This month is No Mow May, when gardeners are encouraged to let their grass grow wild – think of it as being like Movember for your lawn!
It’s an initiative that takes place this time each year, and is the brainchild of the conservation charity Plantlife, which aims to support British wildflowers, plants and fungi.
As part of those efforts, the organisation wants UK households to let their grass grow long during May, and even to let the weeds grow through.
While we’re all about a well-kept lawn that’s free from weeds, we’re not at all opposed to the idea of a meadow area, which can bring in the bees, butterflies and attract other garden wildlife.
Whether you leave your lawn to do its own thing for a month, or create a dedicated year-round meadow space, there are many reasons to give No Mow May a go.
So why is this so important, and how can you join in?
You might call them weeds, or you might call them wildflowers, but normally when they grow through your lawn, they’re not welcome.
But Plantlife’s surveys in previous years have found rare blooms like meadow saxifrage, adder’s tongue fern, snake’s head fritillary and eyebright growing through uncut lawns.
Even if all you get is dandelions, you’re helping the bees more than you’d think. On one lawn in 2021, Plantlife found 85 times more daisies than dandelions. Yet the dandelions produced almost a tenth of the total pollen and over a third of the garden’s nectar.
Ian Dunn, CEO of Plantlife, said: ‘The results underline how embracing a little more wildness in our gardens can be a boon for plants, butterflies and bees.’
Joining in No Mow May is easy – just leave some or all of your lawn to grow wild, with any flowers (yes, even weeds!) allowed to grow through and bloom too.
If you have dandelions, you might want to compromise by removing them once they’ve flowered, before they grow their ‘dandelion clock’ seed heads. That way, you shouldn’t be overrun by them next year.
On May 21st-30th, participants are invited to count the number of wildflowers in a square metre of lawn, to see how your garden compares with others around the country. Join over 4,300 other households and learn how many bees your garden’s pollen and nectar can support!
A weed-free manicured lawn is a beautiful thing, and of course we’re not suggesting you should lay a turf lawn only to leave it to go wild – it’s all about balance and getting what you need from your garden.
But giving yourself a month off from mowing is no bad thing either, and can allow your grass to grow stronger before the busy summer season of garden parties and barbecues.
Even a small dedicated meadow space can keep your garden in balance. You can plant daffodils, bluebells and wildflowers to grow back year after year for some spring-summer colour with almost no maintenance required.
Not only will you be helping out the butterflies and bees, but you’ll also be giving them their own place to buzz around in peace, well away from you, your family and your friends.
There are many benefits of gardening as a hobby, from fresh air and Vitamin D to the chance to grow edible fruit and vegetables to include in your meals.
Sustainable gardening can feel good for the soul as well as the body, and there’s something deeply satisfying about looking at living plants and thinking, “I grew those.”
Let’s look at some of the best benefits of gardening as a hobby, and how you can turn green fingers into a healthy body and a happy mind in 2022.
Gardening is not only good for your physical health; it has real benefits for your mental health too.
After the events of 2020-21, we are all more aware of the value of physical activity and time spent outdoors. Even a small outdoor space can help you take up gardening for wellbeing, from planting pots and window boxes to curating a freshly laid turf lawn, rockeries and shrubberies.
As you gain experience, you’ll start to learn which plants you enjoy growing the most. Whether they’re hardy perennials or something more challenging, find your own comfort zone and peace of mind won’t be far behind.
Sustainable gardening helps you do your bit for the environment, and an eco-friendly garden can even help to clean the air around the exterior of your property.
Planting edibles is a good choice for eco gardening. Not only will the plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with oxygen, but you’ll be cutting carbon miles from your household diet if you manage to grow enough to eat.
A herb garden is a great place to start if you’re short of space or not particularly experienced. Fresh herbs can add flavour to your food, and while they’re not completely fool-proof, they’re not too difficult to grow either.
Winter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy time in your garden. In fact, weather permitting, it’s the perfect time to clear fallen leaves and dead annuals, and cut back trees and shrubs that can take being pruned or pollarded.
Early spring is the time to plant many bulbs and should also see the first shoots start to grow through the bare earth – always a spirit-lifting sight after a cold winter.
Also, remember to look after the visitors to your garden. Not friends and family, but birds and wildlife – keep feeders filled, put out fresh (not frozen!) water for drinking and bathing, and create hidey-holes for hedgehogs and other ground-dwellers.
A well looked after lawn provides the ideal centrepiece for any wellbeing garden, a place to play or entertain, and just the feeling of open space.
If yours needs a reset, you can get high-quality turf from the Carbutts Turf online shop, ready for whatever the spring, summer and autumn months of 2022 bring your way.
You’ll find even more ideas for gardening in winter and top tips for turf lawn care on our blog.
The British winter of 2021-22 started with a bang, as Storm Arwen and then Storm Barra swept through the UK, stripping the trees of any remaining autumn leaves.
Since then, conditions have improved, and we’re yet to meet Corrie, Dudley or Eunice – the next three names on the Met Office’s ‘Name our Storms’ list for this season.
There’s plenty to do in the garden over winter while the fine weather holds. In particular, now is the perfect time to take care of any pruning in your garden, as the winter months are the best season to trim most trees, shrubs and large plants.
As temperatures drop, many plants enter a dormant phase. During this time, it’s safer to prune them back without causing unnecessary damage.
Pruning has the obvious effect of cutting back on the amount of growth by removing dead and unwanted branches, but it can actually boost growth over the long term.
That’s because once the springtime arrives and the tree or shrub exits its dormant phase, it’s able to put more energy into growing green shoots, rather than sustaining old, unhealthy branches that should have been removed.
Although the process of pruning a tree or shrub is very similar to that of trimming it back, there are some differences in the way the two terms are used, especially by professionals.
Pruning typically focuses on the health and vitality of the plant. It may involve removing dead branches or those damaged by storm winds, and there is often a public safety element to the process as well.
On the other hand, trimming is more of an aesthetic consideration. The branches removed might be in good health, but growing in an odd place or position, or growing towards nearby buildings where they are not wanted.
Some plants prefer to be pruned later in the winter season, after the last frost has thawed. If this winter remains cold and crisp, that could take us quite a way into 2022.
Apple trees and grapevines are fine to prune immediately, and cutting your apple tree back to a wine glass shape should encourage additional fruit growth in the next year.
Roses and clematis can also be pruned early in winter, whereas lavender, buddleia and ornamental grasses are all best left untouched until the warmer weather of springtime sets in.
Pollarding is the process of pruning to encourage new shoots to grow next year. In general, shoots should be cut close to the base, which reduces the risk of disease and removes as much as possible of the unwanted wood from your shrub or tree.
When pruning apple trees to encourage fruit growth, aim for that wine glass silhouette, with evenly spaced branches, and leave a hollow centre rising up from the trunk.
Ornamental trees can be trimmed back to maintain a pleasing aesthetic. Aim to thin out the growth rather than severely cutting back entire sections of the tree.
Shaping the foliage on a tree for aesthetic effect is called topiary, so remember the P’s and the T’s: pollarding is pruning, and topiary is trimming.
Bonfire Night is celebrated in the UK on November 5th and is a uniquely British event, with just a few other Commonwealth countries also marking the occasion.
It commemorates the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators came very close to blowing up the Houses of Parliament.
Common activities include lighting bonfires, setting off fireworks and burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes, usually made of old clothes stuffed with newspapers.
Over the years, organised public events have grown in popularity, while back-garden bonfires and at-home firework displays have waned.
But with the Coronavirus lockdowns preventing full-scale celebrations in 2020 and many households still worried about the virus in 2021, there are good reasons to spend this November 5th within the perimeter of your own garden fence.
First, try to keep your bonfire off of the grass. Build it on a patch of bare earth such as an empty flowerbed, or in a container, especially if you have a purpose-made fire pit.
Water your lawn well so it’s still wet. In November it’s likely conditions will be damp anyway, but this should help the grass resist any risk of setting alight if sparks or embers land on it.
Launch fireworks from a container of sand. This helps to keep them stable until they fire, and can prevent harmful chemicals and leftover explosives from entering your lawn and subsoil.
If you do notice some lawn damage after the festivities, you can always follow our easy guide on reseeding your lawn.
If you’re having friends round to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in your garden, or you just want it to feel festive for yourself, there are some simple and safe ways to decorate.
Fairy lights are a good option. You can get outdoor garden lights that can wind around tree branches or along your fence, and will create an instant magical atmosphere – as well as giving you some light to see by.
Think about how you will stay warm if you’re outside late into the evening. Patio heaters and fire pits are good options, as well as hot food and plenty of hot drinks.
Have somewhere to sit at a safe distance from wherever you light your fireworks, and blankets for anyone who gets cold – and look out for anything flammable around the bonfire.
Finally, there are some simple steps you can take to stay safe in the garden on Bonfire Night:
• Keep your bonfire contained (e.g. in a fire pit)
• Light fireworks in a container at a safe distance from spectators
• Have adequate lighting and look out for wildlife or pets
• Keep flammable items like blankets well away from the fire
• Have a bucket of water ready in case of small fires
Last but not least, remember there are legal limits on when you’re allowed to set off fireworks, so your display should be over before 11pm unless it is actually on Friday November 5th, when the legal deadline is extended by one hour to midnight.
Whether you’re home schooling or just hanging out, the garden has become the go-to place for exercise, relaxation and playing with your kids outdoors this summer.
Most children love spending time outdoors, especially in nice weather, so with the limitations imposed by COVID-19, that means you’re likely relying even more on your garden.
Almost any game or sport you can think of can be reimagined to play in the garden, although some are easier to control than others – it’s not an ideal time to go looking for stray footballs or cricket balls in neighbours’ yards.
Here are some less obvious games to play with children in the garden, which will hopefully go without mishaps in most cases.
Set up a crazy golf course using any bits and bobs to create obstacles. For the holes, don’t worry – you don’t have to pull up plugs of your beautifully landscaped lawn.
Instead, just lay a plant pot or bucket on its side and aim to get your ball into that. In smaller gardens, just play one hole at a time, then move your obstacles around to create a brand new layout for ‘hole 2’ and so on.
You’ll soon unleash your creativity and start making more ambitious hazards like ramps, tunnels and bunkers. Just try to stay sensible so you’re not tempted to pitch your golf ball right over the fence!
A bit of a retro lawn game, Croquet is similar to golf except instead of aiming for holes, you have to knock your ball through a series of hoops. You usually end by knocking it at a vertical stick.
You can make ‘hoops’ out of anything from bent garden wire or old wire coathangers, to hitting the ball between two markers spaced a few inches apart with no actual hoop between them.
Not many of us have a set of croquet mallets lying around, but you could play this as a variation on crazy golf if you have metal or plastic putters, or just side-foot kick the ball instead.
To play Statues, you don’t need any equipment at all. The players stand in a row at one side of the garden, while one person is ‘it’ (sometimes called the Curator) and stands opposite.
When the Curator turns their back, the Statues can move slowly towards them. When the Curator looks, the Statues must freeze in place.
If the Curator sees a Statue moving, that person is out. But if a Statue reaches close enough to tag the Curator (or reaches the garden wall, if that works better) that person is ‘it’ for the next round.
This is an especially good game to play if your kids are Doctor Who fans, as instead of being Statues, they can pretend to be Weeping Angels.
These are just a few ideas you can play in even small gardens. But children often don’t need traditional games and rules – they can make it up as they go along.
Let your little ones use their imagination and see what they come up with. That might be a ball game, a treasure hunt, a make-believe game or something completely new. Assault courses and DIY gyms are also something older children and teens can get involved in.
The garden is really just a blank canvas on which you can play out new ideas and invent a game that suits everyone in your household – you might end up playing it for years to come!
The social distancing rules – better known to most of us simply as ‘lockdown’ – have meant that gardens have become the first choice to spend time outdoors, rather than going beyond your own boundary.
In fact when lockdown was announced, SunLife surveyed over-60s and found that over half (57%) planned to spend the weeks of social distancing in their garden – while just 44% intended to spend more time with their partner!
You don’t have to be in your retirement years to get more enjoyment from your garden, especially in the coming months when it is likely to remain important for everyone to stay home as much as possible.
First up, clear any unruly areas of your garden to give yourself as much usable space as possible.
Most gardens can benefit from a bit of clearance, and it’s likely that if your council tip is closed, it will reopen in the coming days as lockdown starts to be lifted in small but useful ways.
As such, if you haven’t had a tidy already, it’s a good time to make full use of your garden waste recycling bin or bag any rubbish in sturdy refuse sacks ready for when the tip opens.
A lawn makes a garden feel natural but usable, and even a small area of grass can have a big effect.
No matter how big your outdoor space may be, think about laying a new lawn using turf for a quick fix as we move into the summer months spent sheltering at home.
Turf is durable in gardens where kids and pets play – just make sure you follow the instructions for laying a new lawn from turf, and give it chance to bed in before you put it to heavy use.
Around your lawn, you’ll want some other features that enhance your outdoor space. That might mean narrow borders in smaller gardens, or flowerbeds in larger areas.
Wavy lines and edges can create a natural, rustic feel if you want a cottage garden effect, and they’re a little more forgiving when it comes to trimming your edges in the future too.
Alternatively, diagonal lines can create different sections in long, narrow gardens, giving an illusion of width while drawing the eye to any deliberate focal points.
Give some thought to the different uses you want to get from your garden. If you want to be able to work outdoors, incorporate some comfortable seating, an ergonomic table and some shade on the sunniest days of summer.
Relaxation can be achieved in many different ways, from pretty planting and bird feeders, to sounds like running water and wind chimes.
Finally, if you have pets and kids, or you want to use your garden for entertaining once social distancing restrictions are lifted, make sure you leave some space for this from the outset, with a healthy, well maintained lawn you can sit on when that time comes.
A garden gym is a great way to keep fit and healthy, especially if you’re spending a lot of your time at home due to self-isolation, social distancing or because you’re in the high-risk ‘shielding’ category during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But even once the virus has passed, building an outdoor gym will give you a new way to enjoy your outdoor space, while staying in shape and potentially saving a small fortune on commercial gym membership fees.
It’s not hard to set up a gym in the garden – and there are several different ways to do it, from the very simple to the more complicated and committed.
Many of the exercises you do at the gym can be recreated in the garden without any specialist equipment.
In fact a garden bench can play a part in a wide range of different stretches, squats and other exercises, so if you have seating outside, be sure to incorporate this into your routine.
You can get exercise in lots of different ways in the garden. Even just maintaining the garden, mowing the lawn and tending the flowerbeds will stretch all different muscle groups.
If you want to add even more activity to your time outdoors, garden games are a good option.
The options are endless but some easy additions include:
None of these needs to take up a large amount of space, and even if you don’t yet have any grass, you can lay a lawn using turf to create a sports area that’s hardy enough to withstand good amounts of footfall.
Finally, if you’re really committed to working out at home, you might want to think about building an indoor or outdoor gym in your garden.
Indoor garden gyms usually don’t need any planning permission if they are housed in a ‘temporary’ structure like a shed or other wooden building.
For an outdoor workout, you can add various pieces of equipment, ranging from monkey bars and climbing ropes, to specially designed outdoor fitness machines that give you exactly what you need to build specific muscles.
Whatever you choose, make sure to stay safe and healthy – don’t overdo it when you first start, but build gently into your new routine.
Gardens are a naturally sheltered space for all kinds of activities, especially the daily exercise we all need during social distancing.
Make good use of your outdoor area and you’ll emerge from the current situation in even better health than you started, and perhaps also with a newfound affection for your garden.
Traditional lawn games are a great family activity and can also be great fun at a summer party for friends.
We’re big on family here at Carbutts and we like to be nostalgic. So we had great fun making up this list of traditional lawn games and we thought it was a good idea to share some of our favourite choices. Here are some of our vintage favourite adults and children’s lawn games.
This is a favourite garden game for children and adults, and can be pretty brutal when played properly.
There’s nothing quite like watching your pal get a ball close to the hoop only for you to come along and smash it 10 yards away.
The rules of croquet are simple; using a long wooden mallet, you score by hitting your balls through the 6 hoops placed around the lawn. The winner is the person or team first to 14 points (all 6 hoops and a bonus hoop at the end).
It’s a great game and played at a pace which allows you to claim you are playing a sport and drink a nice Pimm’s at the same time.
Bowls is a staple of the English summer and looks a very elegant game to play.
It’s tricky though, especially on an uneven lawn (although we can always level it out for your with our lawn laying service) as judging the direction and pace of the ball is never easy. A more modern alternative that has crept into the UK from France is Boule, which is equally as good fun and involves tossing the balls rather than rolling them.
Or hoopla as you might know it.
Pretty simple but still tricky as it involves tossing a rope ring so that it lands around a narrow peg. Quoits comes in a few forms these days such as plastic rings, rope rings of horseshoes. The aim is always the same though, get the most on the peg and the winner can claim an extra beer.
And all the more reason to have a ‘flatish’ lawn. There are some lovely wooden skittle sets available these days that have a real vintage look to them. And even though the dads can get pretty competitive, the kids are equally as good at this as the grown-ups.
Getting the first few over isn’t the problem, it’s that last lone skittle, goading you from a few meters away which is the enemy.
We love this one.
And old bat and a soft ball of any sort will do.
The batter stands alone in the middle of the lawn and uses his legs as the stumps (the emphasis here is on the soft ball). Everyone else is a bowler and can bowl from anywhere, in front, at the side or from behind and it’s up to the batter to defend his ‘stumps’.
This is a quick-fire game of cat and mouse. The winner is the one with most hits away from his legs.
Ok, not strictly a lawn game but great fun none the less.
The rules are simple here, gather some friends and a great selection of cold drinks and tell funny stories on a lush green lawn you are proud of.
Now we can’t help with the drinks or the length of your bowling, but we can help with your grass.
We can supply top quality grass (or lay the whole lawn for you) directly anywhere in the country direct from our Cheshire farm and you can choose from two great qualities of grass here.
And you’ll be surprised how quickly we can make your garden look green and lush again.
For friendly advice we are happy to help and all enquiries are welcomed.
Get in touch with the team now and let’s get your lawn looking fantastic.
We know we’re making a huge assumption that there will actually be a summer, but let’s think positively and look forward to playing with the kids in the garden.
Of course, the little angels will need entertaining over those long school holidays, and other than some nice seaside days away to your favourite beach, the garden is the perfect place to let them run wild.
Normally the lawn is the main area of play and tends to get the brunt of the action. Fortunately, it generally provides a soft landing, meaning those lovely trips to A&E can be kept to a minimum.
So, here are a few quick ideas for garden games with the kids;
Kids love this and it normally comes for free. All you need to do is arrange some of the garden and household items like chairs, stools, benches and gym balls to give the kids hours of fun. Give them a stopwatch and watch their competitive streak come out and don’t forget the pirate’s rule; no touching the floor.
We say badminton but there are all sorts of softball games available at a decent price from stores like Decathlon. Badminton is a really inclusive family game that everyone can play, or if you’ve got a bit more room break out the rounders set.
This is a classic and can be played anywhere.
Using your legs as the stumps (the trick here is to use a soft ball) the other players bowl underarm to get the batter ‘out’. If it touches your lower legs, you’re off to the pavilion.
Another classic garden game, this time from our French friends. Boules is another great game for all the family and it’s easy to play. Just ping the jack across the lawn and whoever gets closest with their set of balls wins. It’s also easy to spot the winner as the balls are all colour coded.
Make your own makeshift tent or go full on and get the proper tent set up. Not only does this give the kids a great den to keep them interested all day setting up house and watching a movie on the iPad, but you can go all out and camp overnight too.
Get the BBQ going and toast some marshmallows then bacon butties in the morning will top it all off.
Let’s not forget this classic.
It’s always so exciting eating outside and it’s an easy win. A few crisps, sandwiches and nibbles are all it takes for a nice hour sat chatting with the kids outside. Or leave them to it with a few sandwich ingredients so they can build their own delicious concoctions. They’ll love it.
Of course, all those options require a good lawn and if yours isn’t up to scratch or you just fancy a brand new gorgeous carpet of greenery for the summer, then get in touch…you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly or lawn installation team can get a new lawn installed.
Carbutts are a down to earth (pun intended) family owned firm and we can deliver high quality grass anywhere in the UK direct from our very own 500 acre farm in Cheshire. Check our delivery terms here.
For friendly advice we are happy to help and all enquiries are welcomed.
Get in touch with the team now and let’s get your lawn looking fantastic.