Hopefully the cold spell is behind us and the weekends will be well and truly full of sunshine. We’re ready to bask in all the glory of spring-time heat! The first trim of the lawn has begun and many of us are excited about tending to our gardens once more. April is the most popular time of year for people to start creating their vision for a summer garden. This year, we want you to imagine a functional yet beautiful garden. Your individual plot of green beauty is a key area that can help improve your impact on the environment, even more so by creating something that is functional. It’s an opportunity not to be missed! So here are our top tips for creating a functional British garden.
Flowers for the functional garden
Many of us may be guilty of picking flowers and bulbs to plant in our garden based on how bright and colourful they bloom. However, if there’s one quick way to create a functional garden. It’s through planting wildflowers that grow in the British countryside. It transforms your garden from looking pretty to supporting wildlife. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at some of the stunning colours too.
Now, you could do some research into the British wildflower plants that currently grow in your area that you might want in your functional garden. Alternatively, you could get yourself a wildflower bomb. There are so many options of wildflower bombs to support your functional garden. Some are designed to help support bee populations, some butterflies, or even some with natural herbs you can grow and then use in your kitchen.
Before you head to the garden centre to bring some colour into your flower beds, consider a wildflower bomb instead and help local wildlife. The majority of bombs also come in compostable packaging – unlike flowerpots that are often not suitable for recycling.
Creating and transforming your compost heap
You might already have a compost heap for your functioning garden, or you may be toying with the idea. Compost heaps are a great way to reduce your food waste and other items which in the future can help fertilise your plants. It’s a great cycle of eco-friendly goodness. The first thing that all functional garden owners need to know is that there are 3 different types of compost heaps.
- Aerobic composting – this is a ‘washing machine’ style compost heap that you can add to regularly but also need to turn every few days to reintroduce fresh air into the heap. This helps items to break down quick but involves more physical effort.
- Anaerobic – Very different to aerobic compost heaps, this requires little to no effort. Just throw your food scraps on the top and let it rot. Although this one will require a strong sense of smell! It tends to pong. So, close your windows on a hot summer’s day or keep it far away from your home.
- Vermicomposting – this compost type is the best of both worlds by employing some worms to do the heavy lifting for you. There’s little odour, and there isn’t as much turning involved, but you do need to care for the worms! Worms struggle to ingest some items so just because it is compostable; it doesn’t make it suitable for a vermicomposting heap!
Now, deciding what type of compost heap works for you is a great starting point. There are of course items you can purchase to make your life easier. If you fancy aerobic composting but you’re not sure if you can dedicate the time to turning it every few days, you can buy compost turners that are barrel-shaped. You simply spin the handle, and your compost has shifted – it’s far less manual effort and keeps your time composting to a minimum. Functional but not overloading your time in the garden!
Many people who have compost heaps will have their own methods and reasons for doing so. Most functional garden enthusiasts will compost so they have a rich base to grow new bulbs in the springtime.
How you can also use compost
- Used as mulch to prevent weeds
- An addition material to homemade potting soil
- Brew a compost tea
- Spread to maintain a healthy lawn
- Perfect for growing vegetables as it’s full of nitrogen
It’s time to grow your own
After you’ve created your compost and it has matured, a great way to use it in your garden is for growing your own. The ultimate addition to a functional garden is a patch where you can grow your own foods to use in the kitchen. Whether you’re hoping to grow an apple tree, blackberry bush, or just a small tomato plant – be sure to use your compost to promote healthy growth.
If you’re considering growing your own, the first step is to decide how much space you want to use, this may be the deciding factor in what you can grow. Then take a look at what you will eat. While it is true that growing your own is beneficial to your carbon footprint, food waste will have a negative impact. If you eat a lot of tomatoes, then grow a small tomato plant, likewise, if you use a lot of potato and courgettes, grow them. Whatever you decide to grow, be sure to use it, there’s no point in growing squash if you don’t eat it!
Additional functional garden accessories
No matter what type of wildlife animal you want to provide a home for in your functional garden it’s possible. There are bee boxes, insect towers, hedgehog lodges and so many more out there to choose from, you can even build your own. An additional item can transform your garden into a haven for wildlife. Sadly, much of British wildlife is suffering as litter is found across the countryside. No matter where you go in the UK it seems that litter has found its way there. It’s why creating a functional haven for animals can be so vital in your back garden. Could you provide a slice of paradise to our wildlife friends?
Making a functional garden stylish with mulch
After you have weeded and placed all your flowers in the soil, sprinkle a little mulch on top. It’s a great way to help support a functional garden’s growth. Too much may suffocate and restrict your flower, but the perfect amount will help them grow strong and healthy throughout the summer.
April is the best time of year to put mulch in your garden as soil is moist and accessible, also plants are beginning to grow. The best part about mulch is that it comes in a wide variety of colours and styles, so you can essentially have it match the aesthetic of your garden. Functional doesn’t always have to be boring you know!
Transforming your garden from a simple patch of greenery into a functional and beneficial asset to your home has never been easier. You just need to consider three things, the time you have to spare, the space you want to provide, and who you want it to benefit. After that, it’s as simple as any other gardening month of April! No matter what you decide on, be sure to get a water butt, that way you don’t need to use other water for watering whatever plants you end up with.