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Setting new lawn edges.
No more excuses. Find out what needs to be done this month to keep your garden neat and tidy.
Specific Gardening tasks.
Find out how to make the finest garden compost using the minimum of effort and money. This article remains pretty much in its original form as it appeared in 1998 apart from the gradual addition of photos. Moriati not only invented this method of composting, he is also responsible for the now common term 'Green Dalek'.
Edges of the lawn can make or break the beauty of your garden. Learn how to make nice edges to your lawn in this step-by-step guide.
Don't you just love them. One minute they look lovely on the trees, next they are all over the garden. The only easy way to deal with this is to pay someone else to do it, but why do so many folks insist on making the task as hard as possible for themselves? Get clued up.
Wisteria is one of those plants that when grown well is a classical show stopper, but in the wrong hands can stubbornly refuse to flower.
Hydrangea plants require complex pruning once a year if they are to be a real asset to the garden. Step-by-step guide with photos.
Tools of the Trade.
Caring for Lawns.
Caring for Hedges.
Purpose of the task
It probably seems obvious what the purpose of this activity is but there is more to it than you imagine. Casual visitors to the garden are unlikely to be consciously aware of neat edges, but the inner mind will register "nice garden".
This activity may seem like a lot of work for no gain, but this is not the case. This task is one of the classic "right time, right method" jobs that modern times are loosing touch with. Books are written about why there is no reason to bother, and everyone ends up working harder and for longer as a result.
Lawn edges should be cleaned up during the months of January to March when the gardener should have little else to do. The work involved is not that great and getting organized and setting up can take longer than the job itself.
A byproduct of a neat lawn edge is a neat border edge as well. These two factors combined will save an enormous amount of time during the summer when the gardener is busy. Dashing the hoe along a straight border edge takes no time at all, and the grass that is hanging over the neat edge is very easily cut off, all saving time when it is needed most.
The table above shows the tools that I used during this exercise but there is room for improvisation.
The string-line need not be the de-luxe model and strong twine tied to 2 sticks would suffice. If the border is very short, a plank of wood might do the trick. Petrol blowers are expensive but brushes and lawn rakes still work. The Robin comes free with each and every garden purchased.
Our first task is to set out the string-line. In this particular example, the border edge required is straight but if your border is curved, the string will need to be laid out by hand and adjusted until a nice curve is achieved. (Always remember though, check twice and cut once).
Now, using the "half moon" edging iron, follow along the string-line cutting down vertically into the turf as you go. Make sure not to cut the string and ensure each successive cut joins into the previous one to produce one continuous sharp cut edge.
Once the new edge has been cut, the old turf needs to be undercut using the hoe. I have used a "push" type of hoe here but any sort will do so long as the steel holds a good edge. High quality "swan-necked" hoes are now difficult to obtain and "ergonomic" ones are best left for the "Ergs" to use.
Hoeing along the new edge has two purposes.
- To undercut the waste grass making it easier to remove.
- To create a gutter or gully at the flowerbeds edge.
This gully should be slightly larger than the width of your hoe and run the entire length of the border. This is the no-man's-land between the flowers and the grass where nothing should be allowed to grow.
Bedding plants should be planted well back from the gully although the foliage will eventually reach into it. This gully makes light work of Summer maintenance as the occasional pass with the hoe or mini-rake is all that will be needed.
Over the years, with regular additions of manure or compost, the flowerbed will get much higher than the lawn. This will assist the stones, twigs and other detritus to migrate into the gully where they are easy to gather up.
Now that we've created our gully at the border's edge it requires cleaning up. Use the mini-rake to gather up the tufts of grass and sundry weeds and put them into the tub for removal to the compost heap.
Assuming that you are in fact composting your garden waste, the clods of earth can be thrown in with the weeds, otherwise they should be broken up and dispersed.
Once the gully is cleared, it's time for a quick tidy-up. All the loose soil and litter that has escaped onto the lawn needs to be cleared up. Use the blower if you have one, but do not blast into the border. The idea is to persuade the soil to get off the grass peacefully. If you do not have a blower, gently brush the grass clean with a broom or a lawn-rake.
The next step is to cut the overhanging grass at the lawn edge. For this task we use the long-handled edging shears. After removing the string-line, simply start at one end and snip snip your way along the edge until you reach the other end.
Some people use strimmers for this job. Gardeners do not use strimmers. (Don't write in and tell me you are a gardener and you use a strimmer, it just proves my point). Strimmers require more effort to use, do untold damage and they are slower. Mind you, I'm talking about well serviced quality shears, not that rusty instrument of torture you found in the shed abandoned by the previous house owners.
Now that we have a nice new edge to our lawn we might as well prepare the flowerbed for the Summer season.
Neglected beds may require forking over to break compacted soil and remove large weeds. Normally though, the 3-tined cultivator will do the job nicely. Work your way along the border in a criss-cross motion to break up the surface crust and to loosen the odd weed and dead or dieing bedding plant left in from the previous season. These all need to be gathered up into the compost bin while any large stones, discarded plant labels or other rubbish should be gathered into a bucket for disposal later.
After a final tidy-up all round, your border should look similar to the photo on the right.
This newly worked bed will be top-dressed with manure at the next delivery. All that remains now is to clean the tools and put them away, and have a well earned cup of tea.