24 Nov How to Plan a Summer Garden for 2021
The colder months of the year bring most things to a halt in the garden. The last roses have dropped, the sedums are turning brown, and leaves cover everything. While it’s too chilly to plant anything apart from the hardiest winter greens, now is the perfect time to plan for next year. Your garden will soon be in bloom again, with seedlings growing throughout the spring and an explosion of colour and fresh produce in the summer.
Planning your Summer Garden
If you’re starting a garden for the first time, this article will help you take the first steps towards creating a beautiful outdoor space and help you avoid common mistakes.
For seasoned gardeners, now is the time to consider what you have learnt this year and plan for next year. What was most successful? What didn’t work, and why? Think about which plants are producing seeds that you can collect to plant in spring, and which crops will need rotating to replenish the soil. This article will help you decide what you can try out for next year.
-Make a Garden Map
– Find the Sun
– Jobs to Do Now for Your Summer Garden
Make a Garden Map
Making a sketch of your ideas is a good place to start. Draw a rough map of your garden, noting which areas get full sun and where the shadows gather. Plan where you want to put new beds, pathways and ponds. Collect images of flowers and gardens you like for inspiration. When you’ve assessed your available space, these clippings and sketches will help you choose where to put your plants.
Rotating vegetable crops is important to give the soil time to recover. Don’t replant tomatoes or beans in the same place, as they won’t be successful a second year. Peas and beans release nitrogen into the soil, so their previous patches will be primed for nitrogen lovers like beetroot, broccoli and potatoes.
Find the Sun
Different plants require different levels of sunshine to flourish. For example, Dahlias, Echinacea and Cosmos need to be in full sun for 6 hours each day, whereas Campanulas and Foxgloves favour shady areas. There are plants available for every garden, and if you’re observant of the sun throughout the year, you’ll get to know which corners are sunny and which stay dark.
To find out which way your garden faces, stand facing it with a compass or use the compass app on your phone. The needle will show you which way is North so that you can work out which direction your garden faces.
If your garden is south-facing with few trees, you’re in luck. Summer will give you full sun everywhere for most of the day. If you are shaded by trees or high fences, look for plants that prefer ‘dappled shade’, such as Tiarella or Acer.
If your garden faces east, your garden will be in shade during the hottest part of the day. Choose plants that favour partial shade and need shelter from strong sunlight. The brightest areas of your garden can support plants that need full or partial sun. White flowers are a good choice for east-facing gardens, as the evening shade can make them appear brighter, attracting pollinating moths.
A west-facing garden is shady in the morning and sunny in the afternoon and evening. Choose plants that favour ‘partial sun’, which will be able to withstand the morning shade and enjoy the stronger light in the afternoon. Perennials such as fuchsias can grow well in these conditions. If you’re growing your own vegetables, tomatoes, squash and beans will soak up the warm sun.
North-facing gardens are usually mostly shaded, but between May and October, the back wall of your home will receive bright sunlight in the early morning and evening. A trellis for climbing plants that enjoy partial shade, such as Virginia Creeper. Many delicate and beautiful plants love the shade, particularly those that are found in woodland areas, such as violets and clematis.
Jobs to Do Now for a Summer Garden
Clear Overgrown Areas
Blitz weeds and grassed-over beds during the colder months when growth is slowest. Do it now so that you can focus on the fun of planting come springtime.
Remove nuisance plants and trees that don’t add anything to your garden. If a large shrub or hedge is shading your flowerbed, hire a hedge trimmer to bring it down to size before nesting season begins.
Coniferous trees can take large amounts of nutrients and dry out your soil. If you’d rather use the space for flowering plants or vegetables, consider having the tree removed. The professional gardeners at Coleshill Mowing can help with bigger jobs like these.
Make New Beds
If you’re thinking of putting in new flower-beds or raised beds, aim for places that get the most sun. You should remove the turf from these before the ground freezes and cover with a mulch such as a leafmould or well-rotted manure. The nutrients will be drawn down into the bed by worms, so you don’t have to do so much digging and turning.
Alternatively, you can simply cover an area of grass with a few inches of compost and mulch to follow radical gardener, Charles Dowding’s ‘No Dig’ method. The compost will smother the grass and weeds and create a nutritious bed to start your plants in the spring.
Improve Your Soil
Test the soil in a few areas to check the type and quality you have before choosing your plants.
Scoop up some soil in your hands on a dry day and rub it between your fingers to make a ball.
If it’s gritty and crumbles easily, your soil is sandy, meaning it provides good drainage and warms up quickly in spring. However, sandy soil doesn’t hold nutrients well in rainy periods, so add plenty of organic matter to get the best results.
If it is sticky like clay, don’t be discouraged. Clay soil is very fertile and moist, and roses, daylilies and hydrangeas take to it well. Improve your clay by mixing in generous helpings of compost, grit or bark.
If it rolls into a ball easily but doesn’t hold its shape as well as clay, you have loamy soil, which is easy to work, doesn’t drain too freely but also doesn’t become waterlogged. Loam is just right, and you can plant straight into it in spring
Collect Containers and Cloches for Seedlings
In Coleshill and Chelmsley Wood, the average last frost date is between May 1-10. This means delicate seedlings such as sweet peas should be protected until the last few weeks of spring. Prepare space in your greenhouse, or collect cloches and fleece to tuck them in in the ground. A cheap alternative to commercial cloches is to use large plastic bottles, cut lengthways.
Order Seeds for Spring
Once you’ve mapped out the sunny spots and determined your soil type, you can choose plants to fit your garden. Have a look through seed catalogues and mark summer flowering varieties. Make sure you get your order in before it’s time to start sowing.
Tips for Choosing Plants for a Summer Garden
- Choose a range of colours to create a stunning visual display.
- Look for cut-and-come-again varieties such as Cosmos, which will flower longer when you cut a few flowers to bring inside.
- Choose varying heights to make use of the full depth of your flowerbeds
- Don’t forget bedding plants to fill the gaps between your showpieces. Plants such as Begonias, Marigolds and Cornflowers will work almost anywhere.
- Be careful not to overcrowd your beds. Most flowering plants need at least a 30cm square to themselves. Without this, your plants will be stunted and may not flower at all. If you’re stuck for space but have a patio or balcony, choose varieties that do well in pots and containers.
- Choose flowers to attract pollinators. By creating a bee-friendly garden, you’ll have a beautiful display of insect life including butterflies and even dragonflies, as well as the birds that come to eat them. Native varieties such as cornflowers, comfrey and hollyhocks flower early in summer and will give your garden a country cottage aspect.
Plan to Grow Your Own Fruit and Vegetables
Growing your own vegetables is becoming popular in gardens around the country, as people move towards sustainable living. You can plan your vegetable garden in much the same way as a flower garden; at the end of the day, plants are plants. Most need sun, water and well-drained soil.
Tips for Summer Harvests
- By planning early and starting your seeds in March, you can see your first harvests in May and June with fast-growing vegetables such as lettuce, carrots and radishes.
- Plant peas straight into the ground as soon as the soil is warm.
- Build a trellis or beanpole structure for runner beans to climb.
- Reserve your sunniest spots for tomatoes and courgettes for gorgeous yellow flowers and bright fruits.
- If you have lots of space in a sunny spot, there are plenty of summer squashes to try. These large fruits can be a whole meal in themselves. Our favourite is the spaghetti squash, the insides of which form long strands that are easy to scoop out and cook like pasta.
- Don’t forget herbs! Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint and fennel grow fantastically in amongst the rest of your plants and offer great floral displays as a bonus.
Coleshill Mowing – Here to Help
Our professional gardeners are here to help with the heavy lifting of regular garden maintenance. We offer regular maintenance, lawn-mowing, strimming and hedge-trimming services to keep your garden looking perfect.