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Charlie Dimmock: Grow yourself a good impression

Charlie Dimmock
Charlie Dimmock

Peeling wallpaper, chipped paint and an unkempt kitchen are not what buyers like to see when they view a property. Even if the rest of the home is in immaculate condition, an upturned corner of a living room carpet is enough to say, “no thanks”.

Houses on the market need to show that the home has been looked after over the years – taking on a doer upper is not for the faint hearted, besides, it’s nice to live somewhere that’s been paid a little TLC over the years. And the garden is no exception.

“Keeping up with the garden really makes such a difference,” said Charlie.

“If you neglect it, it’s going to make selling hard work as it’s all about making that first impression.

“If someone pops round and sees a fallen shed and tatty greenhouse, they’ll just think: ‘but I’ll have to get rid of all that before I even make a start’.”

Shooting to fame on the Beeb’s Ground Force, Charlie Dimmock certainly knows her stuff. From helping her granddad in the garden as a child to going on to study horticulture full-time, the 49-year-old is more than just the woman who went bra-less on national television.

Looking back, and laughing, she said: “It was so silly.

“It was the press more than anything, it was just something they picked up on, but I never really thought anything of it.

“Of course, I’ll now be stuck with that label for the rest of my life.”

When Ground Force first aired in 1997, Britain was already a green-fingered nation. But this programme had some thing the others didn’t – entertainment value.

“It just made everything a little more accessible to a wide-ranged audience,” said the self-confessed tomboy.

“Yes there were lots of tips and pointers for gardening and landscaping in the show, but it was enjoyable to watch, therefore it appealed to a younger age group who may have just bought their first home.”

When first moving into a property, and particularly for the novice gardener, Charlie said it’s better to live with the garden as it is, and get to know it before you get to work.

“Depending on the time of year you move, you’re not going to know what’s under the soil, or what’s going to grow.

“But if you maintain it by mowing the lawn and cutting hedges, by spring you’ll know if there’s lilies waiting to blossom.

“If you started paving an area, you’d never know what was there.”

When choosing a new home, it’s important to take in your lifestyle, too. If you are semi-retired, pottering around the garden a few hours a day can make a nice hobby, but full-time workers might struggle to keep up. Seasonal workers will also have their schedules to think about.

Charlie, whose garden is about a third of an acre in size for example, falls behind as she tends to work during the prime gardening months.

“There’s so many gardens near me that put mine to shame right now,” she laughed.

“Because I work so much in spring and summer, it just goes to ruin, but come autumn, it looks great as I’m there all the time.”

But now, as summer draws to a close, is a good time to start thinking about how you want your garden to look come spring.

“It’s a key time for planting spring bulbs as they’ll show their heads as soon as there’s a dose of decent weather.

“It’s also a good idea to plant shrubs and trees.

“These are traditionally planted in autumn anyway as the soil is already damp from the rain, but still warm from summer, so they root down well without being under the stress of having to grow.

“This is far better than planting them in the spring when there’s drier weather as you have to keep watering them.”

But gearing up the garden for spring doesn’t need to be a mammoth task. Simple things like bedding plants and baskets to sit by your front door can make all the difference.

“Don’t spend a lot of money. Even if you just grow shrubs, you get colour and you get interest and there’s very little maintenance needed.

“The last thing you want is for the garden to become a chore – you’ll only end up hating it.”

Charlie will be at the Scottish Home Show at the AECC over the last weekend in September alongside former Ground Force colleague Tommy Walsh and interior designer Linda Barker.