How to maintain a garden

31 May 2023

Estimated reading time: 1 minute

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Man trimming a hedge

Maintaining a garden is a craft that extends beyond simply placing plants in the ground. As a gardener, you’re also responsible for nurturing your plants once they’ve taken root, keeping them away from invasive weeds, protecting them from extreme weather and hungry pests, and cleaning up any garden waste when it starts to pile up.

Garden care is a holistic task and a part-time job in and of itself, yet it requires individual attention to each plant, because what might benefit one plant may not be suitable for another. If you’re a novice green thumb at the beginning of your garden care journey, then read on for 5 crucial tips that will help you maintain your garden for years to come.

Watering Your Plants

Gardening extends far beyond merely introducing plants into soil. As steward of your garden, it becomes your duty to provide optimal conditions for each plant, ensuring adequate hydration, nutrition, support, and protecting them against invasive plants and weeds. Remember, your garden is a collective of individual plants, each with unique needs – one-size-fits-all simply doesn’t apply here.

Watering plants is not just a task; it’s a strategic process. Plants lose moisture throughout the day, which then needs replenishing from the soil. However, warm weather speeds up evaporation, demanding frequent watering, especially in sun-soaked areas.

Young plants and seedlings, with their limited root systems, absorb less moisture and require more frequent watering compared to their mature counterparts. Disrupting the root hairs during planting or transplanting demands an increase in water supply during the initial days. Plants restricted in containers and those thriving under the sun demand more water compared to ones growing in garden borders or shady areas.

In hot weather, water your garden in the evening, giving plants enough time to absorb water overnight before the sun returns. During cold or overcast conditions, morning is the optimal watering time to ensure plants can dry out before nightfall.

Feeding Your Plants


Plants need more than just water to thrive. Their roots absorb vital nutrients and minerals necessary for their growth and development. Key among these are nitrogen (N), which promotes leaf growth, phosphorus (P), crucial for root development, and potassium (K), essential for flower and fruit development. These primary nutrients ensure plant health.

In natural settings, decomposing plant materials and leaf litter release these nutrients back into the soil. However, in most gardens, these materials are collected and discarded into compost heaps, green bins, or burned, gradually depleting soil nutrients. Therefore, it’s essential to replenish these nutrients through soil or direct plant feeding to ensure robust plant growth.

You can opt for organic or inorganic fertilisers to nourish your plants. Organic fertilisers, derived from plant or animal matter, have the added advantage of boosting earthworm activity and soil bacteria, contributing to the overall health of the soil and plants. Examples include feeds from nettles or comfrey, and well-decomposed manure. In contrast, inorganic fertilisers are synthetically produced chemical compounds.

Remember, the choice of fertiliser should align with the unique needs of your garden and its plants, considering both their immediate and long-term health and sustainability. Just as water, nutrient replenishment is a strategy rather than a task. Choose wisely.

Pruning Your Plants

Some shrubs and trees may revel in unchecked growth, yet most demand some level of containment through cutting back or pruning. Pruning isn’t merely a process of size control; it is a strategic approach to encourage the plant to grow in a specific shape or to enhance its fruit, flower, or stem production. It’s also a proactive measure to eliminate dead or diseased parts.

New gardeners may find pruning intimidating, but it is neither complex nor demanding. A straightforward approach involves removing any dead, diseased, broken, or crowded branches. This simple action alone is usually sufficient for many plants, ensuring they remain healthy and continue to grow productively.

Pruning isn’t a chore, it’s an art of cultivation – a key aspect of ensuring your garden remains vibrant and flourishing. Don’t be deterred by it; embrace it as an essential part of your gardening routine.

Deadheading Your Plants

Removing withered flowers, a process known as deadheading, inhibits plants from seeding, thus motivating them to generate more blooms. By diligently deadheading bedding plants, herbaceous perennials, and roses, you can maintain a constant flowering cycle throughout summer and well into autumn. This practice also benefits bulbs, as it redirects the plant’s energy towards next year’s flowering instead of seed production.

In essence, deadheading is not just about keeping your garden tidy; it’s a strategy to maintain vibrant blossoms and a longer flowering season. It’s a small act with a big impact on your garden’s overall aesthetics and health. A flowering garden is a rewarding sight; ensure it stays that way with regular, attentive care.

Clipping & Trimming

The initial years of a new hedge are pivotal and necessitate regular pruning, referred to as ‘formative pruning’. This process is usually performed in winter or early spring and primarily involves trimming side branches until the hedge reaches the desired height. For new deciduous hedges, winter is the ideal time for pruning, whereas new evergreen hedges should be pruned in spring.

After the formative pruning phase, you should establish a routine of annual hedge pruning. However, formal hedges may require a more frequent trimming schedule, perhaps twice a year, to maintain their neat appearance.

On the other hand, wildlife hedges, which can be homes for butterfly eggs, should be pruned every other year to minimise disruption to their inhabitants. Any pruning during summer should be accompanied by a thorough inspection for nesting birds. If possible, it’s best to wait until September to carry out this process.

Keep in mind that hedge care is not just about aesthetics; it also involves maintaining the balance between the health of your hedge and the wildlife it supports. Pruning is more than a task; it’s a commitment to nurturing your garden and its ecosystem.

Keep your garden clear and tidy

If you’ve had a garden for any length of time, you’ll know that it needs fairly regular maintenance. Whether it be sweeping up layers of leaf fall from nearby trees and hedges, clearing away ugly moss and weed growth, or removing garden waste from a recent pruning, maintaining your garden often feels like half the experience of owning one.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools and specialist equipment that will help you make quicker work of garden maintenance, from the trusty yard sweep to the powerful jet washer.

What’s more, if you don’t have the time (or inclination) to keep up with the near constant demands of garden clearance, you can always leave it to the professionals who will leave you with a spotless garden every time.

Don’t face your garden alone

Gardening is more than a task; it’s a journey of nurturing and learning, cultivating a space that becomes an extension of yourself.

At times, you may face overwhelming challenges like seasonal garden clearance, which calls for a balance between plant health and wildlife preservation.

Acorn Environment Services is here to offer professional assistance to the avid gardeners of the North West. With expertise in garden management and a commitment to preserving ecosystems, we’re ready to support your gardening endeavours, making the journey less daunting and more enjoyable year-round. Get in touch today to see how we can help.

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