Garden Care

Watering Tips

February 9, 2019

Plants need a reliable supply of water for germination, growth, flowering and fruiting. Water is essential for the uptake of nutrients from the soil as well as temperature regulation. Although plants have diverse requirements for water, here are some useful general guidelines on watering your plants.

Watering basics

In dry conditions, established plants benefit from thorough and infrequent watering rather than a daily splash.

Plant roots will only grow into moist ground, so if the soil is dry below and damp above, roots will be concentrated around the surface. Occasional heavy watering encourages plant roots to grow downwards where there is a more reliable water supply and source of nutrients.

Unless you have a natural spring or stream in your garden, the best source of water is the mains.

Before watering lime-hating plants though, check whether your mains supply contains lime.

Rain barrels can be used for watering plants growing in the ground but never for containerised plants. This is because phytopthera fungi, often present, can infect and kill such in confined conditions.

Assess water requirements

Learn how to identify whether your plants need watering.

For plants in containers, you can judge by the weight of the container or by pushing your finger inside the pot to assess the dryness of the soil.

In the garden, the best time to water is in the evening. Water the soil underneath the leaf canopy, not the leaves, and mound the soil to make a basin shape for better drainage.

Top priority should be given to newly-planted specimens. With bedding plants inserted directly from cells or pots, keep the soil moist for one month after planting.

Trees and shrubs planted from containers will need watering for longer – they will need this extra watering for up to a year after planting to make sure they are established.

If a plant is wilting or the leaves look dull or rolled up, it needs watering immediately. The best technique is to shade the plant and spray the foliage with clear water. Then drench the soil and allow the surplus to drain away.

Vegetables grown for their leaves – such as lettuce and spinach – should be kept consistently moist. Others grown for their seeds – such as peas and beans – should not be watered before flowering as this will encourage leafy growth and few flowers.

Watering when in flower results in the production of more and juicier vegetables. If water is in short supply, your potato crop can be increased by a heavy watering about ten days before harvest.

Effective watering

To reduce the need to water, dig in organic material when planting and apply a 50-75mm (2-3in) layer of mulch.

Newly planted and young seedlings should receive a fine mist from a hosepipe spray attachment or a fine rose from a watering can to avoid disturbing the roots. The tougher or older the plant, the more vigorous the watering can be.

Sprinklers are useful for large areas of the garden but remember that watering bare soil will result in the growth of more weeds. It is a good idea to leave a few straight-sided containers on the ground to catch the water and give an idea of how much has been applied. A 25mm (1in) depth would normally be sufficient for each watering.

When you’re away

If you’re going on holiday, you can leave your houseplants with a reservoir of water by placing them on the draining board on capillary matting that trails into a sinkful of water.

Pruning Tips

February 9, 2019

Pruning is one of the most misunderstood and feared subjects in gardening. In practice, though, there is little to worry about. Few plants will be killed by cutting bits off – it’s more likely they will grow even stronger. Here’s how to go about it.

You will need:

  • Secateurs
  • Long-handled pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Leather gardening gloves
  • Methylated spirits

Step 1: Remove diseased and damaged wood

It’s not essential to remove dead branches but it can make plants look better and encourages plants to redirect growth into new vigorous shoots which will flower better. If caused by disease, however, cut out completely to live healthy wood lower down the plant.

Prune as illustrated, just above a healthy bud.

Tip: Clean blades with methylated spirits between plants to avoid spreading disease.

Step 2: Remove unwanted growth

If blocking a view or path, unwanted growths can be cut back to a main stem.

For thick growth, the technique is as illustrated. Make a small upwards cut about 30cm (1in) from the main stem, then a downward cut to remove the weight of the branch to avoid tearing the bark. Lastly, make a single tidying-up cut leaving a small stump about 12mm (1/2in) from the main stem – no closer.

A mass of thin shoots congesting the centre of plants can reduce air circulation and encourage mildew, so on susceptible plants remove all weak and inwards crossing growths, leaving an open centre.

Suckers can grow after root damage to grafted plants. To remove, scrape away soil down to where they join the root and pull off. Cutting may encourage further growth.

Sometimes variegated plants have plain green shoots. Cut out completely or they may take over the plant.

Tip: If you have a plant growing lopsided, trim back the weak side only, reducing all shoots by about half and completely removing thin and weak branches.

Step 3: Use the correct tools and techniques

For stems up to 12mm (1/2in) diameter, use secateurs. Up to about 37mm (1 1/2in), use long handled loppers. Use a pruning saw for thicker stems.

Long-handled pruners can be used when branches are out of reach – it’s safer than using a ladder!

Tip: When pruning fruit trees do not touch the cut surface with your hands or you will leave a deposit from your skin which will enable invading organisms to take hold. Leave the cut clean and open to the air so that natural healing processes can take place.

February 7, 2019

Hard to say which is the best lawn mower for your garden because there are so many variables, but the good news in this post we will go through all of the options and scenarios to workout what will be the best for you. Lawn mowers come in all shapes and sizes with difference price tags to go. They start from a small number such as £30 for the very cheapest push mower with no engine up to thousands and thousands for the latest ride on mowers. Most people are not looking for either end of the spectrum but somewhere just around the middle where functionality meets price at the sweet spot. So without further adieu lets get going on all of the case studies.

My garden is a typical 3 bed semi size, what lawn mower do I need?

It's pretty reasonable to expect that you'll need a lawn mower right on the middle of the price point. Most owners of three bed semis normally have a reasonable size garden of around 400m2. This is far too much to achieve with a little push mower but at the same time a ride on would be ridiculous. For a start, you probably won't even fit it through your small gate. The best value for this type of home owner is a small electric or petrol lawn mower. You can normally pickup a Flymo or similar for around £100 or less and a reasonable quality petrol mower for about double that. This will mean that you can cut your lawn in a sensible time without having hassle or difficulties in making the mower come in and out of the garden.

I have a mansion with two acres and I'm considering a ride on lawn mower

If you have a large garden and you're looking for a ride on lawn mower then it might make sense despite the huge cost involved. There are a lot of benefits to a ride on lawn mower.  They are extremely easy to use and actually quite fun. They also come with collection boxes so you don't even need to get off of your ride on lawn mower to pick up the grass after. They are not too expensive to run. The most expensive part of owning a ride on lawn mower is the maintenance the fuel itself is actually not too bad. You can cover a really large surface area are in a really short space of time on  a ride on lawn mower.

One of the most annoying things about ride-on lawn mowers is that you need to change the battery sometimes.  apart from that is super cool. Save you a huge amount of time despite the price tag that really worth it

I have a tiny little back garden, what lawn mower should I buy?

If you have a really small back garden the best lawn mower that you can buy would be a small push mower or perhaps even a very very small electric lawn mower. There's just no point in investing in an expensive lawn mower.  You're probably better off just to buy a small push mower.

to conclude the best lawn mower is always going to be about how big or small your garden is. There's not really a set rule, it's more about what you're prepared to spend and how comfortable you'd like to be.  Personally, I really like a ride-on mower but it's just not appropriate for my small garden so I just have a petrol version instead.

Let me know below how it's benefited you buying your lawn mower. I'd love to hear from you  sometimes we can exchange some ideas as to the best lawn mower for each case study and scenario.