Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening Solutions: Tues Tip: Christmas Tree Removal Tips

With Christmas behind us, we'll soon be helping clients get rid of their Christmas trees and taking down garden lights and other decorations. The best way to avoid a mess removing your tree from your house is to place a large tarp under the tree before you start removing decorations. After all the ornaments and tree stand has been removed, pull the tarp up around the tree and carry it outside. If some needles escape and scatter inside, it's better to sweep them up as needles can clog vacuum cleaners.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening Solutions: Care for hardy herbaceous plants

Following on from some of the work Autumn work, Dec/Jan is a good time to continue to tidy flower beds and borders, digging between plants, turning the soil and cutting back invasive roots of trees and hedges. At Hedgehoggs Gardening Solutions we're also identifying worn turf and grass near beds and borders, digging over areas to be seeded in the spring and noting places where we need to spread fresh gravel for future visits. Where branches and trees have grown over and are shading beds too much, they can be cut back and pruned, giving the flower beds more light now that the sun is starting to get higher in the sky again.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening: Spade/Shovel Care and Maintenance

Servicing and storing your garden tools is an important part of ensuring they stay in good condition and last for years to come. Regular cleaning and oiling will prevent rust, keep them sharper and help the handles stay solid and strong. Wet and heavy soil left on a spade will lead to rust. When the blade is rusty and not smooth, more moisture and soil sticks to the blade, making digging even more difficult. Ideally you should clean your tools after each use, but even at Hedgehoggs Gardening we sometimes don't get around to doing this all the time. This makes a comprehensive tool maintenance in December even more important.

To clean a spade: 
  1. Safety first! Wear gloves, goggles and dust mask when working on tools.
  2. Remove any dry soil with a stiff wire brush
  3. Give your blade and handle a good scrubbing with water to remove any remaining mud and grit. Dry with old towels and leave them to dry overnight to avoid trapping in any moisture.
  4. Sand wood handle to remove any splinters or chips in the finish.
  5. Use a metal file to lightly sharpen the edge of the blade. The key is to give it a nice clean edge.  Beware not to grind away too much of the metal.
  6. Lubricate the blade with vegetable oil rubbing the oil into the blade in a circular motion and whipping off any excess oil. The oil will prevent rust
  7. Add several coats of Danish oil to wooden handles, making sure to let previous coats fully dry before applying next coat. If your handle is metal, brush off as much rust as possible and paint 2 coats of hammered enamel paint.
  8. Hang up your tools rather than standing them on their edges.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening Solutions Tip: December Lawn Care: Increase the height setting on your mower

You may think that December is a dead month for lawn care, but you'd be wrong! With the mild autumn and winter we've been having in London, you may still need to do a few light mows this month. At Hedgehoggs, if it's not too wet, we're mowing our lawns on a slightly higher setting than we do in the spring and summer. Don't be afraid to mow the grass if it's getting long, but make sure you do it on a dry day and pick up all the clippings. Never let clippings lie in the winter. While moss is usually at it's worse, leave it alone for now; it's better to deal with it later.

We're also inspecting our clients' lawns looking for earthworms, leather jackets and of course leaf cover. With the mild weather we've been having many trees in the gardens we look after are still in the process of losing their leaves, so we're still getting the rakes and leaf blowers out, adding fallen leaves to client composts heaps.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening tip: Turning over a new leaf

December is the time of year when there's little sunshine and rain and gales are common. Cold spells start to creep in which makes garden work difficult in December. But it's important to care for your garden this month to make sure it looks its best over the course of 2016.

Therefore every effort should be made to clean and tidy up plots and prepare the ground for the weather to come. At Hedgehoggs Gardening Solutions, we're breaking out the pitchforks, limbering up our backs and turning over the soil at our clients' houses. Winter digging alleviates soil compaction and allows the frost to break up the soil, improving soil structure. Make sure your garden soil has the best chance of storing up the most nutrients by turning over your soil in the coming weeks.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening Solutions: Key jobs for December

Top 10 jobs for December:

1. Dig up heavy, compact ground
2. Add organic material to your fruit and veg patches
3. Prune and cut back acres, birch and vines. Vines can be pruned back to 2 buds of last year's growth.
4. Take root cuttings of perennials like phlox and oriental poppies
5. Put a rubber ball in ponds and fountains to ensure an air hole for fish
6. wrap water pipes or turn off water supply entirely if possible to prevent pipe freezing
7. Service and maintain your equipment
8. Repair fences, pergolas and trellises, replacing any loose posts that can blow over in stiff winter winds
9. Use a lawn rake to rake up any leaves or grass cuttings that have accumulated on the lawn. Be careful to keep off the grass when it's wet.
10. Clear and clean gutters