Springtime Lawncare

This is the time of year that your lawn will literally ‘spring’ into action following the dark winter months. As the grass grows, it’s a great time to feed and condition, kill moss, get rid of lawn weeds and begin mowing. It’s also the perfect time to sow new lawns from seed. Follow the steps below to get a great looking lawn this spring!

Start mowing with caution

As the weather warms up during the spring months, the grass will start to grow more rapidly. However, don’t be tempted to cut grass if the soil is very wet or there’s frost or snow on the ground. Be gentle with the first few cuts of the season. Simply trim off the top third of growth with the mower blades adjusted to their highest setting.

Allow the lawn to recover for a few days and then cut again with the blades on a lower setting. At this time of year the lawn may only need cutting about once or twice a fortnight.

Get rid of weeds and moss

After the wet winter months, your lawn may be overrun with moss and weeds that compete with the grass for vital nutrients and soil moisture.

To kill off moss it is best to use an all in one lawn feed, weed and moss killer.  This will increase the nutrient levels of the grass which therefore kills off the moss. Aftercut All In One is a good product to use to do this. Apply the all in one a few days after mowing and lightly rake out the moss once it begins to die. Once the moss has been removed, you will be left with bare patches in your lawn. It is essential to grow new healthy grass over these patches to avoid them being overgrown by moss again. The patches can easily be repaired using Aftercut Patch Fix, which is a grass seed and seed soil mix. This is best done in the spring or autumn months.

Small patches of weeds can be dealt with effectively by using a Lawn Weedkiller, or by removing by hand. If you choose to use a weedkiller on your lawn, make sure it says ‘lawn weedkiller’ on it. If you use a normal weedkiller you will kill all your grass.

Feed and conditioning your lawn

All plants need feeding to perform their best in the garden, your lawn is no exception. For regular feeding throughout the season, apply products such as Miracle Gro or for a more natural option try Toplawn

Deal with compacted soil

Compacted lawns need to be aerated as this helps to promote healthy growth. Aerating improves the drainage around the grass roots. You’ll know if your lawn is compacted because it will be rock hard, slow to drain after rainfall. Paths across the lawns are often quick to compact as they have had heavy foot traffic.

A good time to aerate the lawns is in the spring. Ideally you should remove plugs of soil using a hollow tine aerator. Alternatively, you could use a normal garden fork and push the spikes into the soil to a depth of about 7-10cm (3-4 inches) if possible. After the lawn has been aerated, fill the holes with Westland Lawn and Turf Dressing. This contains a mixture of sand, peat, soil and fertiliser, which together, add exactly the right ingredients to the soil for premium grass growth.

Over-seeding

Early autumn tends to be the best time to do this, although spring is also a good time to over-seed any sparse areas of lawn. Sparse areas may appear where weeds or moss has been removed or where the grass has not grown very well.

To over-seed use a fork and rake to break up the surface to a finer consistency. Apply the seed, but only at half the recommended rate, then rake the seed into the surface. Grass should sprout within 7 to 10 days after sowing.

Gardening In February

Grow Your Own:

*Apply a general balanced fertiliser to all your tree and bush fruit at the recommended rate – water it in if it’s dry and don’t get it on the plant.

*Early flowering fruit such as Peaches and Nectarines can be protected from frost damage with fleece if needed – hand pollinate with a small soft brush if insects are scarce.

*If you haven’t already pruned your apple and pear trees, now is the last month to do it, remove all dead and diseased wood, including any old fruit from last year.

*Garlic and Shallots can start to be planted on light soils (don’t plant them where they have been before) and Broad Beans and Summer Cabbage can be sown outdoors – if your soil is heavy or the weather remains cold leave it a month.

*Parsley can start to be sown in succession to ensure fresh crops over a long period.

* A cloche can be a valuable addition at this time of year ensuring an earlier start to the season and flexible protection when needed.

HOUSEPLANTS:

*Deadhead Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) leaving the flower stalk to die down naturally. Keep feeding and watering and you may get the bonus of an extra flower in August.

*Houseplants will benefit from the first feed of the season now.

GREENHOUSE:

*Now is a good time to sow Tomatoes and Cucumbers if you have a heated greenhouse so you get a head start. Alternatively try a propagator or a warm windowsill in the house.

*Conservatory climbers can be pruned now.

WILDLIFE:

*Continue feeding the birds as they get ready for the spring.

*Start providing nest boxes in anticipation of the new season.

 

WATER GARDEN:

*Check your frost prevention is still working.

 

LAWNS:

*Rake off any moss or debris that has accumulated over the winter.

*If poor drainage is an issue try spiking the lawn with a fork and brushing a gritty soil mix into the holes.

*Turf can start to be laid as long as the weather is not too wet or cold. Do not walk on the newly laid turf and leave undisturbed for several weeks to allow to establish.

FLOWER GARDEN:

*Now is the time to plan your summer bedding and the first sowings can be made now in a heated greenhouse or windowsill.

*Start protecting Delphiniums and Hostas as they emerge from dormancy as they are very prone to damage from slugs and snails.

*Cut back ornamental grasses and perennials that you have left for winter effect and may now be looking tatty.

*Check frost protection is still in place (if needed) and that plants have not dried out (especially evergreens) and that slugs and snails have not moved in to mulches and straw that you have used.

*This is an ideal time to purchase and plant bulbs in flower – some like snowdrops establish better now than when dried off and it is easier to see where you have gaps to fill than in the autumn.

TREES SHRUBS AND HEDGES:

*Rejuvenate overgrown deciduous hedges by pruning back harder than normal and feeding and watering.

*Prune late summer and autumn flowering clematis hard back to the lowest pair of strong buds.

*Shrubs and trees can be fed at this time of year – use a good balanced feed- and for most varieties this will last the entire season. Remember that ericaceous plants such as Rhododendrons will need a dedicated ericaceous feed and be sure to water it in.

*This is the best month to prune your bush roses – cut them back hard by a half or two thirds to a strong bud.

*After you have pruned your roses give them a feed with a specific rose feed – don’t get it on the plant and water well in.

*Summer flowering shrubs such as Buddleja can be pruned hard back to encourage better flowers and to keep the plant under control.

GENERAL:

*Sterilise pots and seed trays before using this year to stop the spread of fungal disease.

*Try something new and plant a summer bulb border – let your creative side out and think about colours and heights for a stunning display

Here at Mere Park We have fantastic ranges of everything you’ll ever need for the garden, Order online or call instore – we’re located in Newport Shropshire (Nr Telford)

What To Do In Your Garden In January

Often the coldest month

January might be the middle of winter but as the days lengthen the garden starts to grow. Now is a great time to plan for the coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Enjoy the fresh air, on dry sunny days, and check your winter protection, stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather. Also put out food for birds and leave some garden areas uncut, a little longer, to provide shelter for wildlife in your garden.

Plan for the following year

Cold January days are the perfect opportunity for planning your garden for the following year. The snowdrops are beginning to emerge from the ground, scented shrubs are beginning to flourish and hellebores begin to show their faces in the shadiest patches of the garden. For me, January is a time to dream about the gardening season ahead and get my hands dirty too!

  1. Continue to clear away any decaying perennials from your borders to deter slugs and snails and allow spring bulbs to grow fully. Empty compost heaps that are ready to use as mulch and spread it on the garden. This will enrich your soil and provide you with healthy plants later in the year.
  2. Ensure that you continue to water pots and containers – particularly window boxes and containers that sit on balconies or the lee of the house. Containers planted with bulbs should be given a good water at least twice a week. Try not to water during periods of heavy frost and ensure tender plants are protected with fleece or hessian.
  3. Bare root trees and shrubs can be planted now, if the weather is good. Try planting scented shrubs such as Sarcococca confusa and Daphne odora by paths and doorways to enjoy their sweet scent.
  4. Garden birds are active throughout the winter months. Ensure that bird tables and feeders are kept clean and topped up with food regularly- We have a fantastic supply of Bird food available.
  5. Remove old hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge. I can never resist cutting a few stems for the house. Simply cut and sear the tips of the stems in boiling water for 30 seconds, before placing them straight into cold water. They will last in a vase for at least a week and cast away January blues.
  6. Plant amaryllis bulbs in pots now for beautiful indoor flowers. Other potted plants such as hyacinths, iris and narcissus can also be brought into the house for striking, scented indoor displays.
  7. Check dahlia tubers in storage and remove any that are showing signs of rot. Make sure that they remain dry and are not exposed to frost.
  8. Rose bushes can be pruned whilst they are dormant, cutting them back just above a bud. Dead branches should be cut out and any crossing branches removed. Ensure that wires, trellises and fences are strong and secure. Any loose branches should be secured with strong twine.
  9. Wisteria can be pruned now. Cut back shoots by two or three buds on a lateral stem for a healthy blooms in Spring. I prune my wisteria twice a year, to keep it strong and full of flowers in May.
  10. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy planning for the year to come. Look at old gardening books and seed catalogues for inspiration. Always remember to be realistic about the size of your garden and the time you have available.

 

What Size Christmas Tree Do I Need?

A very common and understandable question for those who might’ve moved house, had children or have decided to decorate for Christmas for the first time is: “What size Christmas tree do I need?”

It’s not as simple as choosing a Christmas tree height that reaches the ceiling, as there are a few other things to bear in mind, but it’s a fairly easy question to answer.

Here are just a few tips on choosing the right size Christmas tree, to make the best use of the space you have available in your home or garden.

1. Start with the height

Choosing the right height Christmas tree is an obvious place to start, so measure from floor to ceiling if you’re choosing an indoor Christmas tree, and make sure you get one that will fit and, and more importantly, also allows for your decorations on top of the tree.

Buying a Christmas tree that’s too tall is one of the most common pitfalls, especially if you’ve just moved into a new-build property where ceilings are often a bit lower than in Victorian-era houses.

Equally, you might be surprised by how high your ceilings actually are, even in a mid-terrace or apartment, so it’s worth checking as Christmas trees are sold by height more than by any other measure.

2. Remember the width

The width of a Christmas tree also takes a lot of people by surprise, so think about where it will go in your room and how much space it will need.

As a rough guide, a 6.5ft Christmas tree has a diameter of about 4.5ft and a 7.5ft Christmas tree can measure over 5ft across, and of course they’re widest at the bottom.

If you’re decorating an indoor space with high ceilings but a small room, consider slim Christmas trees which take a few inches off the widest diameter, but still look great.

3. Space for decorations

Leave a little room for decorations. They usually won’t extend beyond the widest diameter of the tree, but it’s good to give them some ‘room to breathe’.

This makes sure you can decorate your tree from all sides, especially if it’s going to stand in front of a window.

It also means you’re less likely to knock any decorations off as you brush past your tree, and should allow it to look at its very best in rooms and gardens large and small.

4. From the stand to the star

When making your measurements, remember to take into account the full height of the tree, including its stand and skirt, all the way to the very top.

If you want to put a fairy, angel, star or any other creation on top, you’ll need to leave some room for this between the top of your tree and the ceiling.

Many trees include a branch at the very top to attach your Christmas tree topper to, in which case you might find a 6.5ft Christmas tree fits a 7ft ceiling height, a 7.5ft Christmas tree suits an 8ft room, and so on.

5. Unlit vs. prelit Christmas trees

Finally, consider getting prelit Christmas trees, which can be used indoors and are not just for gardens.

They’re faster to put up, as you only need to plug them in or fit batteries, and they should be ready to switch on immediately.

But they’re also much easier in confined spaces, where it can be hard to move around the tree to string up fairy lights – so if you’re decorating a smaller room, a slim prelit Christmas tree could be the best way to go for a stress-free run-up to Christmas!

Real Christmas Trees | Everything You Need To Know

A little information on the real Christmas trees we have in stock.

So what are the differences between the different types of real Christmas trees?

A pot grown Christmas tree is one which has been planted in a container as a seedling so that the root ball is completely encased in a pot and the tree is growing in a compost or growing medium.
A potted tree is one which has been grown in a field and when it has reached a reasonable size it’s been dug up and placed in a pot, Sometimes with compost sometimes with sand to weigh down the pot and keep the tree steady.
A pot grown tree has been grown in a pot from day one and so will have a full root structure.
A cut tree is usually a field grown specimen which during mid to late November is cut down and transported to garden centres.

So what are the advantages of each type?

If you want a tree that after Christmas has a chance of surviving until next year or can be planted out in the garden, you need to choose a pot grown tree. A potted tree might have a chance of surviving in the garden but that really depends on how much root has been chopped off when it was dug out of the ground and what kind of growing medium it was put in. (plus how you treat it while in the house).
A cut tree is dead or on its way to dying plant. Whatever you do, there is no way you will get it past the New Year.
Of course, a pot grown tree because the roots are being restricted, will be a lot smaller than the other types and almost certainly will cost you more, but providing you keep it watered it will survive after Christmas.
A potted tree in the same variety will cost less than a pot grown tree, and be slightly larger.
A Cut tree will be the cheapest of the 3 types when comparing the same variety, and you can also get larger specimens, but don’t forget they will need a support (preferably one to hold water to help retain needles). Those which are labelled needle-last tend to just be species that have larger needles, which can hold water better and will therefore keep the needles on the branches for longer. This means that your hoover doesn’t have to come out as many times over the Christmas period

Real Christmas trees available here at Mere Park:

Cut trees – Norway spruce and Nordmann fir
Pot grown – Norway spruce
Potted – Blue spruce