D H M S
It’s crazy how fast time flies and how things progress. Before you know it, spring will have sprung and the sun will begin to shine once more. Warm rays will soon pitch on the neglected areas of our homes and for many of us, our attention will be immediately drawn indoors. Most often dust being the ultimate cue that our housework needs to recommence. But unlike dust, which can be wiped away in a matter of minutes, our gardens command more time when cleaning or upgrading. Our green areas are neglected for most of the year and can appear more comparable to a swamp than a luxurious outdoor space. The same cannot be said about the inside of our houses (I hope). In truth, a harsher scouring is required outdoors along with presumably some gardening.
Gardening is still somewhat of an unexplored activity for many, though, some speak about this topic with confidence. Namely, seasoned gardeners. Usually distinguishable by their mucky gardening gloves, these individuals make us green with envy especially when their indoor pot plants thrive with constant love and attention.
Others, such as myself, have zero knowledge of planting. We forget that we even own plants and that they require watering. Every now and again we might remember, proceed to over-water them, and ultimately end their already short lives. You can tell this isn’t my first rodeo, can’t you?
However, for EZ Living Furniture knowledge is power. We not only supply a huge range of garden furniture to customers wanting to spice up their lives, but we also want to know how to garden and design around these items. Therefore, we thought it only fitting to turn to The Irish Gardener (aka Peter Dowdall) for some advice. Our very own Aoife went live on Instagram with Peter to gather some basic outdoor tips for the weeks ahead. They are also listed below for your convenience. So, what are you waiting for? Grow big or go home!
First and foremost, it is important not to panic when beginning your patio or garden project. According to Peter, it is as basic as eating or drinking. "Don’t be scared because of your lack of knowledge or by long terms and Latin names. At the end of the day, if you put something like an old root into the soil, give it some water, allow it access to sunlight it is going to grow.” Although gardening is simple, he also recommends starting small. “Don’t take on too much because it is time-consuming.” One way to avoid this is by creating a plan of action.
Don’t count your roses before they’ve bloomed! Before you begin your outdoor design, give it some thought. Just as you would when redecorating any room inside your home. You would avoid working on multiple rooms at once. A step by step approach is the most beneficial and ordinarily you would steer clear of jumping from the living room to the bedroom simultaneously without finishing either one first. Planning around individual items such as a sofa in a sitting room is also a helpful way to keep you focused on completing one space at a time.
Our expert suggests asking yourself some key questions and going through a checklist.“What do you want your outdoor space to provide you? Do you want to grow your own fruit and veg? Maybe you want an area for small children to play in? Or a space for composting waste, some pretty flowers or lawn with a nice seating area.” Once you know what you need from your outdoor space, you can start to form a plan for it. You know what they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish!
Our garden guru also urges us to make room for life. “Allow for parties or if you regularly have a group of people over, plan for this with a large seating area. By adding some garden tables and chairs to it you will avoid having to remove chairs from the kitchen when an event is happening. The last thing you want is to be caught for space.” Continuing he says, “Always plan for a bigger seating area rather than a smaller one.” This is sage advice if you ask us!
Garden design can primarily be categorised into two areas according to Peter.
(1) Hard Landscaping
This includes paving, walls, steps etc.
It is an expensive element to garden design and one that you cannot afford to make a mistake on. “You’ll design and build your garden once. You need to get a professional or contractor to do it right because you can make mistakes, and if it’s going to cost a fair amount of money then you don’t want to save 10% and get it all wrong because you’re still spending a fair bit of money.” Therefore, budgeting on this particular section of landscaping should be avoided at all costs. Although, substituting can work in certain circumstances.
EZ TIP: Limestone in an outdoor furniture area can be substituted for inexpensive gravel.
“It creates a lovely, soft seating area, you can get it level yourself, whack it with hardcore and put your furniture on top. You can then aspire to get the nice limestone or sandstone in a few years' time.”
(2) Soft Landscaping
This includes plants, flowers, lawns etc.
Although cost-cutting measures are not advised for hard landscaping, soft landscaping can be accomplished quite easily by contacting a wholesaler and asking for a discount if buying bulbs in bulk.
Peter tells us that as a gardener you should also be thinking a season ahead when planting. “Plant daffodils and tulips etc. in Autumn (August-December) to enjoy now. Summer flowers such as lilies and gladiolus should be planted now, (February/Spring).”
EZ TIP: Always err on the side of caution, under-watering is better than over-watering. If you over-water, you will drown the plant and there is no fixing this.
When purchasing anything for your garden it goes without saying that you also need to allow for the Irish climate. This is especially the case with patio furniture. “If you want something to survive outdoors in the Irish climate, you’re going to have to get good quality garden furniture. In Ireland, they have to deal with snow, ice, gale-force winds and a lot of rain. I love the EZ Living Furniture Rattan outdoor furniture range.”
Oxford Rattan Garden set (above) is available at EZ Living Furniture.
Our garden specialist is also a fan of hardwood garden sets. Read The Ultimate Guide To Garden Furniture here to learn more about the most resilient woods for outdoor furniture.
Similar to Rattan garden furniture, gardening tools need to be of high quality. Peter recommends purchasing a carbon steel or stainless-steel hand trowel, hand fork and a Felco Secateurs to start with. “If you get cheap tools, they’ll break, and you’ll have to buy them again.”
Over time you can slowly start to build on this list above. But, before you rush to your nearest garden centre, visit theirishgardener.com where you can purchase a wide range of gardening products. With lots of advice to also discover, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start gardening sooner.