The five-minute method to keep your garden beautiful
Garden writer and busy mum Laetitia Maklouf has discovered the secret of happier gardening – do something small every day. Her new book The Five Minute Garden is packed with little bursts of activity: spruce, chop, nurture, fuss or tackle a larger project, all in five minute forays. Here is Laetitia’s five-minute method to keep your garden beautiful.
Illustrations by Liane Payne
This is the outline I follow, and I put it here simply as an idea to spark your gardening endeavours.
Watering, weeding, sweeping, tidying – do as much as you can in five minutes. Watering: all containerised plants in summer.
Weeding: pick a spot, start the timer, ready, set, go! Two trays or trugs: one for composting, the other for council or black bin.
Sweeping: sweep or blow out steps, paths and terraces. Compost leaves.
Resetting and tidying: cushions out, umbrellas up, lights and candles lit and vice versa at the end of the day.
This little enterprise sets you up for your week. It’s a general garden-tidying mission – all the baseline jobs but over the entire garden. Don’t get into detail – no perfectionism here, but you will get round the whole area. Tidy away anything out of place, weed anything that’s obvious when you look around, roughly sweep/blow all terraces, steps and paths and water anything that needs a drink.
This is everything that needs chopping and tying-in. Get those secateurs and do the dead, diseased and dying dance. Next, tackle any tree or shrub branches that need pruning or shaping. Tie in anything that needs training. Put everything into a bag for council composting, or chop up fine for home composting. Mow and edge the lawn (summer).
This involves moving and planting. Take stock. Lift and divide perennials that need it in autumn, move (or remove) anything that’s not working and replace with something else. Sow seed, prick out, pot on, plant out. Plant bulbs in autumn.
This is simple deadheading and fussing. Glass of wine, finger and thumb. Compost or vase. Also feeding containers in summer.
Project: The Friday Project
This is simply a day where I pick something that needs doing and go a bit deeper than my normal, slapdash gardening. I pick something from the list below (which is not exhaustive but covers most of the things that need attention in my own garden).
- Terrace or patio, steps and paths, window-sills, balconies. Wash with a strong hose stream or pressure wash and/or scrub with baking soda/vinegar to remove any slippery mould. Weed between cracks.
- Lawn.Weed out any dandelions. Deal with any bald or yellow patches.
- Flowerbeds. Get between the plants and search out hidden weeds, prune out any dead, diseased or dying matter, deadhead in summer, divide in autumn, mulch in winter.
- Containers. Re-pot in spring, feed and deadhead in summer, plant up in autumn and spring, mulch, weed, and so on.
- Topiary. Clip, feed, mulch according to season.
- Compost. Turn the heap, add green or brown waste/bulking agents, and so on.
- Tools and shed, greenhouse. Tidy away anything that’s out of place, brush down surfaces, clean and sweep/wash floors.
- Pond or water features. Remove weeds and/or fallen leaves, add oxygenators.
- Indoor plants. Wipe leaves to remove dust, turn plants, pot on or propagate as necessary.
- Garden furniture. Brush down and wipe clean.
If you have a huge job that needs doing quickly, simply add it to your basic list, and do it instead – so, for example, you could make mulching the garden your basic enterprise for an entire week – a trug-full a day.