The green, green grass of home: In a muddle about mowing the lawn
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Columnist Debbie McMorran has been busy mowing the lawn, a task that - as any keen gardener knows - requires some serious planning!
I have just sat down after spending an hour and a half mowing lawns. Not only are my hands blistered from pushing the heavy mower up and down, but I'm totally exhausted! Having never actually mown the lawns in our new garden (this is normally my husband's job), I hadn't realised just how time consuming it was, and have had to save the job for a day when my daughter is elsewhere for the day!
I'd found myself obsessing over when I would have a chance to get this particular gardening job done - knowing that it would need the lawns to be dry enough to cut, and also not wanting to get part way through doing it to get stopped by the rain.
Lawns are such an integral part to most of our gardens - and I have always found myself feeling a sense of sadness when I hear that people are exchanging their lawn spaces for gravelled areas or decking.
For most people this decision is down to the time-consuming nature of keeping lawns mown and looking tidy, and it seems much easier to have an area which is low maintenance. Another option that a lot of people are starting to consider is the use of fake grass.
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Having recently had a new drainpipe sunk into one of our lawns, this is something that we actually looked at ourselves. I have always been a huge critic of synthetic lawn - possibly something to do with the horrific memories of astro turf on the school hockey pitch and the damage done to knees when you fall on it!
However, it would seem that things have come a long way since then, and when we went to a local supplier of synthetic grass to have a look, I was really surprised to see the different styles that were available - including some where strands were slightly different colours and lengths, in order to make it look more realistic.
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I have to admit that with some of the styles, I struggled to identify whether they were real grass or not at sight!
One of the downsides of having synthetic grass, that my sister has discovered (she has a small courtyard garden where it's almost not worth getting the mower out, so switched to synthetic), is that in very hot weather, it can get very hot. As someone with a toddler who likes to run around the garden without shoes on, and a dog who wouldn't appreciate the heat on her paws, this was definitely off-putting.
The weather that we've had in the last few weeks has been so changeable, that it has definitely had a huge impact on the growth rates of the grass. With the warm weather and the rain, it has been the perfect conditions for the grass to grow fast, making the arduous task of mowing the lawn a more frequent feature on the weekly to-do list!
Appearing in the hedgerows, the unmistakeable sight of glistening blackberries is a sure sign that harvest is on the way. Although I feel that with every season I can find something that makes me love it the most, with this time of year, the bounty of the garden - and nature itself - always feels so encouraging and homely.
Whenever I start to see blackberries, I start to want to bake pies, and pull out chunky knitwear. The only problem with this is that the days start out slightly chilly, and then turn into absolute scorchers, so it's impossible to dress for the weather!
Having spent much of the summer picking raspberries and strawberries in the garden, it will be lovely to get out into the local woods to look for blackberries for making into jam and putting into apple pies and crumbles.
As is always the case with picking berries - especially those which you haven't grown yourself, always be 100 per cent sure that you know what you are picking before eating them!
Things to do in the garden this month
- Keep on top of mowing the lawns when the weather is good (whilst you have a chance!)
- Make sure you keep deadheading as plants go over. Doing this means there won't be such a big job at the end of the summer where you find that you have to do everything all at once. For some plants - particularly roses - this can mean that you get further blooms later in the season - a double bonus!
- If you have hedges in your garden, now is a good time to give them a trim and get them looking tidy in time for autumn.
- Lift potatoes for storing. Dig them when the soil is reasonably dry, then let them dry somewhere in the dark (or they'll turn green) before storing in a sack or similar. Maincrop potatoes should last several months, which is a huge bonus on the length of time potatoes in supermarket condition last!
- Although we are only half way through August, there is no escaping that autumn is just around the corner. If you haven't placed orders for bulbs, now is the time to start flicking through the catalogues from suppliers to get your lists ready!