seeds

    I've got to be looking at sowing some seeds. An hour is enough to find a few seed trays, fill with multi-purpose compost, water, allow to drain, sow and put in the propagator. Leaving time to label, of course. TING.  One hour is up.

    Raking soil

    Or I could rake over a piece of soil I don't usually grow anything in, scatter some hardy annuals - thinly of course - tamp down with the back of the rake and ... TING. One hour is up. (Flowers will be produced within about 9 weeks and will look sensational – an hour well spent).

    Or how about… walk on the soil where I am growing some caulis, stamp it down, rake it over, find the trowel and plant the brassica seedlings up to their lower leaves into the compacted soil. TING. One hour is up. (Brassicas grow best when the soil is super solid. The firmer the soil the better the brassica crop)

    Pressure washing

    Or... disentangle the pressure washer from behind that pile of boxes that will come in handy if we ever sell anything on a certain auction website, scrape off the spiders’ webs and flick away the mouse droppings, find the hose connector... TING. One hour is up. Guess the paths will be cleaned when I have more time.

    Or... start to sort the pile of unopened bills.... TING. One hour is up.

    Or... get to grips with the ironing... TING. One hour is definitely up.

    Or... dismantle the guttering around the shed and refit to ensure...TING. One hour is up.

    What do do with that extra hour?

    I could always vacuum the whole house and not just the bits friends will see when they visit at the weekend. I said…vacuum the …TING. One hour is up (had to wait for that one to TING). Permanently delete all spam emails. TING. Organise someone to take away ironing. TING. Clean inside of cupboards in case friends look in (they won't – why would they? That would be weird) TING. Check tyre pressures on car. TING. Add blue stuff to the windscreen washer bottle and lecture family on why it goes down too quickly. TING. Chat to neighbour about the control of ground elder and how it can creep under the fence if left to its own device. Twice. With added info on ensuring that if it continues to happen there are laws about it. TING. Check legalities of hassling neighbours over weeds. TING. Nip to shops to buy chocs and wine to give to neighbour as an apology. TING. Drink wine and eat chocs on new garden furniture with neighbour (TING) extolling the virtues of fire pits at this time of year (TING) and vowing to see more of each other and be bezzie mates after all (TING) and how in the future we will all laugh about this (TING TING TING) 

    This extra hour isn't enough. There's so much to do in the garden and house that I need a major change to legislation and indeed physics (or is it general science – do year 7 homework and actually understand it. TING. One hour is up) to have 24 hours’ daylight in a day.

    So, what will you do with your extra hour of daylight once spring really springs? Or do I really want to know? - Let me know in the comments...

    How about growing more fruit and veg to hit that 10-a-day target? Check out the 10-a-day blog

    Read more »
  7. 2017 Garden trends

    2017 Garden trends

    What have the blockbuster film La La Land, Donald Trump and The Pantone Color Institute got to do with plants? Well, they all influence trends – even in gardening. Yellow (that dress – so I'm told!), the gold of Trump Tower and green (Pantone 15-0343 to be precise) are all in.

    Looks like primroses are the plant of choice this spring then. Yellow is all over the place – daffodils, achillea and the stunning foliage of Choisya Sundance will all be in high demand. And as for that gold – it's something you will either love or hate. A broom called Allgold would be a good bet to storm up the charts, and the mock orange with golden leaves, Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus' is a sure-fire hit.

    Yes, the Pantone colour of 2017 is officially 'Greenery' – and a stunning shade it is. Described as being fresh and 'zesty' it also, apparently, has attributes that 'signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.' Something we may all need to do after emerging out of the cinema, blinking pit-pony style into the sunlight, to catch up on the news.

    So green is good. Plants have known this for a long time.

    Outside influences may nudge us towards certain colours but, without doubt, the growing trend for 2017 is, yet again, growing your own food. Perhaps it has been downgraded to a trend-let, as we all have been talking about it for a few years now, but it still makes sense. Crafting meals from scratch is the way forward; growing as many of the ingredients in your own back (or front) garden is even better. Sugar laden ready meals can be a thing of the past if you grow a bit of the good stuff yourself. Think food metres rather than food miles. (I know I'm mixing my imperials and metric but it sounds better!)

    You'll be glad to know that the pressure is off doing a Tom and Barbara and going all self-sufficient. Even allotments are being found out as being too hard work for time starved grow-abees. Start basic. Get a large container and grow just one thing. Anything. Grow it well. Harvest and eat. You'll never turn back. Can I suggest potatoes in a kit? Everything you need to start your veg journey in one package. It's brilliant and easy.

    Dinner parties will never be the same: ‘Oh yeah, of course they're home grown. Everything is. Anyone fancy a nibble on my cherry toms?' Never the same again- I promise you.

    Along with veg we'll see fruit making a resurgence. Again, you don't need a walled garden or an orchard the size of a small county to grow a few juicy razzers or crisp apples. Choose carefully and bingo – tasty fruit straight from your patio.

    Without doubt 2017, just like every other year, will be turbulent. Things always happen. That’s where your 2017 blooms come into play. Go flower-tastic. Plant ebullient blooms in bold pinks, steamy reds and sultry oranges (peonies, crocosmia and geums are great).  Mix them and don't bother matching. Shove in a few veg amongst them and make the most of your plot, however large or small. Throw off the debilitating shackles of trends (sorry La La, Trump and Pantone) and do your own thing. Just make sure you can eat something you grow.


    Color: the same as colour but I have to spell it like that to avoid litigation

    Grow-abees: completely made up word; based on 'wannabee'

    Razzer: or raspberry - I was rushed to meet a deadline

    Trend-let: a little trend

    Tom and Barbara: 1970's sitcom The Good Life based around self sufficiency (and Felicity Kendal…I was at a certain age)

    Bingo: a numbers game but also an expression of 'ta dah'

    Ta dah: see bingo; alternative to 'there you go' 

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  8. Design features to include in small gardens

    Design features to include in small gardens

    Designing a small garden may seem like a simple affair compared to designing a very large garden that is seen in many public gardens. Space in a large garden allows for whimsy and certain elements can be seen from a distance. If there are some weeds or other imperfections they can or will often be overlooked by the viewer, but in a small garden space every bit of the design will feel like being under a magnifying glass. Nothing is hidden because it is so up close and personal. The space must be well planned and have strong bones. Thought must be given to how much the garden will be used throughout the year. Notes must be taken as to where the sun falls during the day. This information will dictate the placement of certain plant choices and seating choices. Decisions will have to be made like if a stunning stone wall is going to be kept and what needs to be added to it. It is not a difficult process, but it just takes a little thought. 

    Garden design tips for small gardens

    Flower gardens

    Flower gardens are a sure way to create a nature filled space. They can consist of terraced flower beds, a log border flower bed, a rocky flower garden, or floral containers. New life is represented by colourful blossoms. Planting flowers in a terraced flowerbed will create layers of landscaping options. In these layers blooms can be mixed with interesting greenery to create a modern effect. Common flowerbed borders include stones, concrete, and horizontal wooden beams, but think out of the box.

    The use of vertical logs as borders can inject unexpected height and delights to the senses. Another unexpected design element is the use of substantial rocks combined with low-lying blooms, and lush vegetation to create a feast for the eyes. Floral containers can also make a powerful impression in a small garden design. Using an assortment of rich tone flowers with a careful arrangement can create a work of art. Floral sculptures can come to life with a bit of intentional planting.

    Garden seating

    Some great options for garden seating include simple seating, tree trunk seating, curved benches, and outdoor dining. Nothing promotes thoughtfulness in a quiet garden like the perfect place to sit down and relax or contemplate. The seating can be kept quite simple, using just a slab of concrete to create a modern bench. An unexpected seating option that is quite solid and natural is the sturdy statement of a tree trunk.

    Even better are these tree trunks arranged around a wooden table to create a group of seating. While the simple bench or tree trunk is great seating, a unique curved shaped, stacked stone bench makes for an ideal resting place. The spaces surrounding the seating are just as important when creating a pleasing sanctuary. Garden seating may also involve eating in outdoor dining spaces. They need to be clean, flat surfaces like slatted furnishings. Privacy can be added with tall bamboo, while sculptural elements can add intrigue to the space.

    Water features

    Water features can add a calming presence to any garden, especially in small gardens. The feature can be a tropical pond, a boxed pond on a green, a square Koi pond, bird baths, and fountains, among others. In a small garden it is important to decide where and how the water feature will be installed. It takes a bit of thought and planning, considering the space available, the types of the surrounding vegetation, as well as the budget and a practical time frame that fits with your lifestyle. A pond could be a simple rectangular, contemporary pond that complements lush tropical plants.

    It could be a boxy pond that sits surrounded by a flawless lawn or manicured hedges. The shape of a square Koi pond can be reinforced by planting a delicate boxwood boarder around its perimeter. Other elements can be added to the middle of such a water feature, like a birdbath or statuesque. If there is no room for these types of ponds or if they are too complicated or too expensive then birdbaths and fountains can be great options for lovely garden additions. Give these water features a prominent placement like, for instance, using a layer of polished stones to create a perfect bed for a ground fountain.

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  9. Small ponds for small gardens

    Small ponds for small gardens

    One landscaping idea that is good for front or back gardens is the installation of a small pond or some type of water feature. The addition of any type of small pond, waterfall, or water feature such as a fountain creates a feeling of peace and tranquillity in a garden. They often create a retreat where people can not only enjoy the garden, but also the nature that it may attract. There are plenty of small ponds that will work nicely in small gardens to create the desired charm and beauty. The following is a list of five types of small ponds that can be placed into small gardens. They include a wildlife pond, an ornamental fish pond, a container pond, a modern pond, and a natural pond.

    Wildlife pond

    This is an attractive feature for any small garden that creates a haven for wildlife. This type of pond is especially beneficial since many areas within and surrounding cities have lost their natural habitat. Just about any size body of water has some value to wildlife, even if it is just a place where birds can have a drink and take a bath. However, a small pond can support various types of wildlife like invertebrates, dragonflies, damselflies, amphibians and birds. A wildlife pond should meet certain requirements like having gently sloping sides. Shallow areas are imperative to wildlife, allowing birds to drink and bathe as well as amphibians to spawn and hedgehogs who need sloping sides in order to escape. The key is to have varied slopes and depending on the contents of the pond (fish), some deeper sections for winters hard freeze.

    Ornamental fish pond

    This brings up the ornamental fish pond, which is quite different to a wildlife pond. In fact, it is not a good idea to have goldfish in a wildlife pond because they will eat the spawn of amphibians. This type of small pond requires a bit of planning and choosing certain plants to add in the spring, including plants like the water iris, dwarf reeds or bog plants, and a few bunches of pondweed to help oxygenate the water. Water lilies can be added in the summer and fish added after plants have been able to become established.

    Container pond

    This can really be any kind of water feature. This is a great option when there is limited garden space or when digging a hole in the garden is not an option due to having small children or other reasons. In fact, a large plastic planting pot can be turned into a small water feature quite easily. If there are pre-drilled drainage holes in the container (which there often are) all that is needed is a bit of butyl liner to line the container.

    After that, place a layer of gravel in the bottom and create a shallow area or ledge using a brick or an inverted plant pot. This will allow wildlife to safely use the water feature as a small pond, enabling the wildlife to get in and out of the water. A basket of marginal plants can be placed on this shelf, being submerged at or below the surface of the water. A waterfall can be creating using tubing, allowing the water to circulate and remain healthy for wildlife, as well as deter insects that like stagnant water to reproduce. Due to the size of the small container, it should be kept out of direct sunlight for long periods of time to reduce evaporation; it should also be in a place that is sheltered from prevailing winds, or at least supported by other surrounding planters and tubs.

    Container pond

    Modern pond

    Some people are turning to ponds with a more contemporary look in which a stainless steel ledge may be used to create a waterfall instead of natural rocks. This type of waterfall will usually have a more uniform cascade of water into the pond below. In addition to the stainless steel component, colourful lighting is also used to create a more modern feel. The contemporary style does not preclude natural elements like Koi Carp and even a few plants. Modern ponds generally have geometric shapes like rectangles, squares, or even triangles instead of circular or oval shapes. The modern look is often reinforced with brickwork around the pond that mimics the geometrical shape.

    Modern Pond 1modern pond 2modern pond 3

    Natural pond

    Modern geometrical shaped ponds may be trendy, but completely natural ponds are another trend all over the world. The key to this type of pond is to make it indistinct from the surrounding garden; it should fit in as a natural part of the garden. It may also have a fountain, but often rocks are used as a boundary and the pond will include moss and ground cover that will grow on and over portions of the rock. Water plants and underwater vegetation is a major component of natural ponds.

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  10. DIY garden edging and borders

    For most people the garden is an extension of the home; a place where they can interact with nature, spending time and becoming familiar with elements of the outdoors. The beauty of the garden or of flowerbeds comes from the maintenance. Maintenance of the garden edges and the garden borders are very important. These are what create the boundaries between the lawns, paths, and various other landscaping features and the gardens. Though it is easiest to create the various types of garden edges during the installation of the garden or flowerbeds, garden edges and garden borders can be added to an existing garden. The clean, smooth line of garden edges or garden borders will give the garden a finished look and a sense of clarity. 

    Four simple steps to garden borders

    Step 1

    When creating a new bed a garden hose can be utilised to outline the desired lines that made up the garden edges or garden borders that need to be cut. If the garden edges or garden borders already exist, the cuts to freshen the edges and borders can begin without use of the hose. The tools that have traditionally been used to cut garden edges or garden borders are a spade or a half-moon edger. These tools are used to simply cut along the line that has been set out. Cutting curves is a challenge with either tool, and the course of the garden edges or garden borders is somewhat difficult to judge as it moves along. A different tool known as an edge hog is a circular blade on wheels. The wheels provide ease of mobility to cut along nice curves, making a continuous 1.5-inch deep cut/line in the soil. It is easier to gauge the line of the cut as it moves, making it easy to evaluate and revise the line on the fly.

    Step 2

    Whether the garden edge or border was created by the spade, half-moon edger, or the edge hog tool, this step involves refining the established edge with the spade and removing the turf. The cut should be deepened to four to six inches. The turf on the inside of the bed will also need to be cut with the spade when creating a new bed. Then the cut and loosened turf can be removed by hand with ease. The end goal is to create garden edges or garden borders that have a ninety-degree angle.

    Step 3

    Cutting garden edges or garden borders always makes everything more appealing to the eye when they are cut razor sharp. One way to accomplish this effect is to use hand shears placed vertically along the trench wall to cut remaining grass blades from the garden edge or garden border. To avoid destroying the right angle of the edge, do not hold the shears in a horizontal position; make sure to hold them vertically. Throughout the growing season, this step should be repeated two or three times to keep the edges looking crisp and clean.

    Step 4

    Mulching the bed is the final step. The mulch should be put down in a layer of two to three inches. This mulch will add a rich, dark colour to the edge, while at the same time it will suppress any weed growth. Create a gentle slope from the bottom of the edge to the top of the bed by placing mulch right up to the edge of the turf.

    Other edging options

    There are other garden edging and garden border options that take minimal efforts to be constructed. They include horizontal brick landscape edging, diagonal brick edging, cast concrete edging, flagstone and cobblestone edging, edging with plants, and edging with logs and sleepers. These various examples have their own pros and cons that involve their availability, expense, their design style, and the maintenance involved to keep them up. Each and every option will create attractive garden edges and garden borders, enhancing the garden by giving it a look of precision or in the case of plants as edging, a soft natural look.

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