The beautiful weather has tempted many of us out into the garden, and so I thought it would be a good time to look at some common garden problems - and some short and sweet solutions.
I've been writing a gardening advice column for House Beautiful magazine for eight years now and there are some problems that I see year after year. Here, I've distilled them into eight top problems and offer my advice on what to do. Hopefully, advice that's going to make your lives easier and your garden brighter.
1. Green is not enough
"There's no interest or colour in my garden right now."
A great solution is to get two big matching pots and put in them some really colourful plants. Put the pots exactly where you will see them every day - from the kitchen window or from the front door. They will cheer the whole garden up effortlessly.
2. Triffid Gardens
"I've got all of these overgrown plants and I don't know what they are or what to do with them."
I would just tear them all out. If they aren't pleasing you then get rid. If they were in your living room, taking up space, you'd never put up with them. Think about what you do want from the plants in each area of your garden. All year round cover? Scent? Height? Then go to a good garden centre and ask what they recommend. They'll even tell you how many you need if you know how much space you have.
3. Mess and children
"The children create mess; they have all of these toys and a trampoline..."
If you have space, use trellis or plants to create a hidden corner where you can either chuck the mess or where you can sit and not be able to see the mess. If you're creating an area for you to sit, a great place is where you can get the last of the sun - perfect for evening drinks.
Which brings us to....
4. Sitting comfortably
"I don't have anywhere in the garden I feel comfortable."
I would look at some really comfy chairs - whether they are outdoor sofas, hammocks, or bean bags. Forget sitty-up metal chairs, you need somewhere you can really flop into. And, once you've sat down with a beer or a glass of wine, you don't seem to mind the other problems half as much.
5. I hate my lawn Volume 1
"It's just blurgh, it adds nothing to the garden and is difficult to mow."
Try to shape it. If it's meant to have straight edges then take a string and spade and cut them so they are dead straight. If it's meant to be a circle, or is something approximating a circle, peg a bit of string in and walk around cutting it and patching it until it really is a circle.
6. I hate my lawn Volume 2
"I really hate the lawn. I hate mowing it, it's a muddy mess in winter and a dustbowl in summer."
Try fake grass, it can be a godsend in a smaller garden. It looks great all year round, is very low maintenance and could be better for the environment than a fertilized, sprinkled, continually cut lawn.
7. Fenced in
"All I see when I look out are fences!"
There are three possible solutions to this
• Paint the fences - NOT BLUE - paint them a subtle chalky white for a Scandinavian feel
• Put trellis up and grow climbers over
• Put tall plants like bamboo in front of them.
For a small garden the first solution has a great instant appeal - in one day you can transform your garden into a bright, light oasis.
8. Dark nights
"After dark my new extension feels oppressive."
So many people have large windows at the rear of their houses now and, after dark, these can become oppressive black walls. The easiest solution to this is to get the outdoor fairy lights out and trace them through the planting; the effect is subtle but magical. (Just be careful when you garden not to tread on them.)