Getting your garden ready for summer BBQs

This month, Mr McGregor’s column suggests ways to get our gardens ready for summer and BBQs.

furniture-gardenTo me the summer isn’t just one of the most beautiful seasons – with the glorious sun shining on the petals of buddleias, highlighting the luscious green leaves of trees as it sets – but it also smells wonderful.

I’m not just talking about the aroma of plants and herbs that grace our garden’s borders, but of the smell coming from the charcoal BBQs.  Entertaining family and friends in the garden is one of my favourite things to do, especially if I can serve up some of my home-grown salads and vegetables.

April is a great time to prepare the garden ready for summer BBQs. The lawn mower should have already made an appearance from the shed to ensure the grass is kept neat, but there is plenty more garden maintenance to get on with. Here is a quick check list to ensure you’re well prepared to host a family BBQ in a blossoming and beautiful setting:

•    Check ties on trees, standard roses and climbing plants before they begin to blossom and loosen the ties if they are cutting into new stem.
•    Feed permanent container plants with fertilizer and re-pot any plants that are outgrowing their containers.
•    Continue to remove the dead heads from Daffodils and early Tulips. Plant out any grown in pots as they finish flowering.
•    Plant summer flowering bulbs such as Lilies and Dahlias in the ground or containers from the end of the month onwards.
•    Prune evergreen shrubs such as Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’ to encourage new, bushy growth, and prune woody growth that has just flowered from Winter Jasmine.
•    Any new purchases of trees, shrubs and perennials should be planted out as soon as possible and watered in well.
•    Rake out any moss and dead grass (thatch) then aerate your lawn using a fork or hollow tine aerator to improve the drainage. A combination of peat and sharp sand is a great way to fill the aeration holes. If you’re going to treat weeds appearing in your lawn, be sure to use a weed killer that won’t harm the grass.
•    Start to plan your summer bedding colour schemes for baskets and containers.

BBQ.fireKeeping your garden well presented is a great challenge, especially as it keeps you outside while the weather is warming up and the garden is waking up. However, I can never keep myself from wondering what garden furniture I will introduce into the garden every summer and trying to argue my case to Mrs McGregor for a new BBQ!

I really love the idea of having a quiet place to escape to, to get lost in a book whilst soaking up the rays in the garden; but I don’t want that comfy chair to look out of place amongst the greens and summer colours of my borders. A metal framed chair could stick out like a sore thumb, but perhaps a Rattan one-seater would fit the bill perfectly.

The garden furniture set we have needs replacing this year, and I believe Mrs McGregor has her eyes set on a classic cast iron dinning suite. On the freshly power-washed patio, I agree it would look particularly stunning; but I’m a little uncertain as I can see little heads bumping into the corners. We will have to have a little look around to see what’s available.

This summer is sure to be wonderful once I’ve pruned, de-headed and tied back my plants, and can show off our new garden furniture; while serving up some delicious home-grown veg and salad. Now, all that’s left is convincing Mrs McGregor of that all important new BBQ. Wish me luck.

Good gardening, Mr McGregor

Mr McGregor is a keen gardener and loves a good old-fashion BBQ, grilling an array of fish and poultry on charcoal. You can find out more about what the McGregor’s are up to on another of his columns, Notcutts.