Keeping your garden looking great is a busy job, especially in summer. We reveal five common things that you can save your money and time by not doing.
These are just some of the interesting findings that Which? Gardening magazine has made during its rigorous research. Make sure you subscribe to keep up to date with our latest advice to get the best from your garden.
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You may see a lot of influencers recommending neem oil for killing pests, but neem oil is not authorised to be used as a pesticide in the UK as it is hazardous to human health.
It should not be on sale in the UK and neither should any products containing it or the active ingredient (Azadirachtin). It is legal to use in parts of the USA which is why you'll see it suggested on US-based gardening websites.
A Best Buy pesticide, such as Westland Resolva Bug Killer, might be a good place to start if you're looking to kill pests. To protect pollinating insects, spray on a still day, when the plant isn't in flower.
Adding broken flower pots ('crocks') to the bottom of your pots to help drainage is advice you'll see not just online but in gardening books, magazines and tv programmes. However, when e trialled how well this works, we found that they made no difference to how well our plants did. Research by soil scientists has proved that water does not flow freely from fine-textured materials such as compost into coarser ones like crocks. In fact, it only does so when the compost above the crocks is saturated. So in wet summers, crocks can prevent water draining out of the pot and do more harm than good.
You may hear people advising that you should never water on a sunny day as the water droplets on the leaves will results in the sun scorching them. When you think about it, this could never be true as it's often sunny after a rain shower but you don't see scorched plants as a result. It is true that it's best to water in the morning or evening on hot days to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
The Which? Gardening magazine researchers wanted to know if buying separate feeds for your vegetables and flowers is worth the extra expense, so we tried feeding our dahlias with a Best Buy tomato food. The results weren’t quite as good as our Best Buy liquid feeds, but they were still impressive. We got very healthy plants and a beautiful display of large flowers that lasted into September. So if you don’t want separate feeds, it is worth investing in a Best Buy tomato feed.
You might think it'd be a good idea to put saucers under your patio pots to reduce the need for watering. However, the Which? Gardening magazine researchers found it best not to use saucers for our root rot-prone calibrachoas. The saucers stopped excess water from draining away and kept the compost so wet that several plants died.
However, without saucers, pots needed watering 12% more often on average. So if you can’t water your pots for a few days and your plants aren’t drought tolerant, you may find saucers useful – if only in hot, dry spells.