The Coronavirus outbreak has forced many local authorities to suspend green waste collections, and to close tips and refuse sites. So what can you do if your council has stopped collecting your garden waste?
The obvious answer is to use it to make your own compost. You’ll turn your garden waste into a valuable resource that will nourish your plants and improve your soil. But if you can’t do that, we’ve got lots of other ways you can reduce or use up your garden waste. And what if you want to compost, but don’t have a compost bin or haven’t had much success with composting in the past? We’ve put together our expert guides to help making compost at home as easy as possible – from choosing the right compost bin to what to put in it.
Buy the right compost bin
Buy the best compost bin for your garden – there are a range of plastic compost bins
If you haven’t made compost before, now’s the time to take the plunge and start composting. If you already have a compost bin, consider investing in another – you’ll be able to leave one to rot down, while filling the other. There’s a plethora of types, shapes and sizes of compost bin available online, so how do you know which is the best compost bin for you. We talk you through the pros and cons of the different types to help ensure your composting gets off to the best start.
Make a compost heap
Adding garden waste to a compost heap
If you’re gardening on a budget, why not make your own compost heap? It’s easy to do and you can make it fit whatever space you have.
How to compost
Taking compost out of a wooden composter
Making your own compost can seem like a dark art, fraught with challenges, but our guides are here to make composting easy. We’ll explain what to put in your compost bin, how to get the balance of materials right and how to ensure it turns into rich, crumbly compost you can use around your garden. You’ll also find answers to common compost problems.
Get a wormery
Adding garden waste and kitchen scraps to a wormery
What can you do if you don’t have space for a compost bin? Wormeries are a great way to recycle your kitchen scraps to make compost and fertiliser. Wormeries are also perfect for small gardens – you can even put one on a balcony. You can buy everything you need online – even the worms!
Make wildlife homes
A wildlife habitat make from logs, sticks and leaves
If you have lots of woody branches and stems, these can be difficult to compost as they’re slow to break down. However, you can use them to make wildlife habitats, which can benefit a whole host of creatures in your garden. Bringing wildlife into the garden is a great way to add interest and can help to provide organic pest control – for example, beetles eat slugs, aphids and maggots.
Stop cats pooing in the garden
The prickly leaves of holly – Ilex aquifolium ‘Ferox Argentea’
Bare soil is a magnet for cats. If you have a vegetable patch or an area of soil you’ve recently dug over, it can feel like all the nearby cats are making a beeline for it. But prickly evergreen clippings, such as holly and conifers, which are difficult to compost, could be the solution. Lay them across the surface of bare soil, to encourage cats to go elsewhere.
Deal with grass cuttings
A lawn mower mowing grass and clover
If you have a lawn, you face the challenge of what to do with the grass cuttings. These are high in nitrogen and if too many are added to your compost, it can quickly turn smelly and sludgy. Adding brown material, such as woody stems or cardboard, to your compost will help restore the balance.
You could also try to reduce the amount of grass clippings you produce, by letting your lawn grow a little longer than normal – this will help stop it drying out in summer. Or why not leave areas of your lawn to grow long and just mow paths through. If you have a mulching mower, use it! And if you have a mower that collects the clippings, in summer you can sprinkle some of the clippings back onto the lawn to help retain moisture. You can also spread lawn clippings out on patches of bare soil under trees, where they will decompose and add organic matter to the soil.
Make your own plant supports
Sweet peas climbing hazel sticks
Use long, sturdy stems and twiggy branches as plant supports – keep them somewhere dry and use them in the summer to support climbing plants and prop up plants with a tendency to flop.
Make your own mulch
If you have lots of woody prunings, you could invest in a shredder and use it to make your own woodchip mulch. Stack the chips at the back of a border for a few months to rot down before using them to mulch around trees and shrubs.
Protect tender plants from late frosts
In spring, overnight frosts can damage emerging tender plants. Help to protect tender plants by laying cut branches on the soil surface around the plants.
Provided you have enough space to use it safely, you could buy an incinerator. Burning is a good way to get rid of diseased plant material.