by Gary on 18th April 2022 / 0 comments

Those jobs that provide instant gratification

If you caught our post 'The tales of a bumbling gardener' then you will know the story, but, in short, our garden needed a makeover.

It was not a wilderness (okay, in places, it was), but a lot of hard work would be needed to restore it to past glories, and we want to take it further.

Therefore, experience has taught us that to tackle the big tasks; we need to break them down into smaller pieces; otherwise, nothing gets done.


The Pin image for our post - 'Quick wins in the garden'
Why not Pin it for later?

See immediate benefits in your garden

You need to be able to see progress.

It does not take much to walk around our garden to generate a list of jobs that needs to be done. In fact, I could step onto the patio, look out from the conservatory, or even the view from the kitchen sink, to produce half a dozen items that need to be done.

So that was our motivation; let's see the improvements from day one. It created our first task list.

From the kitchen window, we needed to trim the climbing rose and train it around the Rose Arch entrance to the raised beds.

On the patio, we need to trim the bay tree, and I agreed the faux brickwork needed a jet wash (My idea that letting it age would make it look more natural failed)

Our Courtyard Patio with a floor that needs washing, a table & chairs that need cleaning and a broken cold frame that needs removing.
Our Courtyard Patio before our restoration work.
Finally, from the conservatory, the small picket fence between the hazelnut tree and the arch needed replacing.
A rotten, dilapidated wooden fence, with a pergola in the background
Think this needs a little attention
There were a few other quick fixes we could tackle; the rest of our ever-growing list of tasks for the garden would just suck up time.

Create a task list for your garden

Tick off your achievements
So I like to think I am an organised person, and depending on your point of reference, I range from utter geek to mild nerd. I like a spreadsheet, oh, and a good database, but a lot of our note-taking happens in OneNote by Microsoft, part of the office package. The reason behind that it allows note sharing between Janis & I. It is invaluable for our work on 'Our World for You' for planning, note-taking and then it's always in our pocket via the mobile app. I am not suggesting for one second that you need that, but keeping a record would be helpful. Why not pick up a little journal to keep track of your achievements. I often scribble notes down before transferring to OneNote.

Motivation for your ultimate garden

Let's start turning the corner

So it is all well and good to make lists, but you really need to start tackling those tasks.

The Rose Arch took about 20 minutes; if only I had taken a before and after shot. But now, when I look out of the kitchen window I don't think "oh that needs doing", and then my mind gets bogged down with all the other work needed in the garden. It is just, "what's next on the list?"

Our new picket fence between the nut tree and the arch leading to the wildlife pond and secret garden.
The new picket fence in place in our garden

The patio was a priority from the start. It usually is our entrance to the garden, and where we can sit and enjoy our garden.

Well, we could have if we had not let the bay tree we had planted get out of control! It became a barrier to the garden. In an ideal world, it would extend not more than 6 - 12 inches or 15cm - 30cm above the BBQ.

We actually gave it a significant snip last autumn, but was worried about being too harsh.

The bay tree between the courtyard patio and the lawn and the cottage garden bed before its first prune of 2022
The bay tree before pruning
So we hit it again, but those worries crept in, so it will need another cut once it has recovered and hopefully, we can get to the height we want, and then we need to keep it that way. That may require a new hedge trimmer.
The bay tree between the courtyard patio and the lawn and the cottage garden bed after its first prune of 2022
The bay tree after its prune
The final 'Quick Win' took about an hour, but we can see the benefit every time we step out onto the courtyard patio. Back in 2011 we had a new patio laid, with faux basket weave pattern, and I thought it would age gracefully, it didn't.
Our Courtyard Patio with its dark and dirty flooring
Our patio before the jet wash
Roll out the trusty Nilfisk jet washer, attach the compact patio cleaner, and, well, the results were surprising. It's actually the first time I had tackled the task. Sure, the contrasting mortar will need to be replaced, but that's another job, for another day. I think it looks a lot better
Our Courtyard Patio after the jetwash and the removal of the old cold frame
Our patio after the jet wash

Another quick win was to install some tool hanger hooks and holder clips in the Potting Shed as part of its spring clean. That immediately made the floor area less cluttered.

We moved our old battered cold frame that had sat neglected on our courtyard patio to the working area of the garden. We then upcycled this, and it's now in use as a log store.

A worthwhile day in the garden

Make sure you see the benefits

So, at the end of the day, and we crack open that well-deserved beer, we can see the immediate improvement.

It looks like we have a couple from our road trip around Croatia.

A couple of cold beers on the table in our courtyard patio
Cold beers after a hard days work
This, then proves to be the inspiration to take the rest of those 'little jobs'
- Plant up the sweet peas
- Add a little mood light to the patio
- Paint the chimnea
- Fix the coldframe
- Tidy the cables in the potting shed

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