The days are getting longer and for those with green fingers thoughts turn to the coming gardening season. If you like the idea of gardening but find you haven't had much success in the past then read on to see how you can improve your gardening skills this year.
Visit gardens – Some of the best inspiration you can get is by visiting other gardens. The gardens of grand stately homes may be out of your league to replicate but there are plenty of opportunities to have a look round gardens tended by homeowners. Check out the list of gardens open for charity through the National Gardens Scheme this year.
Join a gardening club – There are many areas that have a local gardening club. Some are quite specific and concentrate on particular types of plants or flowers. Others can be general ones and are able to offer great advice and friendship. Local gardening clubs often have regular guest speakers at their meetings which can open your eyes to a whole host of new gardening areas. If you can't find a gardening club local to you there are plenty that are internet based and have forums for asking advice and sharing tips.
Get testing – One of the keys to planting success in your garden is to find out what sort of soil you have by doing a pH test. Kits can be picked up at garden centres or online for a couple of pounds. Once you have worked out if you have acid, neutral or alkaline soil you can get the most suitable plants for your type of soil.
Make a plan – Get your garden properly organised by drawing up a plan of it. Identify all the different types of areas in your garden from soil to grass to paving. See if the layout works and what you can do to improve it. Also observe your garden at different times of the day to see which parts get most of the sun and which are in shade.
Keep a log – If you find you've had success with a certain variety of plant then make a note of it so you can buy it again if needed or grow it next year. Also make sure you know not to try again to grow varieties that didn't work out well by noting them down.
Get reading – From blogs to books there's plenty of information out there. If you don't want to spend too much money your local library should have a decent selection of gardening titles to borrow. Some also have a magazine swap box where you can pick up some back copies of gardening magazines.
Get gardening! - Now you've had a sit down and worked out your plan of action it's time to put it all into action. You might not think January is a good month to start gardening but you can easily do a tidy up which will make your garden look so much better and inspire you for the rest of the year.
What are your gardening plans for 2017? Have you got any new ideas for this year?