Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Time for the lawn

 THE UPKEEP of a perfect lawn is not a matter of simply mowing. By adopting a programme of routine maintenance, it is possible to have a respectable lawn that will remain in good condition throughout the growing season.

Start in early spring by raking the lawn with a spring-tine rake to remove all the debris of winter. An alternative is to use a mechanical scarifier, which will remove moss and debris at a dramatic rate.

Give the lawn its first cut now on a dry day and set the blade height to a suitable setting. Scarify and spike compacted grass as necessary.

Towards the end of March when the weather is warm and the grass is growing actively, apply a spring weed and feed fertiliser. There are many suitable proprietary mixtures available - apply according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Flowering trees and shrubs deserve a place in every garden. Few plants offer such a varied beauty for such little work as the early flowering rhododendrons, cliplinense, preacox, spring glory, cheer, snipe and ostara - they all bring a splash of colour and scent at this time of year when most gardens contain little to please the eye.

Early flowering rhododendrons make useful evergreen plants for the mixed border requiring little or no maintenance apart from the removal of spent flower heads and an annual top-dress of fertiliser to keep them looking healthy.

Jobs to be getting on with this week -

Top-dress newly planted trees with a mulch of organic matter, farmyard manure, or a scattering of grow-more fertiliser.

Start over wintered tubers of dahlias and begonias by watering and bringing them into the light.

Continue to pot seedlings and prick out newly germinated seedlings when the first leaves appear into trays or pots filled with a good potting mixture, and keep a check on the glasshouse heater that the temperature does not drop below zero.

Now is a great time to lift and divide herbaceous plants. Choose a day for lifting plants when the soil is damp but not so sticky that it clings to your boots or spade. Overgrown perennials once lifted are often difficult to split as the roots are so congested. This may be overcome by inserting two garden forks backto-back. Pull the handles together to separate the plant or use a sharp knife or spade to cut through the roots or crown.