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.
One of the things that has helped many households to cope with the COVID-19 lockdown rules has been the weather, with most of the UK basking in sunshine for much of March and most of April too.
That has meant individuals, couples and families have all been able to make the most of any outside space they might have, from yards and driveways, to balconies, terraces and back gardens.
So it’s no surprise that some great British ingenuity has gone into using those outdoor areas in ways you might not normally imagine – proving just how versatile even a humble garden can be.
Some of the most high-profile uses of gardens have been charity fundraisers, including of course Captain Tom Moore, who hoped to raise £1,000 by walking 100 lengths of his garden before reaching his 100th birthday at the end of April.
In fact he smashed his target in less than a day and had raised around the £30 million mark by his birthday on April 30th.
Not bad going for walking laps of a 25-metre garden, and a true testament to how the British public took the war veteran in his back garden to their hearts.
Some Brits have adopted a very literal interpretation of the social distancing rules – after all, as long as you’re two metres from your neighbours, you’re staying within the guidelines.
To continue socialising despite social distancing, some have removed fence panels that divide their gardens, allowing them to chat while staying several metres apart.
Other families have placed their kids’ trampolines at the appropriate distance either side of the garden fence, allowing the children to keep each other company while getting their daily exercise by synchronising their bouncing.
We’re all likely to face a prolonged period of restrictions on socialising, especially in groups and in smaller spaces, but again this highlights the innovative approach Brits have taken to enjoying their gardens together while staying the correct distance apart.
Finally, with more entertainment events taking place from artists’ homes, everyone from amateurs to the rich and famous have been gigging from their gardens.
Elton John’s performance on the One World: Together at Home concert is probably the most viral video to come from this trend of garden gigs, but he’s not the only one to take his music outdoors.
In March, the BBC reported the story of musician Liz Hanks from Sheffield, who had organised a series of solo performances by people in their own gardens, to be enjoyed by their neighbours who might be self-isolating or simply social distancing.
“At this time, we really just need these good things to happen in our daily lives,” she told the broadcaster, adding that she hoped more such performances might take place across the city of Sheffield and nationwide.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’re planning to lay a new lawn using turf, it’s worth taking the time to design it first.
With these lawn design ideas for your garden, you can plan out your use of the space you have available and make sure you know exactly how much turf you need.
Our turf rolls are roughly 41 cm wide by 249 cm long, enough to cover about one square metre each, which helps to make the calculations easier!
Remember to allow some excess for offcuts, if you’re planning an irregular or curved lawn, as it’s better to use single sections of turf rather than trying to patch offcuts together into an area with lots of ragged joints.
We offer professional turf laying services, so if you’re feeling ambitious and don’t want to leave it to chance, you can leave it to us to lay your new lawn to a high standard instead.
Circular lawns are a popular option. Many gardeners like the geometry of a regular shape, but without the corners you get with a rectangular lawn.
Some offcuts are necessary to achieve the curved edge, but a circular lawn can be surprisingly efficient in how much of the turf is used.
For an even more efficient alternative, opt for an oval. The straighter edges mean less cut-offs and the exact dimensions can be adjusted to fit your garden perfectly.
Diagonal lawns can work well as an optical illusion in smaller gardens. By laying the turf diagonally, you create a lawn that appears to be longer.
By alternating the direction of the diagonal, you can fill in a lot of a long but narrow garden, and the spaces between the corners can be filled in with focal point planting that draws the eye along the length of the garden to show it off at its best.
This technique has the added benefit of straight edges, reducing the need to cut the turf in order to make it fit.
If you’re laying a new turf lawn to get rid of weeds, you might not have considered planting flowers directly in your pristine new grass.
But once your turf has put down roots and is growing healthily in its new home, there are plenty of pretty flowers that make excellent meadow lawns.
Spring flowering bulbs like snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils can happily hide away under the soil before coming through in the early new year.
And unlike persistent weeds, they only last for a few weeks before dying off, leaving you with a clear lawn to enjoy in the summer months while next year’s bulbs are protected safely below ground.
Gardens are a place where you can really express your creativity – and unlike DIY disasters inside the house, it’s usually relatively easy to change your outdoor space if it doesn’t look the way you planned.
A new turf lawn is a fast and easy way to get a great-looking garden from what was previously unloved bare earth, so if you have ideas for garden designs of your own, get in touch and we can help you decide exactly how much turf you need to bring your garden to life.
National Allotment Week 2019 is still running for three more days, and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about growing your own fresh produce, whether in a rented allotment plot, your own back garden, or even a window box.
The week-long event invites members of the public to visit their local allotments, many of which have opened their gates from August 12th to 18th.
You can rent an allotment in cities, towns and villages the length and breadth of the UK, but National Allotment Week is also about encouraging people to grow their own at home or in other private spaces.
First of all, you need bare topsoil free from any grass so you can plant your seeds – so it’s time to lift the turf, if you’re starting with a grassy plot.
If you’re starting a vegetable patch in your own back garden, you might want to clear an area and then lay fresh turf along the edges, giving you a neat outline of healthy grass that’s easier to maintain with a straight, sharp edge.
If you’ve inherited a rented allotment plot that’s strewn with rubbish, left-behind tools and other materials, spend some time properly clearing the space so you can plan it out and plant it out effectively.
Fully clearing an allotment plot can be a challenge – there might be old root systems snarling up the soil, and you might even want to remove the topsoil and replace it with a more fertile and well draining mix – so don’t shy away from this part to get off to the best start.
While clearing the plot, you might encounter dangerous materials like broken glass or buried shards of metal – so wear sturdy gloves, use tools, and stay safe.
Again, by properly clearing the area in the first instance, you give your allotment the best chance to thrive, with no nasty surprises while digging over the earth further down the line.
Allotments, especially overgrown plots, can be tempting habitats for animals, especially if there’s an abundance of berries, fruits and tasty vegetables growing there.
You might consider wildlife to be pests if they eat your hard-earned produce, but at least give animals a chance to leave safely before you fence and net off the plot – and especially before you take a mower or strimmer to the long growth.
Finally, whether you’ve inherited an allotment or you’re starting a vegetable patch in your own garden, work with what’s already there if possible.
That might include hardy and herbaceous perennials left by the previous occupant, wild plants like garlic, mint and berry-filled brambles, or even more established features like fertile fruit trees, all of which can give you your first harvest sooner than you might think.
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.
This is a favourite 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, 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.
June 20th is National Clean Air Day and in honour of that fact, we’re taking a look at how to reduce air pollution with a natural lawn.
Clean Air Day is a UK initiative that aims to educate people about common air pollution causes and the simple steps we can all take to reduce air pollution.
The result of this is more people who know how to reduce air pollution in their own homes, and improved air quality for them and their neighbours – it’s a win-win!
With this in mind, here’s our guide to how your natural lawn is keeping your air clean, and especially why mature grass is worth hanging on to.
Natural turf covers an area with green grass and, like other green plants and leaves, it uses photosynthesis to grow.
That means it takes in sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, and converts them into the physical carbohydrate building blocks it needs to grow, while releasing the leftover oxygen.
All of this is good for air quality in several ways – it reduces CO2 in the atmosphere, releases more breathable oxygen, and it’s also worth remembering that everything we eat, from meat to vegetables, started out as sunlight and CO2 before a plant turned it into carbs.
You’re probably not going to eat your lawn or let farm animals graze on it, but there are plenty more known benefits of natural lawns:
On top of all of these benefits, a natural lawn at the front of your house will typically enhance the kerb appeal of your property and help you to sell it if you want to move house – you might even get more money for it with a well-kept front garden.
If you’ve decided to lay turf to reduce air pollution in and around your garden, there are some simple steps you can take to maximise the benefits in the months and years to come.
We would always recommend preparing the ground well before laying turf – we even offer a professional Turf Laying Service to get it right every time – but there are also long-term air quality benefits to doing this.
By preparing the ground, your turf can put down deep roots. This allows it to find water deeper into the earth in the future and encourages stronger growth, locking away even more CO2 in the form of physical hydrocarbons.
Letting your lawn go to meadow is the latest ‘in thing’ in gardening, and people everywhere are leaving their grass to get overgrown and full of weeds in the hope of attracting wildlife.
Unfortunately in many cases you’re more likely to end up ruining your lawn and making your house look abandoned.
The potential pitfalls of this are wide-ranging:
But there are some easy ways to attract wildlife into a garden without having to abandon your lawn completely.
Even a small area of planting can have a big impact. Consider low-maintenance plants like borage to attract bees and butterflies and teasel to attract goldfinches in the autumn.
Use perennials and your garden will grow back year after year, while evergreens and woody deciduous shrubs should stay over winter too – a buddleia, also known as the ‘butterfly bush’, is one good deciduous shrubbery option.
You might be surprised that the RSPB’s guide to starting a wildflower meadow warns against planting wildflowers in rich soil.
Instead they recommend planting mustard for the first year to use up excess nutrients – again if you have a flowerbed or rockery filled with poor quality soil, planting common wildflowers can easily create a contained mini meadow area.
If your garden doesn’t have room for a meadow area, you could cut away just a few inches of turf around the edges and plant a mini meadow border.
This can give smaller gardens a beautiful edging, and as the foliage dies back ready for winter, the fairly narrow bare border should not be too distracting or unsightly either.
Don’t just focus on pretty wildlife like robins and butterflies – know what’s common in your local area and what’s beneficial to have around.
Bees are important and usually won’t sting you if undisturbed, so don’t be afraid to plant bee-friendly flowers, as well as bushes like roses that will attract ladybirds and in turn help control your aphid population.
Last but not least, creating a meadow in your lawn does not have to mean giving up on maintaining the grass – in fact for long-term health, some maintenance is essential.
Plant bulbs such as bluebells and daffodils that can grow through the grass, flower in a short space of time, and then die back to leave your lawn as before.
When they’re finished flowering, carefully remove the dead growth so it doesn’t clog up the root structure of your lawn, and leave the bulbs undisturbed so they’ll grow back next year.
There’s no denying that artificial grass has become much more popular in recent years as an alternative to laying a new lawn using natural turf.
It’s also used widely in some sports, and 4G turf football pitches can now be found in every town and city, especially on training pitches rather than for competition.
Earlier this year, social media users were bemused to hear of Nike’s new ‘Grass’ golf shoes, which are literally made of fake grass – ironic considering golf is one of the sports least likely to be played on 4G turf.
With Earth Day on Monday April 22nd, we thought we’d take a look at some of the reasons why natural grass turf is so great, and why we don’t think artificial turf golf courses will become commonplace anytime soon.
Brand-name ‘AstroTurf’ dates back to the 1960s and got its name from its first high-profile use, at the Houston Astrodome stadium.
Since then artificial grass has evolved, with more convincing fake grass using blades of different lengths and different shades of green to create a better illusion.
But there are still problems. Fake turf can contain some pretty undesirable materials, from nylon blades of grass, to rubber padding, to glue bonding it all together.
It also removes the benefits of natural turf for wildlife, so you won’t see birds pecking for worms, and you’re even less likely to be visited by a hedgehog.
If you’ve read any of our guides to laying natural turf, you’ll know that for the best results, the ground should be prepared by aerating it, watering it and mixing in some fertiliser.
But laying fake turf is hardly any easier, as for the best results, you need to dig out the top layer of soil and replace it with a ‘permeable sub-base’ such as limestone.
Cheap fake grass often doesn’t drain as well anyway, and this combined with a poorly prepared sub-base layer can leave you with pools of standing water on your lawn.
In contrast, Carbutts Turf offer a complete natural turf laying service. We can prepare the sub-layer for you, supply the turf and quickly lay it in place, so all you need to do is regularly water it in and maintain the grass as it starts to grow.
One of the arguments in favour of artificial turf is durability, especially on football pitches and other sports fields where it will see heavy use.
But for most everyday garden use, real grass is durable enough to withstand footfall and children playing, and will quickly recover and grow back with minimal maintenance.
If you expect regular wear and tear on your lawn, choose our Gold Standard natural turf – it is ultra hard-wearing with faster shoot recovery to get it back to its best after being played on by kids or pets.
Artificial turf has its place on football training pitches and practice putting greens, but we think natural grass can’t be beaten for lawns and gardens.
With Earth Day 2019 upon us, we hope you will agree and do your bit to keep more natural planting in British gardens for the health of our planet.
Image source: http://www.ladbible.com/latest/sport-nike-to-charge-110-for-air-max-trainers-made-of-astro-turf-20190118