Monthly Archives: March 2015

Vegetation vendetta

Woman mulching a shady border with Composted Green Waste - © GAP Photos

Woman mulching a shady border with Composted Green Waste – © GAP Photos

Weeds – they have to be one of the ultimate banes of gardeners’ lives. You till the soil, creating a beautiful blank canvas for your chosen planting scheme, and then these thuggish brutes come along to spoil the party. It’s the ultimate insult to your motivation. The answer? To make it quite clear to them that they’re not welcome before they get their feet under the table.

Prevention is far better than cure

Don’t fancy getting down on your hands and knees to scrabble around on the ground pulling up entangled weeds? Neither do we so here’s the secret to their successful control. Hoe, smother, suppress and prevent seeding. Follow those mantras and you’ll be gazing on pristine borders all summer, rather than a horticultural mosh pit.

Perennial weeds such as dandelions should be gently teased out of lawns as soon as they appear, taking care to remove the long root - ©  Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Perennial weeds such as dandelions should be gently teased out of lawns as soon as they appear, taking care to remove the long root – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

If you’ve a small group of tap-rooted weeds such as dandelions to blitz, you can gently ease them out of the soil using a weed grubber. Deeper-rooted persistent weeds such as ground elder can be dug out using a fork.

Hoeing between rows of carrots - © FhF Greenmedia/GAP Photos

Hoeing between rows of carrots – © FhF Greenmedia/GAP Photos

Hoeing is an easy way to keep on top of weeds, well before they begin taking a hold. Hoe on sunny days with a light breeze, so the severed plants quickly wither up. Repeat this once every fortnight throughout summer.

Alchemilla mollis growing in paved terrace - © Mark Bolton/GAP Photos

Alchemilla mollis growing in paved terrace – © Mark Bolton/GAP Photos

Many weeds are successful because they self-seed copiously. This alchemilla has really taken hold between the paving. Avoid using such plants, or deadhead them before they have a chance to set seeds.

Spot treating lawn weeds with ready to use weed killer trigger spray - © Rice/Buckland/GAP Photos

Spot treating lawn weeds with ready to use weed killer trigger spray – © Rice/Buckland/GAP Photos

Herbicides can be useful where you have a large, neglected area to reclaim. Use contact types to scorch off large carpets of annual weeds, or systemic formulations to kill persistent deep-rooted types such as bindweed. Lawn weeds can be spot-treated, too.

Soleirolii, Hedera between terracotta tile stepping stones - © Maxine Adcock/GAP Photos

Soleirolii, Hedera between terracotta tile stepping stones – © Maxine Adcock/GAP Photos

It pays to adjust your perception of ‘weeds’, too. This soleirolii looks very much at home growing between the paving slabs, so why try to dig it up? Many plants would struggle in damp shade, whereas this interloper is thriving.

Stick ‘em up

Staking perennial plants with cat's cradle of string and sticks - ©Jonathan Buckley/GAP Photos, Design: Helen Yemm

Staking perennial plants with cat’s cradle of string and sticks – ©Jonathan Buckley/GAP Photos, Design: Helen Yemm

At a time when new shoots are pushing through the earth, you could be forgiven for thinking that gardening in spring is a spectator sport. Far from it. Yes, Mother Nature knows exactly what she’s doing time-wise, but because we’ve interfered by breeding gravity-defying plants with bigger, showier top-heavy blooms, it’s essential that we intervene to prevent an almighty flop come summer. Delay till later in the year, and while fighting and snapping among the tangle of stems, you’ll regret it.

Staking herbaceous perennials is a bit of an art. Randomly dotted bamboo canes and haphazardly tied emergency twine can look a bit of an eyesore, so how about refining things a little? Peasticks are ideal supporting partners – birch and hazel are traditional sources but any twiggy, pliable stems will do. Push them into the soil surrounding weak-stemmed show-stoppers such as centaurea and scabious, arching them inwards to form a cage. Foliage will quickly hide the sticks, but they can look rather attractive in their own right, in our view. Wire cages are also handy for clump-forming sizeable bloomers. Herbaceous peonies, for example, often develop gargantuan flowers that struggle to support themselves, especially when weighed down with rain. Autumn asters are another lofty group that benefit from mesh cages. Push them over the clumps so that you can raise them up as the shoots grow. Bamboo canes do have their place, of course – they’re especially handy for single, top-heavy stems such as dahlias and delphiniums. Just make a tidy job of it.

Getting your garden ready for spring by Timco Wood

Spring is finally upon us and for some gardeners that can be something that is met with dread rather than joy. But there is no need to simply peel back the curtains and hope that winter has been kind to your garden, instead throw them open and embrace the spring as these tips will get your garden ready in no time.

Remember those tools? Time to take a look

Secateur maintenance. Materials needed - © GAP Photos

Secateur maintenance. Materials needed – © GAP Photos

This should always be the first step when you get back into the garden after a period of time away from it. However it is often one which is overlooked. By checking your tools and ensuring that blades are sharp, trowels are clean etc. you actually save yourself a lot of extra work by making jobs like cutting easier and reducing the possibility of plant disease spreading via your tools.

Have wood in your garden? Fencing and decking needs your attention

Constructing a circular deck - close up of end of decking - © Clive Nichols/GAP Photos

Constructing a circular deck – close up of end of decking – © Clive Nichols/GAP Photos

Wood rots when damp. It is an undeniable fact and there is plenty of wood in the garden. Start with fences and examine posts as well as the panels themselves. If a post has gone rotten over the winter wait for the weather to become dry before replacing it or the same issue will occur.

If you have decking, the same principle applies – check both the boards on top and the framework below. It is often possible to save decking by replacing affected patches rather than worry about the whole lot. Or consider composite decking or fencing which doesn’t rot and will save you the hassle of replacing and recoating.

Don’t forget other wooden items in the garden too such as birdfeeders which should be replaced right away if rotten to ensure birds and animals come returning to your garden soon.

How is your garden doing? Let’s see

Cutting back dead Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' to ground level - © GAP Photos

Cutting back dead Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ to ground level – © GAP Photos

Next is to check your garden – keeping an eye out for anything amiss. The most common post-winter plant issues are weeds and dead perennials. Deal with the perennials first, weeds afterwards. Any perennials left out over the winter are more than likely to be found dead so. The first plant-based job then is to remove any of the dead ones, including leaves, fallen branches and the like and stick them on the compost heap. It is definitely worthwhile to ‘turnover’ your compost heap to ensure that the well composted mulch on the bottom is used first.

Anything unsightly popping up? Weed out the weeds

Taraxacum officinale - Dandelion seedhead in woodland. Keukenhof, Holland - © Mark Bolton/GAP Photos

Taraxacum officinale – Dandelion seedhead in woodland. Keukenhof, Holland – © Mark Bolton/GAP Photos

After dead plants are cleared and before your lawn is touched now it is time for the weeds. Some people make the mistake of seeing a weed and diving right after it, but post-winter it is wiser to check how bad it is. One or two weeds does not mean a full infestation. So consider how bad things really are before attacking the top soil.

Ready for the final push? Rake and Prune

Man pruning pear tree in late winter - © Robert Mabic/GAP Photos

Man pruning pear tree in late winter – © Robert Mabic/GAP Photos

After taking care of those steps which are often forgotten you can get back to the joys of gardening. Rake the topsoil to add air to it – or add coffee beans for extra nitrogen and also act as a slug deterrent. Prune trees and bushes, transfer any plants you want early on in the season so they have longer to thrive, add stakes to new plants to support…the list does go on but at least you are back to the fun part of gardening after getting everything ready post winter.

So there you have it – tips for getting your garden ready again after the long winter and to ensure that the ground work is prepared for the rest of the year so it can be enjoyed to the full.

Timco Wood

Timco Wood

Timco Wood

Timco Wood is a UK based company which produces environmentally friendly composite wood products that are FSC® certified and fully recyclable. The range includes decking, fencing and cladding to provide durable and sustainable additions to any garden area.

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