GARDENING: Time to cut the grass or perhaps lay a lawn
Easter weekend is here! Weather permitting, the next few days will find would-be enthusiasts nationwide out in the fresh air playing catch-up in their gardens. Why? Because it's a long-held tradition, a way of laying down a marker of intent and hope. Leaving winter thoughts behind.
The whine of lawn mowers will fill the air, a row or more of first early potatoes will be planted, spring flowers introduced to beds and containers. All of this could be followed by aching muscles, perhaps used for the first time in months - unless! You set yourself limited targets of achievement and take one or more breaks in between activities.
There is a satisfaction attached to cutting the lawn for the first time, that runs deeper than walking back and forth behind a mechanical tool. For me it's the uplifting, tangible effect of transforming the appearance of the surrounding borders.
Grass has been into growth mode for a few weeks now. We are onto the second cut the year in this garden. If you are mowing for the first time remember to walk over the area in search of any debris, twigs, stones, and avoid the cost of untimely repairs. Raise the cutting height of the blades initially if they`re still set on last year's final trim and lower them as the weeks progress.
This is an ideal time to construct an instant lawn with turf and transform a chosen part of your garden in a day. It generally comes in one square metre rolls which I lay in brickwork fashion to encourage solid bonding between each. It's handy to have a broad plank of wood at the ready for any necessary access. There is also the option of developing a lawn from seed. This is less costly, but there is the wait for germination and growth before the desired impact. First decide on the lawn type you want, then buy the appropriate quality of seed. Is it to be a formal ornamental lawn? Or a cheerful green patch of grass destined to be a utility or play area?
Give some thought to ground preparation before sowing seed or laying turf. Fork and rake it over, removing any stones etc. Tread over the area to make it firm, spread a light covering of phosphate fertiliser to encourage root development, rake over lightly and sow the seed or lay turf.
Although certain restrictions continue, we are better placed for access to garden plants and sundries this Easter than that of last year. Click and collect allows us to order items from a local source, turn up and take them away. Garden centres and some related nearby outlets remain open for those prepared to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Such
access is a veritable lifeline when Easter arrives. Those with a greenhouse facility heated or otherwise, can buy a range of young plug plants, safe in the knowledge that they have a suitable place to grow them on, away from late frosts. I have several trays of seedlings and young potted plants making steady progress in the unheated greenhouse. There is a lightweight fleece to hand that can easily be draped over them if necessary.
One month ago, I dug some spring flowering polyanthus and primulas from the garden where they overwinter. They were planted into pots and placed on the greenhouse staging. This has brought them into growth and bloom as planned for Easter display. This weekend, some will go into an outdoor bed, others are destined for containers. Get along to a plant outlet, buy a few and brighten up your Easter.
All we need now is a hint of sunshine to make allotments and gardens spring into life and activity. There is digging to be done, first early potatoes to plant, peas, beans, salad crops to sow, sticks of rhubarb to pick and winter greens to harvest.
But it's also important not to overdo the physical element. Take time out to visit local gardens open to the public and walk in the countryside. Imbibe the fragrances, colours and new growth. Plants are celebrating spring too!