Give your garden a Fantastic spring clean

Spring is (almost) upon us, and with it Nature gifts a makeover to the green spaces of the city, with colour and new life springing up wherever you look. After the winter frosts and dark days, though, even the most flower-filled garden could do with a bit of maintenance to get it looking its vibrant best for the sunnier months.

Whether you’re a traditionalist or follow the latest trends, Fantastic Gardeners can get your garden back into peak condition—and keep it that way all year round! Book a team of two fantastic gardeners to take care of your garden for one hour for only £49 or two hours for only £85.

In the meantime start planning your perfect 2017 garden with our look at the year’s top gardening trends to inspire you:

1. Adapt Your Plants to the Unpredictable English Weather

The idea of weatherproofing your garden is anything but new. Especially in the UK, it has long been a necessity to own a decent pair of waterproof clothes, a sturdy shed, and tools with anti-corrosive coating if you wish to have the slightest chance of saving your garden from the constant floods… Or at least that was the case until 2016, when all gardeners in England had to cope with the driest year on record, which had a significant negative impact on the crop output.

This led to the logical introduction of plants that can endure drought for long periods of time, many of which became a permanent addition to homeowners’ personal gardens. As a result, 2017 is officially the year of drought-resistant plants, starting with the Echinocactus grusoni—a slow-growing Mexican cactus with golden spines and small yellow flowers during summer time.

Similarly trending are the bluish-green leaves of Cape Blanco, which is widely used as a groundcover and gives gardens a more “otherworldly” feel. The violets Lavandula multifida, on the other hand, are attractive Mediterranean shrubs that bloom from spring to late fall. Other popular plant choices include Sedum spurium, Sempervivum, Agastache rugosa, and more.

2. Spend a Relaxing Day Out in Your High-Tech Outdoor Kitchen

Approximately 10 years ago, this trend would have been met with a raised brow. But today, technology has finally caught up with the trends to create a pleasant cooking experience under the starry skies. Built around the idea of flexibility, most outdoor kitchens come with powerful hobs and grills to meet all modern demands, which allow the cooking of pancakes, cookies, and other foods you would not otherwise associate with a grill.

This variety is evident in outdoor kitchen designs, which can range from a classic wooden ceiling and furniture made from salvaged materials to stainless steel appliances with a contemporary design that blends marble and stone. Depending on the budget, these al fresco kitchens can also feature sinks, space heating, refrigeration, sound systems, TVs, and even swimming pools!

3. Bedazzle Your Guests with the Latest Trends in Outdoor Furniture

While it has become common sense to weatherproof your home against the frivolous English weather, a recent study found out that many people in the UK (over 70%, in fact) are more than prepared to meet the sunshine as well. And we’re not just talking umbrellas—from pastel blue and fresh yellow to natural brown and white, this year’s garden furnishings introduce a vibrant and contrasting palette of colours that will take your holiday relaxation to the next level.

Let’s start with the new kid on the block—convertible outdoor furniture. A popular pick for most homeowners appears to be the convertible bench, which can be transformed into a picnic table in a matter of seconds; stylish, compact, multifunctional and affordable. Garden bar stools and tables from rust-proof aluminium are also now the new standard, while fire pit tables are just what you need to give your garden a sprightly ambience or to toast a few kebabs on the side.

4. Create a Tiny Ecosystem in Your Own Home with Miniature Gardening

Always dreamed of having a miniature carbon copy of your life-sized garden? Well, you’re in luck because 2017 has ushered the age of miniature gardening! These small slices of heaven are usually comprised of tiny trees, shrubs, and flowers that are engineered to grow just one inch per year, with large plant containers usually serving as the base.

The variety of species you can plant in your fairyland is almost endless, with sage, rosemary, African violets, and begonias just a few of the options available. What’s more, there are many online stores that also sell downscaled accessories, such as cottage houses, patios, gardening furniture, ponds, fake plants… just name it and you’ll most probably find it on sale.

5. Keep the Pests at Bay with an Arsenal of Natural Herbicides

Keeping weeds in check has always been an exhaustive task, and careful positioning of your crops and mulch can only get you so far. But before you reach for your annual supply of herbicides, we urge you to try out this year’s trending recipes to kill weeds the eco-friendly way!

First stop boiling water. That’s right—just pour the hot liquid over the leaves and stems of the invaders and watch them perish. Alternatively, you can get yourself a flame-weeder tool that will scorch the leaves of weeds and cause them to instantly wilt. Just make sure to use extreme caution when treating weeds near dry leaves or branches as you definitely don’t want to bring your garden (and possibly your neighbourhood) down with them.

Table salt is another effective herbicide you can try out. Just dissolve one part salt in eight parts hot water, add a bit of liquid soap, and thoroughly spray all weeds with the mixture—but avoid drenching the soil at all costs or you’ll render it useless. Alternatively, you can swap the salt for some safer, weed-slaying vinegar.

6. Make the Most of Your Limited Space with Vertical Gardening

It’s time to go vertical. There is a reason this gardening method has been the centre of attention for many gardening discussions—it’s “compact”, making vertical gardening a great solution for the tight urban apartments and small yards in the UK. Plus, if done right, growing vegetables, herbs, or flowers in this fashion is bound to impress your visitors.

The good news is that you can grow your plants in practically anything. For instance inside empty bottles, which you can then carefully hang on an empty wall to create a jungle-esque setting. Have some wooden planks lying around your home? Use your DIY skills to build wooden pyramids and plant your flowers on each of their “floors”. Just replaced your PVC pipes? Don’t throw them away, drill a few holes across their surface, plant some lettuce or strawberries, and watch your garden take shape.

7. Stay Healthy with a Fresh Selection of Nutritious Food

Looking at the foods that flooded the market in 2016, it’s clear that it was a year of intense culinary experimentation. This year round, things just keep getting better (or worse, depending on who you ask) in the light eating department, starting with ugly produce. Yes, you’ve read that right—2017 is shaping up to be the year of deformed apples, carrots, tomatoes, and so on. This development helps fight the food waste problem and means less chance of ingesting genetically modified crops.

Seaweed, umami-flavoured chips will also be trendy in the upcoming months, as will jackfruit, coconut gluten-free flour and vegetarian burgers.

8. Gain Extra Income by Joining the Collaborative Consumption Movement

Allegedly created by the folks behind eBay, the collaborative consumption movement is a trend that has been recently gaining quite a bit of traction in the UK. In a nutshell, it is a bartering system that allows a person to rent a given item or service to another person in exchange for money. Gardening tools require a fair bit of maintenance and not everybody can afford them. Thus professional gardeners have found collaborative consumption a useful way to earn money on the side by lending their lawn mowers, chainsaws, pressure washers and other equipment at affordable hourly rates to other gardeners.

So if you happen to have some gardening inventory lying around your shed, we suggest dusting it up and giving this trend a try—you might just make a small fortune!

9. Your Favourite Gardening Shows Will Be Making a Return

This year you can expect your TV to be held hostage by a new wave of gardening shows—a whopping 36 of them, to be exact. But with so many simply riding the trend, which ones will be actually worth watching? Well, a good place to start will definitely be “The Avant Gardener” show. Hosted by Alan Gardner, it presents gardeners with unique ideas to encourage out of the bo” thinking and, more importantly, help them make their neighbours jealous!

“Love Your Garden” is another one you should definitely keep an eye on, and so is the 2017 ‘Shed of the Year’ competition, where the winner grabs a £1000 first prize and has their shed featured on TV come next summer. “Gardeners’ World” will also make a spectacular return to a fully revamped format and a set of fresh topics, all of which will be presented by Monty Don as is the tradition. Currently, the show is estimated to have over two and a half million viewers, making it one of the most (if not THE most) influential gardening shows ever.

10. Host a Refreshing Cocktail Party with Some Botanically-Infused Drinks

Mojito cocktails are out, botanical cocktails are in. Well, that is a bit of an overstatement, but the fact is that 2017 will continue the plant water trend that was so popular back in 2016. It all started with coconut water, then moved on to maple, birch, aloe… and now apparently to lotus flower, artichoke, prickly pear, and barley. But why?

It turns out that the liquid extracts of these plants act as powerful antioxidants that help the body fight potential damage from free radicals, which are produced when we eat, breathe, or work out at the gym. Some of these juices can also have a stimulating or a calming effect, while others still have been known to improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, or reduce stress.

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