5 Ways to update tired garden beds

Winter is a good time to reassess your garden and simple changes like introducing hard landscaping elements or adding a few fashionable plants can make a huge difference

1. Prepare the ground

Whether renovating or replanting a garden bed, start by digging organic matter, like compost, bonemeal and hoof and horn into the top 18–25cm of the soil to increase water retention, introduce helpful bacteria and micro-organisms and provide nutrients.

Products which improve plants’ fertility and growth include gypsum-based Gardener’s Gold Dust from Gold Dust Spectrum Marketing, Soil Build and Root Build from Natural Gardening Principles and Mycoroot, which contains mycorrhiza (a fungi) to enhance the uptake of water and nutrients.

At planting time, slip a root booster like a Plantit disc of seaweed and zeolite (available from Kelp Products), under each plant. A liquid organic fertiliser like Efekto’s Wonder Kelp will also stimulate growth. Lastly, don’t forget to mulch your beds after planting.

TIP If you prepare the soil ahead of planting, any weeds which germinate can be pulled out before you replant or sow seeds.

2. Obelisks and tripods

Strategically placed obelisks and tripods are the perfect solution for a bed that needs extra height. They’re also ideal for adding similar points of interest, for continuity and to hold a design together.

Although the size, height and number of obelisks will be determined by the length and breadth of the bed, your choice of colour will depend on the style of your garden and the planting. Use white for a classic look or greys and blues for a more contemporary feel. Green and charcoal will be the least conspicuous. Obelisks made from metal are a modern choice, while timber is a good all-round option. Rough latte tripods are best suited to natural gardens.

3. Make use of grasses

Ornamental grasses are very fashionable and an easy and economical way to modernise garden beds. Apart from introducing colour, their texture and form are a welcome change to the more regular shapes of shrubs, annuals and perennials. Combine soft weeping grasses with big bold foliage or plant them en masse for more impact. Repeat them through the bed for uniformity and bear in mind, that while some also colour well in autumn, others die back in winter.

4. Shape the beds

Squaring off informal, curved beds can give a garden a more up-to-date feel, and if these beds are cleverly designed, can even make small spaces look much bigger. This also makes the edges easier to maintain and mow. Another advantage is that the garden appears more organised and tranquil.

If you still want a relaxed, informal feel, you can allow plants the freedom to cascade over the edges rather than keeping them clipped and contained.

5. Permanent edging

There are several benefits of using permanent edging, be it bricks, cobbles, old-fashioned terracotta rope edging, timber, old sleepers and even upturned bottles. It gives the garden a more finished, polished appearance, reinforces the design lines, makes it easier to keep beds trim and tidy, and depending on what you use, can add an extra design element. It also saves you time as repeated ‘trenching’ to stop lawn runners from invading your beds, or making your curved beds squiggly, is no longer necessary.