HIGH ROAD, CHIGWELL, ESSEX, IG7 5BL
Winter weather takes its toll on the garden, although spells of relatively mild temperatures and longer daylight hours mean that your plants should now be showing signs of new growth. While the ground is wet over the Winter it's wise to resist trampling over your grass more than is absolutely necessary, so there's probably a bit of clearing up to do before you can really start your Spring preparations. Remove fallen twigs, branches and any remaining leaves from the grass, so that you are ready to begin your lawn care program, and tidy any dead stems left over from last year’s perennials in the flowerbeds. If weeds are already begining to invade remove them as you go - this should be fairly easy while the ground is still soft. Slippery paths and patios can also be cleaned now - if you don’t own a jet-cleaner and don’t fancy scrubbing for hours on end, try PatioMagic!, which is simply applied through a watering can and then left to kill weeds and restore your paths and patios to clean, non-slippery surfaces - no scrubbing required!
Spring and Summer lawn care is divided into three main stages, which relate to the times of year at which certain things grow. Moss becomes active before grass and lawn weeds, and therefore becomes prevalent at this time of year. Later on in Spring, as the temperatures and daylight hours increase, lawn weeds and grass become more active, and, during the summer months, when the lawn is baked by the sunshine and struggling with lack of rain (here’s hoping anyway!), growth slows right down.
So, lawn care experts have developed three different products to tie in with these phases - lawn feed with mosskiller, for use when the moss is actively growing, lawn feed with weedkiller for later in the Spring, and a straight lawn feed to use in the Summer to help the grass through the stress of heat and drought.
At Chigwell Nursery we recommend the Scott’s Lawn Builder program, since is contains a controlled release lawn feed, which will gradually release food into your lawn for up to eight weeks, meaning that if you follow the program throughout the year, your lawn will be constantly nourished - and, after all, it’s only three applications and the results really are worth it! Furthermore, as the chemicals are released slowly into your lawn, you do not have to worry about issues such as scorch (where the grass burns and blackens due to over-feeding) and surge-growth (where the grass shoots up immediately in the days following the the feed, then needs a cut and shows little other improvement in appearance).
This Winter has yielded perfect conditions for moss, which thrives on damp, water-logged ground, and it’s quite likely that even if you don’t normally have a moss problem in your lawn, you may well have one this year. On the plus side, it’s also perfect conditions to apply mosskiller, since any type of herbicide always works best when a plant is actively growing, and the mild temperatures mean your lawn will already be starting to grow, so will benefit immensely from the combined lawn feed in the product.
Scotts Lawn Builder with Mosskiller can be sprinkled by hand (follow the instructions carefully to achieve correct application), or can be applied more easily through a lawn spreader. Investing in a lawn spreader really can be worthwhile, since you can use it for all your Scott’s Lawn Builder applications, and they make the job much quicker, easier and more accurate. They are also very robust and will last years.
Once you have applied your mosskiller, you should wait two weeks for the product to work - in this time you will notice the moss die and blacken in your lawn. Then you simply rake it out, and sprinkle lawn seed in the gaps - assuming the temperatures remain mild and the showers continue to irrigate our gardens regularly, your seed should germinate within a week, giving you a lush, strong lawn in time for the summer!
When you tidy your flower beds you will probably notice new shoots of perennials emerging from the ground, and tips of evergreens such as Photinia Red Robin showing plenty of new colour and growth. Maximise the start of the growing season by applying Miracle-Gro Controlled Release Plant Food around the base of all your hardy plants, both in pots and in the ground, to get new growth off to a flying start, and ensure a constant supply of nutrients throughout the months ahead.
As temperatures improve you can also apply a liquid feed such as Miracle-Gro Soluble Plant Food (or Miracle-Gro Ericaceous Soluble Plant Food if appropriate) to give an extra boost of nutrients, which will promote bigger, stronger growth and more prolific flowering. Liquid feeds work in the short-term, releasing a burst of energy which is absorbed quickly and used over a few days, while the controlled-release formats provide a steady stream of nutrients over a long period of time. To get the very best out of your garden, we recommend you use both. One sprinkle of the controlled release food will last six months, and you can liquid feed as often as once a week or even just once a season - whatever you manage will make a fabulous difference to your plants!
Although day time temperatures can be mild, we are still at risk of sharp night-time frosts on clear nights, which are usually followed by strong morning sunsgine. This is the perfect weather to damage early flowering shrubs such as magnolias and Wisteria, whose flower-buds are swelling before our eyes in the warmth of the Spring sunshine, but are also susceptible to irreparable damage from frost. If freezing temperatures are forecast it is well worth covering tender buds with horticultural fleece, a dust-sheet or even an old bed-sheet to stop the frost forming on them. Remember to remove it during the day. If you get caught out by an unexpected frost, try to get outside early and gently wash the frost off with cold water before the sun gets on it, as it is the sun scorching the frosted new growth which usually does the damage. Be especially careful with North-facing plants, as the sun will shine on these earlier in the morning.
This is a great time to choose your flower and/or fruit and veg seeds, and begin growing your own plants. Sowing times vary from plant to plant, but full instructions can be found on all seed packets. If you haven’t grown from seed before, it’s usually incredibly easy! At Chigwell Nursery we sell a large range of seeds, which includes hundreds of varieties of flowering plants, fruit, vegetables and ornamentals. Look out for our special ranges as well, such as the Duchy Originals Organic seeds, which comprise mouth-watering vegetables and herbs produced by the Duchy of Cornwall on Prince Charles’s Highgrove Estate. All profits from these seeds go to The Prince’s Charities Foundation. We also have the Thompson and Morgan RHS range for children, which is aimed at inspiring kids to have a go at growing by making it fun. Growing from seed is really exciting for children, and a very cost-effective way of growing flowering and edible plants, so make sure you take a look at the selection of seeds next time you visit the Nursery, and get growing your own!
Slugs are very active already, and the mild wet weather will have suited them perfectly, so expect them to invade your new perennial shoots in force! You can get a good selection of slug killers and deterrents from Chigwell Nursery, from the traditional chemical pellet such as the UK’s best-selling Bayer Slug & Snail Killer, to more child and wildlife-friendly organic versions. We like to use Slug Clear Liquid, which is applied around ornamental plants with a watering can, and seeps down into the soil to kill slugs and snails while they sleep underground. It doesn’t kill eggs, so use again three weeks after the first application, and you will find your slug problem decreases dramatically this gardening season!