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  • October Garden Jobs

    October Garden Jobs

    October Garden Jobs October Garden Jobs

    I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. The glorious reds, oranges and yellows of autumn are at their most majestic in October. It’s the month when we get to literally enjoy the fruits of our labour.

    On 21 October, we raise a glass of juice – or cider! – and say ‘Cheers’ as we celebrate Apple Day. Making sure you don’t let your harvest go to waste is one of the top jobs to do in the garden this month.

    Harvest your fruit

    You might have made a start on this in September. If not, get cracking now. It’s possible to store late season apples for several months in the right conditions, so you could have home-grown apples all winter, saving yourself a fortune. If possible, ensure the apples still have their stalks. Store them somewhere that’s cool, dark and has some ventilation – a garage is good. There should be a space between each apple, so make sure they’re in a single layer and not touching each other. Pears and mid-season apples can also last for up to 2-3 months, but pears will need to be checked frequently because they can ripen very suddenly. Remove any fruit that goes off.

    Last chance lawn jobs

    October is last chance saloon for:

    1 – Scarifying, aerating and top-dressing lawns if you live in colder areas of the UK. You can then give your lawn a helping hand by applying an autumn lawn feed.

    2 – Sowing grass seed if you live in milder areas.

    3 – Mowing. Don’t cut too low; the grass needs to be at least 2.5cm (1 inch). This should keep things in order until spring.

    Plant your springtime bulbs

    Even as winter looms large, it’s time to make preparations for better weather in the New Year, by planting bulbs that will welcome in springtime with a riot of colour. Buying in bulk is a good idea. If planting in pots, think in terms of 10s to guarantee a great spring show. If planting on grass or decent sized borders, 100s would look amazing. By planting in October, the bulbs will benefit from the warmer soil before the first frosts, helping the roots to become established. Check the packaging for information on where to site the bulb as some prefer warm spots (such as daffodils and tulips), while others prefer cooler locations in the garden. October is also a good time to plant spring bedding plants in pots or prepared ground, or herbaceous perennials.

    General maintenance

    Getting maximum light onto the lawn will keep it healthy during the winter months, so remember to keep on raking your lawn.

    Give the garden a good tidy-up by cutting back, pruning and dividing perennials.

    Ring the changes by moving or planting trees, shrubs and climbers. And October is perfect timing planting wildlife-friendly hedges.

    Bring tender plants into somewhere that’s nice and warm, such as a greenhouse or conservatory.

    And don’t forget that the clocks go back at 2am on Sunday 29 October, officially marking the end of British Summer Time.

  • Guide your garden through the changing seasons this September

    September. The month that generally marks the end of summer and the start of autumn, in the UK at least. It’s always a busy month for gardeners, as they tackle an assortment of tasks to ensure everything in the garden is kept ship-shape during the changing seasons.

    Guide your garden through the changing seasons this September Guide your garden through the changing seasons this September

    In our latest blog, we get to grips with some of the main September jobs, starting with those all-important lawns.

    1 Cut back on cutting back! September is when you should start to mow your lawn less frequently. Give it a helping hand at this time of year, by raising the height of the cut a little.

    2 Examine: Look for wear and tear and take action now if necessary as September is the optimum month for treatment, giving the lawn time to respond ahead of the impending colder weather. Also check for damage caused by fungal disease or pests.

    3 Treat: Treatment could involve raking to keep moss and other unwanted elements under control. But be careful not to rake too deeply as this will damage the turf. Aerating, or spiking, will help the lawn cope in the event of waterlogging. Using a garden fork, spike your hole 10-15 cm deep and the same distance apart. If your lawn has surface irregularities, you might want to apply a top-dressing mix. The Royal Horticultural Society advises a mix of three parts sandy loam, six parts sharp sand and one part compost or leaf mould. Apply 2-3kg per sq m (4.4-6.6lb per 10 sq ft), working the dressing in well with the back of a rake. The result is better rooting and thicker turf. If you purchase a ready mix, be sure to follow the instructions on the pack.

    4 Feed: Do this after raking and spiking but before applying the top-dressing. Use an autumn lawn feed, as this is high in potassium.

    5 Renew: Early autumn is a great time to create a new lawn from turf or seed. Laying a lawn from turf is the quickest option, with instant results. However, using seed is the easier and cheaper way and you get a wider choice of turf. Which option you decide will be down to your own requirements.

    There are other gardening tasks to tick off in September, too.

    Fruit & veg:

    If you grow fruit or veg, now’s the time to reap your rewards! We all love harvest time, especially when there’s a healthy crop of berries, apples, pears, tomatoes, potatoes and the like to bring to the table. Enjoy!

    Flowers:

    September is the time to sow hardy annuals and plant new perennials. Also cut back and prune your flowers and divide those herbaceous perennials that have become overgrown and ‘clumpy’. This will encourage fresh and healthy growth next year. Take cuttings of tender perennials and if you don’t have a greenhouse, you can use a nice bright windowsill to grow them on. Bring other non-frost hardy perennials indoors. If you’re troubled by pesky perennial weeds, then tackle them now as they’re vulnerable at this time of year. Use weed-killer containing glyphosate but remember to protect valued plants with plastic sheeting.

    Trees & shrubs:

    Prune late summer flowering shrubs and give evergreen hedges their final pre-winter trim. You can now also plant and move trees and shrubs to give them a head start in time for next spring. Also give your plants and shrubs a liberal soaking. The soil will absorb it better, before the onset of colder weather. Start to prepare ahead for another great year in the garden by planting spring flowering bulbs.

    General maintenance:

    Cover any garden ponds with netting to keep out fallen leaves during the winter months and clear dead leaves away as soon as you can to avoid disease in the garden.

    And finally …

    Once you’ve done your September jobs, you can put your feet up with a cuppa and dream of spring … preferably with a nice portion of pudding made with all that lovely autumn fruit you’ve just harvested!

  • The Wembley turf: Our top 10 ‘Did You Knows’

    The Wembley turf: Our top 10 ‘Did You Knows’

    With England’s first home game of the football season taking place against Slovakia in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on 4 September, we thought we’d take a look at some fascinating facts and stats about the stadium’s hallowed turf.

    And while most of the footy facts might be quite well-known, the same can’t be said about the pitch itself.

    For example, did you know that …

    1. The Wembley pitch has a Desso Grassmaster system which was introduced to overcome early problems with the pitch after the new stadium was opened in 2007. The technology combines synthetic grass with the real Wembley grass and uses a SubAir system, integrated undersoil heating and artificial lighting.

    2. The system means that even during very cold spells, the soil temperature can be kept at a constant 17 degrees, ensuring a world class playing surface.

    3. It took almost two weeks to insert over 48,000km of synthetic thread into the turf.

    4. Each strand of synthetic grass has six blades, so amongst the real Wembley grass, there are 120 million blades of Desso Grassmaster, which were inserted into the ground using long needles.

    5.Wembley’s real grass is a 100% ryegrass mix that’s exclusive to Wembley and is called Wembley Special Mix.

    6. The initial pitch problems at the new stadium were caused by the stadium’s microclimate due to its enclosed structure and because it’s in complete shade between late September and late March. The pitch had to be re-turfed 11 times in three years so eventually, the fibre-sand turfed surface had to go.

    7. The new pitch is four metres lower than the previous pitch.

    8. The pitch is covered by a protection system during concerts, when up to 25,000 people stand on the pitch area.

    9. The pitch maintenance routine includes daily cutting; weekly sub-surface aeration to control moisture content and oxygen levels in the roots; a fertiliser schedule; and the use of artificial lights to encourage growth.

    10. The system’s technology sends up-to-the-minute information to head groundsman Karl Standley’s mobile phone on pitch temperature, moisture levels, salinity and humidity.

    And, for our footy fans, here are four more facts about Wembley:

    The first match at the original Wembley Stadium was the FA Cup Final in April 1923, when Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United 2-0 in the famous White Horse Final, so-named because a mounted policeman went onto the pitch to help clear the crowds. The game had not been ticketed and an estimated 200,000 fans turned up. Oops!

    The most famous game was, of course, the 1966 World Cup Final when Geoff Hurst became the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final as England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time. Since then it’s been 51 years of hurt for fans of England’s senior side, and counting ...

    The last game at the old Wembley was a 1-0 defeat against Germany in October 2000. The stadium and famous Twin Towers were then demolished to make way for the new Wembley Stadium featuring its iconic arch.

    This is the 10th anniversary of the new stadium being opened.

    In six years’ time, we’ll be celebrating 100 years of Wembley Stadium. So many memories, so many stories, all played out on the most famous blades of grass in the world!

  • Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do

    Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do

    Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do

    A little bit of sporting history is being made this summer, with the first day/night cricket test match ever to be played in England taking place at Edgbaston in Birmingham from 17-21 August.

    The England v West Indies match will be played between 2pm and 9pm, not the usual time of 11am to 6pm.

    It sparked a discussion here about how it might affect the wicket and how it plays over the full five days. And that got us to thinking: What makes some pitches good for batting while others are more helpful to bowlers? And what makes for a seaming or a spinning pitch?

    There are other factors at play as well as the pitch. How a wicket plays can also be affected by weather conditions and the state of the ball, ie if it’s a shiny new ball, or a ball that’s shiny and hard one side and worn on the other, or a 70-over ball that’s completely soft and worn.

    And, of course, how the bowlers use their skills in manipulating the ball is the No 1 factor.

    With these caveats in mind, and avoiding all of the scientific gobbledegook you can find elsewhere, here’s a simplified explanation of the key principles of how and why a cricket pitch behaves the way it does:

    Pace: Why are some pitches traditionally good for fast bowlers?

    Hard cricket pitches – such as the WACA ground in Perth, Australia - help the ball to fly off the surface at pace and with good bounce. But pitches with some green in them can also be fast as they allow the new ball to skid off the surface.

    Seam & swing movement: How does the pitch contribute to it?

    Cricket pitches with more grass on them assist swing bowling (ball moves in the air) and seam bowling (ball moves off the seam after pitching) by causing the ball to behave more erratically. It’s not just the extra grass that does this, but the moisture in the pitch.

    Spin: What creates a spinning wicket?

    Cricket pitches generally start to spin when they’ve become worn and dusty, so spinners tend to have an increasing role to play as the game progresses. A dry, worn pitch will develop cracks that the spin bowler can pitch the ball into. However, the ball will also spin on a pitch that has moisture in it and then starts to dry out.

    Why is this even important? Here’s why …

    Captains and coaches can select their team based on what the wicket is telling them. And the big question for any cricket captain who wins the toss is: Shall we bat first or bowl first? Over a 5-day test match, assessing the wicket at the outset can be fraught with peril. Their decision will also be influenced by the weather conditions. But, as a very basic rule of thumb, here’s what generally happens:

    Dry conditions and dry wicket = bat first. It also means they get to bowl last on a potentially spinning wicket.

    Overcast conditions and a pitch with some green and moisture in it = bowl first to get the most out of favourable conditions.

    Clear as mud? Quite possibly. But reading a cricket pitch isn’t an exact science, far from it. It all adds the air of mystery and sheer unpredictability of the game. And we wouldn’t want it any other way!

  • 8 top tips on keeping your lawn healthy during the summer

     

    8 top tips on keeping your lawn healthy during the summer Beautiful view on a lawn in sunny day, fresh green grass lawn in sunlight, landscaping in the garden, beauty of summer season

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    August: Long hot days, fun in the sun, summer holidays with family and friends. What’s not to love?

    But for our lawns, this is the time of year when they can really struggle without some regular TLC.

    The good news is that most lawns will recover fully from a drought or a dry spell. Even if lawns turn brown and dry during the summer months, they usually recover as soon as the rains return.  It would take an extremely severe drought to kill off your lawn completely.

    However, it’s still advisable to do a few simple things to protect your lawn from the worst effects of dry weather.

    We’ve compiled a list of 8 top tips to help your lawn survive and thrive.

    1 – Don’t mow so low

    Raising the height of the cut helps to avoid weakening the grass.

    2 – Mow less frequently

    Allow your grass to grow a bit longer. You could even include an area of butterfly and bee-friendly meadow flowers and just sit back and enjoy them during the height of summer.

    3 – Don’t be so tidy

    Yes, you did read that correctly! Avoid the temptation to clear away the grass clippings when you mow as they will act as mulch and help to retain any moisture in the soil for longer. Take care to ensure the clippings are nice and small so that they don’t smother and damage the grass.

     4 – Give your lawn a drink

    Water the lawn every 7-10 days (if water restrictions permit), but don’t over-do it. Too much water isn’t just wasteful, it’s potentially damaging. It also makes the lawn less drought-tolerant, so in the event of a hosepipe ban, when watering isn’t an option, it will deteriorate more rapidly.

    5 – Get your timings right

    Water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening. Watering in the hottest part of the day will increase evaporation.

    6 – Nip it in the bud

    Water when the soil gets dry, but before the grass starts to change colour. The grass will usually stop growing and start to go brown when the top 10cm of soil dries out.

    7 – Use your fork

    If the ground has become very hard, aerate it with a fork before watering to help the water to sink in.

    8 – Work out how much water your lawn needs

    Ensure that the water reaches a depth of 10cm. You can do this by testing some areas a few hours after watering. You’ll soon learn how much water your lawn needs and how long to leave your sprinkler on.

    9 … And relax!

    We thought we’d add this 9th tip because this is the time of year to be out enjoying your garden and making the most of the summer weather.

    If you follow the dry weather advice, there’s every chance you won’t need to repair or relay your lawn in the autumn. If you have encountered problems, then you might want to consider relaying your lawn with drought-resistant grass mixes.

    And remember: Prevention is better than cure. By having a maintenance programme this autumn and next spring, your lawn will be in great shape for summer 2018, too.

    Ask our experts: Get in touch to learn how to achieve the best height cut from your mower during a dry spell.

  • The Wimbledon look - here’s how they do it!

    Tnethe Wimbledon look - here’s how they do it! 

    For the next two weeks all eyes will be focused on the most famous lawn in world sport.

    It’s Wimbledon fortnight and we can look forward to seeing all the world’s top players in action: Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Kerber, Halep, Pliskova … and arguably the biggest star of the show, the Centre Court itself.

    We thought we’d mark Wimbledon 2017 by taking a look at some stats about the famous lawn. And we’ve got a top tip on how you can give your own lawn the Centre Court look without breaking the bank.

    So, what goes into ensuring the 18 grass courts used during Wimbledon are in great shape from Day 1 to Finals weekend? Here are just a few facts we think you’ll love!

    Did you know that ...

    • Since 2001, following studies into durability, the courts have been are sown with 100% perennial ryegrass
    • The grass is cut to 8mm during Wimbledon - the optimum length for the modern game, according to scientific researchers
    • During Wimbledon, the courts are cut every day and watered a little each evening
    • The 18 Championship and 22 practice grass courts are tended by a team of 16 full-time ground staff led by head groundsman Neil Stubley - and the numbers are increased to 28 during the two weeks of Wimbledon
    • A singles court measures 23.77m x 8.23m; the area of grass on each of the Centre Court and Number 1 Courts is 41m x 22m
    • How high the ball bounces is determined by the soil, not the grass
    • Nine tonnes of grass seed is used each year
    • The courts have to withstand over 650 matches during the tournament

    But what about the Centre Court’s  trademark stripes? How can we get that Wimbledon look for our lawns? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think, with a range of roller lawnmowers that will do the job nicely.

    It’s all about direction -Stripes are simply created by the two-tone contrasting colours of grass laid flat in one direction and again in the opposite direction. The direction in which the grass is bent causes the light green vs dark green striping effect.

    Atco Liner 19 SEV-2We recommend Atco’s roller lawnmowers, which are renowned for producing a beautiful striped finish. Prices start from around £339  

    In the meantime, we can all sit back and enjoy the best tennis tournament on the planet, played on the finest surface of all - grass!

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