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Companion planting – it’s all in the name

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Companion planting – for garden borders and vegetable gardens

As the name suggest companion planting is all about teaming plants up so they can help each other out. Plants natural grow together as a mixture of different species in the natural environment they grow in. From a gardeners point of view this simply means mixing up the plant species to get away from the monocrop situation and planing plants to combine with your existing plants in borders and vegetable gardens to support each other by sharing mycorrhiza and to defend against pests.

 

The benefits of companion planting are

  • Break up large block of plants of the same species which create a bigger target for pests.

  • Support insects such as ladybirds and lacewings that feed on Pest such as aphids

  • Cultivate plants that release chemical agents to keep pests away

 

GardenAdvice top recommendations on companion plants for garden borders and vegetable gardens

  • Calendula

  • Tagetes

  • Pyrethrum

  • Nasturtiums

 

Top Tips for a First Time Landscaper

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

When you decide to carry out some landscaping of your own, you need to have the essential pieces of equipment to ensure your work runs smoothly and everything goes to plan. You should also give yourself some basic insight into the world of landscaping, from tips and tricks from professionals to simple pieces of advice from friends and family.

Create Edges

In the wonderful world of landscaping, edging is extremely popular. Making an edge around the garden can instantly transform the overall look and turn your garden into a neat, trimmed space that screams sophistication. By introducing edging to your garden, you are able to make the maintenance of the garden much easier to handle, from weeding to sweeping and trimming. You’ll also find that it’s easier to create a bold look when adding in colourful flowers or plants that are going to bring that area of the garden to life.

The Right Tools

Investing in the right tools for your landscaping is essential, as it will help you to do everything to the best quality and potential. You’ll find that certain tools are really important when it comes to landscaping, and if you get yourself some cheap alternatives you may find yourself struggling to get the work done properly. Find yourself a set of good quality, durable gardening tools to help you with all of the work you’re going to be doing. If you look after your tools and keep them stored in the garage or shed when not in use, you’ll find that they’ll last you for many years to come, so it’s certainly worth investing that little extra for the quality.

Purchase a Tarpaulin

Whether it’s to protect some your Scarab spare parts and machinery, or its to help with planting and digging, a tarpaulin sheet is essential with landscaping. Not only will a tarpaulin sheet help protect all kinds of items, from electrical equipment and gardening tools, to garden furniture and flower beds, it’ll also make life much easier when it comes to cleaning up after yourself. Simply placing a tarp under the hedge when you’re trimming it down will help to catch all of the debris and loose branches, making it easier to dispose of at the end of the day.

Create a Compost Pile

As a first-time landscaper, you may not realise the benefits of having a compost pile just yet. Once you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll start to see just how useful they can be. Compost piles are a place for you to dispose of all kinds of things, from vegetables, fruit and other food waste, to leaves and debris from the garden. After a while, the contents of your compost heap will become nutritious for your garden and help to keep the grass and flowerbeds thriving throughout the summertime. Creating a compost pile is a great way to stay environmentally friendly, whilst recycling certain items to add to the gardens overall appearance. As time goes on, you’ll find yourself loving your compost pile and all of it’s benefits!

Different Ways to Use a Tarpaulin Sheet in the Garden

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Tarpaulins are extremely useful when it comes to the garden, as not only can you use them to cover and protect, but you can also use them as an aid with your projects. You’ll find that most tarpaulin sheets come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, with many gardening centres and hardware stores stocking a strong selection of them, so they’re easy to get your hands on too! As a gardener, you’ll find your tarpaulin to be a fantastic investment that is very worth the money. Interested in how you’d use a tarpaulin in your garden? Here is a selection of key uses for the everyday gardener.

Rotating Crops

You often find that rotating your crops can be a challenging project, especially when you want to reuse the soil and keep it neat and compact. Crop rotating is the process of adding the seeds for one plant, into a soil bed that was previously used by another family of plants. This enables your crops to grow to their full potential, eliminating the risk of weeds invading and killing your plants and creating a challenging environment for insects to enter too. The tarpaulin sheet comes in handy when you remove the soil from one area of the garden, giving you a place to keep it whilst you plant the next seeds. You can then pick up the tarp sheet and cover the newly planted seeds in the soil.

Protecting Your Garden

Here in England we have a very unreliable weather forecast from day to day. You never know whether you’re going to have glorious sunshine or heavy snow, and it can all change so quickly too. With this in mind, it’s really beneficial to invest in a tarpaulin sheet to help protect certain areas of the garden. Protecting your garden from the drastic weather conditions will have a huge impact on the performance of your crops, quality of your tools and so on. There are lots of different tarpaulin sizes and you can head over to www.tarpaulinsdirect.co.uk to read their blog for additional information regarding tarpaulins and their uses for different things. Having your tools, garden furniture and even flowerbeds covered by a tarpaulin sheet will simply help to prevent the weather from damaging the items, whilst also keeping them fresh and ready for use when the right time comes.

Compost Companion

Throughout many homes today you’ll find that compost piles are becoming more and more popular. Not only are they perfect for nourishing your gardens soil, but they help to recycle certain foods and waste that you’d normally just throw into the bin. Your compost heap can be created from all kinds of materials such as grass and other garden waste, vegetables, fruit and other food leftovers. You can also add items such as newspaper and teabags to the pile too. When maintaining your compost heap, it’s important to have the right balance of air and moisture, so using a tarpaulin sheet to cover the compost pile will help with this. The tarpaulin will also help keep the compost pile fresh and clean when heavy weather conditions kick in, as well as preventing the contents of the pile from blowing around the garden.

Best tips on how to remove garden waste

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Presently, The State of Waste 2016 report expresses that the normal rubbish container of an Australia family unit contains 60% natural material, with 20% of this being garden waste. While the normal junk bin may sufficiently expansive to hold the normal week’s waste, what do you do when you have a monstrous garden cleanout? You could dispose of it a tiny bit at a time in every week after week local pickup. Be that as it may, this may take weeks, even a long time to expulsion all your garden waste. Garden waste removal is a difficult process, so if you need help, here we are.

 

Request a green waste reusing canister

Numerous inhabitants utilize the local council’s green waste reusing bins to discard their garden waste. This is a shabby and simple method for arranging garden waste; be that as it may, it isn’t extremely proficient while arranging substantial amounts of waste.

You should simply fill your refuse container with your garden waste and it will be gathered on your assigned accumulation day. From here, it sends it to a reusing warehouse for mulching.

Requesting a green waste reusing container might be direct, yet it isn’t the best method for arranging garden waste. Do comprehend that you may need to hold up 14 days to have your waste gathered. In addition, there is additionally a point of confinement to the measure of waste that will fit into a green waste reusing bin.

In case you’re not happy with long pauses, or in the event that you have a humongous measure of waste to arrange, a green waste reusing bin may not work for you. In such cases, you should take a gander at other within reach.

 

Drive your loss to the closest tip

Numerous inhabitants likewise arrange plant waste themselves by taking it to the closest tip. This is a straightforward arrangement, given that you don’t have to rely on any other person to dispose of your waste. You should simply gather your waste, organize transportation and take your loss to the tip.

This sounds extremely basic, however as a general rule, it’s a long way from simple. It requires a considerable measure of effort to gather your waste, mastermind transportation and take it to the tip. Additionally, it can likewise be a costly issue. In the event that you don’t have a UTE or trailer, you’ll have to tolerate the expenses for transportation and you may likewise be charged a dumping charge. To exacerbate the situation, this procedure is extremely tedious.

Be that as it may, these are not by any means the only reasons why this technique isn’t an ideal method for arranging garden waste. The most serious issue with this strategy is that a great many people just don’t know how to arrange to cultivate waste legitimately and wind up dumping it in a landfill with general waste, which is to a great degree destructive to the earth. This procedure expands profitable landfill space and additionally, garden or natural waste in landfills deteriorates to create unsafe o-zone harming substances.

 

Contract plant skip bins

At long last, the easiest and best method for arranging a lot of garden waste is by contracting garden skip canisters. Just contact a skip bin supplier and demand for a garden skip. The skip canister will be conveyed to your area around the same time, or out on the town you ask.

Once your garden skip container arrives, you’ll have a 5-day window to top it off with your waste. From that point onward, waste evacuation specialists will gather the skip and take your waste away for transfer. As straightforward as that!

Additionally, you can arrange any amount of waste in plant skip containers.

Likewise, by contracting garden skip containers, you can guarantee that your waste is arranged legitimately.

Easy And Affordable Ways To Add A Water Feature To Your Garden

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Most avid gardeners have no qualms spending money to ensure that their outdoor space looks its best all year round. According to a survey, British gardeners will spend an average of £30,000 on their gardens over their lifetimes. While renewing patios or adding other garden features can be satisfying for many homeowners, the cost of maintaining a beautiful garden can do a number on one’s budget. This is why it’s important to find low-cost yet effective ways to add impact to one’s backyard, and one way to do that is to add a water feature to your garden. Some water features such as pools or koi ponds can be expensive, but there are others that are equally stunning and can provide a natural element to your home. Here are a few easy and affordable ways to add a water feature to your garden.

Install an outdoor water fountain

Consider installing a tiered or wall outdoor water fountain to give your outdoor space a fresh and unique vibe. A sphere or Asian-inspired water fountain can give your garden a tranquil feel, while a tiered or urn fountain gives your space a classic look. If you want something a little more modern, you can have a glass outdoor fountain on your deck. Remember to clean your fountain on a regular basis to prevent mold or mildew build-up. Enhance the look of your fountain by surrounding it with flowering plants or install a few outdoor lights over and under it to make it stand out at night.

Create a tabletop water feature

DIY enthusiasts can easily make a tabletop water feature out of a simple ceramic or glass bowl, a mini water pump, aquarium stones, shells, marbles, and a few waterproof mementos or decorative elements. Alternatively, you can make one out of a deep planter and fill it with sand, water, and a few rocks. For special occasions, float a few tealight candles and fresh flowers on it.

Build a raised pond

To attract birds to your garden, try building a raised pond. You can make a raised circular pond from bricks or small stones and make it tall enough to hold at least three feet of water. Fill it with sand, water, and ornamental floating plants and surround it with potted flowering plants to make it look more natural.

Water elements add a touch of magic to any garden. Try adding a water feature to your garden and enjoy relaxing to the presence and sound of water after a long day at work.

The Things You Need to Know Before Building a Fence

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Having fencing in your garden is really beneficial, but before you get started on building your fence, there are a few important things you need to do. Whilst building a fence is a fairly straightforward process, if you don’t do some key preparation beforehand you could really find yourself struggling.

 

Know the Purpose

When you decide to add a fence to the garden, there’s more often than not a reason behind you doing so. Whether it’s to keep the dog in the garden, keep the neighbors from peering into your garden on a sunny afternoon, or simply add a little privacy to your home, you need to know why you’re adding the fence to ensure you’re doing it in the best way. A prime example of this would be adding a strong, durable fence to keep your dog inside. This fence would need to be high enough for them to not be able to jump over, whilst also being completely secure with no gaps in any of the paneling. Similarly, if you only need to keep the garden separate from your neighbors, but don’t mind it being lower than normal, you may want to opt for a traditional picket fence to add to the aesthetics of the garden over the practical elements.

Research First

Before you invest your money in some fencing from the local timber merchants or garden centre, you want to be sure you’re getting the right thing. There are so many different types of fencing, so you need to do some research to find out what is available to you and what will work best in your garden. You can also research prices to find the best cost in your area, as you may find that one retailer is selling the panels for slightly cheaper, when the material itself is just as good quality wise.

Select a Material

Deciding on the right material for your fencing can be challenging, especially if you don’t know the difference between the options you have. Have a think of which fencing style is going to suit your garden and your needs best, as this will then help you to find a material that looks right, whilst meeting the needs you have at the same time. Investing your money in some treated timber is going to ensure you have durable, high-quality materials that are guaranteed to stand heavy weather conditions for many years to come. Whereas, having a small painted fence may result in cracked or faded paint that may need frequent maintenance after the heavy weather has been.

Be Considerate

Whilst introducing fencing to your garden is going to really boost the safety, privacy and security, you don’t know how it’s going to look to your neighbors. Many people go ahead and add fencing to the garden without giving their neighbors the heads up, and this can often cause an issue or two. By consulting your neighbor and just letting them know your plans, they can prepare for their garden to look different too. They may even want to add a little input to help make the fencing work for both gardens. At the end of the day, you share this area with your neighbour, so you want to be considerate and let them know what’s going on out of respect and kindness.

How to Bring Life to the Exterior of Your Home

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

From the moment someone enters your street your home is on full display, so its important to have it looking it’s best for everyone to see. You wouldn’t leave the interiors of your home for months on end with no cleaning or TLC, so why do that to the exterior? All it takes is a few hours once a month to really freshen up the exterior of your home, and it’s extremely beneficial to do. You want your home to be a warm and welcoming from the inside out, and in order to achieve this it needs to be bright and fresh.

Wash down Walls
First things first, you need to ensure the walls of your property are clean. Throughout the year your home experiences some heavy weather conditions, from rain and winds, to snow and sleet, so you want to make sure your walls are as clean and debris-free as possible. It may sound unlikely, but the odd leaf or muddy area on the wall can completely change the look of your home and make it look dull and tired. By pressure washing down your walls you will notice a change in the colour and look, which in turn will bring the property back to life.

Clear Gutters and Drains
Just like the garden area, your gutters and drains can gather lots of general rubbish throughout the year. From leaves and garden debris, to general waste that has blown through from the street, you’d be surprised how much can gather and build up in the gutters. If you fail to keep on top of your drains and gutters, then you may find that after a long period of time your drains may start to overflow due to blockages. This can cause some serious issues so it’s important to clear these frequently to prevent any issues like this occurring.

Re-check the Roof
Even though it’s difficult to see the roof from ground level, it’s still an area of your home that needs to be looked after and cared for frequently. Especially during the winter months, you may find that your roof loses tiles, experiences cracks in existing tiles or even gains holes from where other tiles have fallen, and this is not something you want to happen. It’s really beneficial to get a durable roof ladder and make your way onto the roof at least once every few months, just to keep on top of the conditions of the tiles and ensure everything is in order. If you do find that there are any broken or missing tiles, it’s important to fix this as soon as possible to prevent any larger problems further down the line.

Tidy the Garden
For many people, the garden is an area that surrounds your home, making it a very large part of the overall appearance. The moment you enter someone’s driveway, you’ll instantly start to take in your surroundings, from the garden through to the exterior of the property. This makes it really important to have a neat and tidy garden for people to look at, with neatly trimmed grass, colourful flowers and unique features to add your own personal style into the aesthetics. The beneficial thing about gardening is that once you’re on top of the work and have it looking fresh and welcoming, you’ll find it much easier to maintain the standards and keep it looking beautiful with very little effort each month.

Has Your Garden Suffered This Winter?

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Have the testing conditions that come with winter wreaked havoc on your garden? If so, you are not alone with numerous gardens up and down the country falling victim to the frost. Spring is a still a little way off but that doesn’t mean that we cannot get a head-start on prepping our gardens for when the sun does finally come out to play.

For those green-fingered among us, we have put together a list of some of the things that you can do to begin the revival of your garden post winter.

Remove Damaged Branches from Trees

In winter, conditions can not only be cold but windy, too. That can cause damage to branches of trees, such as snapping from the seams and general wear and tear. Instead of attempting to persevere with these broken branches, it is far better to completely remove them.

Cut away broken branches just below the damage, allowing for the branch to regrow. Non-urgent repairs can be delayed until the spring is in full swing when flowers are blossoming.

Maintaining the Lawn

If there is any part of the garden that receives more damage than anything else, it’s certainly the lawn. Grass, in the winter, can become yellow with brown patches form on the account of the increase in hydration. Rainfall is good, but too much (which, as we know, is commonplace in the UK) is detrimental.

There are two options that gardeners have to tackle problem lawns. These are:

  1. Fork the soil to help drain away standing water and, depending on the amount of damage caused, re-seed your lawn to help the grass to grow back. Regular cuts once the winter is out of the way will help to keep your lawn looking green and strong.

 

  1. Rip up the lawn and start afresh an artificial lawn. This can be a controversial subject amongst some gardeners, especially traditionalists but, in the modern day, artificial grass is every bit as good as the real thing. Making the transition is a simple one and leaves you with a perfectly green lawn all year round, without having to worry about watering, cutting or re-seeding. It’s not traditional, but it’s certainly easier.

Prudent Planting

If you have winter plants that simply have not kicked into gear then, rather than persevering with dying/dead flowers, cut your losses and get rid. If your winter plants are not blossoming by now, then they never will.

Instead, look ahead to spring and look to replenish your garden’s blossoms now. It may seem a little on the early side to look ahead to warmer weather plants, which is why should look to invest in a greenhouse if you haven’t already got on in your possession. Begin growing spring flowers now and, by the time winter is officially over, they will be looking splendid and ready to add colour to your garden.

Icy/Damaged Patio

Winter not only causes chaos to your garden’s blossoms, but damaged patio can also be as a result of icy conditions. During the winter, the patio is a safety hazard with an accident just waiting to happen. If your garden still sees plenty of traffic in the winter, make sure to grit the patio with salt.

Freeze-thaw causes concrete slabs to weaken and crack becoming unsightly, as well as potentially being unsafe to walk on. Concrete sealer can help to maintain your patio to an extent, although more serious cases of damage will need to be replaced to preserve your garden’s safety.

These are just some of the simple things that you can do to patch up your garden from a long and hard winter, ready to kick it into gear ready for when spring and summer come around.

How to make gardening fun for children

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Gardening can be a fun activity for all of the family to enjoy. As well as being something different for the children to experience, it can also be beneficial for their wellbeing and education. Together with Suttons, an online retailer and gardening expert, we take a look at the benefits of gardening for children and ways to encourage their participation.

Benefits of children gardening

There are many benefits of children spending time in the garden — both from an educational and health perspective.

There is a worrying statistic that three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. Children are becoming more interested in tablets and smartphones and tend to spend more time in the house. Gardening is a great way to get them involved with something different outside.

For younger children, messy play helps to enhance their sensory development. This could involve letting them play with the mud, splash in some puddles and get their hands dirty! It helps your child build their vocabulary too by becoming exposed to plants and creatures that they wouldn’t if they were indoors. Their interest can be captivated with brightly coloured flowers and scented plants.

The research that has been carried out has all shown positive impacts of gardening on children’s behavior and skill development. Some findings include:

  • After participating in a one-year gardening programme as part of their school curriculum, children aged 8-11 showed a significant increase in the ability to work in groups compared to those children who didn’t participate at all.
  • Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables or at least express a preference for these foods.
  • Youth interns in community gardens reported increases in maturity and interpersonal skills.
  • Students expressed an increased understanding of ecology and responsibility to care for the environment.

 

Activities to try

There are many different activities to try in the garden. As well as having structured games, it can be good to let your child take the lead on what they want to do in the garden. They might use their own imagination to come up with an activity that you can both get involved in.

For older children, you could create a bird feeder out of a plastic bottle to encourage wildlife into the garden. This is easy enough to do:

  • Create 2 holes opposite each other at the bottom of the bottle, insert a stick through this and this will become a perch
  • Make feeding holes close to the perch (not too big or else the feed will fall out)
  • Create holes in the neck of the bottle, you can pass string through here and hang the bottle from a branch
  • Unscrew the lid and fill with seeds for the birds!

For smaller children, you could take them around the garden and search for clues to which animals have visited. This could be in the form of feathers, tiny tracks or snail trails.

 

Grow their own

As well as playing games and getting crafty, you can also grow plants and vegetables with children. This is a good way for them to get regularly involved in the garden and monitor their own progress.

Trees

Growing a tree is understandably a long-term gardening project, but it can be fun for a child to see how their tree is growing over time.

Easy seeds to grow in the garden are:

  • Conkers. These can be collected from a horse chestnut tree
  • Acorns from an oak tree
  • Helicopters from a sycamore tree

These can all be planted in a pot with soil and compost. It is likely that it will be around spring when the seed sprouts — you may have to transfer it to a bigger pot eventually.

Seeds

Planting seeds with your children that are easy to sow and quick growing are good for keeping their attention and interest levels in the garden. Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and spring onions are all easy to grow and maintain.

To encourage healthy eating, plant those that they like to eat so they can follow the journey of the seed from planting to their plate!

There are other plants that are fun to grow. Suttons sell vegetable seeds and a range of fun seeds that have been designed for children. These include:

  • Cress — a fast-growing plant that can be grown indoors and outdoors and added to a salad afterwards.
  • Sunflowers — tall growing so children can practise their measuring skills as it grows.
  • A Mimosa Pudica (a dancing plant) that when it is touched, its leaves ‘dance’ and curl up tightly.

The list of activities is endless that you can do with your children in the garden. Get outdoors and get involved with your child and you’ll soon see the benefits!  

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/gardening_with_children/

https://www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/cms/tips-and-advice/garden-inspiration/gardening-with-children/

http://kidsinthegarden.co.uk/plants-for-kids/growing-vegetables-with-children/

http://www.peecworks.org/peec/peec_reports/01795CA8-001D0211.32/CYE_FactSheet3_Benefits%20of%20Gardening%20for%20Children_August%2020.pdf

http://www.growingschools.org.uk/Resources/Downloads/RHS-Gardening-in-Schools.pdf

http://www.peartreechildcare.co.uk/blog/the-importance-of-messy-and-sensory-play/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/25/three-quarters-of-uk-children-spend-less-time-outdoors-than-prison-inmates-survey

December Gardening Calendar

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Welcome to the GardenAdvice gardening calendar for the 3rd  week in December 2017

A Happy Christmas and New Year to all our members and viewers
Christmas is all a bit of a rush however well planned your seasonal holidays have been planned and its the same with the garden. Its always a rush in late spring to organise the summer colours in your garden, however some planning and forethought goes a long way. This coming new year, to give you a head start on some summer colour we recommend Bulbs and beyond – premier suppliers of summer colour!

Colourful summer gardens are all about planning – and that’s especially the case with summer bulbs, corms, tubers, and rhizomes such as Lilies, Gladioli, Dahlias, Cannas and Zantedeschias (Calla Lilies). Now is the time to start thinking about planning your summer colour schemes and also pre-ordering your bulbs so you get the best stock available as soon as possible. Bulbs are delivered from March onwards so you’ll receive them at the right planting time. It is important to remember that most summer-flowering bulbs do not tolerate frost so if you have to store them, even for short period of time, do take appropriate measures to protect them from late frost. For summer colours inspiration, visit the GardenAdvice recommended expert supplier Bulbs & beyond
Your bulbs will be delivered to your doorstep direct from Holland so you’ll know they have been stored and treated professionally when you receive them at the right planting time. All you have to do is plant and enjoy them!
If you are a MyGardenTeam member ask your GardenAdvice expert gardener to come up with a few suggestions on summer bulbs, corms, tubers, and rhizomes to add some colour to you garden this summer.

Garden Wildlife – for the wildlife in your garden winter is all about shelter and food. Provide your garden wildlife with these two items and most of the wildlife in your garden will reward you by eating the pests that attack you crops and plants in the spring and summer. Shelter is easy to provide for most wildlife with hedgehogs for example its about making sure they have access under your garden shed or compost heap. Another example of shelter for wildlife is toads, they love upturned clay pots on soft or sandy soil. With your garden birds especially the small one such as blue tits its about leaving a few shrubs slightly over grow or some ivy on a wall to prove them with a place to roost during the hardest days in winter. Food is another mater with birds it easy, just make sure you have a stock of wild bird food in-store and ready to go. With lots of other garden wildlife turning over some of your soil on your veg plot will often turn up a few beetles and other insects plus the odd worm or two to keep wildlife that been hibernating and woken up for a snack going until the spring.

Ponds – leave the cutting down of the foliage from your water plants until the spring as it often provides a source of food for garden wildlife for example bull rush heads are a great source of food for finches.
Its a good idea to place a small blow up plastic football in your the pool or pond. This will stop the water freezing totally in a hard frost . The water around the football will not freeze it leaving just a patch of clear water which helps stop the ice damaging the pond and allows fish and other garden wildlife access to clear water in big freezes.

Compost heaps – to keep your compost heaps of bins working during the winter its a good idea to cover or wrap them with carpet. This will hold the heat in the compost and helps keep the bacteria and fungi active break down the compost

Planting
It might be cold and windy at this time of year but now is the ideal time to carry out any hardy plant planting in your garden with such items as trees, shrubs and perennial plants.  At the time of year although the air is cold often the soil is still warm enough to promote new root growth on newly planted hardy plants

Root balled plants – As the winter planting season gets under-way get some advice on root balled plants.
When you are buying evergreen root balled plants in the autumn and winter often a nursery will grow a number of plants and buy in root balled plants from abroad so ask if its a locally grown plant or if they have been brought in. The advantage being that locally grown plants are already used to your conditions, if they have been grown in the South of Italy they are in for a bit of a shock. More

Time to look at your stored crops of apples and pears.
The Xmas and New Year is a good time to check on any apples and pears you have in storage. Make sure they are not touching each other and any signs of brushing or discolouring remove them before the effect the whole crop. You will have heard the saying one rotten apple will spoil a barrel

Beech trees and Hedges
The Christmas and new year period is you last chance to plant a bare root beech hedge – for reasons not fully understood planting them from January onwards and they never seem to do so well as the one planted at or before Christmas and new year period.

Glasshouse
The seasonal holidays are a great time to clean out your glasshouse and get it ready for the seed sowing in February / March in a heated glasshouse. Wash down all the pots, seed trays, staging and other structures with a mixture of Jeyes fluid and water, the idea being it will kill all the overwintering pest eggs and fungal spores. Then start on the glass making sure you remove all the moss etc. where the pains overlap.

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