Easy gardening tips that every gardener should know—but often doesn’t

Celebrity gardener David Domoney shares his simple and cheap ways to make your garden great again

wild flower garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s a lot to learn about gardening but when it comes to the basics of planting, pruning, and feeding, there are some things that every gardener should know.

You don’t need a degree in horticulture to develop those green fingers, and celebrity gardener David Domoney, who regularly gives viewers tips on ITV’s This Morning, can certainly teach us all a thing or two about the simple rules of success when it comes to gardening.

While the best foundation might help make you look your prettiest, there isn't a plant equivalent to make your blooms look beautiful. But with these basic steps, you'll be closer to having the garden of dreams—just think of it as a pedicure for your plants.

Now spring has arrived, and Holly Willoughby has inspired us to get green-fingered, it’s the perfect time for preparing the garden to glow, and all you need to create fantastic results is 1p, a banana skin, and some pruning shears.

How do you prune properly?

Every gardener should know how to prune but are you doing it properly? David says, “When it comes to pruning, it’s a great time. Most things you’re pruning to remove dead, diseased and damaged branches in shrubs, roses and trees.'

But when it comes to pruning hedges, the RSPB advises against pruning between March and August because of birds’ nests, and David agrees. He added, “It’s not a great time for cutting hedges and the like, because we’ve got to be wary for birds.”

But when it is safe to prune, you don't need to hack away at your hedges like crazy—David recommends we pay attention to the angle of the cut. For example, if the cut slants to the left, the growth will follow that direction. And whatever you do, always prune to an outfacing bud.

But you'll be pleased to know there is one handy trick that will ensure you always prune trees correctly, and that’s with the help of a wine glass—whether it’s empty or full is up to you, but envisage the shape of a wine glass and that is how you should trim trees. “Always try to keep them almost like a wine glass”—as in their shape. This will encourage growth, “around the outside, and free of crossing branches in the middle,” explains David. 

How do you tell if a plant is dormant or dead?

Plants can be a great pick-me-up—as the top 10 plants to boost your mood reveals—but it’s not fun if they suddenly wilt on you. And it’s all down to how good you are as a plant parent.

David reports that he is often asked, “How do you tell if a plant is alive or dead at this time of year if it hasn’t come into leaf?” And he has an easy way of finding out. He says, “All you need is an expensive bit of equipment. It costs a penny—it is a penny!”

He uses a 1p coin to scrape away a small patch of the bark on a branch, to determine the health of the plant. If it’s brown under the bark, it’s considered dead and if it’s green or white (depending on the plant) it’s still alive and well. 

This easy hack is something every gardener should know as it will save you time and money when it comes to spotting the shrubs in your garden that needs a little TLC and which need to be ripped out completely. And if you’re looking to replace those that are at the end of their life, you can buy plants online.

How do you feed plants naturally?

The type of food we eat determines whether we’re healthy or not, and it’s the same for plants. Feed them natural food and they will flourish, feed them processed food and they will struggle. 

Something else every gardener should know, David stresses, is the importance of healthy soil for feeding plants. “Healthy soil is a healthy garden. Collect up some nettles, put them a bucket, and let that stand for about seven days for a good source of nitrogen to boost the foliage of your plants—when you use the water that’s rotted those down.”

Alternatively, he suggests growing comfrey or collecting it on your next woodland walk, as it is a “good source of potassium, which is good for fruit and flowers.”

And did you know that not only are bananas a great source of potassium for humans, but that their skins should be saved if you want to give your roses a natural boost? “The skins are especially good for roses. Please feed your plants an organic matter in your soil, it helps to make plants healthy,” adds David. 

How to grow tastier tomatoes?

As tomato growing months draw nearer David has a simple hack that costs absolutely nothing and will make your tomatoes taste sweeter.

“When growing heat-loving plants like tomatoes outdoors, place a rock next to each plant so that the sun will warm the rock and draw heat to the plants at night.”

Simple, and we can guarantee they'll taste a lot better than any supermarket-bought toms. Yum, thanks David!

Lastly, every gardener should know David's book My Houseplant Changed My Life is available to buy on Amazon.