Mood boosting gardens!
Sometimes a simple clean up of your garden with some new planting, perhaps, a small feature added can give you a sense of achievement which can be seriously mood boosting. Think about when you give one of the rooms in your house a new lick of paint, rearranged the furniture or changed the curtains – the sense of self-satisfaction can be quite strong and often the rest of the family appreciate the new look – especially if the makeover has been for one of the teen’s bedrooms. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating frivolous spending, although any makeover will involve cost, it is , however, as much the investment of time and creativity that will give the result.
We undertake this sort of smaller scale but instant-fix type of work for clients on an ongoing basis, oftentimes taking on slightly bigger projects than they can handle themselves due to time pressures or lack of know-how (yet small projects by overall garden redesign standards). But they still get the feeling of self-renewal and wellness that comes from a new look to their garden.
With the above in mind, here’s my top list of garden projects to give a quick mood-boost but where the effect can be sustained for some time (with little extra maintenance):
- Overhaul a window basket or container with mood boosting perennial flowers. If your existing plants are looking tired or bedraggled or not producing the flowers that you want, it is time to send them to the compost heap or to the (queue horror music) da da dum…Brown Bin! The compost or soil mix is also likely spent of nutrient, so replace it. Recycle the compost to one of your other garden beds mixing it in with the existing garden soil. Or use it as packing subsoil for a larger container or pot project.
- Rework the planting near your driveway or front door: the welcome that we receive on our arrival home can seriously affect our mood for the rest of the day/evening. Receive the gift of an attractive floral display on arrival home and be assured of a happy family life. Although sounding a little trite, sometimes, simply edging the lawn at the edge of the driveway and carving out a new planting area (need only be a few square metres) is enough to create a sense of balance and order and consequent calm that can be of benefit when we arrive home to greet the other members of our families. Notes on this point: I have completed many terrific projects where the client has allowed me to rearrange in part the driveway – this has included such things as: replacing the hard standing in front of the front door with planting beds, redirecting the drive slightly away from the house to allow space for planting, installing new edging and paving to parts of the driveway. These projects involve getting in skilled labour but are completed in a day or two and can make all the difference. We have also rearranged the driveways and turning areas of some properties in order to make them more aesthetically pleasing whilst retaining their functionality. Whilst bigger projects, the results can be fabulous and long-lasting. A change of surface to the driveway alone can be the equivalent mood booster of a week’s holiday – I kid you not!
- Paint the garden walls or fence with a new uplifting colour. Exterior walls visible to the neighbours should, out of respect, be completed in neutral, neighbour-friendly colours but you don’t have to be boring – pick a colour that you like or haven’t used before! Interior walls can be painted to whatever colour you fancy. Darker colours can create a fabulous backdrop for plants but, on their own, without the planting, might make a space feel smaller. Hot colours can leap out and sometimes make a garden feel slightly smaller but can be very mood boosting. Neutrals provide balance and order. Note: if any section of the wall needs repair – get it done at the same time – don’t just paint over it, the problem will not go away. If your fence is leaning, do get it straightened – it will improve your mood. A good contractor is required for either of these jobs.
- Prune back an overgrown area of planting to increase the garden space and tidy up. Yes, there are rules about when and how to prune back certain types of shrubs and it is better to call in an expert to give you help but most shrubs are very tolerant of even bad pruning and will regrow. If you have to prune the shrub so hard back to create your impact well maybe it was in the wrong place in the first place and should actually be removed altogether. My only rule-of-thumb here is that you should try to compensate for planting removed with other colourful and wildlife friendly planting elsewhere in your garden please – note: ensure hard landscape does not dominate any garden at all – one of Tim’s golden rules!
- Install a small seat in part of the garden where you know there is privacy but also a good view back to the house or across the garden. Even better – install the seat where it is visible from the house. Clear away the planting or grass and make the area level, there is nothing worse than a leaning seat. Reinstate with gravel laid over membrane or install a small area of paving to support the seat. Replant the soil in the vicinity. Trust me, this one really is a fabulous do-over. However, approach with caution and perhaps get a mini-consultation from a garden designer (I know of one ;)) on placement or materials choice, as if done badly, it can also be a bit of an eyesore.
So, there are a few ideas to get you started. If none of the above suit, then I recommend cutting and edging the grass and weeding your flower beds – these basic tasks provide the same sense of satisfaction as washing up and hoovering do indoors, but is this enough! Over to you peeps!