Get your garden ready for summer

With thousands of visitors throughout the summer, Geoff Stonebanks at the Driftwood Garden in Seaford, East Sussex has plenty of tips for preparing your garden for summer.

courtyard
Power washing hard surfaces in the garden makes such a difference. Image: Geoff Stonebanks.
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Whether you are getting your garden ready to open to the public, or just preparing it for your own summer enjoyment, there can be a hard working regime to follow to get it just right.

Over the six years I have been doing it, the task always begins with power washing of all the hard surfaces. It’s amazing what you can achieve in making your plot look good with just clean looking paths, brick work and garden sculpture. My box courtyard has a lovely brick finish but until you blast clean the bricks individually, you just don’t realise how dirty they have become. It may be time consuming, but it’s well worth the effort to pressure clean every individual brick as well as the grouting in between.

Border control

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Once plants start growing you can hardly see the plant supports. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

If, as we do, you have dog in the family, they can play havoc with your beautifully planted garden beds. A trick I’ve always used, which has worked extremely well is to edge your beds before you get planting. Here at Driftwood I edge the beds with rusted metal plant supports placed on an angle that plants can grow up through to then conceal them from view, but our dog knows they are there and he stays out. It really does work.

I’ve got three large clumps of Shasta daisies in a gravel area that are very exposed to winds from the sea, so now is the time to get the additional support into the ground that they can grow up through and to give them that extra support. The stakes soon become hidden.

I also have tall semi-circular rusted supports that help me pin bushy shrubs like my fabulous Fuchsia ‘Riccartonii’ back. It helps to create a much more even and balanced display.

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An old metal screen helps keep Lavatera and buddleja incheck. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

This year I find that I’ve got nowhere to place a metal screen I’ve had a few years, but inspiration struck this week and I’ve placed it in the border, about 9 inches from the fence to help support the Lavatera rosea and buddleja which are always prone to being blown down by the strong winds we can get off the sea.

My top 5 tips for getting your garden in shape for the summer

  1. Without doubt my top tip is power cleaning throughout the garden. The end result makes a real statement.
  2. Meticulously prune every plant and shrub in the garden of dead wood and damaged leaves, they will look amazing.
  3. Make sure you feed the plants and shrubs from late April onwards. This year I’m using Flower Power. The results will make your neighbours very jealous.
  4. If, like me, you have lots of containers, treat yourself to a moisture meter so you can make sure you water them when needed and not because you think they need it.
  5. Cover all exposed soil with bark chip and mulch containers with gravel or slate and you’ll be amazed how few weeds you will see and it also helps moisture retention too.
Geoff Stonebanks

About Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden - Driftwood - he has raised over £76,000 for various charities in 7 years, £40,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners' World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also the National Garden Scheme's Social Media & Publicity Chair as well as an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex.
View all posts by Geoff.