Last Updated on
Monty Don is the UK’s foremost expert on gardening, and his shows on the BBC and Netflix are delightful. Here are his DIY tips to improve your garden.
Gardening is one of those hobbies that seems easy until you try it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t rewarding, calming, and refreshing. But plants are living creatures like humans and animals.
Each plant has its own set of needs and priorities.
There are conditions it needs to survive and other conditions it needs to thrive. It’s a learning process to figure out what those needs are and come up with a routine that meets them.
If you’re heading into spring with a garden that looks less than stellar, hope is not lost. Gardening legend Monty Don himself is full of tips and strategies to make your garden look its best.
Gardening Tips from Monty Don That Anyone Can Use
If this is your first time hearing about Monty Don, you’re welcome. He’s been a long-time fixture in Britain for his gardening brilliance. To our great fortune, his fame is spreading to the US.
As a true gardening expert, Monty has these and many more tips for DIY gardeners.
1. Learn to Deadhead the Right Way
Deadheading is one of those underestimated gardening tasks that does more good than you realize. If you aren’t familiar, deadheading is exactly what its name suggests: removing dead blooms while leaving the thrivers in place.
The most obvious benefit of deadheading is that it makes your garden look healthier and more polished. After all, when you’re done, all that’s left are blooms in their prime.
Removing those dead blooms will also make your plant healthier. It allows your plant to focus its energy on the blooms that are full of life already. Feeding dead blooms takes nutrients away from the blooms that still have a chance.
Deadheads are also at risk for developing fungal growth which can be a serious detriment to your garden. Removing them will keep that risk at bay.
It’s important to deadhead them right way.
Some gardeners use shears to cut off the dead blooms. If you do this, you could damage or destroy new buds that are forming.
Instead, use your fingers to pluck off the deadheads. Keep those shears and tools in your workbench for another day, or learn more here about how you can keep them organized.
2. Use a Staged Approach for Spring Mowing
One of the most underestimated aspects of your garden is your grass. A manicured and healthy lawn complements and calls attention to the garden you’ve worked so hard to curate.
As spring is approaching, you’re starting to mow your grass for the first few times of the season. Don’t jump right in and mow it to the short height you want it to have during the summer.
Instead, start with your mower blades high. Each time you mow, lower the blades a bit to get closer to the height you ultimately want.
By doing this you can help your grass have the sunlight and nutrients it needs while it’s trying to come out of dormancy. The result is a healthier, fuller lawn all summer long.
3. Plant for All Four Dimensions
Sometimes the hardest part of gardening is deciding what plants to use in the first place. As you plan your garden, consider all four dimensions: height, breadth, depth, and time.
In other words, choose plants that will fill in the width and depth of your garden. Use a variety of heights to add more dimension and appeal to your garden.
In addition, choose a variety of plants that will look great all year long. Make sure that there’s something beautiful and healthy to see at any time in the year.
This is especially important if you have a small garden. After all, why waste your limited space on a plant that only looks great for one month every year?
4. Design With a Theme
One of the most common mistakes for beginner gardeners is picking out individual plants without planning how they’ll look together.
If you’re walking through your local garden center grabbing all your favorites, you may not end up with the best result.
Instead, choose your plants as parts of a whole. Have a theme in mind, such as certain colors you want to emphasize or a gradient of colors.
Map out a basic scheme for your garden as a whole. Use that scheme as a guide when you choose your individual plants.
Just like with interior decor, you need to choose pieces that complement each other, not just assorted pieces you like. You should choose each plant knowing exactly where it will go and why.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Starting Over
Let’s stick with that interior design comparison for a moment. Have you ever started from scratch in a new home or chosen to completely redesign a room? There’s something exciting about having a blank slate.
Too many gardeners are afraid to do this. They feel like they’ve invested too much time in growing certain plants to start over, even if they don’t like what they have.
Sometimes starting over is the only way to get the garden of your dreams.
This is especially true if you still have remnants from your first garden. Maybe they made sense at the time but they don’t fit with the theme you want today.
Remember that gardening is a learning process. Most gardeners start out with a random assortment of plants because they’re still learning the ropes and experimenting.
There’s no shame in thanking those plants for serving their purpose and then making room for a new beginning.
Putting Your Own Twist on Your Garden
It’s important to remember that gardening is a personal art form. You can get inspiration from Monty Don’s garden and gather tips from the pros. Above all, your garden should be a reflection of you.
The tips above can help any garden thrive and achieve a healthy, rich, vibrant look. At the same time, you’ll notice that none of them force you into particular styles.
The purpose of a garden is to enjoy it, and the best way to do that is by aligning it with your personal style.
The tips above from Monty Don are just a small sample of the wisdom you can gain from gardening veterans. For more, check out additional articles on our gardening blog.