How to get more from your Garden this Spring

By Veruska De Vita

A garden in Spring time can connect us to the natural world in many ways, whether it’s pausing to watch birds flutter in foliage or plucking the first ripe fruit of the season. As the chill of winter gives way to balmy weather, evenings bundled up indoors turn into nights lounging on the patio.

 With a sense of renewal in the air, it is the perfect time to relook at your garden space. By tackling one or two new projects over a few weekends, you’ll soon be sipping your favourite drink surrounded by a beautiful garden filled with the sights, scents and sounds that emanate from lush greenery.

Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa indicated the importance of a garden in a property sale. “First impressions last, and a beautiful garden can add significant value to your property sale timeline. The garden is an escape and a place to find solace, so a well laid out and inviting garden can be a big draw card to buyers.” Craig advised.

The latest Garden Trends

Like fashion, gardens and exterior spaces experience different styles and trends and one of the biggest trends of the moment is adding ambient lighting to the garden. Glenice Ebedes of Grounded Landscaping says that this extends an entertainment area beyond the home interior, incorporating the outdoors to make it more usable and certainly more enticing at night. Adding a fire pit is another way of extending an entertainment area and provides the opportunity to be under the stars on cooler evenings. Sitting around a crackling open fire enjoying the sound of crickets and the company of friends is a wonderful way to unwind and reconnect.

Another key trend is creating an ‘outdoor room’ or an intimate area in the garden that has its own theme and is separate from the rest – an area that is private, secluded and meditative. “This can be a permanently constructed zone or something more laid back. It all depends on your lifestyle and your home,” says Ebedes. Picture an area scattered with oversized cushions under the shade of a leafy tree or a zone spread with pebbles and stepping stones where you can literally slow down your pace.

When it comes to flower beds, the first rule of green thumb is to choose plants that will thrive in the environment. Consider positioning – is the area predominantly in shade for most of the day or will plants be exposed to full sun? Then select plants accordingly, while keeping maintenance in mind. According to Ebedes, perennials are winning favourability over annuals.

“Perennials are plants that don’t die but that continue to thrive from one season to the next. Unlike annuals which are high maintenance and need to be replaced every season, perennials keep going and bring lovely seasonal colour,” she says.

Homeowners who love blooms should also look for perennials that flower for longer periods. Another way of bringing different hues into a garden is to mix flower beds by planting a variety of flowering perennials that come into bloom at different times, this ensures that there are flowers across the four seasons. Shrubs such as the indigenous Anisodontea species flower prolifically for most of the year and thrive in most parts of South Africa.

Bursts of colour can also be added through foliage. Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’ is an indigenous, low-growing succulent with leaves that turn from green to a brilliant red when exposed to the sun. It’s ideal for areas bathed in direct sunlight for most of the day.

If your garden is already in peak health and needs simple maintenance, here are a few tasks that will keep it glossy:

  1. Enrich your soil with compost
  2. Add mulch to beds and potted plants to prevent moisture loss
  3. Apply organic fertilizer
  4. Replace invasive species with indigenous plants as this results in fewer pests and diseases in the garden. These plants also attract a lot of wildlife such as birds, butterflies and interesting insects.

Furniture and Accessories

Comfortable, functional and weather-hardy furniture is a key essential for making the most of your garden and exterior space. Texture is a strong element at the moment, especially natural wood, steel and a combination of the two. Linen and rope are also right on trend and add a touch of laid back pizazz.

According to online magazine Decoist.com, outdoor furniture and accessories reflect a desire to create a holiday vibe at home. The garden has been touted as the new resort and imbuing décor with a personal style that reflects your vacation character – be it luxury, rustic or barefoot and beachy – is all the rage.  In terms of design, foliage prints are still in and so are stripes. Large black and white, navy and white and red and white stripes bring elegance and a nautical feel to a patio and can be incorporated easily for an updated look. Chair cushions, throws, umbrellas and floor rugs that are on trend can instantly bring a modern twist to your exterior.

With the Scandinavian hygge movement – which is about creating comfort, coziness, conviviality and a sense of well-being – still a big part of home design, lounges and couches remain popular outdoor choices. Extra seating should always be on hand and functional to accommodate family and friends and if pieces can be moved around so that people can spread out and sprawl, all the better. Items such as ottomans, beanbags and stools can be repositioned with ease and stowed away when not required. They also offer a creative opportunity for updating a patio with little fuss and without breaking the bank – they can be re-covered in fun eye-catching fabrics that pop or revamped with a lick of paint.

Whatever you choose to do, the Spring garden is about outdoor homing, nesting and reconnecting with nature, with yourself and with your loved ones.

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