In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.
Look after your lawn in spring and Nathan James Dodd says it will pay dividends later on in the season. After a long winter the lawn will be crying out for a good lawn care product. The resultant healthy growth will make it more resilient for the coming year, thickening the grass and discouraging many potential problems.
A granular spring feed that releases its goodness over a period of several weeks is probably best. The three key ingredients are a high percentage of Nitrogen for colour and growth, Phosphorous for a good root system and Potash to strengthen the plant so it will better survive stress such as drought.
Follow the application instructions carefully, I once had a neighbour who mis-read the instructions on the packet and his lawn, instead of verdant green, turned into torched brown. You can scatter the feed by hand or purchase a spreader. If you spread by hand, perhaps mark out a small area first and practise applying the correct amount.
A healthy lawn that has been well fed and looked after will discourage weeds but if you have inherited a poor lawn then choose an all in one feed with weed killer. If you don't have too many weeds, dig them out individually – always extracting the tap root.
If you don't want a bad back, there are thankfully products available to eliminate weeds without bending down. Fill any holes with top soil and grass seed.
If, like me, your biggest problem is moss. It thrives in cold winter and may have invaded most of the lawn of the winter. The all in one feed may include moss killer or you can buy it separately but wait until the grass has resumed growing before applying it.
Once the moss has died, scarify the grass with a manual or motorised rake or scarifier. After the last time I did this, the lawn looked like the fifth day pitch at Edgbaston during a hot summer. More dry earth than grass. But don't despair.
You must then aerate the soil, lessening the compaction. This can be done by buying or hiring a machine. Then overseed by hand or spreader and, to protect the seed, apply a top dressing which is a mixture of sand, peat and loam. Alternatively, you could also mix the seed with the top dressing and work in well.
Make sure the lawn is kept moist to encourage the seed to germinate. If you can discourage birds all the better but this will be easier if you only have a small area to protect.
Even if your lawn doesn't need scarifying it will benefit from aeration, overseeding and top dressing. This will improve the density of the grass after a miserable winter and rejuvenate bare patches.
When you have now knocked the lawn into shape for the spring, to keep the grass in tip top condition you must put into action a programme of mowing, feeding and maintenance throughout the summer. The grass will become thick, strong and healthy, ready and able to fight off weeds and moss.
In order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our wildlife, there's a selection of habitats and boxes you can purchase that are specifically designed to attract various small animals and insects to your garden. Here we look at some of the products available which also make unusual and very engaging gifts.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.