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Getting ready for autumn: what needs to be done in the garden and what to look forward to

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on November 2, 2020 at 10:00 am by

As the autumn months set in, there are some annual tasks to take care of in the garden, and getting ready for autumn on time will leave you with plenty to look forward to in the run-up to Christmas.

Autumn leaves

The most obvious gardening task for autumn is to collect any fallen leaves, and there are a few approaches to take here:

You can keep the collected leaves to use as insulating mulch on your flowerbeds during the winter, or put them on your compost heap or in your compost bin to transform them into rich fertiliser.

Mow the lawn

Give the grass a final mow before the cold and wet winter months arrive. You might want to set your blades a little higher than in the summer – this is a long-term maintenance cut, rather than for show.

Avoid cutting the grass after heavy rain or if there’s an early frost, but hopefully there will be some good weather for a few days in October or November, so that you can mow it a final time and leave it in good condition for the dormant winter months.

Fixtures and fittings

Don’t be tempted to delay repairs until after the winter – in fact it’s even more important to put right any damaged fixtures and fittings before the strongest winds and severe weather conditions arrive.

Check fence posts and panels, garages and gates, sheds and greenhouse roofs, and make sure they’re sturdy (and waterproof, in the case of roofs and outbuildings) to give your garden the best possible chance of making it through to spring in one piece.

Treat your borders

Autumn is also the time to treat your borders, especially if the last of the summer flowers have died off and you can cut back or pull off the dead leaves.

Give your freshly cleared borders a layer of manure or compost to act as insulation for any roots still in the ground, and to fertilise them ready for healthy growth in the spring.

Deck it out

Finally, think about decorating your garden in the autumn months, ready to be able to enjoy it around Christmas, New Year and the whole festive holiday period.

You can add outdoor fairy lights, icicle lights along garage and shed roof edges, and tree lights; patio heaters for a more comfortable evening outdoors; and all kinds of sculptures, festive figurines and wall-mounted decorations.

Make sure everything is secure in case of strong winds overnight, or choose decorations you can easily move into the shed or greenhouse.

Your garden can be a place of sanctuary and relaxation even during the depths of winter, so put in the preparation in the run-up to Christmas and you can reap the rewards in the new year.


How, why and when to top dress your lawn

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on March 25, 2020 at 4:25 pm by

Top dressing your lawn doesn’t mean adding grass seed, but instead is about sprinkling on a layer of mixed materials high in nutrients, that help it to stay healthy and retain the right levels of moisture.

Some of the substances you might use to top dress your lawn include:

· Soil (for well-balanced lawns).

· Sand (for lawns that are often waterlogged).

· Peat (for lawns that need to retain more moisture).

It’s not only about drainage and moisture though, as the materials used in your top dressing can also physically stabilise the lawn after aeration, encouraging stronger, healthier roots and better blade growth.

Using the correct topdressing materials can also help to neutralise the soil pH if you have a high alkalinity or acidity soil which will help your other plants grow as well as keeping your lawn healthy .

How to test your soil type

All lawns get wet after rain and dry on hot days, so how do you test your soil type to know for sure if you have a moisture problem?

There are several methods you can try:

Ribbon Test

Take a small handful of soil and roll it into a ribbon or sausage shape between your hands. Then hold it vertically and see if it breaks.

If the soil sample holds together well, it’s more likely a clay soil; if it won’t hold together even in your palm, it’s more likely high in sand content.

Squeeze Test

Probably the easiest method – just rub some of the soil between your fingertips. A gritty texture indicates sandy soil, while a slick or slimy texture is a sign of clay.

Jar Test

Finally, the most complex method. Take several samples of soil from around your garden and remove any grass and other debris.

Dissolve the soil in a jar of water, give it a good shake, then leave it to settle. Sand settles fastest, with the silt layer following a few hours later and any clay settling out over the course of up to a few days. Otherwise specific soil particle test kits are available to be purchased online.

When to top dress a lawn

Once you’ve tested your soil type and bought or made a suitable lawn care top dressing, it’s a matter of timing.

If you aerate your lawn annually, it’s sensible to top-dress immediately afterwards, when the aerated soil is in the best condition to take in the new nutrients.

Clear your lawn, scarify and aerate it, then mow the grass. Sprinkle an even layer of lawn top dressing, but not so deep that the blades of grass don’t show through.

Water and rake it into the lawn gently, and finally add any grass seed if you wish, and your lawn should look great for a long time to come.


Does aerating your lawn really help?

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on at 3:19 pm by

Aerating your lawn pulls small plugs of soil to the surface through making small holes below the turf. This creates air pockets that allow essential nutrients to reach the roots of the grass.

This includes things like air, water and the nutrients and minerals the grass needs to grow strong and healthy from the roots to the tip.

Without aerating your lawn, the soil can become compacted over time due to footfall, natural settling and the effects of repeated rainfall and other weather.

Just a shallow compacted layer can have a big impact on the health and visual appeal of your lawn, but just occasional aerating prevents this from happening.

In the worst cases, compacted soil prevents the grass from getting enough nutrients to even survive, leading to thinning patches and ultimately bare earth.

As well as soil compaction, excess heavy clay in the soil and thatch layers at the grass roots made up of compacted organic matter are common problems that can be repaired using a plug aerator and spike aerator or scarifier.

The combination of hollow tines and solid tines allow for the soil cores and smaller lawn thatch above the soil to be removed

When to aerate your lawn

There are a few useful rules of thumb to follow when deciding when to aerate your lawn:

· Do aerate when the grass is reaching its peak growing season.

· Don’t aerate a dormant lawn.

· Don’t aerate a lawn still soaked from heavy recent rain.

Scarification prevents the lawn from being swamped by thatch, while aeration achieves a similar effect in the topsoil, so combining both can be a big help to the long-term health of your lawn.

Aerating a lawn is not something you have to do often as part of lawn care – so don’t feel like you should be doing it every time you mow the grass, for instance.

Instead, it’s usually fine to aerate once a year when the grass is approaching its best growing season. For lawns in the northern hemisphere this is usually spring-summer.

Lawns with heavily compacted soil can be aerated if required, but try to avoid doing so outside of the main growing season as you want the grass to have every chance to recover well from the stress of the process.

Finally, you might want to consider adding some extra grass seed after scarifying and aerating your lawn, especially in the peak growing season when this should help to fill it in for a thick and healthy appearance.


Lawn design ideas for your garden

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on January 29, 2020 at 10:00 am by

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! If you’re stil stuck or have an unusually shaped lawn, use our handy lawn care calculator!

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 lawnCircular lawns

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 lawnDiagonal lawns

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.


Meadow lawn with tulipsMeadow lawns

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.


Ideas of your own?

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.


How to deal with slugs in the garden

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on January 27, 2020 at 3:02 pm by

Not many gardeners welcome slugs in the garden, even though they can have their benefits for composting or as a source of food for birds, hedgehogs and other garden visitors.

Unfortunately, slugs can also carry diseases that are harmful to domestic pet dogs and cats, they leave an unpleasant trail behind them, and they can be catastrophic to your foliage and freshly laid turf.

If your lawn is under attack by tens of thousands of slugs – as it is believed the average British garden is – there are a few methods you can use to tackle them without resorting to poison.

In summer 2019, the government’s ban on metaldehyde slug pellets was overturned by the courts due to the way it was implemented.

But if you still don’t want to use slug pellets, especially outdoors where other wildlife could come into contact with them, what are the natural alternatives?

Salt

Salt is probably the first thing most people think of when dealing with a slug problem in the garden, and it can be effective at reducing slug numbers.

However, it’s not the most humane method and it can be bad news for your soil quality, especially if you have a large slug infestation over a long period of time.

Think very carefully before dumping large amounts of salt on your lawn and flowerbeds – the effect on new turf and bedding plants could be even worse than the slugs’ tiny chomp marks.

Copper

Copper tape has become a more popular option in the past few years. Manufacturers claim it creates a sensation similar to a static electric shock that repels the slug.

Results can be mixed but if you want to try this technique, rolls of copper tape can be bought quite cheaply.

For maximum effect, use tape with a higher copper content and make your barrier at least 5 cm (2 inches) wide.

If you want to spend a small amount more for the best tape for the job, don’t head to the garden centre, but go to your local music shop, where electric guitar insulating tape tends to be wider, thicker and contains more copper.

Dry surfaces

This is one to think about when designing your garden and especially when planning patios, decking and so on.

Slugs love wet surfaces but find it more difficult to cross dry patches. Use materials that dry more quickly after rain and you can create natural slug barriers.

Less porous surfaces are the way to go if you want to try this technique, whereas porous natural materials like wood can stay damp for longer and create slug highways.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use natural materials in your garden, of course – but carefully planned dry barriers combined with copper tape could be effective in controlling where the slugs go.

Ultimately, many gardeners learn to live with slugs and some even build slug-friendly flowerbeds to try and lure them away from their vegetable patch intended for human consumption, and give the slugs a feast of their own to enjoy instead.


How to prevent & treat moss growing in your lawn

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on January 10, 2020 at 11:02 am by

If you want a manicured lawn, moss and its partners in crime like clover and daisies are likely to be among your sworn enemies.

Removing a severe infestation of moss can leave your lawn looking patchy and reveal the areas where the moss had completely replaced the grass.

It is often in such circumstances that customers come to us looking to returf their lawn with fresh, moss-free turf.

But once your new turf lawn has been laid, how do you prevent moss from growing in it, and how do you treat it if it does?

Best laid plans

Like many things in life, prevention is better than cure when it comes to moss in your lawn, so make sure you follow the best laid plans for the best laid turf.

Moss thrives in damp conditions, so prepare the ground for better drainage before you lay any turf on top.

Incorporating sandy soil improves drainage and can help to make damp soil a little drier, so if you have had severe problems with moss in the past, this could be a good option.

When your turf is laid, fill in any small gaps with compost or sandy soil to encourage the grass to knit across those joins and create a consistent barrier against moss.

Find out more in our guide How to Lay Turf or let us take care of it with our professional lawn laying service.

Once it’s laid

Healthy grass is the best way to resist moss growth, so keep your lawn fed, fertilised and well watered depending on the weather conditions.

During wet times of year, turn your attention to drainage instead. Aerate or rotovate the surface of the lawn to encourage standing water to penetrate deeper into the soil.

Regularly scarify your lawn to remove thatch from around the grass roots and keep your grass healthy and more resistant to invaders like moss.

Carbutts Gold Standard Turf is a good option if you have pets or children as it recovers quickly from light surface damage, which should help keep your lawn more resistant to moss too.

If moss appears

Be on the lookout for moss especially in any damp or shady areas of your lawn, but don’t panic if you see it – it can usually be removed without major damage to your grass.

Scarification will lift out a lot of moss growth, so just making this a regular part of your lawn maintenance should mean you see less moss over time.

If you don’t want to use chemical weedkillers, look for lawn fertilisers that include anti-moss bacteria.

These not only feed your grass, they also digest moss in place over the course of 7-10 days after application, so by the time you come to mow your lawn again, the moss should be gone.

Ultimately, good healthy grass is your first line of defence against unwanted growth like moss, clover, daisies and other lawn invaders, so lay your turf well and treat your lawn right to give it the best start in life.

If you need a fresh lawn, call us today on 01477 532594, we’ll professionally lay fresh cut turves to give your garden a makeover.


How to level a lumpy lawn

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on December 10, 2019 at 9:39 am by

You’ve got the lawnmower ready, you fire it up, and off you go. Within minutes you’ve hit a bump and churned the grassy turf into an ugly bare patch. Is there anything more frustrating?

There are so many reasons for an uneven lawn; after all, nothing can remain perfect forever. From pesky animals, peskier kids, heavy rain and soil settlement, there’s a million and one reasons why your once-perfect lawn is now a bumpy one.

So what to do? Well, if you’re after a half-hour of mowing that doesn’t involve going up and down miniature mountain ranges, we’d recommend levelling your lawn.

We recommend levelling your garden either in springtime or early autumn. It’s generally warm enough for grass seed growth and you’ll be guaranteed rain, which will help the soil to settle.

Here’s how…

Preparation 

A wise person always prepares. Before you do anything, you’ll need to determine just how bad your lawn is and the amount of levelling required. Uneven ground can be an indication of deeper-lying drainage issues or perhaps damaged water pipes.

Drainage issues

If there are dips in your lawn above water pipes, it’s always best to seek professional help. If these types of problems are causing the declines, we’d recommend re-grading as well as levelling the grass.

You could, of course, install an underground drainage system. Laying gravel or flexible drainpipes will help alleviate pooling.

Levelling shallow spots

If your lawn only has a few shallow spots, then breathe a sigh of relief. To achieve a perfectly level lawn won’t be as difficult to achieve as perhaps you feared!

Generally, we’d say that if you’ve got areas that are 1-2cm lower than the rest of the soil, you could apply a topsoil bringing it level with the rest of your lawn. You’ll need to firm this application up, before watering it and leaving it to settle for a few days. After it’s settled in, apply the grass seed and water on a mist setting around four times a day – kids love to help with this part!

If there’s more than one low lying area, it’s a case of rinse and repeat!

Levelling mountains

Sometimes it can seem like your lawn is like the Pennines in miniature form, it’s that bumpy. The best way to level a lawn like this is tackling each bump individually.

Start by cutting into the middle of the rise with a shovel. If you cut in a cross shape, you’ll be able to lift the sections of turf away from the soil underneath. You’ll need to keep your shovel as flat as possible when lifting to ensure these pieces of turf don’t break. You’ll need them again.

The bump of excess soil now needs removing until the area is level with the rest of the lawn. Tread this down gently and fill with a good topsoil mixture until it’s nearly level with the surrounding area. Rake it and then fold the edges of the outer turf back over.

You’re nearly there, we promise. Starting from the outside of your excavated cross shape, carefully relay the lifted turf beginning from the outside, working inwards. Any gaps can be filled with topsoil and lawn seed, and you must water regularly.

Before you congratulate yourself, remember if your lawn is particularly bad, you’ll need to do this for every bump! You can do it, we believe in you!

If you think your lump lawn is too far gone to save, you can always start over fresh with a new flat lawn professionally laid.


Looking after your lawn over winter

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on December 6, 2019 at 9:32 am by

It’s autumn and you’re sick and tired of clearing leaves up from what was a perfect lawn not two months ago. Come winter, your lawn is pale and perhaps a little worn in places, where you’ve had to get to the shed in wet weather.

A familiar story? It’s only natural that it’s not looking at its peak, most things don’t in winter, but that’s no reason to stop you from giving your lawn a bit of winter lawn treatment.

Follow these simple steps, and we’ll guarantee you’ll have a lawn that’s the envy of the neighbourhood come springtime.

Preparing for winter

We recommend you start your winter lawn preparation in October/November. Yes, we’re afraid that includes clearing fallen leaves, in readiness for one last cut. Mowing your lawn ready for winter is essential. Equally important is ensuring you keep the blades of your mower high. You’re just trimming the top!

Aerating your lawn

With a garden fork, you’ll need to spike the lawn to increase drainage, letting some good autumnal air to the roots. We recommend brushing some sand or horticultural grit into the holes you’ve made to prevent them from closing up.

Feed your lawn, and it’ll thank you!

You’re now at the feeding stage. A good winter lawn feed is vital if you want a lawn that will flourish the following year. Purchase yourself a good winter lawn fertilizer that will strengthen the roots of your lawn and get rid of any pesky moss.

Don’t rake live moss! There you’ve been warned. If you do, you’re merely helping to spread their spores all around your garden. Instead, use your winter grass feed and let it do its business, you’ll find that after a few weeks the moss will have turned black – now you can rake it out!

Treating bare patches

It’s pretty natural come autumn/winter that you have one or two bare patches in your lawn. Autumn is the best time to address these patches, and the easiest way to do it is with a good quality patching kit that will consist of compost, seed and fertilizer.

You can do it yourself with a good quality topsoil and grass seed. It’s up to you. Just keep in mind that over seeding can cause weak growth.

Put the kettle on

Probably the most crucial step, put the kettle on, kick back and relax. The only thing left to do is keep an eye on your lawn over the winter months; it may need watering if there’s a period of dry weather. Check out our lawn care calendar to make sure you’re prepared for when the weather gets better.

Just make sure the dog stays off the treated lawn, and perhaps you could put a winter ban on ball games…just a suggestion!

Roll on springtime and a lush, green lawn with no patches! If you find your lawn is beyond repair come the warmer months, you can always have a fresh start with an entirely new lawn. Get in touch today to see how we can help!


How to keep dogs off of your lawn

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on December 4, 2019 at 9:22 am by

Have you ever cleared away the autumn leaves from your garden only to find a nasty substance lurking beneath? Or how about surveying your garden prowess from the kitchen window, and out of the corner of your eye, you catch Fido cocking his leg up, ready to relieve himself against the magnolia.

Let’s face it keeping dogs off your lawn is a difficult task, especially since they seem to take delight in liberally spraying dog wee on your lawn.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of patchy lawns where they’ve liberally urinated. So, what on earth can be done to keep your best buddy away from your beautiful lawn?

Dog rocks for urine

Let’s start by tackling those pesky brown patches. There’s a relatively easy solution for this – introducing dog rocks.

Dogs produce nitrates as a by-product of their diet, and as you’ll probably know, it’s these nitrates that leave those unsightly brown patches all over your lawn. However, place these in your dog’s water bowl, and it’ll lower the nitrates in their wee!

Repellant sprays and powders

There’s plenty of commercial powders or sprays on the market for keeping dogs off your lawn. Most products contain natural ingredients. However, best to check the label before you do purchase.

These products will leave a bitter smell that will cause your dogs to beat a hasty retreat. However, if you’re going to use these, make sure you reapply regularly.

Motion-activated sprinklers

These are designed to water your lawn of course, but they do act as a great animal repellent. Set these up around your lawn or the area your dog gravitates towards, sit back and watch as the motion triggers the sprinkler, and your dog runs off with his tail between his legs. Very effective!

Ultrasonic repellent

These are also motion-activated and easy to set up. Mount these on a tree, your shed or your fence, and it’ll activate when your dog approaches, emitting ultrasonic sound waves. The idea is that these sounds will keep your dog away from wherever you’ve set these strategically placed motion-activated devices.

It’s not as effective as the motion-activated sprinklers we have to admit, and it’s still a bit unclear how these affect your dog long term.

A physical fence

Nothing keeps a dog away from a lush lawn like a good old fence! After all, most dogs like a comfortable life and a physical fence is just too much effort to scale or dig underneath. That said, some dogs can be belligerent, and no matter what you do, they’ll find a way to escape!

P.s – don’t forget to close the gate, or you’ll only have yourself to blame!

So there you have it, some practical solutions for keeping Fido off your lawn. Some will be more successful than others, and we have to admit watching the dog run away from a motion-activated sprinkler is rather funny!

Is your lawn is beyond repair, fear not! Check out our professional lawn laying service to help you start a-fresh.


Grasscycling – Putting your lawn trimmings to good use

Lawn Care Tips | Posted on December 2, 2019 at 9:21 am by

The latest trend in lawn care is grasscycling – basically a way to recycle grass clippings as a natural fertiliser for your lawn, similar to top dressing.

It’s incredibly easy to do. When you mow your lawn, instead of collecting up the grass clippings and throwing them away, just let them form an even layer on the lawn and all those nutrients will find their way back into the soil.

Over time, this is a great way to keep your lawn healthy, as the nutrients taken up out of the soil by the grass as it grows will be returned instead of being taken away locked up in your grass clippings.

With our easy guide to grasscycling below, you can avoid the pitfalls (there aren’t many…) and make the best possible use of your freshly mown grass clippings as a source of free fertiliser.

That means your garden waste bin stays empty for longer, your lawn looks healthier, you save money on fertiliser and you avoid sending trimmed grass to the local landfill site.

Obstacles to grasscycling

There are a few problems with grasscycling – not with the process itself, but in terms of the challenges you might face when trying to mow your lawn in this way.

The first is that many modern lawnmowers automatically collect the grass clippings and bale them up for easy disposal.

If possible, use a lawnmower that drops the cut grass directly back on to the lawn, or one where you can safely disconnect the grass container (your instruction manual should tell you if this is an option or not).

Alternatively, you can redistribute the cut grass over the lawn after you take it out of the mower. This takes a bit more effort but is a good option if you want to target specific parts of the lawn that are in need of extra fertiliser.

You might only want to grasscycle at certain times of year, too. For example if you have kids or pets, you might want to leave the lawn free of clippings in the summer.

Finally if you suffer from hay fever, again you might want to bale up the clippings to avoid aggravating your allergies, and then sprinkle them on the lawn more carefully.

Top tips for grasscycling

If you plan to grasscycle, first make sure your mower is suitable and install a retrofit safety plug if necessary after removing the baling container.

You might find grasscycling more effective if you cut the grass to a slightly longer length so the clippings are shorter and easier to decompose into the ground.

Alternatively if cutting long grass, mow back over the clippings to shred them into smaller pieces that will more easily mulch down.

You can rake off any excess grass clippings and add them to your compost heap or compost bin, or use them as mulch on empty flowerbeds so those nutrients are not lost.

And remember to scarify the lawn regularly – this removes any dead dry grass that has not fully rotted away, so that your lawn’s root system does not become clogged.


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