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

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening Tips: Till death do us part

Because of the late onset of Autumn weather, we've been able to continue planting hardy plants in what we call 'fill-in' spaces -- spaces where plants haven't made it through the season for one reason or another.
No matter how good the weather, or how good a gardner, sometimes some plants just don't make it. Sometimes they've been in a while and have died naturally. Other times, it's something else. Fluke positioning or micro-climate issues in a garden can mean that some plants thrive and others nearby don't. We see this in almost every garden to some extent. A plant in more sun gets larger in time while the same plant two or three down the line struggles in part shade.

At Hedgehoggs Gardening, we try to work with the natural environment as much as possible to ensure our client's garden look great and we aren't having to replace plants too often. At the end of the day, a dry loving plant isn't going to survive in a wet spot just as a sun loving plant will balk if it gets too much shade.

No matter how wonderful a design drawing looks on paper, if the plants don't like their position when they're planted, it's best to find an alternative spot for them while you have the chance and try a plant that is better suited to that particular spot.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Hedgehoggs Gardening Tips: Care for Hardy Herbaceous Plants

You can continue to deadhead around your garden as perennial growth has slowed but is still continuing uncharacteristically late into the season. Where you continue to see a few new growth buds, you can deadhead (removing the dead flowers only) and where stems of blooms have totally died, you can take the tops off in 6-12in lengths. Where perennials have grown large, stake them (if you haven't already) so they don't fall over. As leaves start to fall, pick up leaves lying on plants, but leave a small layer of leaves on the ground to protect tender plants and leave a haven for wildlife.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Exciting garden redesign in Highbury

We're currently working on an exciting garden redesign at the moment. We've done some of the key parts of the job, like moving the box hedging and digging in rose bushes for future transplanting, cutting back ivy and fig trees. We can start to see the new garden literally taking shape now.

Gardens like this, and clients, are such a treat to work in and with. It's so exciting to come to work everyday and see the transformation you're making to someone's home. -- Ok, so it's not technically someone's actual house we're working on, but today more and more people (certainly in London) have transformed their garden into an outdoor living space. So in a way, when we work on projects like this we do feel like we're making a difference to how people live. Our clients often find they're able to spend much more time outside when they hire us because we make their outdoor space clean and inviting ... Like a living/dining room outdoors.

Check back in the spring to see how this one turns out...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Key Jobs: November

Top 10 things to do in the garden in November

Though the horror of Halloween is now behind us, November is far from a dead month for gardening. Though most plants should be dead or dying off by now, our mild weather has meant that Autumn gardens are still very much alive and kicking (at least, at the moment).

You never know exactly when old man winter will show his head, however, so at Hedgehoggs we're focusing on the following 10 things this November:

1. Clear fallen leaves: We leave some leaf cover on the ground for wildlife, but we're making sure we pick up all diseased leaves for burning (adding them to the compost heap only spreads disease next year).
2. Lawn Mow: Lawns are still growing, if a little bit more slowly now, so we're mowing less frequently.
3. Plant tulips
4. Deadhead flowering perennials
5. Store/cover lawn chairs and tables
6. Clean or throw out old pots
7. Dig over empty areas of soil
8. Plant new climbers
9. Divide overgrown perennials
10. Planting containers for winter colour

Photo: Shutterstock