Tag Archives: hosepipe

Low rain lawn care

Low rain lawn care

A simple plan for low rain lawn care, cutting grass in dry weather, top tips for lawns in summer, keeping grass green in drought.

Deja vu. June 2017 saw dry weather and brown lawns. Even after the longest wettest winter for a while, in May 2018 some grass is already starting to turn brown.  Here are some pointers for low rain lawn care.

Lawns that have been managed carefully will be thriving still.  A plan that increases the strength of the grass is paying dividends now, with green swathes still dominating as a result.  But it’s not too late to adopt a plan that will save time, money and will keep your grass greener and healthier.

If you haven’t planned for it, what can be done now?  Here’s a simple guide.

  1. Keep the grass longer.
  2. When cutting, use a mulching deck, or leave the grass clippings on the lawn.
  3. Leave more vulnerable areas completely
Low rain lawn care
A mulching deck cuts the clipping smaller, and returns them to the soil. This allows them to break down and feed the lawn.

How to keep it green

And a low rain lawn care plan to keep it greener starts very simply too.

  1. Keep the grass longer. Think of “making it even” rather than cutting the lawn.  And if moss is present, raise the cutting height to leave it 20mm clear. Cutting too short is the main reason for moss and weed dominance in most lawns.
  2. Make sure your mower blades are kept sharp.
  3. Cut in small slices. If the lawn is longer, rather than try to cut it down in one pass, take two or even three passes, reducing the height slowly. These smaller cuttings will break down more easily, and feed and replenish the grass, rather than rot. Apply the rule of only cutting one third of the grass blade.

Mulching, or leaving fine clippings on the lawn, saves time in removing them to the compost or bin, and also returns valuable nitrogen to the soil. This could reduce the feeding requirement by 25 per cent. Given that most lawns don’t get fed at all, its a huge improvement.

The evidence is clear. To do less work when the weather is dry and hot, cut the lawn higher, leave the clippings, which will help keep your lawn green.

Look after lawns in drought

Scalping weakens the grass, leaving t vulnerable to weeds and heat. Cut the grass long!

How to water pots

How to water pots
watering potted plants, how to water plants, watering plants, watering pots

It may seem like the simplest thing in the world, but a few simple ideas potting up plants for patio or indoors will make watering easy. Here we discuss how to water pots.

We all like to have the bright colours and exotic foliage offered by summer bedding and annuals. But looking after them when there has been no rain, or you’re away for a week or more can cause concern. After all, they are not cheap, and who wants a pot of dead plants on their doorstep?

When planting, consider the shape of the pot. A “standard” or traditional flower pot, be it clay or plastic, has a lip at the top. This usually represents about one tenth of the pot volume. And quite by chance, the volume of water required to soak the pot. It doesn’t matter what size the pot is, the proportions are the same.

How to water pots
A traditional plant pot with space for watering

So when you are potting up the pelargoniums and cannas, plant them below the lip, and pack the soil or compost only to that level. Water it in by filling the pot to the rim with water. That water should have reached the bottom of the pot. A regime that applies water before the compost is bone dry will allow that to be reliably repeated. Mostly.

How to water pots properly

Water won’t be able to easily penetrate the soil if its dried out. Or just run down the side of the pot where the soil has contracted. A simple test is to stick in a pencil or finger to a depth of two inches. If soil sticks to it then it has water enough for now. If nothing sticks then its time to water. It is also possible to break down the dry surface tension by adding washing up liquid, just a drop will do. That will help stop a tension forming and allow the water to soak in.

Watering of pots can be done weekly, if one properly; more frequently in severe heat or the prolonged absence of rain. Frequent shallow watering, in pots or in the ground, will stimulate the roots to grow to where the water is, near the surface, rather than deep into the soil where you want them to be. Water running out through the drainage holes tells you its done thoroughly.

How to water pots
Water pots thoroughly but less frequently

When you water also matters. Water in the morning or later in the evening, preventing the immediate evaporation that could occur in extreme heat. The reason most usually given was that leaves may be scorched in the sun, the water droplets magnifying the sun. This myth was debunked by tests as long ago as 2010.

How to water pots check list

Fill your pots to the correct level with  compost; leave room for water.

Test the soil to establish if water is needed.

Water less frequently but more thoroughly.

If the pot has dried out, apply water in parts gradually soaking the root ball enough for the water have got all the way to the bottom pf the pot.

If need be add washing up liquid to the water.

Bourne End gardener, garden services Bourne End Taplow Marlow, Loudwater Flackwell Heath


Look after lawns in drought

Look after lawns in drought
cutting grass in dry weather, drought, top tips for lawns in summer

It’s been a bit dry lately, but grass is growing strongly.  But now is the time you must manage it carefully, by adjusting how and when you cut. This is how to look after lawns in drought.

Grass is tough, and though it may start to turn brown it will come back when the wet stuff finally arrives.  When that is we don’t know. If there has been no rain by Friday 23rd this drought will be as long as the famous hot summer of 1976.

While grass is growing try to change your outlook. Rather than approaching it as a  “shortening, consider it to be an “evening up”,  making it all level. Raise the blade height and consider leaving the clippings behind to help retain moisture and, if its clipped fine enough, actually feed the lawn too.

There is always a tendency to try to cut the lawn short. Like Wimbledon, or Lords.  But they have staff to fuss and care over it, t lavish water and replacements for the food it can’t create by photosynthesis.

The blade of grass is the plant’s leaf,  where the chlorophyll uses the sun to create its food. By removing the blade you reduce its ability to grow, in effect , weakening it.

Three rules to look after lawns in drought

So, Rule 1. Cut your grass long.

And the industry is fairly much agreed on the view that you should only ever cut 1/3rd of the leaf.

But what if you have a “lawn” that has grass growing at different lengths? Then what you are doing is making it level, rather than cutting the whole thing. There are ways to improve the vigour of the rest of the grass, thereby making it grow more evenly.

Rule 2 Only reduce the blade length by 1/3rd.

And more topically, what about the heat, or lack of rain? If you can’t water your lawn then it’s in the hands of the gods. But you can look after lawns in drought by preventing the loss of any water that is present. Leave the collecting box off the back of the mower, even if it is every other cut. That way the trimmings are left to shelter the roots of the grass a little, and they may also be able to return some nitrogen to the soil too,

Rule 3. Don’t collect the clippings when its hot, leave them to mulch the grass.

Look after lawns in drought
Scalping weakens the grass, leaving t vulnerable to weeds and heat. Cut the grass long!

There are views that over cutting the grass can create more problems. Scalping leaves soil open to weed seeds, shorter weaker grass can’t compete with them. And there may even be benefits to some invading insects.

My favourite resource on lawns has to be Lawnsmith, where you get a no-nonsense view on what is right and what’s not. If you care for your lawn you’d be wise to take a look.


Your garden during a hose pipe ban

Your garden during a hose pipe ban
how to get around a hose pipe ban,
how to water your garden in hose pipe ban

Although it has not yet happened, a hose pipe ban seems almost inevitable. Prepare yourself now to water more efficiently, and more important, legally. It’s been a big investment, know what you can and can’t do in your garden during a hose pipe ban.

According to the Met Office, April 2017 in the southern region where we are saw less than 20% of the average rainfall for the last 30 years.

That has implications for those trying to undertake the regular scheduled garden jobs that we’d expect to do at this time of the year. Planting and dividing perennials, planting large shrubs or trees sowing or repairing lawns – try aerating a lawn with clay underneath right now – are all jobs having to be delayed. Unfortunately we don’t know until when, making planning projects quite difficult.

Your garden during a hose pipe ban
Rainfall in April was at a 35 year low. Source: Met Office

The lack of rain suggests a ban on hose pipes. They use 900 litres an hour, so are an easy way to save water usage. But they don’t consider your garden during a hose pipe ban.

There are ways to get around it, though I don’t advocate using hose pipes willy nilly. If you are a blue badge holder you can register to continue to use your hose pipe. But for everyone else the watering can beckons. You can fill and empty the watering can as many times as you like.

Every cloud has a silver lining

But those with extensive gardens this may be an opportunity. Invest now in an irrigation system, to save water now and still be able to keep your plants alive. And to save you time and water in the future. An irrigation system, especially with automated or timed watering can also be an asset that adds value to your garden and house.

There are several makers to consider, and they start from simple leaky hose pipe laid across flower beds to complex pipes with dropper or spray valves. Only the ones that drip onto soil are exempt, so no no sprays or misters.

Leaky pipe systems use the same connectors as your regular hose. Installing now makes sense, while plants are still not too big. They get water down onto the ground where plants need it most. This cuts out the wind drift and evaporation associated with sprinklers.

Mulching over the top with leaf mould will help keep that moisture in, and also help stop weeds. Some of them can grow  regardless of how much water we get.

I personally use leaky pipes in the greenhouse and in the main flower beds, and can’r recommend them enough.  They can really make a difference to your garden during a hose pipe ban. Get them ordered and install now before the garden centres run out.

The RHS still have their advice from April 2012 on their website, describing strategies to cope with drought.