25 Aug Tips for preparing your garden for a party!
With the weather hopefully beginning to warm up I’m sure the opportunity to use your outdoor spaces for entertaining will increase too. In the past few years, with the gardens we care for, we have been involved with preparing the gardens for large celebrations such as weddings. We also prepared the garden at “The Berkshires” for mine and Phillip’s wedding 6 years ago. I thought I might share some of our tips that we have used when preparing these gardens.
Start with a spreadsheet ……
I am definitely not a huge lover of a spreadsheet but when it comes to preparing the garden for a big event they can be useful. A spreadsheet or even just a list is a very helpful tool to keep you on track with timing. We would normally brainstorm a long list of everything you want achieved in the garden for the event and how you want each area to look. We would then try to put those tasks into some type of order depending on how much preparation is required. You will have to consider if you need to buy materials and plants or organise others to do the work. When it comes to plants the timing could be reliant on plant availability, the season and how long it will take for the plants to get established in the garden.
I would then list out each week on the spreadsheet and allocate the tasks to each week normally working backwards from the date of the event. Now I know this is sounding like quite a formal ordered plan but if you can do a little each week the results will be much better than having to do a lot in a few weeks.
A few tasks that I know will help the garden look its best …
Get them before they go to seed
Weeding is an ongoing chore for any garden. Allocating a small amount of time to weeding each week can help you keep everything in control. If it is a particular weedy area I would suggest attempting to do a big blitz on the weeds over a few days. As you weed, you can also spread fertiliser and mulch the area. Try not to leave any area open and bare without mulch as those weeds will come back, especially in spring.
One idea I sometimes follow, to make the task of weeding feel less overwhelming is to make a coffee first thing in the morning, grab a 9 litre bucket and then head outside to do some weeding before anybody is awake. Aim to fill this full of weeds each day. By allocating a small amount of time to weeding each day you can slowly get on top of the pesky plants.
A quick fix
If you have a short amount of time before the big day then just attempt to weed those areas that will be directly seen. Often only weeding the perimeter of the garden say the first 1 metre edge of a garden bed will be enough to improve the overall look. Then if time permits you can spread mulch along those edges. This is often enough to draw the visitors’ eyes around the border of the garden and they are less likely to look into the depths of the bed.
The stage …..the lawn
There really is nothing like a well-kept lawn to make everything look better. A lush healthy lawn is like putting on a pair of Chanel shoes with your work out gear, it just lifts everything around it. With the warmer weather the lawn will be growing quickly and so will any weeds in the lawn. Trying to organise a mowing program so that the lawns are mowed regularly will make a huge difference. Programmed mowing will help keep the lawn at a manageable height, prevent weeds from going to seed and reduce the thatch in the lawn, which will mean it is easier to walk on. Usually the more frequently you mow the lawn the less length of time it will take you to mow it. If time and the season permits you could do a seasonal treatment for the lawn with herbicides and fertilisers. This will be dependent on lawn species and your location. For example you can use a broadleaf herbicide on any broadleaf weeds to clean up the lawn. You could also fertilise the lawn with a nitrogen rich fertiliser such as Urea or use a liquid Iron solution. This will give your lawn a deeper shade of green.
A crisp edge
Keeping the lawn edges nice and sharp makes a huge difference, giving definition to the garden beds and adds to the overall neatness of the space. We tend to use a battery powered edger with a sharp blade that will cut the line in to the ground first. Then we go over the edge with the whipper snipper holding the whipper snipper on its side so that the cord is rotating vertically (like a car tyre) not horizontally.
A pop of colour
Adding splashes of colour throughout the garden can give a seasonal festive feel. This could be achieved by planting out a border of flowering annuals or having groupings of potted annuals on the corner of a paved area, either side of a bench or an entrance.
Consider timing of the event to coincide with existing plants flowering in the garden or vice versa select perennial plants to be planted that will be in flower at the time of the event.
Add a blanket to the bed …..mulching
If you can continue to top up mulch every few months in garden beds it will help prolong the time frame between weeding.
Mulch also improves the aesthetics of the garden as it gives garden beds a finished look. It provides a uniform understory to allow the plants to be the feature. It also will suppress weeds and have an added benefit of improving your soil.
Will need moisture
Hopefully you have enough water to keep the garden watered if needed. If conditions are dry, you will need to add some water to lawns and beds for it to remain green and lush.
Pruning and training
This might involve some guess work but we normally like to have any hedges or shaped plants pruned a few weeks before the event so they look neat, have form but also have that natural softness to the foliage rather than looking too freshly clipped and harsh.
Climbers will need to be shaped and trained on to supports or fences, so they look neat.
Trees should have lower branches removed to give clear views, access for pathways and mowing.
Other tips from our experience that aren’t so much garden related
-Try to have a level area where guests can sit or stand.
-Always have a wet weather plan
-Direct guests to where you want them to sit or mingle or section off areas you may not want guests to wander through – this guiding direction could be achieved with some decorative bunting, strategically placed potted plants or even some pieces of garden sculpture.
-Have some form of outdoor lighting if the event is at night. For practical purposes such as highlighting pathways/steps/access. For aesthetic purposes to add to the mood of the night. This could be up lights on trees or fairy lights through trees or festoon lights around pergolas
-Consider where guests will park – this needs to be accessible but also consider where the main views from the event will be. You don’t want a car park as the back drop to the event and in every photo.
-See what flowers and foliage are growing in the garden so that they could be picked to be used as decorations.