Protecting Patio Furniture and Garden Equipment Over Winter – Stop Rain, Wind & Snow Damage

As we know in the UK, rain is a regular occurrence. It can damage gardens, houses and of course soak through and cause problems with outside furniture. Patio tables and chairs are often constructed from wood, metal and similar materials and must not be left out in harsh weather; furniture can easily rust, be damaged by the wind and become brittle and weak.

Covering Furniture Outdoors

The easiest way is to store all your furniture together; find an area that is most protected from the weather in your garden. Stack the items neatly and make sure everything is secure. You may wish to tie the items together to keep them stable and stop any loose items from blowing away. You will need to purchase a strong tarpaulin (if you don’t already have one); ideally it will be at least 200gsm. Make sure the sheet you buy has eyelets around the outside and is UV stabilised. Cover your furniture completely and use a length of bungee to tie the tarpaulin around the bottom. Loop the cord through the eyelets and tie up to keep it tight and secure at the bottom. Make sure there is a substantial run-off for water and your items should be protected all winter through rain, wind or snow!

Quick & Easy Guide to Protecting Your Young Small Trees from Wind & Bad Weather

Strong winds and heavy weather will be hitting the UK over the autumn, winter and some of the spring; it is important that you protect your garden fully. In this post we will focus on small or young trees as they are one of the most vulnerable items when it comes to bad weather. Snow, rain and especially wind can cause permanent damage.

Here are a few ways to prepare for the months ahead –

  • You may have seen young trees being held up by stakes and perhaps metal poles. We believe the best way to implement this is to put a stake in the ground, preferably around the height of the tree itself, about 25cm away from the trunk. Use either loops of plastic, cable ties or rope to connect the two (see diagram below). Please allow for reasonable movement as the tree will swing naturally in the wind and the loops stop it from swinging too much. Pad the loops for protection.
  • Creating a loop of windbreak netting all around will diminish the amount of breeze. Use poles/stakes to create a circle and attach the netting as shown below. A heavy duty net is recommended (diagram below).
  • If there is going to be an especially cold snap then it is ideal to use garden fleece as a cover. The fleece will create a warmer climate and help to prevent against freezing or heavy rain damage.
  • These methods can also be used with plants and perhaps garden structures. Gardening is a grind and it is a shame when weather completely destroys your hard work.

Small tree windbreak

Ground warming Using Polythene / Plastic – Methods and Preparation for Your Vegetable Plot, Allotment & Garden

Plants on an allotment.

Allotment PreparationWinters in the UK can be bitterly cold and do a lot of damage to your allotment or garden. There are ways to protect your plants through the cold months that include frost fleece, greenhouses and mulching. However today we will be concentrating on the preparation of soil for planting a new crop of vegetables or plants. As the winter turns into spring you will want to plant as early as possible to make the most of your garden; one way to speed this up is to make sure the ground is at its best quality to receive seeds.

You will want to commence the warming process in the late weeks of winter/early weeks of spring. The idea is to heat the ground, which coincidentally is very good at retaining warmth, so you are able to get your crop off to an early start. Polythene sheeting is the most effective product for the job; gardeners often use clear or black. Clear poly placed over soil allows the sun’s rays to pass through and trap the heat that they cause, not dissimilar to a greenhouse. Black can be used because it absorbs the most light and therefore becomes hot. Both types of plastic are suitable and have been proven to be effective.

Polythene for ground warmingYou will need to cover the entire area of soil in polythene, making sure any heat cannot escape. When purchasing I recommend plastic that is at least .25mm thick (250mu/1000g) as it will hold in more heat and is strong enough to give a good resistance against ripping. Pegging the plastic down with groundsheet pegs or any other steel pegs and burying the edges, covering them in earth, will certainly do the trick; however gardeners do often use bricks or large stones as an economical alternative. Leave for a few weeks and it will help prevent the ground from freezing and increase the temperature ready for the spring.

Once you believe the ground is ready to plant in then you can remove the poly and hoe the earth. I recommend removing any signs of weeds or growth to give your crop the best chance. You can of course apply weed control or mulch at this stage before planting to reduce the amount of future maintenance. Do not use polythene as weed suppressant, I does not allow drainage and causes water to pool in your garden causing all sorts of trouble. Many gardeners are different and many ground treatments are used to nourish the soil; depending on your crop you may wish to look at options.

Smart Ways to Properly Maintain Your Lawn

Article by Maya Pugh

 

The importance of having a lush and healthy lawn cannot be overstated.

After all, a neatly trimmed and well tended one can provide lifestyle, economic and even environmental benefits that are hard to miss.

However, creating the lawn of your dreams can be daunting sans basic upkeep know-how.

Get your maintenance off to a good start by keeping the following essentials in mind.

Mowing

  • Unknown to many, cutting encourages healthy grass growth. As such, it is deemed ideal to mow the frequently, especially during the growing season.
  • In addition, it is advisable to complement the setup with above the ground culm as this makes the abundant distribution of the nutrients to possible.
  • Moreover, cutting encourages more photosynthesis to take place because it absorbs more sunlight which makes the grass thicker. Suffice it to say, a heavier lawn will work to your advantage as it dramatically helps in minimising the presence of weeds.
  • While cutting is considered advisable, it is important not to go overboard as doing so will prove counterproductive. Cutting shorter than what is deemed advisable has been credited as the main culprit for bald areas and dry lawns.
  • As a general rule of thumb, the ideal length during the cold season is 3 inches while 2-2.5 inches is considered perfect during the warm months.

 

Watering

  • In a nutshell, the secret to good watering is doing it heavily only when the need calls for it.
  • In essence, what is necessary is a heavy pour that’s good enough to go down deep in the soil and encourage the roots to grow.
  • When the grass turns bluish grey, consider it a foolproof evidence it badly needs watering.
  • During the hot season however, it is crucial to keep your things in check. In line with this, it is advisable to do the watering in the mornings as it will help cool down the grass once the temperature rises.

Fertilising

  • To keep everything in superb shape, adding fertilisers is a must. Consider it the much needed ‘health booster’ of sorts.
  • If you are going to use commercial fertilisers, you have to decide if you prefer the regular water-soluble spray fertiliser, or the slow-acting granular kind. You can expect immediate results from the former, while it will take longer for the latter to manifest the results you desire.
  • As an additional tip, it is advisable to apply only minimal doses in mid spring and early fall to give time for the soil microorganisms to break down the nutrients and distribute it accordingly.

Proper maintenance can be challenging, but it’s not rocket science either. Arm yourself with the basic know-how and the right nursery supplies and you will be enjoying the lawn of your dreams in no time.

 

 

 

How to Clear a Large Overgrown Area; Weeds, Treestumps, Common Pests.

Overgrown AreaAllotments, fields and gardens can easily become overrun with weeds, trees, grass and much more. Clearing these pieces of land can be tricky and without a guide to the steps required, it can seem like an endless job. Here are a few methods and guidelines to show how to go about getting rid of various pests.

Tree StumpTree Stumps – These can be a real nuisance; taking up space, they can restrict you from planting in certain areas and are in danger of becoming diseased. You will need a liquid tree stump killer – there are plenty on the market, some stronger than others. Apply it to the freshly cut top surface and follow the instructions on the packet. This is best used over the winter period. Cover the stump after application to protect it from rain and bad weather and leave it to work.

Strimmer In UseBrambles, Hedges and Other Wooded Weeds – You have two options with these. The first is to scythe or use a strimmer to clear the bulk of them and then apply a heavy duty weedkiller to what is left (often the tree stump killers will double up as a heavy duty weed killer). Remember to apply to freshly cut surfaces for it to be most effective. The second option is to strim the area and then pull up the roots by hand. You will probably end up using a combination of all these methods.

Large Areas of Grass and Perennials – If you are short on time then the easiest method is to start by mowing or strimming the area in question; clear as much as you can by hand. You then have two options, the first is to apply a liquid weedkiller to the area (two or more applications may be necessary), or you can cover the area in a geotextile membrane. The membrane will block out all light, killing everything underneath. Please make sure the geotextile you lay down allows water to pass through, this will keep the soil rich underneath and also help to prevent any flooding. The benefit of the fabric is that you can leave it down and plant, lay turf or have gravel on top.

Final Steps – To make sure the job is completed properly, after the all the previous steps have been taken, turn the ground over and enrich it with some compost. This will give you a blank canvas to work with and mean that you can replenish the soil with anything it needs. Before planting check that you have the right crops or flowers for your soil type.

How Do I Stop Slugs From Eating My Plants?

Slug on leafIf you are a gardener, landscaper, allotment owner or botanist you will be fully aware of the problems slugs cause. They not only chew up your beautiful fruit and veg, they lay eggs and create horrible slime trails. Luckily there are a number of solutions to the problem; whether it be natural or chemical there is always a way.

There are a large variety of slugs in the UK, of varying shapes and colours. Species include the Common Garden, Ash-Grey, Lemon, Shelled slug and many more. In most cases gardeners and allotment owners will not be interested in the variety, but how much damage each particular one does, they will only have a goal of keeping them away from their crops and therefore that is what I will concentrate on. There are a wide range of natural and chemical deterrents and methods to deal with the problem; I will explore a few of these and allow the reader to decide which is more suitable for them.

 Natural

 Chuckem’– Seeking them out in the garden and disposing of them by hand is your first option. It may be a little time consuming, but it works. This is obviously provided that you have ample time and willpower. Make sure you take the pests as far away as possible from your and other people’s gardens. This method makes sure none of them die, if that is a concern. (Leaving left over fruit and veg on a tray in the garden is a great way to catch them, leave it overnight and discard the slugs that are sitting on it in the morning.)

SaltPouring salt on them will help to dry them out. Once again, most of the work will be done by searching out the slugs to apply the salt.

Cornmeal – Putting some cornmeal into a jar and tipping it on its side is a natural trap. Leaving it in the garden, near to the crops you wish to protect, will lure the slugs in. The cornmeal is too strong for them and it will kill them eventually.

BeerCreating a beer trap is also very effective. Leave a glass of half water half beer sunken into the ground at floor level. This will give off a sweet smell and work as a trap.

 

Frogs – If you have a pond, plant your crops near it. The reason for this is that frogs are a natural predator and will do the work for you. This has proven a brilliant way of using the ecosystem as natural plant protection.

Copper Tape – This is one of my favourite ways of creating a deterrent. If put around flower pots and stuck to the floor or other surfaces it will create a defensive barrier. Once a slug touches it the reaction causes a nasty shock which keeps it away from you plants. This is a safe way to stop your crops getting eaten.

 

 ChemicalSlug Gel

Pellets These are a very popular and easy way of helping to solve the problem. Sprinkling them around the area of fruit and veg you wish to protect will cause any passing slug to ingest them and kill them. Please make sure the variety you use is safe for your garden.

GelThis creates a barrier around your garden, pots etc….. The gel creates a defensive border, keeping pests away from your lettuce, carrots and other plants.

You are able to get some of these pellets and gels made with organic ingredients so they are not so harmful to have around the yard.

If there are any further tips and hints you have then please let everyone know below in the comments box.

 

 

Polythene Or Weed Fabric Membrane? Which Is Better?

Membrane Sheets 100gsmThis has been a question for a long time, use polythene or geotextile to guard against weeds; the answer is fairly simple.

We supply and sell both materials and over a number of years have heard back from customers with their thoughts and stories. On blogs and websites polythene is deemed to be cheaper alternative, but when looking at the facts it is not suited for this job. Plastic sheeting has many uses, it is great for DIY around the home, for building projects and arts and crafts. Heavier duty versions can often be used in greenhouses and small plots as it is effective at warming the ground, however this is not recommended for large areas. People are usually steered towards buying inexpensive thin sheets to lay in and around the garden. This can cause more problems than it solves. Woven weed control fabric on the other hand has been created with your garden in mind; it is developed for a specific job and in the long term will serve you better. The best fabric to buy is the woven polyethylene version, it is stronger and will last a lot longer. The tight weave is very strong and also at the same time very easy to cut and shape; perfect for the irregularities of the garden. The plastic sheeting available will often get damaged very easily and can rip after installation, especially when laid under gravel and subjected to pedestrian traffic.

In the UK, as most know, we get quite a bit of water. Flooding is becoming more prevalent and we are susceptible to more storms and heavy rain. As the bad weather increases it can become dangerous to line your garden with polythene. Water will be unable to pass naturally through the soil and will pool, this can cause a lot of damage. What was once ‘a bargain’ could have drastic effects on your garden and land as surface water builds up. With the obvious common effects of flooding I have heard such stories as rotten decking, flooded paths, sodden land and more. Using weed fabric will combat this. The material is perforated and therefore rainwater will be able to drain through to the soil below, not only keeping it moist and healthy, but utilising the ground as drainage.

Recovering Your Allotment From Floods; What To Do

AllotmentsIt’s no secret that Britain has seen a lot of rain recently. In fact some parts of the UK have just experienced their wettest January since records began, and allotments nationwide are waterlogged or completely submerged. It’s almost a blessing in disguise that the wet weather occurred when it did. Very few gardeners have crops in the ground at this time of year, and most are simply maintaining and preparing for the rapidly approaching growing season. So firstly let’s all count our blessings. The summer floods in 2012 hit at the height of the growing season, causing incredibly severe damage and financial loss for many gardeners.

Firstly if your allotment was flooded and you had edible crops in the ground close to harvest, then dispose of them immediately. A great deal of flood water would have contained sewage and the possibility of contamination, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Fruit and vegetables that are eaten raw should be avoided for at least 6 months. This will give the plant enough time to recover and for any contaminants to break down naturally. Root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips, and edible fruit from trees above the flood water should be safe to eat in just a few weeks, but make sure you boil any root vegetables thoroughly before consumption. Any plants that are left should be covered with garden fleece as they will quickly perish in waterlogged soil during the last remaining frosts. The frost fleece will create a microclimate underneath which will raise the ground temperature enough to allow your plants and their roots to survive.

Any debris that’s been left on your plot now that the waters have receded must be cleared away, either with your household rubbish or through a waste disposal site run by your local council. Then dig everything over, and leave it to dry out. Planting anything at this stage will likely be a waste of time as seeds will tend to rot before they have a chance to germinate, and the torrential rain will have flushed away any nutrients in the soil leaving it relatively infertile. With intermittent rain forecast for the next few weeks this may take some time, so sow seeds in trays at home until the soil is dry enough to be worked. If you’re short on space, then you may have to buy juvenile plants from garden centres in mid spring ready for planting. Once the soil has dried out sufficiently it’s worth digging in some fertiliser and mulch. However avoid doing this early as you risk polluting water courses.

It’s highly unlikely that any allotments will experience lasting flood damage, and most will be ready to plant in just a few days once the risk of flooding has passed. Most of the work to be done now is preventative, and work to protect your plot should we experience any more prolonged periods of severe weather. Before you start planting for this years growing season, invest in a good quality mulch fabric. Many gardeners use polythene for weed control which works well, but if you’re in an area prone to flooding you could prevent excess rain water from draining away by using a waterproof plastic sheet. Landscape fabric will prolong the life of your mulch, whilst efficiently preventing any unwanted vegetation. This type of garden ground cover is ideal for raised beds, however if you plant in rows then a heavier duty 100gsm fabric will be far more convenient as it will be able to withstand the stress of people walking between plants.

Luckily the best way of promoting good drainage is the reason you have an allotment in the first place. Plants are very effective at removing and using excess rain water, in fact an average baking potato needs 10” of water over its entire surface area to promote a healthy crop. So it’s important to make sure your plants stay healthy with regular maintenance and pest control. Remove any dead leaves and debris once a week at least, and make sure you invest in a good quality pesticide. Just make sure it’s safe to use on edible crops. I’d also recommend a close weave insect netting to prevent damage from flying insects. A mesh size of around 0.5mm will form an effective barrier against aphids and root flies, whilst also preventing intrusion from larger animals like birds and rabbits. You’ll find that most polyethylene netting is light enough to lie directly on most plants, or you could use a crop cage. It’s also worth burying the edge to ensure you have formed an impenetrable barrier.

Plants aside it’s just as important to protect equipment, pesticides and fertilizers from excessive rain. If you have a shed on your plot, then ensure it’s watertight with the aid of a heavy duty tarpaulin if necessary. If your shed has an electricity supply then make sure it’s turned off before periods of heavy rain, and have it extensively checked by a qualified electrician before switching it back on.