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Latest posts by Topbird

Rats in the compost

Posted: 25/02/2015 at 08:45

I wouldn't get rid of your lovely compost Rusty. If you are concerned about using it to grow veg in (although I don't really think you need to be - the precautions outlined above seem sensible and adequate) - have you considered using it for ornamental borders, hedges or trees instead?

You can use the compost as a mulch in these areas and lightly fork it in so there are no rat droppings left on the surface for little ones or pets to touch. Better used there than dumped at the tip 

You know spring is on its way when....

Posted: 24/02/2015 at 17:16

Wonder if Nigel learnt any new tricks over the winter? - just to upset those who think he dominates the programme 

Lawn mower, 55 and overs needed.

Posted: 24/02/2015 at 16:51

I have to agree that the price brackets given in the survey do not reflect the price of lawn mowers likely to be purchased by over 55's. The very cheap lawn mowers are only likely to be bought by those just starting out in gardening with no money and without the knowledge that you get what you pay for (sorry if that sounds patronising!). The price brackets would have been more sensible at less than £100; £100 - £150; £150 - 250 and over £250.

I did put a comment on the form that the lawn mower I need would not be available for the top price of £150. Last time I looked a replacement model for my mid-range mid-size petrol mower was well over £600 which is why I spend a not insignificant sum each year getting it serviced.

First house, first garden, new gardener!! help/advice needed!

Posted: 24/02/2015 at 16:33

It looks as though the existing path is just slabs. If so, you (someone!) should be able to lift them. If the path has been laid properly there will be a load of hardcore underneath which needs to be dug out. If you like the slabs and need to replace any broken ones near the shed or extend the paving in that area, there is no reason why you couldn't reuse some of the hard core and path slabs.

From the photos it looks as though the existing lawn is quite small and full of weeds. If you are extending the grass area you will need to get it all of a level so I would be tempted to strip away the existing grass so you can prepare & level the whole of the proposed lawn area as one piece - you will get a much better lawn that way.

That is quite a bit of hard physical work there. Not particularly skilled work (except for laying the paving) but hard graft. Can you bribe some muscle with the lure of beer & BBQ?

Make sure that any paving / stepping stones either up to or set into the grass are about 1 cm below the grass level. If they stand proud you will not be able to cut the grass properly & will forever catch the stone with lawnmower blades.

First house, first garden, new gardener!! help/advice needed!

Posted: 24/02/2015 at 13:32

Definitely right thing to do with the buddleia Charlotte - they can become as big as trees if they are not hard pruned each year & the flowers would all be at the top. You will now have a nice bushy shrub with flowers much lower down where you can enjoy them and enjoy watching the butterflies on them.

I think you've correctly identified the other shrub. Some people leave this to grow large and very bushy but I prefer to prune mine hard so there is a better display of larger leaves.

Your design looks very sensible and achievable. It is certainly a good idea to have the stepping stones through the lawn so you can access the shed in all weathers - & much nicer than a straight concrete path.

I think your shed might look rather nice if it was painted - perhaps a french grey  - which you echo with some obelisks in your borders for clematis to climb through. Just an idea 

Hello Everyone

Posted: 24/02/2015 at 09:45

Welcome Tracy - I loved Nigel too - till they threw him off the roof 

Oh - sorry! - that was The Archers from years ago - have never forgiven them..

First house, first garden, new gardener!! help/advice needed!

Posted: 24/02/2015 at 08:56
Agree with Dove's comments above & think smaller more ornamental trees such as crab apples & acers along with some bushy shrubs & trellis / climbers will give more interesting and better screening than that particular tree.
Maybe it's the angle of the photo but it looks quite top heavy for the garden and the roots are lifting the existing paving so is already causing a problem. I agree it is a lovely tree but I think it's in the wrong place in a smallish terraced garden.
Imagine the neighbours would be quite pleased to see it go too...

Lawn mower, 55 and overs needed.

Posted: 23/02/2015 at 17:15


First house, first garden, new gardener!! help/advice needed!

Posted: 23/02/2015 at 16:54

Hi Charlotte

First - congratulations on your new home - Iovely area to live - know it well! 

I agree with most of the others that the tree looks too large for the garden and needs to come out. Most well qualified tree surgeons will come out to do a site inspection, give you some free advice about roots etc and give you a quote for the work - the ones round here in Suffolk don't charge for that bit of their service.

I would also consider losing the lawn and having some well designed hard landscaping done close to the house if you can afford it. A mix of wood, brick, gravel and paving could give lots of interest, seating and perhaps a mix of levels. It doesn't have to be mega expensive and, if done well, will be a real investment! Shingle or gravel with weed suppressing membrane underneath is much cheaper than all paving & is a DIY job. It can be replaced with more expensive material later on if you prefer this. Strategically placed trellis, beds and borders would give privacy and shelter and a little careful, subtle lighting would add lots of atmosphere without annoying your neighbours.

I think you could have a very chic, urban, courtyard-style garden near the house with perhaps a slightly wilder more country style garden or potager at the far end. 

I would suggest you start off with a pencil and paper and a scaled outline of the garden. Start to sketch in where you would like things to be and what you need to have in there (storage for bikes tools etc). Work out where the sun is when you are most likely to use the garden (usually afternoon and evening) so you can make sure you put your seating and sunbathing areas in the right places. If you like cooking you could have a raised bed with herbs in as they are expensive to buy in the supermarket. If you are really keen you could grow some of your own veg as well.

Visit local gardens for inspiration - especially smaller ones. The National Garden Scheme is an excellent starting point but lots of villages have an open garden day where maybe 20 or 30 'normal' sized gardens are open to wander round. I personally find visiting large gardens enjoyable - but less than helpful when it comes to design ideas for my own much smaller patch.

Most of all enjoy it and welcome to the world of gardening. 

granite worktop

Posted: 23/02/2015 at 16:15

Good advice Joyce - same with hot pans - never risk putting one directly onto the granite. It will probably be ok but there is a risk the thermal shock can cause it to crack.

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