Our gardening expert writes:
Spring again and so much to do! People often make the mistake of getting out too early after a wet winter and doing permanent damage to the garden by soil compression and root abuse. Those in the know will spend this time more wisely, indoors by a warm fire, planning for the months ahead.
Lawns - always a problem area and the main subject of anxious inquiries that fill my postbag. The simple solution is to be done with it all. Dig out to a depth of 3 feet and replace with a selection of the mineral substrates available from all good garden centres. Ornamental chippings and decorative gravels can be laid in any pattern, from expressionist whorls to the formal elegance of the Tudor knot garden. Reds and blues are very this-year and can be relied upon to provide a blaze of colour throughout the summer.
Paths - to avoid expensive worm-damage, paving slabs (along with tiling and brick laterals) need to be floated on to a solid bed of concrete to a minimum depth of four feet. Highlight dangerous corners with Burglaroff Instablind arc lights.
Hedging - boundary shrubs and border planting are the source of many gardening problems, from afternoon shading to autumn leaf-drop. Now is the time to grub these out and replace with maintenance-free Eezi-care pre-formed foliage in longlife plastic. Such jobs are best done with a mechanical digger (available from Plant Hire outlets) and care should be taken to remove all traces of root.
Birds - are a perennial nuisance, the high ammonia content of their droppings capable of destroying whole sets of garden furniture. In my first job, as apprentice to a municipal authority, I was tasked with patrolling parks at dawn and dusk to pounce on and throttle the blighters with my bare hands. These days there are more humane methods available, including regular blast-spraying with Tweetoff or Burdkil, to mention just two.
Finally, on a caring note, to those who, after a lifetime of digging and hoeing, are now left wheelchair-bound or suffering with chronic back pain, do not despair. The answer lies in raised beds. Get yourself some railway sleepers; key ends together with simple mortise-and-tenon joints for permanent fixture; bottom-load with layers of hardcore and subsoil, top-filling with good quality loam to a minimum surface height of 5 ft (allowing for ground settlement); sit back and enjoy.
This week's jobs: harp-tickle rooting base on tired brassicas, part-layer & splug-shaft cutaneous tubers, light chit only till change of clocks.
Next month: installing that Hot Tub.