Grow varieties of plants that require little or no staking and plant
closely so they support each other.
Spray weeds which are well established in a rock garden and paving with
a glyphosate herbicide. This kills the entire plant without having to dig them out.
Mix perlite in with the potting compost in patio planters and hanging
baskets. It absorbs moisture when water is plentiful and releases it when the
compost is dry.
When planting container grown plants, disturb the roots as little as
possible so that they continue to benefit from the compost they are grown in. Water
as usual after planting.
When planting bare rooted trees and shrubs, spread the roots out like an
umbrella, twisted roots stunt growth. As you cover the roots with soil shake the
plant from time to time to allow the soil to drop down well between them. Water well
Put support stakes in before you plant a new tree to avoid the
possibility of damaging the roots.
A circle of twigs about 500mm high (20ins), provides a better support
for border plants than a single stake, and is less obtrusive.
Save wooden ice cream spatulas, lolly sticks or plastic knives to use as
garden labels. Write on them with a ball point pen or waterproof marker.
An old hot water bottle filled sparingly with foam rubber chips is a
handy kneeling pad for long gardening jobs.
If tender buds or shoots become frozen, thaw them out slowly by spraying
with cold water before the sun shines, otherwise they may get scorched.
To avoid tender plants getting damaged by frost, listen to the weather
forecast and protect delicate plants with newspaper or old clothes.
To prevent snow damaging small conifers, when it is forecast tie the
branches to the trunk with string, however, do not leave them tied for more than a day or
As long as you don't mind how they look, old car tyres make a good
temporary cold frames for new seedlings. Sow the seeds inside the tyre and place a
piece of glass or clear plastic on top. The rubber absorbs the heat during the day
and releases it over night.
If you find handles of tools, mowers and shears uncomfortable to hold
try buying a foam bicycle handlebar grip. Slip the grips over the tool handles,
using washing up liquid or Vaseline if it proves difficult. If the handle in
question is continuous try slitting the grip horizontally to allow it to be slipped over
the handle. Pipe insulating foam may also work.
Always buy strong, good quality tools and look after them well.
If you can afford it buy stainless steel as they will last a lifetime and are easier to
clean. When choosing tools pick them up and try out for balance and weight.
Before filling a strawberry barrel with compost stand a piece of
drainpipe or cardboard tube upright in the centre and fill with pebbles. As you fill
with compost gradually remove the tube releasing the pebbles. This will act as a
central drainage system preventing the soil from becoming waterlogged.
Hanging baskets need watering twice a day; to make this easier
consider attaching them to a pulley system available from garden centres.
Water hanging baskets by putting ice cubes on the top, moisture is
slowly released as the ice cubes melt. Ensure these do not touch the plants as this
may cause damage.
If your hose springs a leak it can be temporarily repaired by inserting
a cocktail stick into the hole. Snap the stick off as close to the hose as possible
and wrap around with insulating tape or waterproof tape (if available). This should
extend by about 2" each side of the hole. As the wood absorbs the water it will
expand and seal the hole.
An old wheel rim makes an ideal storage place for a garden hose when not
in use. This can be hung on a garage or shed wall.
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