How to green any outdoor space

Whether your space is big or small, front yard or back garden or even a balcony – here’s how to get green-fingered today.

Even if you’re not a natural when it comes to nature, getting started with plants couldn’t be easier – here are some quick tips to help your gardening career take root.
 

First things first... where to plant

Flowerbeds, plant pots, up walls and along fences – there are all sorts of spaces that are suitable for growing. You don’t necessarily need a patch of earth. Your local garden centre will stock all sorts of planters, pots and hanging baskets suitable for outdoor spaces. All you need to do is fill these with growing compost, pop in some seeds or plants and you’re good to go. This means it’s easy to add some pretty plants to driveways, balconies and patios.
 

Next... what will you grow?

It’s worth thinking about the type of plants you want to put in your outdoor space, as this will also help you determine what kinds of tools you’ll need. 

For instance, certain types of plants will need different soil types. Some will require plenty of sunlight while others will be happy with a shady patch. Some need lots of food and water while others prefer to be left alone. And some will even need frost protection in the winter. 

Here are some of our favourite types of garden plants and a quick guide to growing them – remember, however, that different genus (varieties) of plants will need to be cared for in different ways, so always check for specific advice when planting…

Flowering plants

what are they?

Flowers have been a staple of English gardens since the Middle Ages, and explorers have travelled to all four corners of the globe to make sure we have an incredible variety to choose from. Some of the most common varieties include fuchsia, daffodils, roses, orchids, peonies and daisies.

Some types – especially the perennial variety – last for a long time although they may require a bit of care, especially in the winter.

How to grow them

Flowering plants tend to like 6-inch deep, nutrient-rich soil with a good deal of sunlight, but every variety will have its own taste. If you’re growing from seed, once they’ve sprouted, make sure they get enough (but not too much) water. While plants are flowering, make sure to deadhead i.e. remove any dead flowers so as not to weigh down the stems. Don’t worry if they don’t look too bright in the winter – flowering plants like long hibernation periods.
 

Ivy 

what is it? 

Ivy is an evergreen ‘climbing’ plant. It likes to cling to surfaces such as walls, fences and other trees. Ivy is one of the best ways to green your outdoor space – you could even turn whole walls or fences in your home green! Ivy is shade tolerant and stays green all year, but beware – not only is it mildly poisonous, it can also spread its roots into your walls and cause damage.

How to grow it

Start by taking a semi-ripe cutting of ivy in the summer. Plant the stems in a pot full of soil and cover until you start to see growth. Ivy is tough and should start to grow freely once it’s got started – a little water now and then won’t hurt.

Succulents

what are they? 

These chunky plants store water in their big stems and petal-like leaves. They look dazzling, are easy to care for and, best of all, stay green and vibrant all year-round. Aloe vera, stonecrops and painted ladies are some of the most popular varieties of succulents – they look great in gardens, balconies or even indoors.

How to grow them

Succulents start as tiny seeds, but since they can be slow-growing, you may prefer to buy baby succulents from your garden centre. As they originate from arid deserts, succulents thrive on small sips of water and huge amounts of sunlight. For best results, grow your succulents in free-draining (ideally slightly acidic) soil in a sunny or slightly shady outdoor spot. 
 

Cacti

What are they? 

These varieties of succulents are well-known for their prickly spines and their ability to grow even in the most difficult conditions. Cacti stay green all year round and some types, including the prickly pear and the Christmas cactus, even produce fruits and flowers, giving them a bonny and floral appearance at certain times of year.

How to grow them

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti – so the same rules apply to cacti as succulents (see above). Plant them in free-draining soil, feed them small amounts of water (and no water at all in the winter) and make sure they get as much sunlight as possible.

Herbs 

What are they?

These edible plants are easy to grow in any outdoor space, as well as being very useful. What could be more convenient than adding a pinch of something home-grown to your cooking? Herbs, including basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, coriander, dill, chives and parsley, tend to stay green all year and not only look but smell good too.

How to grow them

Herbs aren’t fussy – a spot of soil, some water and food once a month is all they need to grow big and bushy. Some types, for instance mint, also prefer to have their own pots. Herbs like lots of sun, but also a bit of shelter – a sunny balcony, or a spot close to a wall or in the canopy of another plant would be ideal.
 

And finally…

Be patient! Growing greenery takes time and may not yield the results you were expecting right away. But with a little trial and error, plus oodles of due care and attention, you’ll have a dazzling array of plants to fill your outdoor space in no time.