If you have pets in the house, a pet-friendly garden is a great way to let them safely play outdoors, get some fresh air, and stretch those furry little legs.
Your own garden should be a place of safety for your pets, and luckily it’s not too difficult to ensure this is the case, by creating a pet-friendly lawn and garden, and removing some of the risks that are often overlooked.
Here are six tips for protecting your pets from your lawn – and your lawn from your pets!
First and foremost, keep your pet’s safety in mind when making decisions about your lawn and garden. Pesticides and weedkillers can be harmful to pets, so check the labels and instructions, and make sure you use the recommended quantities in the correct way.
If you can’t tell which product will be safest for your pets, its best to choose the most organic option, or even better to make your own at home. Our latest blog has several pet-friendly tips for weed prevention and management.
Protect against harmful wildlife and you can let your pet outside with more confidence. Slugs are an ever-present threat in many gardens and can pass on lungworm to dogs.
Use a pet-friendly slug repellent to control your garden’s slug population. Remember, slugs are more active at night and in wet weather, so be more careful if letting your dog out in winter or after dark.
Different plants can be toxic or otherwise harmful to different animals. This includes some very innocuous-sounding plants, such as tea tree, which can have severe health repercussions for cats.
If your pet is going to be roaming outside on their own, double check before planting anything new and weigh up the risks of having certain flowers, shrubs or trees in your garden.
Your pet’s urine and faeces can be damaging to plants, especially grass, so if you’ve gone to the trouble of laying a pristine new turf lawn, try to make sure you don’t end up with yellow patches.
Encourage your pets to do their business somewhere other than the lawn. It’s not impossible to change their toilet habits and you can then get stuck into your own business of repairing any areas of dead or damaged grass.
If you’re really at your wits end, there are also several pet-safe ways to keep dogs off the grass altogether.
Don’t assume your pet will come back inside if they feel hot on a sunny day. It’s often more instinctive for animals to dig to uncover some cool earth and create their own shady area.
That’s not ideal if they decide the middle of your lawn is the perfect place. Try to make sure there’s plenty of shade to choose from, with fresh cool water to drink, and you can dissuade your pet from digging a trench into your grass.
If your lawn’s showing signs of pet-related wear and tear, follow our instructions to reseed in areas of minor damage, and your grass should grow back in without too much trouble.
We believe lawns are made to be used, which is why our Gold Standard Turf is grown to be both resilient and low-maintenance.
Carbutts Turf is perfect for those with busy lifestyles, who don’t have time for regular mowing and maintaining, and it recovers quickly from light foot traffic – including that of children and pets.
The warmer temperatures, longer hours of sunlight and occasional showers we get in the spring months are the perfect growing conditions for unwelcome weeds in driveways, patios, lawns and flowerbeds.
Keeping weeds at bay in springtime is a matter of prevention, cure, and proactive preparation for the seasons to come.
Here are some top tips to tackle weeds this spring across your lawn, beds and borders, and any paved parts of your outside space.
As grass starts to grow faster in the warmer months, you can mow the lawn more frequently, which cuts down any weeds and stops them from producing seeds.
Over time, this should reduce the number of weeds growing back in your lawn – a great long-term solution and a good way to keep a new turf lawn free from weeds too.
If mowing as a deterrent against weeds, make sure you have your clippings container attached to your mower, rather than letting the cut grass land on the lawn – this will help to catch and remove any weeds you’ve clipped.
Light mowing in early spring spurs the grass back into life after a dormant winter and can actually help to promote healthy growth, to keep your lawn looking lush throughout the summer.
If weeds are a common problem for your lawn, you may also want to think about reseeding to repair any over-weeded patches.
Adding a layer of mulch to your soil reduces the amount of sunlight that penetrates the surface, which in turn suppresses weed growth, and springtime is the perfect time to mulch your soil.
Mulch is often made of organic matter, such as old leaves or wood chips, and as these rot down they can add nutrients to the soil to feed the plants you do want to grow there. If your lawn mower has a detachable grass container, you can even use the clippings collected when lawn mowing in a process called grasscycling.
Non-biodegradable mulches such as slate chips, shingle and gravel also work to block the light, and can add a desirable aesthetic effect around the base of shrubs.
If you don’t mind a bit of elbow grease, a wire weeding brush is a cheap and handy accessory for tackling weeds that have taken root in nooks and crannies.
The stiff wire bristles can get into cracks between paving slabs or bricks, and with a quick scrub you can dislodge the weed right down to its roots.
Long handled weeding brushes give you even more leverage and are a handy solution if you have difficulty getting down to ground level, or you just don’t want to get dirty knees on your freshly washed jeans!
On hard surfaces where you can’t use a mower, a freshly boiled kettle can be incredibly useful to penetrate cracks and kill off weeds, roots and dormant seeds.
Remember, this is a fairly intense solution – don’t use it on surfaces that might be damaged by the hot water, in areas where you have plants you want to keep alive, or in places where you have ants and other insects you’d rather not harm.
If you’re confident there’s no damage to be done, then pouring a kettle of boiling water on weeds can be surprisingly satisfying, as well as one of the least-effort solutions for a weed-free driveway.
A spoonful of baking soda helps the weeding go down – sprinkle it directly on to the leaves of individual weeds and it will act as a phytotoxin, drawing moisture out of the plant and increasing the sodium level by an unsurvivable amount.
You can apply one teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate to each weed, covering all of its foliage and concentrating on the stem and base.
Springtime is a good time of year to do this, because the occasional showers will leave weeds damp so the bicarbonate of soda sticks to them, and the rainfall should also wash away any remaining baking soda periodically, so it does not harm nearby desirable plants.
Baking soda is particularly useful on hard surfaces like patios, as you can sprinkle it into the cracks to suppress weeds as a medium-term solution. Avoid leaving it sprinkled on your paving slabs though, or you may get a white cloud-like discolouration the next time it rains.
White vinegar can also work well – spray it on to the weeds to be killed, taking care to protect your eyes and skin, and don’t breathe in the vapour.
If you’re lawn is already weed-infested, or patchy from over-weeding, you might like to consider laying new turf. Our gold standard turf always comes healthy and weed-free.
By using these simple methods and natural ingredients, you can stem the tide of weeds growing in your garden, for a lush green lawn of pure springy grass, as well as tidy flowerbeds and greenery-free patios this spring, summer and beyond!
The winter months don’t have to mean saying goodbye to your garden – in fact from late autumn through to the warmer days of spring, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your outdoor space.
At the same time, you can take care of pruning, maintenance and other winter garden tasks that will hopefully have everything in good condition well into the new year.
Laying turf in winter is not as problematic as you might imagine. The only times you really can’t lay turf are when the soil is frozen, frosty or very wet.
During mild winters or prolonged dry spells, it’s likely the ground will be in fine condition for laying a new lawn – so why wait until spring?
As always, prepare the soil with plenty of fertiliser and aerate it before laying your turf, then gently tamp the turf down to a level lawn and water it well.
For a resilient, low-maintenance turf that will do well in winter, try our Gold Standard Turf.
Once your new turf lawn is laid, it actually needs less care and attention during winter, as it won’t dry out as fast or as often.
Check daily and water when the soil appears to have dried out. This is especially likely during dry windy spells of weather, which will encourage moisture to evaporate.
You shouldn’t need to mow your lawn until winter ends, so you can focus on giving it the right amount of water to put down roots, and should avoid walking on it on the coldest days when the individual blades of grass are frozen.
See our lawn care calendar for a year-round guide to protecting your turf.
There are a few different ways to cover flowerbeds for frost protection and other purposes, and to help any spring-flowering bulbs you planted in the autumn months.
Once you’ve removed any dead growth from the end of summer, you can add a layer of compost to help fertilise your topsoil and provide those bulbs with nutrients.
But insulating layers like hay or leaves should not be added until the weather gets cold, to avoid your flowerbeds becoming home to mice and other unwelcome visitors.
The counterpoint to the above is wildlife like hedgehogs, which also need somewhere cosy to hibernate during winter. An undisturbed heap of leaves in a quiet corner of your garden is the perfect place.
You can also hang birdfeeders or, if you already have them up, fill them with winter foods like fat balls and suet pellets, which will help the birds to stay warm along with the usual nuts and seeds.
It’s a good idea to have some fresh, unfrozen water in your garden for all kinds of wildlife, so remember to check and replace this if it freezes solid in a cold snap.
There are plenty more tasks to take care of, such as checking wooden structures like fences, sheds and picnic tables for rot and wind damage.
But one that’s easy to overlook is protecting pots and planters against cold weather. Planters that cannot be moved should be covered with fleece or even old carpet, to insulate against freezing temperatures.
Terracotta pots that can be moved should be placed indoors in a shed, greenhouse or even inside your house, so if temperatures drop below zero outside, they will not crack due to the freeze-thaw effect or expansion of the soil in the pot.
An eco-friendly lawn makes a great centrepiece for any garden and grass has plenty of benefits in terms of drainage, carbon capture and all-around sustainability – so its sensible to adopt sustainable lawn care methods too.
Those looking to invest a little more can lower carbon emissions with a robot lawn mower, but there are also plenty of ways to keep your lawn looking great using natural fertilisers and resources recovered from the environment.
The top tips below should give you an introductory sustainable lawn care guide to help you get started with an environmentally friendly lawn.
If excessive fertilising over the years has left your soil imbalanced, there are several ways to get it back under control.
The fastest but most difficult is to remove several inches of topsoil and replace it with fresh, good-quality soil free from excess chemical fertilisers.
Alternatively, if you have the time, you can plant mustard which is known for drawing large quantities of nutrients from the ground, and can work well as an eco-friendly one-year ‘reset’ button for your soil.
Of course if you’re laying a new turf lawn, this is the perfect time to remove some topsoil, making it an opportunity to tackle your soil fertility at the same time.
Again, there are several natural lawn fertilisers if you want to keep your grass lush and green, without using artificial chemicals.
Just some of the best natural lawn fertilisers include:
Also called ‘compost tea’, this is the richly fertile fluid that drains from the bottom of a compost bin.
Some bins drain this liquid out automatically but some retain it, allowing you to release it via a tap and use it on your lawn or flowerbeds.
If your garden has a pond, don’t waste the nitrogen-rich algae you skim from the surface or extract from your filter box.
Algae can be composted to recover those valuable nutrients, or if you have exposed soil for a future lawn or flowerbed, you can dig the algae into it as an instant fertiliser.
Your lawn is one of its own best fertilisers, so don’t make the mistake of removing your grass clippings or dumping them in your garden waste bin.
Try ‘grasscycling‘ instead; leave the cut grass where it falls to naturally mulch back down into the soil, or put your clippings in your compost bin to rot down separately.
Lawns cope well with hot weather – even if they turn brown, they’ll usually be back to green when the rains come – but there are eco-friendly ways to water them.
Keep a rainwater butt somewhere in your garden and you’ll have an easy source of water for your lawn and flowerbeds, without any of the chemicals that are in tap water.
The water pressure of a full butt alone could be enough to power a hose or irrigation pipe, or you can use a watering can for targeted coverage.
With just these few simple steps, you can create a sustainable lawn care routine that’s easy to start, easy to follow, and costs practically nothing over the long term.
Whether you love it or hate it, gardening is something we all must do to keep our outdoor space looking clean and tidy.
It’s also an example of when ‘little and often’ can help to keep on top of things, rather than allowing your garden to grow wild and woolly before you take the shears to your urban jungle.
To avoid facing a forest of weeds when you open your door, here are some simple steps you can take on a regular basis to give yourself the easiest garden care schedule possible.
As a garden turf supplier, we’ve seen some poorly treated lawns over the years, so get some fresh turf delivered and laid, and commit to keeping the grass trimmed more regularly.
This doesn’t have to be every week, and you don’t have to cut it too short – in fact, slightly longer grass can look greener and healthier.
Let your grass tell you when it needs a trim, and try to mow it during dry but not too sunny weather, to give it the best chance to bounce back.
Make it a habit to pull up any weeds you spot as you walk around your garden, rather than waiting to spend your weekend trying to pluck them all at once.
This nips them in the bud much sooner, preventing their root systems from becoming well established, and should leave less gaps in your grass too.
Pay special attention to baby trees, as you ideally need to remove these as soon as you can, before they put down roots.
If you’re looking for more information about reseeding a weed-infested or patchy lawn, see our blog.
Once a week, give your garden a walkover and remove any small twigs, leaves and other debris that has landed on the wind.
You can sweep hard surfaces in a matter of minutes, and gently rake your lawn to collect debris together and make it easier to pick up.
On rainy days your plants should be fine, but on hot sunny days it’s sensible to give them something to drink.
Realistically with the British summer weather, you’re only likely to need to do this a couple of times in any given week, so just keep an eye on the weather and the time of year.
A hose is a good addition to larger gardens, as it’s much easier to water flowerbeds, pots and planters, as well as to give your grass a quick soak as evening falls.
Finally, your garden is not just your grass and plants, but also includes outdoor furniture, benches, sheds and so on.
Make it routine to give them a quick check – at least once a month, if not once a week – and if you spot signs of wear and tear or weather damage, fix them as soon as you can.
This all helps to keep your garden structures protected all year round, so the harshest elements of winter can’t cause as much damage during the coldest months.
A freshly laid turf lawn looks great to you and me, but for birds and wildlife it can look like an invitation to dinner or a place to set up home.
Carbutts Gold Standard Turf is designed to withstand a reasonable amount of wear and tear, and that includes the impact of garden creatures.
But there are some steps you can take to look after your lawn in a way that protects it against the more severe effects of wildlife passing through.
It’s important to give natural wildlife somewhere to live and you can do this by attracting wildlife to your garden but you also don’t want your new turf lawn to be completely colonised, especially by any kind of biting insect.
Several natural oils and plants have been linked with repelling different creatures – and some of them you can grow in your flowerbeds.
Check if a substance is harmful to grass (e.g. vinegar) and, if it is, make sure you only apply it to surrounding areas like walls, fences and patios.
The wildlife itself can help too, so if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where hedgehogs prowl, you might want to make your garden as hedgehog-friendly as possible, as they will feast on slugs and insects and help to protect your grass and plants as a result.
You might welcome wildlife but still want to keep your lawn free from weeds, and again there are safe ways to do this.
Mass-market weedkillers like Miracle-Gro EverGreen Complete 4 in 1 are safe for pets once the grass has fully dried out after application.
Or if you enjoy spending time working in the garden, you could adopt a policy of pulling weeds out manually – be sure to remove them by the root and any small gaps left behind in your grass should quickly fill back in with healthy growth.
Regular lawn care will help keep your grass healthy and reduce weed growth:
Scarifying removes the dead ‘thatch’ from around the base of your grass shoots, and can help to control unwanted growth like moss and weeds that can choke your grass.
Finally, why not welcome the wildlife into your garden, but with a dedicated area for birds, insects and small garden mammals?
Hang birdhouses and insect hotels, put out food like nuts, seeds and fat balls, add a water feature for drinking and bathing, and plenty of ground-level growth to shelter in.
Always check carefully before using power tools like lawnmowers, strimmers and hedge trimmers, as it’s sometimes hard to tell when a hedgehog is hiding or a bird is nesting.
Ultimately, our gardens are home to all kinds of wildlife – much of which is beneficial for your lawn, or at least is not harmful – so a ‘live and let live’ attitude can have its benefits in the long run.
For further information on Carbutts’ turf, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 still 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 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.