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Breathe new life into a tired garden

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Steps to improve your 'tired' garden

In August, a garden can begin to look tired and spent. But there are some simple steps you can take to inject new life into your plot.

First, get rid of the brown, dead material.

Cut away brown stems, faded leaves and dead flower heads as these spell out decline and decay. Remove any fading seed heads you don’t need to keep and trim back anything shabby, You can also take off dried leaves at the base of perennials such as heleniums and aconitums. 

This huge step back to recovery,  secateurs in hand, might only take
an hour. 

The second step is to remove early flowering annuals, such as cornflowers or poppies. Take them out, saving the seeds as you go. 

The third task is to lightly trim any topiary. Smarten box and other topiary to improve contour and structure. Rub the old growth out very carefully after your trim to remove any tiny snippings. This will help discourage fungal diseases including box blight.  

Next, create and plug those planting gaps. Cut down any ragged hardy geraniums or early flowering perennials to create planting gaps. Plug them with late-flowering plants such as astilbe or coreopsis.

Already, your garden will feel fresher and more colourful. But there are a few more steps to ensure it is a place that you can enjoy until the end of October.

First, lighten up the shade: fuchsias love the shadier side of life and they thrive on shorter days and cooler nights. ‘Mrs Popple’ is a hardy winner – a vision in red and purple – or there are elegant single-flowered forms with small flowers. Others are good in containers – busy Lizzies (or impatiens) and begonias also love autumnal shade. 

Then create focal points. Distract the eye from those faded areas with a well-placed container or two. Make sure they are large and well planted and perhaps use a strong blue agapanthus in one. 

Finally, sit back and enjoy at least another two months outdoors.