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Lawn Care and Garden Safety  

                                      April 2010


A brief guide to new lawns, lawn maintenance and garden safety

New lawns

LawnThere is nothing finer than a well maintained lawn to complement the borders and trees in a garden. A top quality lawn will be composed of grasses called bents and fescues and will need close and regular mowing to keep weeds out. A harder wearing lawn suitable for family use is composed of fewer bents and fescues but has extra meadow grasses and ryegrass, which are coarser and harder wearing.

Lawns can be laid as turf, which will give an instant lawn, or by seed, which is cheaper but entails waiting for up to one year for a lawn that can be used by the family.

Seeding or turfing is best done in Spring or early Autumn. For methods of preparing the site and laying turf or sowing seed, look in your gardening book, or pick up a 'How to' leaflet from your nearest DIY store.

Whether turfing or seeding the lawn, you will need to thoroughly prepare the site by first levelling the ground. Make sure the land drains freely and add further topsoil if the condition of the earth is poor. Finally a sprinkling of Growmore fertilizer will aid the rooting process if you are laying turf.

For turf, measure the intended lawn area, adding an extra metre or so, to cover awkward shapes or errors. *Examine the turf for freshness before it is off-loaded, and lay as soon as possible according to the method in your gardening book. Or get a reputable landscape gardener to do the job for you.

*If the turf is delivered to your house yellowed and dry, refuse delivery, as it will not take root.

For seed, ensure the seedbed is level, firm and raked over, and any large stones removed. Choose a dry, mild, windless day for sowing, and lightly rake the seed after sowing. If no rain has fallen within 24 hours the area should be watered thoroughly but gently. If you are troubled by birds eating the seed, set some canes into the soil and attach tin foil strips that will flap in the wind.

Immediate aftercare for both turfed and seeded lawns entails ensuring that the area doesn`t dry out and keeping weeds at bay.

Lawn maintenance

Lawns form a restful and complementary contrast for your borders and a well maintained lawn is a delight to see. A regular regime of maintenance as follows is needed to keep your grass looking good all year round:

  • In Spring and Autumn apply feed containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potash to replenish minerals lost by continual cutting and clearing grass away.
  • In Spring remove moss and thatch, preferably with an electric lawn rake.
  • Mow lawns regularly with at least a weekly cut in summer.
  • Control weeds with a spot weeder for lawns that will eliminate unsightly weeds.
  • Keep neat edges that will set off the lawn and give a professional finish.
  • If you have a female dog train her to use a gravelled part of the garden for a toilet, as her urine would burn brown patches into the lawn. It is also more hygienic confined to just one part of the garden.
  • Keep the lawn moist in drought conditions, but don`t worry if you can't water, it will recover when the rain starts.
  • Repair any bumps, hollows and bald patches as they appear. (Refer to your gardening book for instructions.)
  • Worms may make unsightly worm casts in winter, but they are the gardener`s best friends. In the Spring just brush the casts away with a rake or stiff brush.
  • Mole infestation requires patience and the help of a mole trap or other device. Get advice from your local council if you have a real problem.



Safety in the garden


lawn tractor

Safety in the garden is something we often neglect, but according to reports, a large percentage of accidents happen in the garden in the summer, with items such as lawn mowers and hedge trimmers causing the most injuries. So I have compiled a check list of items to check out before the gardening season fully arrives..


Electrical equipment

  • Electrical equipment, including the cables and extension leads should be checked and inspected before each use.
  • Don't attempt repairs yourself, unless you are a qualified electrician.
  • An RCD (Residual Current Detector) device should be fitted for outside appliances to be plugged into. These sense electrical leakage or failure and shut down the power to avoid electrical shocks.
  • Keep all electrical equipment away from wet areas, children and pets.
  • Take care that you know where or if there are any buried electric cables, when digging.

Garden tools

  • Garden tools can be dangerous if left lying around so take care to tidy up after yourself.
  • Make sure that hand tools are kept in good condition and replace any that aren`t.
  • Never leave a petrol mower running unattended and make sure you wear appropriate safety items such as goggles or ear defenders if advised.
  • Wear sensible footwear at all times in the garden.

Chemicals and petrol

  • Chemicals and petrol should be kept under lock and key in a cool, dry place.
  • Make sure that children and animals cannot inadvertently get access to them.
  • Make sure that substances are within the use by date and dispose of them according to the label.

The garden

  • The garden should be free of sharp objects, slippery paths covered in moss, and uneven or unstable surfaces.
  • Make sure that all the structures and boundaries in the garden are in good repair.
  • greenhouseKeep a first aid kit in the house in case of injury.
  • Wear gloves when gardening to protect hands from cuts and disease.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • If you have children or animals in the garden be aware that some plants may be poisonous.
  • Make sure gates and boundaries are secured to keep children and animals confined.
  • Ensure that garden toys are safe and in good repair.
  • Always cover ponds or water butts with substantial covers if there are children or pets around.
  • Lift heavy objects in the correct manner. Your first aid book will tell you how to do this.





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Amazon book - Gardens of the National Trust. When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership..

Volunteering with the National Trust

Volunteers are active in all parts of the National Trust, from the new central office in Swindon to the summits of Snowdonia and Divis Mountain near Belfast.

View their latest opportunities, or find out more about the kind of roles and different places you can volunteer:

Still with the National Trust, some of the most visited National Trust properties are now holding regular farmers' and food markets.  Click here for details  and dates.



RHS gardens


Their four flagship gardens not only provide year-round interest and offer a wide range of courses, talks and demonstrations, they also demonstrate the best gardening practices, new techniques and exciting new plants to try in your garden.

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-

Do you take advantage of the DEFRA website for information? I find it a valuable source of information, for up to date legislation, countryside matters and useful information such as plant pests and diseases, which saves me ploughing through all my gardening books, with the knowledge that their information is bang up to date...


Thompson & Morgan LogoThompson & Morgan 


Visit where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line.  Have a look to see what is new, and special seasonal offers


Some places to visit... 



The Eden Project


The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival.


Kew Gardens two locations:-

Tel: 020 8332 5655 (24 hr)
Fax: 020 8332 5197

Royal Botanic Gardens

Tel: 01444 894066 (24 hr)
Fax: 01444 894069

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Nr Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6TN


The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland comprise:

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland's Premier Garden

Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Argyll's Magnificent Mountainside Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Wonderful Woodland Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Scotland's Most Exotic Garden

The National Botanic Garden of WalesThe National Botanic Garden of Wales

The star attraction here is the 91 metre long domed glasshouse, that houses landscapes normally found in the Mediterranean. This would be a super place to visit on a chilly day...




Some websites of interest to gardeners:-


Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people. 



Useful reading:-


"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced £5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is £6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website

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