A patio with roses of different color.

How to Plant Up Patio Roses in Your Garden

Modern patio roses bloom for many months, and offer those with limited space the chance to enjoy their color and fragrance. Not all roses thrive in cramped conditions, so look out for plants labeled “patio” or “miniature,” and place your containers in a sunny position for the best blooms.

When to plant: Autumn or early spring.

At their best: Early to midsummer.

Time to complete: 30 minutes.

You will need: Large container – at least 18 in (45 cm) deep, broken clay pot pieces, gravel, soil-based potting mix, well-rotted manure, slow-release fertilizer, Mycorrhizal fungi – such as Rootgrow, patio rose, such as Rosa ‘Regensberg’, Bedding plants – such as Sutera cordata (syn. Bacopa).

Prepare the container

Plant your pot in situ, since it will be heavy and difficult to move once planted. Place a layer of broken pots or plastic pieces at the bottom of the container. Add a layer of gravel to aid drainage, and then some potting mix with well-rotted manure (one part manure to ten parts soil).

Check planting depth

Place the rose, in its pot, on the soil and check that the graft union (swelling at base of stems) will be below the soil after planting. Remove or add soil to adjust the planting level, and mix in slow-release fertilizer and mycorrhizal fungi. Then remove the rose from its container and set it in the pot.

Plant up annuals

Fill around the root ball with the soil and manure mixture. Wearing gloves, firm it in gently with your hands. Leave a gap of 2 in (5 cm) between the soil and the rim of the pot to allow space for watering. For added summer color, after the frosts in late spring, plant trailing bedding plants, such as Sutera, around the edge.

Finishing touches

Water the plants well after planting; you may have to add a little more soil after watering if it exposes the roots. A mulch of well-rotted manure over the top of the soil will help retain moisture. Keep the container moist during the growing season, and stand it on “feet” during winter to make sure excess water drains away easily.

Tips

In spring, remove the top layer of soil and add some fresh soil mixed with a granular rose fertilizer, applying it according to the manufacturers’ instructions. You may need to top up with a liquid feed in the summer, but avoid doing so in late summer because this will encourage soft growth that is vulnerable to frost.


Woman removing a flower plant from a small pot.

How to Use Pot-Grown Plants

Some plants, such as lavender, boxwood, holly, and privet, are not generally available in bare-root form and are grown and sold in pots. The planting technique is similar to that for bare-root types but pot-grown hedging can be planted at any time of year, as long as the soil is not frozen or very dry.

When to plant: Any time; early autumn or spring is best.

At their best: All year (evergreen); Spring to autumn (deciduous).

Time to complete: 3 hours or longer depending on hedge size.

You will need: Pot-grown holly plants – Ilex aquifolium, well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, all-purpose granular fertilizer, spade, fork, stakes, garden string, watering can or hose.

Dig planting holes

Prepare the soil and mark out the area as in Steps 1 and 2 from here How to Plant a Formal Hedge. Either dig a long trench or individual holes for each plant—holes need to be as deep as the root

ball and twice as wide.

Tease out roots

If planting in spring, add some fertilizer to the excavated soil. Tease out any congested roots before planting at the same depth as the plant was in its original pot. Firm in with your foot and water well.


Modern design garden with Chamomile plant.

How to Lay a Chamomile Lawn

Sweet, soothing, scented chamomile has long been a desirable alternative to grass, and with the availability of turf, it is quick and easy to lay. Chamomile likes free-draining soil and, because it will not tolerate heavy wear and tear, is most suitable for decorative lawns or fragrant seats.

When to start: Early autumn or early spring.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 2 hours or more for larger lawns.

You will need: Chamomile turf, well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, horticultural grit, all-purpose granular fertilizer, topsoil and horticultural sand.

Lay the turf

Prepare your site as for turf (How to Turf a Lawn), and if you have heavy clay, dig in lots of grit to ensure that your soil drains freely; waterlogged soil will kill chamomile. Turf will consist of Chamaemelum nobile ‘Treneague’, a nonflowering, compact plant that spreads to form a dense mat. Lay the turf in the same way as grass (check: How to Turf a Lawn).

Caring for chamomile

There’s no need to mow chamomile because it naturally grows to just 2. in (6 cm) in height. Trim it occasionally during summer, using garden shears to remove straggly growth and sideways spread. Pull out any weeds by hand before they have time to establish—do not use lawn weedkiller, which will kill the chamomile. Each spring, apply a slow release granular fertilizer and sprinkle a top dressing of sieved soil and horticultural sand over the lawn. Tread in the dressing to crush the stems, which promotes strong root growth.


Man taking care of a small rose tree.

How to Plant a Tree in Your Garden

An investment in time and money, a tree will eventually become a striking presence in your garden and make a beautiful year-round feature. Plant it well and take care of it afterward, and your tree will soon pay dividends, providing you with color, shade, and structure for many years to come.

When to start: Late autumn.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 2 hours.

You will need: Tree, spade, fork, cane, stake, tree tie, mulch, gardening gloves.

Prepare the ground

Dig a circular hole twice the width and the same depth as the root ball. Do not dig over the base, because this may cause the tree to sink once planted. Instead, puncture the base and sides with a garden fork to encourage the roots to penetrate.

Check planting depth

Most trees are planted with their root ball slightly above the soil surface, which helps them to establish a strong root system. Place the tree in the hole, lay a cane across the top to check the level, and add or remove soil as required.

Tease out roots

Lift the tree from the hole and use your fingers to gently tease the outer roots away from the root ball. This will encourage them to root into the surrounding soil, helping the tree establish, and is particularly important if the tree is “root-bound”.

Plant the tree

Hold the tree in the hole and turn it round until its best side is facing in the right direction. Then fill around the root ball with the excavated soil. Do this in three stages; adding soil and gently firming it down with your foot each time. Make sure there are no air pockets between the roots.

Gently firm in

Make sure the root ball is just above the soil surface. As a guide, look for the “nursery line”, where the trunk darkens at the base, showing the level the tree was grown at in the nursery. This must not be buried. Then add a thin layer of soil over the root ball so that no roots are exposed.

Attach tree to wooden stake

Choose a stake that will reach a third of the way up the trunk. Use a mallet to hammer it into the ground at an angle of about 45 degrees with the top facing the prevailing wind. Attach a tree tie at the point where tree and stake meet, using a spacer to prevent them rubbing together.

Aftercare

Water the tree well, and then apply a thick mulch, such as composted bark chippings, to suppress competing weeds and seal in moisture. Keep it clear of the stem. Water the tree regularly for two years, and check and loosen ties frequently. The ties can be removed after two or three years when the tree has fully established.


Multi-stemmed trees in a garden on a foggy day.

How to Grow Multi-stemmed Trees in Your Garden

Some trees have particularly beautiful bark, and you can create a dazzling effect by encouraging them to develop multiple stems. This involves some drastic pruning, but the end result is well worth it.

When to plant: Late autumn.

At their best: Winter.

Time to complete: 3 hours.

You will need: One tree, spade, fork, organic matter, pruning saw, stake, tree tie.

Prepare the ground

Dig out a planting hole, as deep as the root ball, and at least twice as wide. Puncture the base and sides of the hole with a fork. Mix a little organic matter into the excavated soil. Plant your tree so that the rootball is slightly proud of the surrounding soil surface, using a stake to check the planting level. Backfill with soil, stake, then secure firmly with a tree tie. Water well.

Planting and staking

You can buy multi-stemmed trees, which require no further pruning, but it is cheaper to buy a single-stemmed tree and prune it yourself. Ideally you should give it a full growing season first, then the following winter, cut the trunk to the ground, and remove the stake.

Aftercare

New stems will appear from the base in spring, and become the new framework of branches. If there are many, prune them selectively to promote a good shape. Water the tree freely the first year after planting, and the year after pruning to help it recover. Feed with a tree and shrub fertilizer in early spring.

Tips: Planting options

Some trees are better suited than others to growing as multi-stemmed specimens, so if you are unsure, ask before you buy. The following species can all be grown in this way: Eucalyptus, Himalayan birch – Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, Snake bark maple – Acer davidii, Tibetan cherry – Prunus serrula, Hazel – Corylus, Willow – Salix.


Part of a Laburnum tree.

How to Create a Golden Arch in Your Garden

A traditional laburnum walkway makes a spectacular feature in early summer, and can be created in most gardens. Enjoy its blast of seasonal color, and plant around it to double the display.

When to plant: Late autumn.

At their best: Early summer.

Time to complete: 4 days.

You will need: 4 laburnum trees (or more for a longer walk), metal-framed fruit tree arch, spade, fork, tree ties, wire.

Install the arch supports

You can buy sturdy fruit tree or vine arches in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. Select two that will span your walkway, or ask a blacksmith to make a set to fit your design. Most metal arches are simply set into the soil.

Plant and train

Plant one tree next to each arch upright, water well, and secure with a tree tie. Train the branches over the arch as they grow, tying them in with tree or tube ties. Over time, you may find it necessary to link the arches with coated wires to support new stems.

Aftercare

Water the trees regularly for the first two years until they are established, and check and loosen tree ties every few months. Feed each spring with a shrub and tree fertilizer to promote the best possible display. Prune any wayward branches in winter, and regularly remove thicker, woodier growth to make space for young flowering stems. Plant other shrubs and climbers below and nearby for additional color. All parts of a laburnum are poisonous if ingested, so do not plant where children or pets play.

Tip: Underplanting

Bulbs are ideal for planting beneath your arch. Early bulbs, such as daffodils, will flower before the trees, while tulips and alliums bloom at the same time. Shade-loving ferns will provide long-lasting interest.


Young plant with three yellow leafs.

How to Grow Trees from Seeds

Even large trees can be kept to a manageable size when planted in a container, and they are easy to grow from seeds you can find for free when walking in the park. In autumn, look out for conkers from horse chestnuts, acorns from oaks, and sycamore seeds, all of which will germinate in a few months.

When to plant: Autumn.

At their best: Spring to autumn.

Time to complete: 30 minutes.

You will need: Tree seeds (you can use a conker from a horse chestnut tree for example), plant pot, broken clay pot pieces, soil-based potting mix, trowel.

Prepare to plant

Check that your seeds are firm and have no holes or other signs of insect larvae inside. Place some clay pieces at the bottom of the pot, and nearly fill it with soil.

Plant your seeds

Plant the conker about 1 in (2 cm) deep, and cover with soil. Water, and place in a shady spot outside. Check that the soil doesn’t dry out. Your seed will sprout in spring.

Other seeds to try

It’s worth planting a range of tree seeds, just in case some do not germinate. Collect seeds when they are ripe—undamaged seeds that have fallen to the ground will be at the right stage—and plant them immediately, since they dehydrate quickly if they are stored.

Easy to grow

Collect ripe acorns, hazelnuts, crab apples, eating apples, and cherries, either from the park or from your own or a friend’s garden. Remove the flesh from the fruits and wash the seeds first before sowing. Many tree seeds require a period of cold, or even frost, before they will germinate, so leave your pots outside where they won’t get blown over.


Leafs and fruits of a cherry tree.

How to Plant Cherry Trees in Your Garden

There is no more spectacular harbinger of spring than an ornamental cherry tree bursting into bloom. After a winter of bare branches come clouds of fluffy, pastel blossoms. Some produce fruits that attract birds to the garden, and many also have good autumn color to end the year with a bang.

When to plant: Late autumn.

At their best: Spring.

Time to complete: 2 hours.

You will need: Cherry tree, stake, tree tie, spade.

Choose a site

Ornamental cherries grow best in fertile, moist but well-drained soil, in full sun, although they tolerate partial shade and a drier soil once they are established. Make sure there is ample room for the tree to grow because some mature into large trees.

Planting and staking

Dig a hole the same depth as the rootball and twice as wide. Plant the tree so that its rootball is slightly proud of the surrounding soil surface. Hammer in a stake angled into the prevailing wind. Attach it to the tree using a flexible, adjustable tree tie.

Aftercare

Water the tree thoroughly after planting, and apply a mulch, keeping it away from the trunk. Water for the first two years. Check the tie often, and loosen it if need be. In a couple of years, you can remove the stake because the tree will be fully established.

Planting choices

Cherry trees come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to suit all gardens. Prunus ‘Spire’ has a slender, upright habit, ideal for smaller gardens. P. x subhirtella and P. incisa are both compact trees with pale pink flowers and attractive autumnal color. P. ‘Shizuka’ is medium-sized, and has large, scented, white semi-double flowers.

Tips: Pruning

If you choose the right-sized cherry for your garden, the only pruning required will be to remove dead, diseased, or damaged growth. If you need to shape your tree, do so after flowering in early summer, because there are fewer diseases then, and you will not remove the flower buds.


Hedge made of different colored plants.

How to Create an Informal Hedge

If you prefer a relaxed, rustic style of garden, avoid formal hedges, and opt instead for one that contains a mix of species. This style of hedge is good for wildlife, as it provides food and somewhere to live. It is also relatively easy to look after, needing just one trim per year in late autumn.

When to plant: Autumn.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 3 hours, or more for long hedges.

You will need: Wildlife hedging plants (blackthorn, dog rose, hawthorn, hazel, holly), spade, fork, string and pegs, well-rotted organic matter, such as manure.

Selection of plants you could use: Berberis darwinii, Blackthorn – Prunus spinose, Dog rose – Rosa canina, Field maple – Acer campestre, Guelder rose – Viburnum opulus, Hawthorn – Crataegus, Hazel – Corylus avellana, Holly – Ilex aquifolium, Rosa glauca.

Prepare the site

Hedges are permanent structures, and fare best in well-prepared soil. Dig over the area, removing all weeds, especially the roots of perennials. Fork in some organic matter deep into the soil to improve its structure.

Compress soil

Use your weight to compress the soil, shuffling slowly over the entire area. Then repeat this at right angles. If planted immediately after it has been dug over, the soil will settle, and plants will not be anchored properly.

Mark guide lines

For a deep hedge, set out two lines of string, held taut by pegs, 14–16 in (35–40cm) apart. These form the planting guides for your two rows of plants. For a narrower hedge, you will need just one line of plants.

Plant in trenches

To ensure a really straight hedge, dig out a long trench, rather than individual holes. Plant one line at a time and position the plants along its length, about 14 in (35 cm) apart. Alternate the different plant species for a mosaic effect.

Check planting depths

Hedging plants suffer when planted too deeply or shallowly, so take care to ensure that they are at the same depth as they were in the nursery, or in their pots. The stems will be darker where they previously touched the soil.

Stagger planting

If planting a double row, stagger the second line, so that the plants grow in the gaps between those in the first row. Water in all plants well, and mulch with organic matter, keeping it clear of the stems. Water the hedge regularly throughout the first year.

Thorny barriers

An informal wildlife hedge can also double as a barrier to deter intruders because many wildlife-friendly plants are covered in vicious spikes and thorns. Deer will avoid barriers that look tricky or painful to negotiate, and are more likely to go elsewhere for easier pickings. Alongside the classic native plants, there are also many roses that make beautiful but fearsome hedges.

Site and soil

Ideally most hedging plants, including roses and the other plants used here, prefer a sunny site, with well-drained and fertile soil. If your soil is not perfect, spend some time preparing the ground by digging in plenty of organic matter down to a spade’s depth.

Plant species roses

Follow the advice for planting roses. However, species roses, which are ideal for hedges, do not have a graft union, and are planted at the same depth they were growing at in their pots, or in the field.

Aftercare

Once plants have started growing in spring, cut them back by about a third to encourage bushy growth from the base. Keep them watered throughout their first year and regularly remove any weeds around their base. This will prevent your roses from having to compete for nutrients and water while they are in the process of becoming established.


Small hedge in a garden.

How to Make a Formal Hedge

Yew, hornbeam, and beech make excellent closely clipped hedges, and you can reduce the cost by buying young bare-rooted plants from late winter to early spring from specialist nurseries and growing them on yourself. Prepare your soil in advance and plant immediately, unless the soil is frozen or waterlogged.

When to plant: Late autumn to early spring.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 4 hours or more depending on hedge size.

You will need: Young bare-rooted hedging plants (like yew, Taxus baccata, for example), well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, spade, fork, stakes, garden string, watering can or hose, all-purpose granular fertilizer.

Prepare the site

Six weeks before planting, remove all weeds from the site and dig a trench the length of the hedge and 3 ft (1 m) wide. Fork in organic matter, and refill the trench. Set out a line to mark the edge of the hedge.

Mark planting intervals

Dig a trench twice as wide and as deep as the plants’ root balls. Using a ruler or guide, lay stakes at 18–24 in (45–60 cm) intervals along the string line to mark the planting distances.

Check planting depths

Check that the plants will be at the same depth as they were in the field when planted—you will see the soil line just above the roots. Place one plant by each stake, and backfill around the roots with soil, removing any air gaps with your fingers.

Firm in well

When in place, check that the plants are upright and then firm in around them with your foot. Create a slight dip around each plant to act as a reservoir, and water well. Add a thick mulch of compost or manure, keeping it clear of the plant stems. Water for the first year and feed plants annually in spring.