Laying turf on grass, soil and other materials: what to do and what not to do

Blog | Laying Turf | Posted on August 26, 2020 at 4:29 pm by

We’re often asked how to lay turf on different surfaces like soil, grass and hard materials like stone or concrete.

The results you get will vary depending on what type of material is under your newly laid turf, so here’s our rough guide to some of the most common surfaces to lay a new lawn on.

Soil

Soil is the ideal surface and we’ve covered it in detail in our Turf Guide, but here are a few of the main do’s and don’ts to help you remember how to lay turf on soil:

Grass

In a perfect world, it’s better not to lay turf on grass. This isn’t just because the old grass and weeds might grow through – it’s about preparing soil for fresh turf.

Removing the old grass exposes the soil beneath so that you can rotavate and aerate it, and this again improves the new turf’s chances of bedding in better.

If you must lay over old grass:

Stone/Concrete

New turf has a layer of soil and roots attached, but it’s not enough to sustain the grass for the long term – it needs something to grow roots down into.

Hard surfaces like stone and concrete are not suitable for a permanent lawn; however, if you want natural green grass for a special event, it’s easy to unroll a few turves on to a solid floor.

Green Roofs

Finally, laying turf on green roofs is an increasingly popular option on eco-friendly properties, so remember:


Five ways that gardening is good for your health

Blog | Posted on July 9, 2020 at 12:33 pm by

Most of us could use some extra exercise, but it’s not always easy to find time to get out of the house.

But you don’t even need to go beyond your driveway to take in some gentle exercise and fresh air – it’s waiting for you quite literally on your doorstep.

Gardening has a huge number of health benefits. Here we’ll look at five ways gardening is good for your health that we think belong near the top of the list.

1. Core muscle workout

Gardening naturally works your core muscles, without overdoing it (unless you start trying to lift and carry rocks or filled planters).

Lifting smaller items in the correct way is good for your legs and back, while the variety of different tasks you carry out around the garden will give your arms some exercise too.

Doing non-repetitive tasks, as you do when gardening, helps to build muscle tone naturally, so you never have to worry about whether it’s arms or legs day or pay gym membership fees.

2. Fresh air

No matter where you live, a healthy garden can improve the air quality around your home – both inside and out.

Plants naturally remove carbon dioxide from the air, replacing it with oxygen instead. That’s one reason why green spaces are an important part of town planning.

You can create ‘green lungs’ of your own by planting a good mix of different flowers, shrubs and trees – you can even grow indoor pot plants that release more oxygen overnight, which could help you sleep better too.

3. Eat fresh

The air isn’t the only thing that’s fresh in your garden. Pots, planters and raised beds can be home to a variety of edible treats, from fruit and vegetables, to mint and borage petals to put in your Pimm’s.

Cooking with fresh ingredients, or eating raw foods freshly picked and washed, can give your vitamin intake a boost.

Besides, it’s just more satisfying eating a meal knowing that you grew part of it yourself.

4. Stay social

Not all of the health benefits of gardens are physical. They offer ways to socialise more, which can give your mental health a helping hand.

If you have kids, you could get them involved with your gardening efforts, or ask your partner or other family members and close friends to help.

Even if you live alone, a garden can lead to interactions with other living things, either by entertaining human guests, or by enticing wildlife like birds, squirrels and hedgehogs to pay your garden a visit.

5. Something to show for it

It’s sometimes tempting to feel like exercise is getting you nowhere, especially if you’re more interested in keeping in good health, rather than building muscles or losing weight.

But with gardening, you’re working towards other visible results at the same time. You not only gain natural physical fitness and lung capacity, you also create an outdoor space that looks (and often smells) great.

At the end of a long day digging the flower beds or moving boulders around your rockery – bending from your knees each time, of course – you can sit and enjoy your creation, surrounded by pretty flowers, sweet scents, and the birdsong of feathered friends as they visit your feeders.


What is the government advice about going in your garden during COVID-19 self-isolation?

Blog | Posted on April 9, 2020 at 4:31 pm by

The headline advice from the government during the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic is to stay at home – but what does that mean for people who have a garden?

First of all it’s important to know the difference between social distancing, shielding and self-isolation:

  • Social distancing: We should all be doing this. It means staying home except to travel to and from work, buy groceries and medicines, or for daily exercise.
  • Shielding: If you are in a high-risk category (e.g. over-70s and specific medical conditions like diabetes) you should stay home and have groceries brought to you.
  • Self-isolation: If you show symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. a new persistent dry cough or fever) you should stay home and avoid contact with other people.

In either of the first two categories, there are no restrictions on enjoying your private outdoor space such as a garden or back yard, and getting fresh air is important.

But can you go in the garden during self-isolation? The short answer is yes, you can.

NHS advice about using the garden during self-isolation

The NHS advice about going outside while self-isolating may come as a surprise – although you should not have visitors to your home and should have food and medicines delivered rather than going out to buy them, you are still allowed to take your one period of exercise per day.

However, you should be extra careful to avoid contact with other people, and stay well over the recommended six feet or two metres from anyone you see.

Importantly if you have a garden of your own, you are absolutely allowed to use it as normal – the only exception is if you live with other people.

Sharing the garden during self-isolation

If you don’t live alone, self-isolation can be more difficult. If you are the one displaying symptoms, you must stay at home for seven days, or until your symptoms have gone, whichever takes longer.

The other people in your household should also self-isolate, but for twice as long – at least 14 days, plus a further seven days from the onset of symptoms for any individual who becomes infected.

You might want to minimise direct contact with the other people in your household, especially elderly relatives, to reduce the risk of them becoming infected.

If so, remember to factor this into your use of the garden. Evidence suggests you are less likely to transmit COVID-19 in open spaces, so in good weather you might prefer to sit outside with your family, but stick to the two metres of separation if possible.

Do your best

Fresh air and exercise are an important part of staying healthy and recovering from illness, especially if COVID-19 leaves you feeling short of breath and generally fatigued.

Self-isolating alone can be challenging but the rules are much clearer. Self-isolating with other family members is more complicated, so do your best to minimise contact and stay home – in your house or in your garden – as much as you can.


Make your garden a home for wildlife

Blog | Garden Inspiration | Posted on February 27, 2020 at 12:07 pm by

A healthy garden creates a balanced ecosystem that can help your flowers and shrubs to thrive, not to mention keeping your lawn green and healthy.

For example, if you are looking for natural ways to fight slugs in the garden, try attracting thrushes and hedgehogs, both of which love to snack on slugs.

Here are a few ways to make your garden a home for wildlife of all kinds, with plenty of beneficial effects as a result.

1. A home for hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are high on many gardeners’ ‘would like to meet’ list, so create a mini hedgehog habitat in a quiet corner of your garden for the best chance of receiving a spiky visitor in the night.

You can buy special hedgehog food, but meat-based dog food and cat food (not containing fish) works too, along with a shallow dish of water – you might also want to leave small access holes at the bottom of your fences.

2. A bath for birds

A bird bath can attract many more winged visitors to your garden. Keep it in the shade to prevent it from drying out. This should mean you can rely on rainwater to fill it for longer and also slows algae growth, which thrives in direct sunlight.

If you opt for a moving water feature such as a fountain, it will probably come with a filter in the pump. The slimy stuff that accumulates on the filter isn’t very pleasant, but it is rich in nutrients, so use it as fertiliser for your flowerbeds.

3. Make a meadow

Wildflowers are equally happy growing in bare soil as they are growing through grass, so it’s up to you whether to make a meadow retained in a flowerbed or scatter seeds on an area of lawn.

Either way, a good mix of wildflowers should attract butterflies and bees into your garden, and thorny teasel can bring in goldfinches, especially in autumn as the tufty flower heads dry out.

4. Creatures of the night

You might not use your garden at night, but nocturnal wildlife does, including hedgehogs, foxes and a particular friend to gardeners – bats.

Keep night lighting to a low, plant fragrant night-time flowers and consider putting up a bat box, and you can expect these lovable flying mammals to take up residence, keep the midge and mosquito population under control, and deposit richly fertilising guano on your shrubberies in return.

5. Keep on composting

A compost heap is a great way to make your own fertiliser from garden cuttings, glass clippings and the right kinds of kitchen food waste.

Compost needs to drain, so make sure liquids can run off from the bottom of your compost container – this also leaves somewhere for microbugs to get in and help the digestion along.