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Hints & Tips

Lawn Care Advice and Information

Lawns can grow under a wide range of climatic conditions and they grow densely enough to discourage weeds. Having a lawn provides easy maintenance of a large area and good drainage. A nice lawn is very attractive when cut and treated properly.

All turf and seed bought for lawns will be a mixture of different species because no one species has all the desired requirements. Some may be hard-wearing, some resistant to disease or resistant to drought.

Ground Preparation

Ground preparation is the most important process of turf-laying or sowing from seed.

  • Never prepare ground that is water-logged or frozen.
  • Ground should ideally be left after preparation to allow annual weeds to germinate. These can then be cured using contact weedkiller. Perennial weeds can be dealt with using a systemic weedkiller such as glyphosate.
  • When carrying out any leveling, make sure no sub-soil is brought to the surface.
  • The minimum depth of topsoil is between 15cm and 20cm.
  • You may decide or need to put in drainage.
  • A rotavator may be used to create a good tilth.
  • Before turfing, water the soil gently.

Laying Turf

Turf can be layed at any time of the year as long as the conditions are suitable.

  • You may want to apply a general fertilizer to the soil and rake it in.
  • Rolls of turf will usually come 1m sq
  • Rolls should be laid in an offset pattern.
  • It is easier to lay turf across the longest axis of your garden.
  • Use planks to stand on to spread the weight when laying turf.
  • Allow the rolls to overlap the edges of the lawn and trim to shape when the complete lawn has been laid.
  • Regular watering is essential to a new lawn. You may need to buy a sprinkler.

Seed Sowing

  • A good time to sow seed would be in April.
  • If soil is not fertile you may need to apply a general fertilizer and rake it in.
  • A good soil tilth is needed especially with seed. This should be done with a rake.
  • Sow the seed according to the suppliers instructions.
  • Lightly rake the seed into the surface of the soil.
  • Water using a fine spray sprinkler.
  • To protect the seeds from birds use a cotton messing stretched over the area.

After care

  • It is essential to keep the area sown well watered, especially on dry days.
  • Weedkiller should not be applied to the area within 6 months.
  • Ideally cut new grass when it reaches a height of 5cm.

Routine Maintenace

  • Obviously there will come a time when your new lawn will need to be cut. This may be once a week or more frequently if you have opted for a luxury lawn.
  • Because plants (even grass) take up or leach nutrients from the soil, as the grass clippings are removed, so are the nutrients. So you will need to feed the lawn to replace the lost nutrients else your soil will be left barren.

Facts about Grass

  • Grasses are in the Poaceae family which consists of many thousands of species. Cereal crops such as wheat and barley are also in this family.
  • Grass is a monocotyledon (single seed leaf) and has fiberous roots.
  • At the top of the leaf sheaf is a small flap of tissue called the ligule and at the base of the leaf blade is a small growth call the auricle.
  • Grass has the capability of producing new shoots from the base of the plant. These shoots are called tillers.
  • Some grasses can spread by rhizomes or stolons.
  • One of the major characteristics that makes grass so successful is the meristem at the base of the leaf. It allows the the grass to continue to grow after the top of the leaf has been cut off and this encourrages growth.
  • All turf and seed bought for lawns will be a mixture of different species because no one species has all the desired requirements. Some may be hard-wearing, some resistant to disease or resistant to drought.

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Planting Advice and Information

When to plant:

  • Plant when ground conditions are suitable, when there is no risk of waterlogging, freezing or drought.
  • If planting bare root, do so when dormant and usually between October to March.
  • Autumn is recommended.

Ground Preparation

  • Free from weeds
  • Good soil condition (depending on plant e.g. Rhododendron, Azaleas, Camellias are "calcifuges" and like acid soil, whereas Viburnum and Clematis are "calcicoles" which like alkaline soils. Use the relative soil conditioner).

Plant preparation

  • Soak roots for 10 minutes to an hour depending on how dry the roots are.
  • You may need to cut any long roots or damaged roots
  • Gently tease out roots from container or pot.
  • In some cases it would be adviseable to cut back top growth of plant to reduce moisture loss and to encourage root growth.

Digging the hole

  • Always dig the hole at least 2 times bigger than the root ball.
  • If the soil is not fertile then dry some well-rotted compost or manure into the bottom.
  • Break up any clods of soil you put back around the root.
  • Staking a plant should be done just off centre or an angle of 45° so that that the roots are not damaged.

Planting aftercare

  • When the plant has been placed in the hole at the same depth as in the nursery and you have primed the soil around the roots with your foot or hand, water well and you may want to apply a mulch to reduce moisture loss.
  • ensure support ties are slackened as the plant thrives
  • keep the area around the plant free from weeds

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Hedge Advice and Information

A new hedge needs to be watered in periods of no rain. Regular clipping and pruning is the main requirement. Keep the area around the base of the hedge free and clear of weeds so they are not robbed of nutrients and water. Some hedges will respond to a harsh cutting back with the exception of Leyland Cypress and Lavender hedges.

Informal Hedges

Informal hedges can be deciduous shrubs and are usually Escallonia, Hawthorn (crataegus) or Beech (fagus). A beech hedge may not be evergreen but if kept in a juvenile state it will hang on to it's leaves over winter.

Species Forsythia - Forsythia x intermedia
Hedge Type Informal
Evergreen? No
Planting distance 60cm
Height in 5 years 1.5m to 2m
Trimming After flowering
Species Lavender - Lavandula Spica
Hedge Type Informal
Evergreen? Yes
Planting distance 30cm
Height in 5 years 1m
Trimming After flowering

Formal Hedges

Formal hedges should be evergreen such as Privet, Yew, Boxus or Leyland. Formal hedges are kept clipped to a specific shape or size and require regular maintenance.

Species Yew - Taxus baccata
Hedge Type Formal
Evergreen? Yes
Planting distance 60cm
Height in 5 years 1m
Trimming Spring & Autumn
Species Box - Boxus Sempervirens
Hedge Type Formal
Evergreen? Yes
Planting distance 30cm
Height in 5 years 50cm
Trimming Twice per year
Species Privet - Ligustrum Ovalifolium
Hedge Type Formal
Evergreen? Yes
Planting distance 30cm
Height in 5 years 1.5m
Trimming Twice per year
Species Beech - Fagus Sylvatica
Hedge Type Formal
Evergreen? No (but leaves hang on over winter)
Planting distance 60cm
Height in 5 years 1m
Trimming Spring & Autumn
Species Leyland Cypress - Cupressocyparis leylandii
Hedge Type Formal
Evergreen? Yes
Planting distance 75cm
Height in 5 years 1.5m to 3m
Trimming Twice per year

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