Outdoor pursuits: writer Jessica Salter gets busy in the garden this sunny bank holiday 
Outdoor pursuits: writer Jessica Salter gets busy in the garden Credit: andrew crowley for the telegraph

Never have I felt more grateful to have a garden. There is something instantly soothing about getting out of the house and absorbed in a physical task. “The one silver lining about all this is that the garden is waking up and there is plenty of therapy to be had outside,” agrees gardener and author .

Two summers ago, while I was on maternity leave, I put the baby in her bouncer outside and started digging the overgrown forest that we had inherited from the previous owners.

My husband and father joined in on weekends: we plotted out a lawn, built raised beds using heavy railway sleepers, laid gravel pathways and started planting. Last summer, we laid a patio and hosted countless barbecues. It will be a little quieter this year.

While growing flowers takes time and patience – something I’m working on – there is huge satisfaction in creating something almost instantly in a day or a week, especially for a novice gardener like myself. After a day of lifting, sawing and sweating, you can have a finished project, such as a raised bed; a week and a patio has taken shape.

After a whole summer of work, you can sit back and admire all the little jobs you’ve worked hard on. For me, our second week of isolation was spent sitting outside eating lunches on our sunny patio, gazing at the opening tulips in the back bed, with the promise of irises not far behind.

三级成人视频There are huge benefits to working hard on your garden. “Visually, when you’ve created a space that looks good, it can distract you from your worries and relax you,” award-winning garden designer , says. “Plus, it keeps you fit.” Although, a word of caution here – do watch your back and remember to lift by squatting rather than bending at the waist. And do be careful – the Government recently advised against ambitious DIY projects, as A&E wards don’t have as many resources to tend to everyday injuries.

A bonus, if your children are around, is that it’s a fun – and time-consuming – outdoor activity for the holidays. “My boys love getting hands-on in the garden with me, it’s a great way for us to not only spend time together but pass the time, too, particularly important during a time like this,” award-winning landscape designer Joe Perkins says.

But the thing about big garden projects is that they are never quite finished; there’s always something else to make – especially if you find yourself with a bit of extra time. I’m currently coveting a home-made pergola on the other side of my fence that now has a pretty clematis draped around it, about to bloom, and wondering if another raised bed for all the veg I plan to grow this year might be rather sensible.

RHS – – Science, Design, Practice by Matt Keightley is out now. 

Laying a patio or path 

Difficulty rating: intermediate

Patios provide a focal point for the garden, as well as an area to congregate, but they need not be right outside the back door.


三级成人视频“What we think about is the view that people will see, where the sun is at certain times of the day and how to break up the garden,” says Steve Porter, head of gardens and landscape at .

“Think of a path as a way to access different parts of your garden and break it down into sections.”

He says: “Mark it out first and live with it for a few days to see if it works at different times of day. Then you dig away the top layers of turf, top soil and loose material.”

三级成人视频A hardcore base is laid and “we use a roller, but in a domestic garden you can just jump up and down with a shovel.” Then it’s the top layer – perhaps gravel for a path or stones for a patio. Homebase has a step-by-step guide on its website.

“Recently we laid the stones with gaps of almost half a paving slab between them and then planted herbs like thyme, which enjoy tough sunny conditions, in the gaps,” Porter says. “Thyme provides cover for weeks, allows for drainage and it is also useful to harvest straight from the patio if you need it for cooking.” Lay a patio now and keep your fingers crossed for a summer family get-together.

Go to for more information.

DIY Greenhouse

Difficulty rating: difficult

For a successful DIY greenhouse, the key is in the detailed planning Credit: Ann White

三级成人视频A smart greenhouse can be a significant investment, but it is possible to build your own. Ana White is a project planner who shares her personal garden and DIY builds, including a magnificent DIY greenhouse on her YouTube channel.

She designed her greenhouse from corrugated metal and plastic. The key was in the detailed planning.

“When I wanted to build a greenhouse, I knew I had to design something that was quick and easy without sacrificing quality over time,” she says.

三级成人视频She carefully planned a design that took her a week to construct: it comprises a solid wooden frame with 12ft sheets of corrugated metal screwed into the lower half and very carefully cut and measured greenhouse plastic that screwed to the top half. White says it has been in constant use for the past 10 years, but “still looks brand new and has needed no maintenance”.

She has a shopping list, tool inventory and a detailed, step-by-step illustrated guide on her

Laying a lawn 

Difficulty rating: easy

Laying a lawn is simple to do but does take a bit of groundwork Credit: Tim Sandall

三级成人视频If you’re eyeing up your garden and thinking a patch of grass would transform the space, you need to get on with it now, according to Barter. “Although turf is often best laid from November to February, after our exceptionally wet winter, the wind and sun have dried soil out sufficiently to be workable and it is still cool enough until around mid-April,” he says.

三级成人视频It’s simple to do, but does take a bit of groundwork. “Cultivate the ground, remove all weeds, add fertiliser, then rake and tread repeatedly until the surface is perfectly level,” he says. “Avoid organic matter such as compost, as this rots over time leading to uneven sinkage of the lawn.”

Normally you allow the soil a couple of weeks to settle, but Barter says there isn’t really enough time. “Buy turfs and lay them on receipt – on windy days they dry quickly and are damaged.

Butt them firmly together and overlap each one as bricks overlap in a wall. Brush sieved topsoil into the joins and then tamp the turfs firmly down. Water well if it’s very sunny or windy – or both.

三级成人视频Barter says: “Within a week or two, the turf will bind to the underlying soil and the lawn can be mown and used.” Visit rhs.org.uk for more advice.

三级成人视频For a cheaper – but slower – result, you can use seed. Mid-April is the perfect time, when the ground is warmer and the “seed should germinate swiftly”, so get started as soon as possible for best results.


Difficulty rating: intermediate

Create a cosy and communal outdoor space with seating  Credit: Marianne Majerus

三级成人视频The point of all these garden projects, ultimately, is to create somewhere you can relax: so it makes sense to think about a seating area. Hannah Thomson, whose Instagram account @homemade_hannah documents her DIY projects, transformed a fairly standard-sized rectangular London garden by creating different zones, including a large seating area.

三级成人视频“The main thing I wanted to create was an extension of our living space outside,” Thomson says. “I’d seen lots of garden furniture that was L-shaped, and I knew that worked well, but I didn’t want to have furniture that I’d have to cover with tarpaulin in winter and would look ugly, so I designed permanent built-in seating.”

She marked out the space with string on the ground, “to make sure it worked”.

The base was built from breeze blocks concreted into the patio, which were later rendered and painted white. They were topped with wooden planks on hinges, to provide storage. For more ideas, search Pinterest for further inspiration.

三级成人视频And for a detailed guide, visit hubpages.com and search “outdoor seating”; there’s an excellent guide showing how to build a wooden bench.

Thomson finally oiled the wooden seats and handmade cushions to fit and styled it with scatter cushions and an outdoor rug, that can all be stowed away during bad weather. “It all works really well,” she says.

Water feature

Difficulty rating: as hard as you want to make it

Small rainbow babbling bowl water feature, £399.99, primrose.co.uk Credit: primrose

An area of water can have a hugely soothing effect – watching it reflect the sunlight or listening to a gentle splashing sound. “Water brings a touch of magic to a garden,” agrees Matt Keightley, creative director of Rosebank Landscaping and a Chelsea award-winning designer.

“Water is the element that literally brings any garden to life. As soon as you add a water feature, then birds, bees and insects will be drawn to it,” says Keightley.

三级成人视频He says there is a water feature to suit any size garden, but careful planning is key: “The structure of the garden and planting around the feature is just as important as the water itself. The water should slip into the garden effortlessly and work in harmony with its surroundings.”

If it’s a pond you’re craving, the has a guide on its website and promises wildlife in weeks – be warned, it involves a lot of digging (they recommend a mini-digger for larger ponds), getting levels right and laying liners before you pump in the water. Keightley says it is also vital to correctly understand the type of pump you are fitting: “…if it should be submerged, the type of filtration it needs and the volume of water its best suited to.”

For smaller features, a number of bloggers have guides for very simple projects, some of which can be made using a large galvanised steel tub and a 1.5v solar fountain pump (see ).

三级成人视频Whatever you opt for, Keightley says, “it will create a relaxing ambience that can transform a garden into a private sanctuary”.

Raised beds

Difficulty rating: intermediate

Raised beds are simple, yet give the garden some much-needed structure Credit: Getty

Raised beds give your garden structure, and as long as you have the right tools, are relatively straightforward to construct out of sleepers, sections of timber or, for the adventurous, masonry.

“Once filled with compost, they are perfect for growing tomatoes, salad crops or herbs,” says Helen Derrin, plant doctor at .

三级成人视频Start by measuring the bed using string, clearing the earth where you need to lay the sleepers (you don’t have to empty the whole bed) and levelling the ground, making sure it is straight with a spirit level. “Sleepers and logs can be laid directly on level, firm soil. Fix into place by hammering metal rods into the ground through holes drilled vertically in each corner.

“Alternatively, use heavy-duty staples and wire,” says Guy Barter, chief horticulturalist at the , which has a how-to video on its website.

If you want a smaller project, and have old pallets around, there’s a step-by-step guide (with pictures) for a DIY planter.

“A DIY planter is a great way to inspire the children to develop little green fingers and create their own mini-garden, something to be proud of and nurture to occupy their time over the coming weeks,” Richard Turner, from , says.

Hanging herb garden

Difficulty rating: easy

A hanging herb garden is an excellent gateway project to growing your own produce Credit: Sarah Cutt

At a time when we can’t instantly buy everything we want from the local supermarkets, it’s a good opportunity to start growing our own produce.

“Suddenly my obsession with growing vegetables feels less like an eccentric hobby and more like a useful skill,” Alex Mitchell says. “When everything else feels out of control around you, it’s really reassuring to grow your own food even it’s just some salad leaves, chillies or some herbs.”

She is an expert at frugal gardening, from rescuing sprouting potatoes from the bottom of salad drawers and planting them – “they will produce a crop by summer if you plant them now” – to creating seed pots out of newspaper or loo rolls, which are especially good for deep-rooted sweet peas and beans.

A fun project to tackle, perhaps with children, is a hanging herb garden. “Rescue a few plastic bottles from the recycling box and cut off the top half with scissors,” Mitchell says. “Make holes in the base of the bottom half with a nail or screw and two holes at the top with a hole punch then paint them with exterior gloss paint – you only need a tiny bit of paint.

Fill with peat-free multipurpose compost and sow seeds of chives, coriander, basil or chillies. Thread string through the holes and hang the bottle pots on balcony railings or from your fence.”

Crops in Tight Spots: Grow Amazing Fruit and Vegetables Wherever You Live (Kyle Books, £18.99)

Bug habitats

Difficulty rating: easy

Encourage wildlife into your garden with a bug hotel Credit: John Insull

三级成人视频Many of us are keen to encourage more wildlife into our gardens; one way to do this is to create habitats, such as bee hotels, bug houses and wormeries. “Gardens are proving to be much more valuable for wildlife than we once thought, a vital and rich refuge for so many creatures,” Adrian Thomas, the RSPB’s wildlife gardening champion, says.

Bee hotels can be as complex, or simple as you want. Joe Perkins recommends “threading lengths of pre-cut bamboo into a tube, which could be a cut-in-half recycled plastic bottle. You could even decorate the outside to add to the fun.” If you want something more complex, the has detailed directions for more deluxe lodgings in a wooden casing on its website.

三级成人视频“Make sure it is firmly fixed in sunny, sheltered south facing position,” Thomas advises.

Visit .

Make your own compost bin

Difficulty rating: easy

Compost is the currency of the garden Credit: Jill Mead 

三级成人视频“Compost is the sourdough of the garden; something we should all have under our belts,” author and gardener Laetitia Maklouf says. You need a bin – and it’s easy to make it yourself from wiring or screwing together old palettes to form three sides of an open box.

The YouTube channel has a video that shows you how to do it. “Line the bottom with twiggy things to aid ventilation and drainage and add garden material (cut-up, small) fallen leaves, lawn clippings, straw, newspaper and (torn up) cardboard and uncooked fruit and vegetable waste from the kitchen,” Maklouf says. “Keep layers thin and make sure there is a balance of wet and dry material.

三级成人视频“If you’ve done it right, your heap will heat up because microorganisms are having fun in it.”

A cold frame

Difficulty rating: intermediate

A DIY cold frame is great for seeds Credit: Getty

三级成人视频If you’re not quite up to the challenge of a greenhouse, cold frames are useful for sowing and germinating seeds. While they are often quite expensive to buy, they are relatively easy to make from recycled materials.

“Essentially, they are frames with a clear top to them, such as plastic or glass: we’ve had success by repurposing old drawers and glass doors,” says Nick Moyle, one half of the blogging duo .

If you’re up for slightly more of a challenge, the frame can be made from a pallet. “Simply saw four pieces to the same length and screw them together at the ends into a square structure, before stapling a sheet of plastic over the top,” Moyle says.

三级成人视频For a more advanced version, build a base that slopes down, to allow the water to run off, with hinges for ventilation during warmer days.

“Cold frames can be placed on any surface, so long as it’s as flat as possible, and make sure you put it in the sunniest spot you can find. If you put it next to a wall of your house, then you might even benefit from an extra boost of warmth from your home,” Moyle adds. 

Instant fixes 

Interactive solitary beehive

三级成人视频Interactive solitary beehive, £24.99,

Cold frame Zest 4 Leisure

Cold frame Zest 4 Leisure,

Teak backless round tree seat

Teak backless round tree seat, £1,000,

Tetbury planter

三级成人视频Tetbury planter, £270,

Modular wooden compost bins

Modular wooden compost bins, £99,

Raw steel fire pit

Raw steel fire pit, £175,

What gardening projects are you taking on this bank holiday weekend? Tell us in the comments section below