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Planning Retirement Online


Laterlife Gardening Review

  by Rosemary Martin

Each month I review a particular aspect of gardening, including new plants and products and where to buy them. Gardening is a vast subject and as far as possible the subjects covered will be seasonal.

Please e-mail me (Rosemary) with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife

 

As well as the spotlight topic below, take a look at the Gardener's Diary, if you haven't already done so. It includes all those jobs in the garden for April.

 

April - 2002

New lawns and lawn maintenance

 

New lawns

There is nothing finer than a well maintained lawn to compliment 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 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 leaflet from your nearest B & Q 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 as I wrote in my January column, 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 turfs for freshness before they are 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 arrives 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 - with tin foil strips attached that flap in the wind - into the soil. 

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 complimentary contrast to 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 that will eliminate unsightly weeds.

  • Keep neat edges that will set off the lawn and give a professional finish.

  • If you have a girl dog like I have, 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, 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

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. 

  • Keep 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 netting 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. 

Next month I will be spotlighting Ponds and bedding plants.

 

Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary

                              

 

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