A new home is an exciting time however; the garden is usually the last ‘room’ to gain any attention. This can be down to various reasons – money being one of them, but also if you have a blank canvas it can be overwhelming and tricky to know where to start.
That was how the idea began for Border in a Box http://www.borderinabox.net– I wanted to make life easier for anyone who wants a gorgeous garden without the designer price tag. Each border is designed for year round interest, which can be tricky to achieve in a small space, but I’ve included at least one evergreen plant along with year round colour using a mixture of shrubs, perennials and bulbs.
All the plants in the border are easily purchased from your local garden centre or online, but what if your budget doesn’t stretch that far? Here are my top-tips for creating a pretty garden on a budget:
1. Grow from seed
Admittedly it can be a bit of a faff sometimes, but there are plenty of flowers that can be grown from seed with minimal effort. Bear in mind lots of them are annuals (this means they grow and flower in one season), so unless they self-seed, you will need to buy more seed next year. Always read the instructions on the packet to find out what that particular plant needs to grow successfully. I’ve included a packet of seeds in each Border in a Box tin to help fill in the gaps whilst the main plants mature – these seeds can be sown directly into the ground so are really easy to grow.
2. Buy juvenile plants
One of the reasons plants cost so much money is down to the labour required to grow and look after plants, so if you buy a young plant, it will be much cheaper, so look for plants in 9cm pots rather than 2-3L sizes. For example, this heuchera costs £9.99 for the mature plant, or three plants for £10 for the small size.
3. Special offers
The main horticultural companies always have offers on, whether it’s buy one get one half price, or a 100 bulbs for £5. These offers are great and can really help stretch your money further, but remember to only buy what you need as it could also be a false economy.
4. Self-seed plants
These are effectively free plants! The downside is they are probably growing in the wrong location, but you can easily transplant them to the part of the garden border you want them to be.
5. Plant donations
I bet your green fingered friends and neighbours have lots of plants they’ve grown on from cuttings or excess seedlings and are looking for a good home for them – it’s always good to share! Look for community schemes so you can exchange them for other plants too.
6. Bargain corner at the garden centre
I’ve had some real gems from the half-dead bargain corner. They’re looking a bit sad mainly due to lack of water, light and nutrients, so all you need to do is cut off the brown dead-looking bits, feed them with some general purpose feed, and pot them on into fresh compost, then when they’re back to health plant them in your borders.
7. Take cuttings
If you already have a good stock of plants (or ask the green-fingered neighbours) you can take cuttings. I’ve grown plenty of plants from using this method – my view is, if they grow, brilliant, and if they don’t then it’s no loss other than a bit of time, compost and TLC. If you’ve never done this before, it’s really easy and this is how you do it…
How to take cuttings:
Step 1: Choose a healthy plant to take cuttings from. This is a Salvia – as you can see it’s nice and bushy and healthy. The best time of year to do this is around August-September, but depends on which plants you are taking cuttings from.
Step 2: Using a sharp knife, secateurs or scissors cut off 8-10cm stems (don’t choose stems with flowers on)
Step 3: Remove the lower leaves, but leave 2-3 leaves on the top of the stem
Step 4: Use a pencil as a dibber and make a hole in the compost, place the plant stem into the compost and lightly press the compost around it. Water it and place in a bright warm spot. Do not put in direct sunlight (this will probably scorch the leaves and kill it). Within a few weeks the stem will start to grow roots, but remember to keep the plant watered (but don’t over water). Once it has grown a few shoots and roots showing, it’s ready to plant out in your border.
Hopefully that’s given you some ideas on how to create a beautiful border on a budget, but if you would like help getting your garden ship-shape but don’t know where to start, send me an email with your questions and I’ll help you out – email@example.com.