Archive for the ‘Garden maintenance’ Category
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
It is going to be that time of the year when the temperatures increase and our gardens will soon blossom.
It is best to carry on spring cleaning, make sure to eradicate any weeds and bugs but be careful not to disperse beneficial bugs such as ladybirds and hoverfly larvae.
There are, however, a few issues to take note of, and us Garden Designers will give you a few tips to get that extra bit more out of your garden.
There are several new issues to look out for when maintaining your garden:
• Adult vine weevil – one of the worst pests to infect our gardens is making an appearance as the temperatures start rising. – Ensure your plants are well protected!
• Regular mowing – Ensure to cut your grass weekly as long grass take the nutrients out of the soil.
• Other slugs and snails – Keep an eye out for snails and slugs as they will eat away your plants. Buy some pet-friendly slug pellets, course grit or traps. Invite birds, hedgehogs and frogs to your garden as they all prey on slugs and snails.
Things to do:
• April is the best time to plant an evergreen, such as laurel or box.
• If you haven’t done so already, try planting lavender! Widely grown for its scent and foliage, lavender is ideal for borders or a low hedge. Lavender can give your garden a full range of bright colours from purple, blue, white and pink.
• As daffodils fade, remove the flower heads. Don’t cut back the leaves – leave them to die back naturally. However if you want to tidy them up, wait until the leaves have yellowed before removing.
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Despite the current increase in temperature frosts are still a hazard, so keep your plants protected. Cold winds can be a problem so ensure that exposed plants are properly supported.
Now is a time for a bit of a ‘spring clean’:
- Dig over borders
- Incorporate as much organic matter as you can
- Remove moss and weeds from paths, terraces and driveways
Hardy vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, radishes and beets, can be planted from seed as soon as the soil begins to warm up.
Vegetable seeds can be started indoors for earlier flowers and produce. Plant seeds three to six weeks before they are to be planted outside.
Gladiolus and begonia bulbs can be planted now. For a continuous bloom of gladiolus, plant some every two weeks until mid July.
Spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and lilacs, could be pruned now, but flowers will be cut off if they are pruned before they bloom. Wait until summer to prune plants that are too big.
Roses should be pruned in late February or early March to remove old, unproductive and thin, weak canes. Bush types are cut to 12 to 18″ tall. Shrub roses should be left about three feet tall. Climbers should be thinned if tangled.
Monday, October 31st, 2011
Berkshire garden designers, Artscape can manage your garden for you – from design, through to build and then, if required maintenance.
However if you want to look after the garden yourself, or want to do extra gardening here are a few ideas of things you should be doing this autumn.
September and October are the perfect months for you to get outside while the weather is still mild and prepare your garden for the harsh winter months. The first step is to clear up the beds, removing the dead leaves and foliage (turning these into compost if you can) and making way for the groundwork which will keep your plants happy even when the weather is miserable.
Weed and clean
The next job is to weed and clean the paths before spraying them with an organic weed killer which will keep the nasties at bay but which won’t do any damage to the environment. Cleaning your paths now will save you a big job in the spring when you finally brave the gardening which you’ve put off for the cold winter months.
Expand your garden
If you are looking to expand your garden or have a complete overhaul, autumn is actually the best time of year to do this as new plants can make a strong start and ‘bed in’ before the cold weather takes hold and starts to make life difficult for them. The same is true if you wish to relay a lawn, the seed should be given a chance to take root and become strong before the cold weather takes over.
Give it a last feed
Think of your garden as going into hibernation over the winter, just as animals store food during the summer and autumn in order to survive the winter, so too should your garden with your help. Clear the moss or weeds from any areas of grass and give the grass one last feed before winter sets in, this will help it to stay alive.
Tips courtesy of Co-op Magazine
Monday, August 15th, 2011
Lawns are fairly drought resistant compared with other plants, but they can become yellowy-brown, limp and eventually bald if the following precautions are not taken:
- cut the lawn less frequently than usual
- raise the height of lawnmower blades
- use a sprinkler on the lawn in the evening. Water lawns thoroughly to saturate the top 10cm to 15cm (4in to 6in) of soil but check there is no hose pipe ban in the area. Avoid walking on the lawn if possible
- scarify the lawn in autumn. A build-up of thatch in the summer could prevent water from penetrating the lawn
- aerate soil with a fork to help water penetrate the roots of the grass
Monday, August 1st, 2011
- Using the right amount of water is the most important aspect of a plant’s survival in dry conditions. Bear in mind that it is not just hot weather that can cause soil to dry out, windy weather can also have a detrimental effect.
- In dry conditions, you should water container plants at least once a day. Water in the evening to reduce evaporation. However…
- If a plant looks like it is wilting and suffering from drought in the day, then water it immediately.
- Try to avoid watering plant leaves in direct sunlight because they can become scorched, particularly when they have hairy foliage.
- Install a water butt in the garden to conserve water.
- If you have an automatic watering system with a timer, adjust it to take hot and dry weather into account.
- If you are going away on holiday and no one is watering your plants, move container plants into the shade .
Monday, July 18th, 2011
Summer is an exciting time for gardeners but, following the driest spring in over 100 years, UK Gardeners are facing a difficult time ahead.
According to the Met Office, England and Wales recorded the driest Spring since 1893 and it has meant problems for gardeners. Already this has meant gardeners having to plant seeds quicker and be more selective when deciding what to plant. They also need to consider how plants that will fare well in a hot dry summer will do when the cold eventually returns.
Of the recent dry weather, East Anglia was the worst affected area in the country as it has seen the driest spring for 101 years. And in Kent, gardeners are having to take extra measures to preserve that status.
Best plants for dry weather
- English Lavender
- Trees and shrubs
- Ornamental alliums
Dr Phil Gates, a senior lecturer in botany at Durham University, says “It’s a confusing time for gardeners as a lot of things that can be put in are high risk and may not survive the winter”.
Plants to avoid
- Bedding plants
- Salad crops such as lettuce and rocket
- Busy Lizzies
Plants such as geraniums and petunias are flourishing, as are wild flowers, whereas water-absorbing busy lizzies and salvias have all been given the cut. Gardeners are using hanging baskets with reservoirs to stop water seeping through the bottom as well as water retention tablets.
Dry weather gardening tips
- Scrape back the surface to make sure water goes to the roots
- Re-use house water, collect rain water
- For vegetables, step up watering two weeks before eating
- Water late at night so it’s absorbed before evaporating
- Add a layer of mulch to keep moisture in
- Don’t cut the lawn too short in the summer
- Put soaked newspaper under crops that need lots of water
- Use screens or windbreaks to reduce effects of drying winds
As average temperatures have increased the growing season has extended and when to plant seeds has also changed. If you want your roses to bloom perfectly in June, you really would have had to have planted them in October rather than in March, so that the roots can be established and get a good soaking over the winter months.
Monday, July 4th, 2011
With summer approaching, now is the time to plan for long, hot days and adding more fertilizer to support the herbs for the last part of the growing season.
Most fertilizers only last about 60 days before washing away, after which your soil needs some extra attention. If you have been pinching and using your herbs, the plants are putting all their energy into forming more stems and leaves so they also need that extra food that a little fertilizer will offer.
Watering While Away
Summer is also when many families go away on holiday. This may mean that gardens suffer due to lack of watering. After watering thoroughly right before departing, make arrangements to have your herb gardens watered in one of these ways:
- Have a friend or neighbour water on a set schedule. If you have container gardens or raised beds, be sure to water more often than an in ground garden.
- You could try this technique – use a cotton rope, twirl it around the plants (under the mulch) and place one end in a gallon jug of water. The cotton rope will act as a wick and draw up water as the soil dries out. You may still need to ask a neighbor to fill the gallon jug if you are gone longer than a week or the weather is hot and dry while you are away.
- Set up automatic watering using timers and hoses. This is not as difficult as it sounds and the equipment is available at many gardening centres.
Monday, June 27th, 2011
To keep your garden looking in top condition all year round you need to maintain it. Hedges need to be trimmed, weeds pulled and rubble swept away. But garden maintenance is not just about how the lawn and flower beds look, its also about the health of the garden and plants. Weeds are not only a visible problem, they can also rob the soil of nutrients that are needed by the plants that you want to keep.
Garden maintenance not only takes some knowledge and experience but also time. Everyone can acquire the first two but it can be hard to find the third. That is where Art-Scape can help. Artscape provide high quality garden maintenance programmes for clients in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire so give us a call to discuss how we can help you…and your garden.
Monday, March 21st, 2011
Many flowering and foliage shrubs including hollies, Japanese maples and camellias will thrive in containers with a little care and will be a focal point in your garden. So whatever the size of your plot, you can include a shrub in a tub.
Growing shrubs in containers is also a good opportunity to try plants that you might not be able to grow elsewhere in your garden as you can create bespoke planting conditions. For example, if you want to experiment with acid-loving shrubs and you don’t have the right soil, it’s ideal.
What to do
- There’s a vast range of containers available in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes, and made from many different materials including metal, stone, plastic and wood. Pick a container that suits the style of your garden and is large enough for the roots of your plant to grow and heavy enough to balance the top-heavy growth.
- Make sure it has drainage holes and if you go for terracotta, buy good quality, frost-proof pots.
- Use John Innes no 2 compost. It has more nutrients and drains better than general purpose compost. The compost is also heavier, which will prevent plants from being blown over in the wind.
- Plants like rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias need special ericaceous compost, ideal for acid-loving plants.
How to plant
- Put a layer of broken terracotta pot or even chunks of polystyrene at the bottom of pots. This will prevent drainage holes from becoming clogged up with compost and soil from falling out. Good drainage stops roots from being damaged by water logging and prevents damage over winter, where frozen water can expand and cause the container to crack.
- Standing the container on pot feet or even bricks will also help it to drain more effectively.
- Fill pots with John Innes 2 compost or ericaceous compost for acid-loving plants.
- Mix in a handful of controlled release fertiliser granules. Depending on the formulation, this will feed the plant for several months. Shrubs grown in ericaceous compost can be given a special fertiliser for acid-loving plants.
- Containers need regular watering, even after heavy rain, as shrubs have large root systems that take up a lot of water. In hot or dry weather they may need watering once or twice a day.
- After the initial feed has run out, give plants a boost with liquid feed added to a watering can.
- If your shrub appears to lack vigour or is too large for its pot, repot into a slightly larger container. Remove from old pot, teasing out the roots gently if they’re congested.
- If your plant doesn’t need re-potting, perk it up annually by removing the top 5-10cm (2in-4in) of compost in the spring, taking care not to damage the roots. Replace with fresh compost that has been mixed with a few controlled release fertiliser granules.
- Container-grown plants are more at risk from damage than plants growing in the border. Protect plants with fleshy roots, such as camellias and hollies, by wrapping the pots with bubble wrap. Move tender plants into a sheltered place, such as a porch or cold greenhouse, to help get them through the worst of the winter weather.
Monday, March 7th, 2011
Most of us know that it’s a good idea to save rainwater with a water butt. You can provide the plants in your garden with lots of water whenever they need it and not get caught out by hosepipe bans that have become common during our summer months.
Water butts are simple to install to the side of your house, shed or garage that has a gutter and a down pipe. And if your property does not have these you should consider having them fitted as it is estimated that around 24,000 litres can be saved from the average house roof every year.
Rainwater harvesting systems are a more expensive alternative to water butts. They include a powerful filter that cleans the water and have an internal pump in the tank which can drive water powerfully through a hose. Below ground tanks can also be installed which have a bigger storage capacity.
Choosing your water butt
Water butts come in lots of shapes and sizes and usually hold between 100 and 700 litres of water. They generally look like barrels but some are more streamlined for fitting in tight spaces. The more useful ones have a tap for easily filling watering cans. Many come with stands so the tap is at a convenient height.
How to fit a water butt
There are two ways to fit a water butt. The easiest way is to sever a plastic down pipe with a hacksaw and place the butt directly underneath it – an overflow pipe can be attached to the butt to channel away excess water to a drain or into another butt.
Alternatively, cut a notch out of the pipe and fit a rain trap and connecting pipe – this will transport water to your butt and allows you to put it in the most convenient place.