Gardener’s Gifts: 10 Great Gift Ideas for the Keen Gardeners in your Life

It’s that joyous time of year once again. It comes around quickly, doesn’t it? And while many of us cherish the run-up to the Christmas break, gift buying can be a real challenge. I mean, what do you buy for people who already have everything? Read on for our list of great gardener’s gifts.

Keen gardeners love tools and gadgets that make their gardening tasks a little easier to tackle. Sure, every gardener loves their time in the great outdoors, but if you can make things like weeding or sowing a little bit easier, there are very few of us who would opt for the traditional hard slog.

Luckily, most gardener’s gifts are particularly affordable, making Christmas a great time of year to replenish supplies for your green-fingered friends and family.

Stay right where you are: we’re going to suggest the Top 10 Gardener’s Gifts for a little Christmas inspiration.

10. A Bee Hotel

A bee hotel

Bees are a gardener’s best friend, and there’s barely a single gardener who doesn’t want more of the buzzy insects visiting their plot. And while honeybees live in hives, many bees are solitary – making nests and laying their eggs in hard soil or pieces of dead wood.

Bee hotels offer a safe spot for your local solitary bees to nest, mimicking the conditions the bee would find in the wild. Hollow bamboo canes supply a perfect habitat for nesting bees in the springtime – they’ll repay the favour come summer when your crops are bursting into flower.

Bee hotels are particularly active in the spring when you’ll see adult female bees nesting, flying into the hollow canes carrying pollen or blobs of mud that help them create hospitable cell walls for their eggs.

Of course, you can buy a ready-made bee hotel, but homemade gifts often mean so much more. So, create your own “box of holes” from bamboo canes, hollow plant stems, reeds, and drilled logs for a great gift that shows true love.

The RSPB offers a step-by-step guide to building your own bee hotel. Gardener’s gifts don’t have to cost the earth.

9. Personalised gardening gear

Personalised tool belt

We’ve probably all found ourselves in a last-minute supermarket sweep for Christmas presents at 9 pm on Christmas Eve. And the resulting gifts have likely demonstrated your total lack of preparation.

On the other hand, nothing says that you’ve giving a gift some real thought like personalised gardening gear.

Think personalised:

Personalised gifts are fun and creative, and show that you’ve spent a little time arranging the present. Think engraved and embossed items that act as a reminder of your thoughtfulness each time they use them.

8. Hand cream

Hand cream

Gardening tasks are tough on the hands, and it’s not uncommon for keen gardeners to develop blisters, calluses, and sensitivity after a full-on gardening session.

You might think hand cream is a gift that only women will enjoy, but – hey – we’re in the third decade of the 21st century! Men love pampering products as well, you know.

There’s a pretty vast array of hand creams aimed at men. You can always find them because they have “manly” products names, like:

Sure, your dad or brother might not necessarily buy a hand cream for themselves, but that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it: treating loved ones to something special.

Like most cosmetic products, hand creams can be pretty costly.

If you’re buying for a man, the following scents will be appealing:

  • Woody smells, like sandalwood or oud
  • Eucalyptus
  • Musk
  • Vetiver
  • Pine
  • Black pepper

If you’re buying for a woman, consider:

  • Vanilla
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon

Of course, you could say that “gendered scents” are a thing of the past, which is probably true for younger generations.

If you’re buying for an older relative, it’s a good idea to stick with tradition.

7. A Scarifying Rake

Hand-Vertikutierer

OK, the word “scarifying” might sound more at home at Hallowe’en than at Christmas, but this is one present that lawn lovers will simply love.

Scarifying is the process of dethatching – that’s removing the surface layer of moss and organic matter to help refresh the look and strength of your lawn.

And anyone who has ever scarified their lawn will know that it’s quite a daunting, hefty old task. It’s entirely possible to scarify with a telescopic leaf rake, but it’s a tall order for more extensive lawns.

If your friend or family member has a larger lawn, they’ll love the MOOWY adjustable scarifying rake, making lighter work of this time-consuming task. The gadget’s teeth-like blades are sharp enough to pierce the top layer of soil, providing air, light, and water for grass plants.

Scarifying might initially look like you’ve taken a tractor to your lawn and completely decimated it – but it only takes around two weeks for the grass to recover; bouncing back with hugely improved health and vitality.

6. Grow Your Own Mushrooms

Morel mushroom

Most gardeners focus on fruit and veg in their patch – most don’t consider fungi as a fun alternative. Mushrooms are easy to grow and – like most homegrown fare – are more delicious than supermarket-bought mushrooms that have sweated underneath clingfilm.

There’s a wide variety of edible mushrooms available, from standard closed cap to exotic oysters and shiitake. If you’re thinking about a gift, maybe consider a species that’s difficult to buy from typical UK supermarkets, like:

  • Morels – we always see these used on Masterchef, but they’re hardly ever available in standard supermarkets. You’d be lucky to see them at Waitrose!
  • Chicken of the Woods – commonly found in forests, this meaty mushroom tastes surprisingly chickeny – hence the name.
  • Lion’s Mane – a bizarre, edible fungus that’s delicious to eat or make into a medicinal tea (not the hallucinogenic type!).
  • Turkey tail – a beautiful, woody-looking medicinal mushroom containing powerful antioxidants and a range of compounds to boost immunity while improving gut bacteria

5. Garden sprinkler

Tuin onderhoud zomer

The ideal gift for lawn lovers: a garden sprinkler. Anyone who cultivates and maintains a perfect lawn will spend a lot of their spare time watering the grass during the spring and summer when there’s less rainfall (usually).

Give them the gift of time – a garden sprinkler helps keep the lawn irrigated when nature isn’t abundantly supplying rain. MOOWY’s static sprinkler is a wonderful gift, with a range of 25m.

Fully adjustable, our sprinkler can deliver a fine mist for new lawns or heavy droplets for established grass plants.

And used in combination with a timer, irrigating the lawn becomes the easiest lawn care task of them all.

4. Gardener’s Tool Seat

A gardener's tool seat

Gardening is great fun and excellent exercise, but you need plenty of tools. A gardener’s tool seat is ideal – a place to store your trowels and seeds and a seat to rest on while taking a break.

And if your giftee has an allotment, the tool seat becomes an excellent place to store your sandwiches and flask of tea.

Sure, it’s hardly the most comfortable seat in the world, but for a quick break, it’s all you need to rest your bones.

3. A portable digital radio

A portable DAB radio

Gardening has to be one of the most calming of pastimes – there’s nothing like getting dirt underneath your fingernails for destressing.

But sometimes, you need some entertainment while you dig or weed your patch – a portable digital radio is the ideal gift.

Whether they soak in all the latest tunes on 6Music or get lost in a radio play or comedy show on 4Extra, a digital radio has an excellent, crisp signal. And this i-Star portable DAB radio includes a built-in rechargeable battery, providing hours of entertainment on a single charge.

2. The Ultimate Lawn Repair Kit

Lawn fanatics spend hours and hours of their time on their lawns, so why not help them out with the ultimate lawn repair kit from MOOWY.

Our Quick Repair Lawn Seed is ideal for overseeding, mending those patches that appear on the lawn over the winter. New, drought-tolerant grass grows in as little as two weeks, bringing a lush, thick appearance to any lawn.

And our premium All-Round Fertiliser brings a swift colour rush to any lawn while strengthening the roots and increasing resistance to disease and moss.

1. The MOOWY Scented Candle

MOOWY scented candle

Winter can feel eternal, and sometimes we just need a little escape from the greyness of a cold, frosty January. The MOOWY scented candle is our newest product, so it takes pride of place in the Number 1 slot of our ten great gift ideas.

With 50 burning hours, the two-wicked scented candle fills your room with the springtime aromas of cut grass, combined with a fresh and zingy citrus undertone that brings the sunshine into grey days.

Packaged in a beautiful frosted white glass pot, the gold detailing feels festive, complementing any room regardless of the decor. And once the candle has burned down, you can reuse the pot as a plant holder for kitchen herbs.

Gardener’s gifts don’t have to be FOR the garden, remember!

That’s Christmas wrapped up

So, there you have it – ten excellent gardner’s gifts that your green fingered friends and relatives will love.

If you have any questions about any of the products we’ve recommended or have queries about anything lawn-related, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Have a great Christmas, everyone!

 

Grass Seed Vs Turf? Which is right for you?

You’re probably reading this blog because you’re thinking about renovating your lawn. You might have moved into a new property, and the grass is a mess. Or maybe you’re fed up with battling your old turf and want a quick fix? Grass seed vs turf: which is the winner for a long-lasting, gorgeous lawn that you can show off to your family and friends?

Let’s face it: we all want the type of manicured lawn we see in shows like Downton Abbey. But getting to that point of perfection requires a fair amount of work.

Whether you’re looking for a total overhaul of your existing lawn or are looking to start from scratch, the big question is always:

“Do I seed” or “Do I turf”?

This article explores the pros and cons of seeding and turfing, helping you make an informed decision about which way
is best for you.

The benefits of sowing grass

Hands holding grass seed

Let’s get straight to the point here: sowing seed is MUCH more affordable than buying
and laying turf. In general, sowing seed is at least ten times cheaper than turfing.

As a rough guide, this table will help determine the costs of grass seed vs turf in the UK in 2021:

TYPE AVERAGE COSTS PER m²
Budget turf £3+
Mid-range turf £5+
Premium turf £7+
Typical turf-laying/preparation labour costs £150-200 a day

How to lay turf

Laying turf requires a lot of preparation. Some of the associated tasks are:

  • Removing old turf/decking/paving
  • Skip hire (at the cost of around £100 up to £300 depending on the amount of discarded sod)
  • Replacing the topsoil (could be up to £30 per m²)

Of course, you can turf your lawn yourself, which will save you a considerable amount of money. But it’s a time-consuming task (if you do it right!).

If you’re considering getting the experts to do the whole job for you, you’re looking at around £500 for a 20m² lawn for turf and labour costs.

So, let’s compare that with the costs of grass seed

A jar of coins

Of course, it’s essential to acknowledge that not all grass seed is the same. It’s possible to buy cheap grass seed and get good results.

But:

Cheap grass seed is cheap for a reason: the rate of germination is likely to be low.

So, for the best results, avoid the really cheap seed. This table should help you calculate how much it may cost to seed your new lawn.

TYPE AVERAGE COSTS PER m²
Cheap lawn seed 16p
Mid-range lawn seed 26p
Premium grass seed 35p

We stock an excellent range of grass seeds at MOOWY, suitable for everyone’s budget, from our Power Lawn Grass Seed at around 26p per m² to our Premium Lawn Seed at about 35p per m².

Of course, our mid-range seed is super-efficient with a much higher germination rate than your average cheap seed.
Our grass seeds are developed by the company that produces lawn seed for FIFA, so you’ll get excellent, hardwearing results.

And remember: for premium outcomes, you need a premium seed.

But – big drawback:

Grass seed takes a while to establish

Sowing grass is at least ten times cheaper than turf. So, from a cost perspective, sowing is the way to go.

But, of course, seed takes a while to establish. With turf, you get an instant lawn.

How long does it take for grass seed to germinate?

First and foremost, you need the right weather conditions to germinate grass seed. Grass plants go dormant during the winter after the temperature drops below 10ºC – so it stands to reason that they won’t germinate in those conditions.

For the best results, wait until the ambient temperature has reached a good, consistent 10ºC, so we’re talking roughly February until October.

However:

The soil temperature is more significant than the ambient temperature. Soil takes longer to warm up than the air, so it’s always wise to use a soil thermometer, even if we’ve had a mild January.

If your soil has reached 10ºC, then we’re go!

Once you’ve sown your grass seed (check this article for the lowdown on sowing), it should germinate within ten days. You’ll see the first signs of life at ten days – but don’t walk on it yet.

How soon can I walk on a newly seeded lawn?

Feet on grass

Grass shoots are vulnerable to damage at first, so avoid treading on your new grass for at least four weeks.

And it’s best to wait a little longer before you start using it regularly – until after its third cutting, at least. This gives your new grass plants time to establish strong roots.

Cutting your new grass helps build resistance, but don’t mow it too short at first. Let it grow reasonably tall before the first cutting (around 5 inches).

Follow this table before walking on your new grass:

Grass seed sown. No visible sprouts. Avoid walking on the lawn.
First growth after 10 days. Avoid walking on the lawn.
Grass has grown to 3.5-5 inches. Mow to 3 inches weekly. Avoid walking on the lawn other than to mow.
Weekly mowing for at least 3 weeks (preferably 5) Regular foot traffic and everyday use.

So, we’re looking at around 5-6 weeks before your lawn is ready for regular use.

When can I first mow new grass seed?

Wait until the grass sprouts are at least 3.5 inches before the first mowing – 5 inches is better. If you mow too soon, your lawnmower could suck the seedlings out of the ground.

Set your cutter blades as high as possible for the first few cuttings. The general rule is:

Never cut more than ⅓ of the grass blade’s length.

Can I walk on turf straight away?

There’s certainly a bit of a waiting game with grass seed. So, how about for newly laid turf?

Surely you should be able to walk on turf straight away?

Well, no. Sorry to disappoint, but you shouldn’t walk on newly laid turf until it’s established – or you’ll end up killing the grass.

How long does it take for newly laid turf to establish?

The advantage of laying turf is that – aesthetically – you have an instant lawn.

But grass plants are only as strong as their roots.

So:

You shouldn’t walk on new turf for at least four weeks while the grass plants develop roots deep into your existing soil. This helps your grass plants strengthen and build resistance.

So, how long before I can walk on newly laid turf?

Wait at least four weeks before you submit your lawn to regular use.

Grass seed vs turf: which is the winner?

Winner's trophy

It depends on your needs, but – as you can see – it takes roughly the same amount of time to establish new grass seed as it does turf.

Grass seed is much cheaper, and your soil requires some preparation. It takes around 5-6 weeks and at least three mowings before it’s ready for regular use.

Turf, on the other hand, offers instant results. But you need to wait at least four weeks before the grass plants have developed roots.

Turf, of course, is much more expensive to buy and install.

Grass seed vs turf: which is better for smaller lawns?

Seed provides the most consistent look if you’re looking to repair your existing lawn (aka overseeding). If your lawn area is small, then seeding is probably the most cost-effective approach.

Bear in mind that there’s no instant fix either way- you have to wait at least a month before using a turfed lawn. So seed is the cheaper approach, and it doesn’t take that much longer until it’s ready for use.

Grass seed vs turf: which needs the most aftercare?

Both seed and turf require a degree of aftercare – mainly watering.
Never let the soil dry out because the grass will die.

Grass sprouts from seed are more vulnerable than turf: turf has already sprouted and established. But, either way, you’ll need to make sure that the soil gets enough water.

Check out this article for guidance on watering your lawn. Never let the soil dry out but make sure you don’t leave puddles on the surface.

Grass seed vs turf: the window for installation

Calendar diary

You can lay turf at any time of year, while you need to wait until February before you sow seed.

Turf is initially more robust in bad weather, while new grass seed can get washed away if there’s a heavy downpour before the seedlings have established. Seed can be disturbed by heavy wind, while strong wind shouldn’t affect your turf.

For these reasons, it’s better to wait for a period of decent weather before sowing from seed.

Grass seed vs turf: which is easier?

Both sowing grass seed and laying turf require preparation.

Laying turf is a lot more labour-intensive. The grass rolls are extremely heavy and usually delivered in a van or lorry.

Consider access to your back garden. No one wants to carry turf through the house to get to the lawn, after all.

Where access is poor, laying seed is – by far – the easier option.

Are you ready to get started yourself, or do you need more information?

We hope we’ve helped you decide which works best for you – grass seed
or turf? But if you have more questions, please get in touch.

We love to hear from you! Email us, and we’ll get back to you promptly.

 

Common garden weeds: can I eat them?

Are you fed up with battling your common garden weeds? Do you follow a strict weeding regime year-on-year-out, and you still have a flowerbed overgrown with invaders? Have weeds crept into your lawn?

Weeding is probably the most thankless of all garden chores. You turn you back for what seems like a couple of days, and they’re back in more significant numbers. And there’s always that moment of dread when you arrive home after a two-week holiday…

All gardens have weeds; it’s as certain as death and taxes. But – actually – not all weeds are bad. Some have pretty flowers that attract the bees. And many common garden weeds are edible!

So, stop battling the weeds and start eating (some of) them. This article is all about what to do with common garden weeds. Sure, they might look unsightly, but some of them are mighty tasty.

What are the most common garden weeds?

Common garden weeds in the UK have excellent medieval names: chickweed, fat hen, hairy bittercress, ground elder, shepherd’s purse, for example. And many of these are not only edible but full of medicinal benefits.

But don’t run off into the garden and eat the first weed you see! You need to know what you’re looking for.

The most common edible weeds are:

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)
  • Goosegrass (Galium aparine)
  • Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • Ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria)
  • Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

We’re going to explore what some of these common edible weeds look like and how you might add them to your kitchen table.

Can I eat Dandelions?

A single dandelion

Well, yes – you can. And there’s a powerful argument that you should!

Dandelions are one of the most recognisable of all garden weeds. Commonly invading lawns across the UK, you can also find dandelions in flowerbeds and on verges.

The whole plant – whether cooked or raw – is highly nutritious:

  • An excellent source of A, C, and K vitamins
  • Contains Vitamin E, folate, and trace elements of vitamin B
  • A great source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • The root is rich in carbohydrate inulin – a soluble fibre that supports healthy gut bacteria
  • High in potent antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory

Additionally, dandelion could help regulate blood sugar (chicoric and chlorogenic acid), reduce cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. The antioxidant content could promote a healthier liver. And this super-weed could even aid weight loss (although this is yet to be conclusively proven).

And some test-tube studies have demonstrated that dandelion root extract can slow cancer cell growth in the liver, colon, and pancreas.

The list of health benefits goes on: it improves digestion and aids constipation, boosts immunity, can be used in skincare products, and supports healthy bones.

So, almost from head to toe, it seems that dandelion is a superfood.

What on earth are we doing by chopping them in their prime and throwing them on the compost heap?

How do I eat dandelions?

Knives and forks

You can eat the leaves, the flower, and the roots.

The leaves are bitter, and they’re not for everyone’s palate. However, they can be really delicious if you pick them young; before the plant produces flowers.

You probably wouldn’t eat an entire dish made of dandelion leaves. But they’re great as an accent to a mixed leaf salad – a little like adding rocket to a salad for peppery high notes.

Alternatively, you could add the leaves to a soup to add a subtle, pleasant bitterness.

The flowers are perfect bases for wine and jellies. Dandelion wine might sound like something that Tom and Barbara would cringe through in The Good Life (and Margot might well pour down the sink), but it makes a very palatable dessert wine. Try this recipe.

You can also use the flowers in a range of cooked dishes, from omelettes to risottos. Or use them as an attractive garnish.

Pick the flower buds before they’ve opened, and pickle them – they make a great alternative to capers.

The roots and stems are full of a milky liquid known as latex. Don’t worry – it’s not the latex you find in washing-up gloves.

Stinging Nettles: can I eat them?

Stinging nettles

Stinging nettles get a bad rap because they’re a bit – well, stingy. And who wants to put THAT in your mouth?!

But, prepared correctly, stinging nettles (or urtica dioica) are delicious and have been used in herbal medicines since the Ancient Egyptians discovered that they effectively treat arthritis and back pain.

And:

Roman troops rubbed nettles over their skin to keep warm. Well, I suppose that’s one way of doing it…?

But, like dandelions, nettles would be considered a superfood if Waitrose stocked them because they contain:

  • A, C, and K vitamins
  • Several B vitamins
  • Fats, including linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid
  • All of the essential amino acids
  • Polyphenols and pigments
  • Tons of antioxidant

Nettles are believed to help:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Treat the symptoms of enlarged prostate
  • Treat hayfever
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Control blood sugar
  • Minimised bleeding and speed up healing
  • Optimise liver health

However, avoid nettles if you’re pregnant as the natural compounds could trigger uterine contractions, possibly resulting in miscarriage.

How do I eat stinging nettles?

Firstly, think about how you might pick them. We all know that they sting, so we recommend wearing rubber gloves to avoid direct skin contact. Or you shouldn’t get stung if you pinch the leaves hard. But once cooked, stinging nettles lose their sting and are safe to eat.

The whole plant is edible, but the young leaves at the tips of the plant are the nicest to eat. When cooked, the leaves taste similar to spinach.

Add the dried leaves and flowers to hot water for a delicious herbal tea. Or try making a homemade nettle pesto! Alternatively, add the leaves, stem, and root for soups, stews, smoothies, and stir-fries – creamy nettle and potato soup is particularly scrummy.

Avoid eating raw leaves as the barbed hairs could cause throat irritation or a rash.

You can buy dried or freeze-dried leaves or find nettles added to creams, capsules, and tinctures.

But, it’s entirely possible to eat the stingers growing in your garden. It’s advisable to speak to your doctor if you use: blood thinners, blood pressure medication, diuretics, medication for diabetes, or lithium. The nettles can interact with those medications.

How do I de-sting stinging nettle leaves?

De-sting the leaves by blanching them in boiling water and rinsing them thoroughly. Squeeze out the water before adding to your favourite recipes.

Other weeds I can eat

The following common garden weeds are also great for the kitchen table:

Chickweed,,stellaria,Media.,Young,Taste,Very,Gently,With,Flavor,Of

Chickweed – add young, fresh leaves to salads dressed in olive oil and lemon, or blend the leaves into a pesto to liven up chicken or fish.

Hairy,Bittercress,,Cardamine,Hirsuta,,Growing,On,Meadows,Of,Galicia,,Spain

Hairy bittercress – the whole plant is edible, but the leaves and flowers offer a hot peppery flavour to salads, soups, or pesto.

Goosegrass

Goosegrass – picked when the leaves and shoots are young, goosegrass can be eaten like any green vegetable or as an ingredient in soups, stews, and pies. The hardened seeds are a good coffee substitute.

Goosegrass is often known colloquially as Cleavers or Sticky Willy. It’s the stuff that gets stuck to your cat’s fur, and they drag around the house!

Ground elder

Ground elder – with a similar flavour to parsley, ground elder is an excellent complement to fish dishes. Or eat it like cooked spinach with pasta. It contains lots of vitamin C and has been used to treat arthritis and rheumatism.

Ground elder is very invasive, so it’s not really recommended that you encourage too much growth. It’s easily confused with hemlock, which is poisonous, so approach ground elder with extreme caution.

Ready to get gardening?

Remember, never eat anything if you’re not entirely sure it’s safe. If you have any questions about this article or about how to control weeds in your lawn, then get in touch.

We’re always happy to help!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Leafmould: How to Turn Fallen Leaves into Gardener’s Gold

Have you felt that sudden, distinct change in the air? That crispness that only begins to appear as October moves into November? Maybe you notice that the lush green of your shrubs and trees transform into the most vibrant reds, browns, and yellows. It’s leafmould season.

Sure, autumn is a sign that the summer is over. But there’s definitely a pay-off as the nights draw in and the temperature drops: the colours of autumn are a sight to behold.

However, leaves on your lawn is a BIG no-no. If you leave them to decompose over the winter, you’ll find that most of your grass will have died come spring.

So, dust off that trusty rake, and gather the leaves. But don’t instantly chuck them in the compost heap. Leafmould is a valuable mulch and an excellent soil improver. This article explains how to make it and what to do with it once you’ve created that lovely, crumbly, nutritious soil.

What is mulch?

Mulch around a new seedling

Mulch is a layer you place over the surface of your soil. It can be organic matter, such as fallen leaves, leafmould, or chipped barked. Or your can buy manufactured “fleece” or plastic lining that keeps the earth warm.

Mulching minimises weeds – for precisely the reason you DON’T want to leave leaves on your lawn (there’s a tongue twister for you!). The mulch layer creates a barrier between the sunlight and the soil, which can suffocate your lawn.

But a mulch layer is excellent for your flowerbeds, with a variety of benefits:

  • Conserves soil moisture
  • Improves fertility and soil health
  • Minimises weed growth
  • Keeps the soil warmer during the winter (and cooler in the spring)
  • Protects your plants from frost
  • Enhances visual appeal around your plants and shrubs

You can just rake any fallen leaves into your flowerbeds, and it will happily decompose over time while protecting and feeding your plants. But it can look a little scruffy, so you could – alternatively – gather your leaves together and create Leafmould.

What is Leafmould?

Leafmould

Leafmould (aka leafmold) is often referred to as “Gardener’s Gold”. Dug into your veg patch or flowerbed, it improves soil structure; spread over your soil, it makes a nutrient-rich mulch; or you can even use it in the spring as potting soil mix.

Leafmould forms from decomposed leaves and acts as an excellent soil conditioner. If your earth is on the heavier side, leafmould lightens it up and adds drainage. But if your soil is sandy and fine, leafmould adds structure, helping the soil retain its moisture.

Leafmould is made from the leaves of deciduous trees – in other words, trees that drop their leaves in the autumn. Most evergreen leaves aren’t suitable for leafmould (but are good for the compost heap).

Fallen autumn leaves have a low nitrogen content and are generally fairly dry, meaning that it takes longer for them to break down than standard compost. This nutritious compound comes about as a result of slow, bacterial decomposition, making a wonderful growing medium for young plants, a great soil conditioner, and excellent mulch.

How to create your own Leafmould

Firstly, rake up your leaves and gather them together in a cage (see “How to Build A Leafmould Cage” below). You can use a traditional garden rake or a leaf blower (on mulch mode) which sucks rather than blows (and gathers the leaves into a bag attachment).

Any fallen leaves are suitable for Leafmould, although thicker leaves (i.e., horse-chestnut) take longer to break down. Tougher, evergreen leaves are more suited to the compost heap. Pine needles make an excellent acidic leafmould, suitable for placing around ericaceous plants, such as rhododendrons and blueberries.

Avoid leaves from the following trees and shrubs, as they contain the wrong chemical composition for Leafmould:

  • Walnut
  • Eucalyptus
  • Camphor and cherry laurel
  • Leylandii

Gather your leaves for leafmould

Garden rake

Of course, rake your leaves from your lawn, but you can also collect them from wherever they land in your garden. Don’t forget paths and guttering; you really don’t want leaves to collect in your gutters!

Avoid leaves from the street, however, as there’s a chance they may have been polluted from passing traffic.

TOP TIP: Run your lawn mower at its highest setting, and let it suck up the leaves. The blades will chop them up, and they will decompose more quickly!

How to Build a Leafmould Cage

Leaves will break down more quickly in a ventilated cage. It’s easy to make one for yourself:

  1. Hammer four small posts into the ground.
  2. Attach chicken wire around the four posts, creating a small enclosure.
  3. Fill with your leaves!

Simple!

If the leaves are dry, give them a brief watering, and check every few months for dry areas. Turn the leaves over with a garden fork now and then to keep them moist.

Alternatively, an even easier way to create a little leafmould factory is to gather your leaves in sturdy black plastic bags:

  1. Gather your leaves, and press them down, so the bags are well filled,
  2. Tie up the ends of the bag.
  3. Use your garden fork to create several air holes in the plastic (to stop the leaves from turning into a revolting, stinky soup!).
  4. And leave them somewhere in your garden, where they’re unlikely to be disturbed.

How long does it take to make Leafmould?

Leafmould takes longer than composting because it relies on fungal decomposition. It generally takes around two-three years for the best outcomes.

Avoid topping up your leafmould cage as you’ll disturb the decomposition. Some people have two leafmould cages for rotation. Once you’re going, you’ll have Leafmould every year for your flowerbeds and veg patch.

How do I know my Leafmould is ready?

Leafmould should have a lovely, crumbly consistency. It will look like stone-free standard earth but will be a little darker in tone.

As mentioned, it should be ready in two years. But it’s even better after three, so if you have the patience, it’s worth the wait.

If there are lumps and stones in your Leafmould, you could sieve it, leaving a lovely, fine potting soil. It makes a wonderfully nutritious growing compound for seeds and young potted plants when mixed with weed-free garden soil.

What do I do with leafmould?

Leaf mould is excellent for improving the structure of your soil. If you have heavy clay soil, Leafmould helps “lighten” the heaviness, improving the drainage. If you have sandy soil, Leafmould adds structure that helps maintain moisture.

Lay a thick layer of the Leafmould over the top of your soil and dig it in.

If you can’t wait for complete decomposition, you can use young Leafmould as mulch, helping suppress weeds in your flowerbeds and around your veg. Add between 3-5cm on the top layer of the soil, around the base of your plants – don’t dig it in.

Ready to mulch?

So next time you ask yourself “what do I do with autumn leaves?” give a thought to starting your very own leafmould factory.

And if you have any questions about leadmould (or about anything lawn and garden-related), we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.

Thanks for reading!

Dogs Eating Grass: Why do they do it?

Without being unduly harsh, dogs aren’t generally known for their vast intelligence. Most dog owners will agree. Dogs eating grass is a common occurrence because – let’s face it: sometimes, it seems they’ll eat absolutely anything.

From stones to – well, let’s just say they’re happy when they’ve been running through a field populated by cows – dogs will eat most things if given the opportunity.

Dogs eat grass. It’s almost as certain as bears doing their business in the woods.

But why do they do it? Is it bad for them? And should you be doing anything to prevent them from munching on your beautiful lawn?

This article is all about dogs eating grass and how you might stop them if they’re ruining your prized lawn.

Is eating grass bad for a dog?

Little dog eating grass

It’s commonly believed that dogs eating grass is a sign of illness. Some people think that they eat grass to consciously make themselves sick due to an upset stomach. After all, dogs aren’t always particularly discerning when it comes to diet.

And while there is an element of truth in that theory, less than 10% of grass-chomping canines are sick before eating grass. And fewer than 25% of dogs will vomit AFTER a graze on the green stuff.

Grass in its natural state is not usually bad for your dog. They most likely eat it because they like the taste. However, if your dog is continuously vomiting up grass and has gone off their food, then it’s a surer sign that something’s up, and we advise you to consult your vet.

However, your dog can pick up some nasty parasites from eating grass. Ensure that they’re protected from lungworm, passed on from eating grass-dwelling larvae in infected snails, frogs, and slugs. Most standard worm or flea treatments available from pet shops don’t protect against lungworm.

Check your fertiliser packet

I mentioned earlier that grass in its natural state isn’t usually bad for your dog. But, it can depend on the chemicals you apply to your lawn.

We spend a lot of time caring for and nurturing the perfect lawn, and sometimes, we use harsh chemicals. All of MOOWY’s fertilisers are pet-friendly, but always read the label before you use a new product.

Having said that, our fertilisers are pet-friendly; it’s probably still a good idea to discourage your dog from nibbling on your lawn directly after application.

So, always check the packet, especially if you’re using weed- or moss killer.

How do I stop my dog from eating grass?

Dog thinking about eating grass

One of the likely reasons for dogs eating grass is boredom, which is easily remedied.

Make sure your furry friend gets plenty of exercise – just letting them burn off energy by running around the garden may not be enough. Take them for long walks if you can (or get someone else to do it if you don’t have the time).

Providing toys for your dog to play with inside will help them burn energy and keep them engaged. You could even provide them with food puzzles that keep your dog occupied while rewarding them with treats.

Dogs eating grass: it could be dietary

Alternatively, your dog may be eating grass because of a dietary deficiency. They may be instinctively treating intestinal worms or improving their digestion. Or they may need fibre, provided perfectly by your prized lawn.

One particular study suggests that the need for fibre is a strong argument. A miniature poodle had been eating and vomiting grass every day for seven years. They were put on a high-fibre diet, and within three days, they stopped eating grass altogether.

So, you could try checking the fibre content of their regular meals and swapping it for a higher fibre alternative.

The Health benefits of grass (for dogs!)

We don’t really associate dogs as plant eaters, but dogs are – in practice – “facultative omnivores”, meaning that they derive nutrition from plant-based foods (but they are NOT vegans!).

Plants and grasses supplement your dog’s meaty diet with fibre (as mentioned), vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and antioxidants!

For example:

  • Vitamins: wheatgrass contains B, C, E, and K vitamins.
  • Minerals: wheatgrass contains trace elements of copper, selenium, iron, magnesium, sulfur.
  • Amino acids: again, wheatgrass contains 17 amino acids – the building blocks of protein. 7 out of those 17 are essential for optimal canine health
  • Enzymes: helping your dog gain maximum nutrition from their food,
  • Antioxidants: compounds that slow or prevent cellular damage.

Do you want more information?

We hope that you’ve got everything you’ll ever need to know about dogs eating grass from our little blog here. But if you have any questions related to grass and lawn health, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

8 Tips for a Bird-Friendly Garden

Do you love to listen to the cheerful chirping of happy birds in your garden? Perhaps you’re an amateur bird watcher, and you love to see a wide variety of our feathered friends fluttering around your seed feeder? You need a bird-friendly garden.

Birds contribute to healthy soil and are good for the biodiversity of your garden. They eat the grubs and insects that often damage our plants and our lawns, so encouraging more birds into your garden can help your greenery thrive.

Follow our 8 easy tips for a bird-friendly garden, and reap the rewards of a garden that’s rich in biodiversity.

Ready? Let’s go!

Plant a lawn

Long grass with a house in the background.

Birds are attracted to our lawns because insects live within the soil and serve as delicious, protein-rich fodder.

So, planting a lawn is one of the best ways to encourage more birds into your garden. We have LOTS of great advice for lawn lovers but, sometimes, you’ll run into problems.

If you see yellow or bald spots developing throughout your lawn, you may have leatherjackets or grubs. Birds LOVE these grubs. We often refer to “people who eat like a bird” as if they barely have any appetite; they haven’t seen birds eating their way through a population of lawn-damaging insects.

Also, blackbirds love to peck the worms out of your lawn. Win-win.

Vary the plants that bloom in different seasons

Your garden is a little self-sustaining ecosystem.

The flowers on our plants attract pollinators and insects, which help our plants yield fruit and multiply. These insects, in turn, attract the birds because they’re a great source of food.

And when our plants die off in winter, the birds eat their seeds.

On top of that, the dead organic matter left behind from perennial plants makes excellent nesting material.

Plant buckwheat, rape, or sunflowers for prime nesting material.

Plant trees and bushes

Birds love to live high up in the trees, so planting large trees and shrubs will create hospitable, safe, sheltered retreats for their nests.

Bushes that produce berries and fruit provide an excellent, plentiful food source. You might not want the birds getting at your raspberries, of course, so cover those over with mesh or a polytunnel to protect your crop.

Birds love blackcurrants, blackberries, redcurrants, and raspberries. Alternatively, you can choose bushes whose berries aren’t suitable for human consumption but are perfect for birds.

The following berry-bearing bushes are bird-attractors:

  • Rowan
  • Holly
  • Whitebeam
  • Dog rose
  • Spindle
  • Guelder rose
  • Hawthorn
  • Ivy
  • Honeysuckle
  • Elder

And these attractive shrubs are also bird favourites:

  • Cotoneaster
  • Pyracantha
  • Berberis

Wait before you prune

A thoroughly pruned field

Most bushes and shrubs benefit from an annual pruning, helping encourage new growth the following year. But if you prune at the wrong time, you cut off the food source for the birds you’re so keen to invite into your garden.

Prune before March or after July, which is the breeding season for most birds. And before you prune, check for the presence of nests.

If you find a nest, wait until the last bird has flown away for the winter before you start hacking.

Feed the birds

Many UK birds migrate to warmer climes once the summer is over. However, those that remain experience a severe lull in their food supply. So, feeding the birds throughout the winter is always welcomed.

Tradition has it that birds love bread, but – actually – bread doesn’t supply enough protein or fat for a healthy avian diet and is considered an “empty filler”.

Instead, fill your bird table and feeders with:

  • Fat balls
  • Peanut rings
  • Special bird peanut butter

These treats provide the fat and protein birds need to get through the colder winter months.

And there’s no denying: a birdhouse in the garden offers hours of fascinating watching.

Build a pond

A garden pond doesn’t have to contain fish. A small, shallow pond provides birds with a place to drink and bathe and encourages a wealth of other wildlife (which birds also find irresistible).

But ponds aren’t just for birds; they attract foxes who drink from the pond and pipistrelle bats who feed on the insect life that grows there. And damselflies and dragonflies (if you’re lucky) lay their eggs on aquatic plants.

If you don’t have room for a pond in your garden, you could install a smaller water dish, which will have the same effect.

Leave the leaves behind

Fallen autumn leaves

We always know when autumn has arrived because the trees start to shed their leaves. And it’s incredibly tempting to rake them up immediately but think about the wildlife that relies on this fallen organic matter.

Insects live among the fallen leaves, which attracts the birds.

Additionally, fallen leaves create a natural mulch layer for your flower beds, which, in turn, protects your plants from frost.

Do not use poison

Many of us rely on pellets to combat slugs and snails, but have you thought about the potential consequences for the birds that eat the slugs? Applying poisons (such as weed killer) to your soil is a genuine hazard for the wildlife that enjoys your outdoor space, so try and think of more humane or “green” ways to tackle weeds and pests.

For example, you can build slug traps by filling an old jam jar with beer and burying it amongst your veg. The slugs are attracted to the beer and fall into the trap and drown. And, while that’s still pretty grim, it’s probably better to drown in a vat of beer than to burn to death from chemicals.

You’re potentially destroying a valuable food source for your birds when you kill off the pests. If they find no food to sustain them, they’ll fly away somewhere else.

If you’re looking for another way of getting rid of weeds, check out our 15 tips to control and remove weeds.

Explore Our Help & Advice Page

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our expert tips for creating a bird-friendly garden.

We have plenty more information and tips about achieving and maintaining the perfect lawn on our Help & Advice page.

And we’re always happy to help. Email us at hello@moowy.co.uk if you have any questions.

Good luck with creating your own bird-friendly garden!

The top 10 gifts for gardeners

As you know, we’re utterly potty about pottering in the gardening here at MOOWY (awful, compound pun intended). So we’ve put together a list of gifts for gardeners that we’d love to receive (heavy hint intended 🙂 ).

We love nothing better than being out in the open air and getting our hands dirty. And because we have such enthusiasm for gardening, we’ve tried literally every gardening gadget that’s ever been invented.

Which is handy, because this blog is all about our favourite gardening gadgets. So, if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration for that extra special gift, look no further.

We’re going to explore a range of affordable gift ideas that any gardening fanatic will love and use (rather than bung it in the bottom of the drawer).

Ready? Let’s go

1. A Mushroom Knife

A mushroom knife

You might be astonished to learn that fungi can actually be beneficial for your lawn. Letting fungi grow and live on in your garden is an excellent idea because mother nature uses these complex organisms to help decompose organic matter.

And decomposed organic matter makes excellent compost. Fungi is the only type of microbe that can decompose wood, so sticks and branches from fallen trees rely on our mushroomy friends to feed the soil.

However, you’re not alone if you’d rather have a mushroom-free lawn.

If you’re looking to eradicate the fungi from your lawn, you need a mushroom knife. This type of tool is ideal for both edible and inedible fungi, with a crafted blade that cuts the mushroom clean from the stalk and a brush for cleaning soil from the mushroom itself.

Of course, you have to know what you’re doing if you’re looking for edible mushrooms. Never eat a mushroom unless you are 100% sure you know it’s edible. Always forage for mushrooms with an expert – otherwise, you could be in for an odd, psychedelic experience or worse.

2. Engraved garden tools

Personalised Garden Gift Set

Personalised gifts are memorable and will remind the individual of your thoughtfulness each time they use their tools in the garden!

There are some tools that no avid gardener can do without:

  • Gardening gloves to protect your hands from thorns
  • Measuring trowels for transplanting and digging small sections of soil
  • Plant mister for keeping plant leaves moist when the temperature is hot, and the air is dry
  • Decent soap for cleaning all the muck off your hands after a full-on gardening session

Luckily, all of these items are packaged together in a beautiful hessian sack with this kit – each item is personalised with a beautiful engraving of your choice.

So, if you’re looking for a great set of personalised gardening tools, look no further.

How cool are these?

3. A Robust Garden apron

Khaki and brown gardening apron

As we all know, gardening can be a dirty business. Whether you’re digging, re-potting, planting seeds, or just maintaining your plants, there’s plenty of opportunities to ruin your clothes.

Therefore, a garden apron is an essential accessory for anyone who loves nothing more than getting down and dirty in the garden.

This beautiful khaki garden apron is crafted from waterproof canvas, with a large central compartmentalised pocket to hold your trowels and seed packets and, of course, your phone.

Functionality aside, we love this stylish unisex garden apron at MOOWY – in muted autumnal colours; this would make a lovely, thoughtful gift.

4. Personalised garden gloves

Personalised Gardening Gloves

Every gardener needs a robust pair of gardening gloves. It’s not so much about keeping your hands clean (although they do help, of course), but it’s more about protecting your hands while you prune and chop. And, come late autumn/early winter, summer bush growth will start dying back.

So, if you want optimal growth next year, it’s essential to prune your bushes and shrubs.
But it’s scratchy work.

These excellent personalised garden gloves are durable but breathable, with strong leather palms for maximum protection. The backs of the gloves are flexible nylon that helps your skin breathe – no more sweaty hands!

What a thoughtful gift!

5. A Golden watering can

Watering Can,Gold

Everyone loves a bit of bling!

Watering cans come in a range of sizes. Your large, multi-litre watering can is great for irrigating large areas, but the water flow from the rose spout can damage small plants and seedlings.

So, a houseplant watering can is perfect for greenhouse watering (and, of course, houseplant watering!). The spout is long and thin – perfect for reaching the soil rather than spraying the leaves.

The thin spout flow makes it easy to gauge how much water you’re providing for your plant – you can’t always tell when you water the leaves.

This funky gold-coloured watering can holds 1 litre of water and makes for a super-stylish gift for a green-fingered friend. They’ll be the envy of the neighbours in no time!

6. Garden inspiration book

There has always been this idea that giving books as a present is a bit dull. At MOOWY we think giving a book makes a fantastic gift! Especially when this book is full of garden inspiration.

7. A Funky Firebasket

Funky fire basket with palm-leaf detail

Those of us lucky enough to have outdoor space have certainly made the most of it through the intermittent lockdowns of 2020/2021.

Homes with gardens are like hot cakes on the housing market these days, providing an escape from the isolation of the home. Indeed, the garden becomes another room of the house.

Of course, the optimal time for lounging in the garden is during the day when the sun is high in the sky. However, the garden makes an excellent venue for nighttime parties, even if the temperature drops.

This funky palm leaf cast iron fire basket would make a brilliant gift for garden lovers, allowing you to sit around a dancing, warming flame into the wee small hours.

Just make sure you don’t place this little firepit directly onto your lawn – put it on a raised platform to protect your grass!

8. Soil and Light tester

Soil acidity meter

All gardeners know that you need the correct type of soil or compost for plants to thrive. So, these affordable soil and light tester kits would make a great gift for a keen gardener.

These devices help control the soil’s pH level, testing for acidity or alkalinity to help the gardener create the most hospitable home for their plants.

Acidity is often localised – one part of the garden could have high acidity levels, making it great for acid-loving plants such as magnolias and Japanese anemones. Other areas might have more alkaline soil, making it perfect for geraniums, lavender, and dianthus.

Soil acidity can be affected by other plants. For example, pine needles that drop from pine trees make the soil acidic below the tree. You can add Lawn Lime to acid soil to neutralise it.

So, a soil and light tester gift helps your friend or family member identify where to plant their veg and bedding plants for the best chance of success.

9. Aerator sandals

Lawn Aerator sandals

Aerating your lawn is one of those essential garden tasks that lots of gardeners dread. If they have a large lawn, aerating can take forever. However, failure to regularly aerate the soil causes the earth to become compacted, making it difficult for deep grassroots to spread.

And strong roots make for healthier lawns.

These lawn aerator sandals might look a bit out of place on your average Paris catwalk, but they fit in nicely as part of your gardening arsenal. And any keen gardener will appreciate these in their Christmas stocking.

Lawn aerator sandals strap onto your shoes – the spikes on the bottom aerate the soil as you walk around your lawn.

They might look like torture weapons, but grass loves them!

10. A Bee hotel

Ceramic Bee Hotel

Our bees are facing an enormous crisis. Much of their natural habitat has been lost to urban buildings over the last 60 years, so our most essential pollinators are under serious threat.

Compounded by harsh pesticides, bees really are experiencing their nadir.

All gardeners love bees. They pollinate our crops and flowers and help the ecosystem of our gardens to flourish. So, this fabulous bee hotel would make a brilliant gift for your gardening chums – and, of course, the bees.

OK – it might not have a pool and room service, but bees just need a safe place to live and thrive. Because a healthy bee population keeps the human population intact, after all.

Get in touch

Hopefully, our list of fantastic garden gift ideas will make future birthdays and Christmases that little more straightforward. But if you know of a brilliant item that we’ve missed, please let us know, and we’ll include it in our list.

Get in touch with questions and suggestions at hello@moowy.co.uk. We love hearing from you!

Thanks for reading.

 

This is how to keep your lawn in shape this summer

Ahh, the British summer – that most unpredictable of nature’s gifts. T-shirt tans, knotted hankies, and beautiful, seemingly endless days of scorching heat; followed by monsoon-like downpours that flood our lawns and ruin summer get-togethers.

It’s true to say that your lawn sees a lot of weather during a typical British summer, so how DO you keep it looking green and luscious throughout this most tricksy of seasons?

Grass grows faster in the summer and needs some special attention. So, in this article, we’re going to explore how to keep your lawn in perfect shape with expert summer tips that result in fantastic results every time.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Summertime watering – what time is best?

Probably the most significant challenge during hot spells is the lack of rain. When your lawn needs water, it lets you know by turning an unattractive shade of yellowish-brown. Grass needs around 2.5cm of water each week during the summer so, if the skies aren’t providing, we need to get the hosepipe out and give the lawn a good drenching.

The best time of the day to water is the morning; well before the sun hits its hottest around 3 pm. This gives any water laying on the leaves time to evaporate to prevent scorching and plenty of time for the surface water to penetrate down into the roots.

Avoid watering in the evening because your lawn is likely to remain wet overnight, promoting fungi and disease.

Summertime watering – how often?

A sprinkler spraying water over a lawn

Never overwater your lawn because it makes the roots lazy and the plant less drought-resistant.

Decent intervals between watering forces the grass’s roots to burrow deeper into the soil to seek out water – this is good for the plant’s longevity.

Deeper roots strengthen the plant and will help keep the grass green even during periods of minor drought.

Water twice a week to a total of 2.5cm, including rainfall. We realise it’s difficult to know how much water that actually is in real terms – I mean, do you stand there with the hosepipe for ten minutes or an hour?

How to calculate 2.5cm of water

The easiest way to gauge the amount of water you need is to use a sprinkler. Leave a rain gauge (or a cup will do) on the lawn while you sprinkle and measure how long it takes to fill the gauge to a depth of 2.5cm. For the most accurate reading, use three cups placed at varying distances from the sprinkler, and measure the average.

If it takes half an hour to reach 2.5cm of water, then run your sprinkler twice a week for fifteen minutes each time.

What about totally scorchio days?

After sweltering days – where the mercury hits the 30s – provide a light sprinkling in the late afternoon (once the sun has started dropping) to help cool the lawn down. (but only if the grass is looking a little limp and tired).

Remember:

Watering a little every day makes your lawn’s roots lazy. Leave intervals between watering to encourage root depth and drought-resistance.

Mow the grass regularly but not too short!

Lawn mower and tools

Regular mowing is the key to a beautiful lawn because it forces the plant to produce more blades of grass from each crown (aka “tiller”). Mowing at least once each week in the summer ensures a thicker lawn as it grows back.

However:

Mowing Tip #1:

NEVER mow more than ⅓ of the leaf – this causes the plant to lose essential moisture and stored sugars. Cutting your grass too short results in yellow/brown patches and a generally unattractive lawn.

Most grasses don’t tolerate being cut too short. If you want that quintessential manicured lawn, like a golf putting green or the immaculate grounds of Downtown Abbey, you’ll need to choose the right type of grass seed, such as MOOWY’s Premium Lawn grass seed.

Mowing Tip #2:

Make sure your lawnmower blades are sharp.

Blunt blades tear the leaf, leaving a large wound on the grass blade. And hot weather causes that wound to dehydrate the grass blade quickly.

Keep your cutting blades sharp!

Mowing Tip #3:

Never mow during the hottest part of the day (3-4 pm). Mow in the morning or late afternoon.

Mowing Tip #4:

This isn’t really a mowing tip, but it is a tip on maintaining the moisture in your soil:

Keep your grass longer; that means leaving the cutting blade higher during the summer.

Longer grass:

  1. Slows the evaporation of soil moisture
  2. Keeps the earth cooler
  3. Absorbs more morning dew

Fertilising grass in the summer

Your summer lawn probably sees the most action: garden parties, sunbathing, ball games, mowing, heat, drought. In short, a summer lawn needs resilience.

All plants need feeding for optimal growth, appearance, and longevity, and your lawn is no different. Use a summer fertiliser, such as MOOWY’s Easy Mow fertiliser, to give your grass the nourishment it needs to see the summer through.

Our Easy Mow fertiliser contains 60% organic and slow-acting nitrogen, which helps maintain a deep, rich green colour while boosting the grass plant’s natural ability to photosynthesise for food.

But:

Be careful to avoid over-fertilising your grass because it stresses the lawn. Always read the instructions on the packet.

A few summertime fertiliser tips:

  • Never spread the fertiliser when it is warmer than 25 degrees – this can cause scorching.
  • Fertilise in the evening on warm days, but never during a heatwave.
  • Use a slow-release, slow-acting fertiliser, preventing leaf scorch. Slow-release fertilisers mean that you only need to fertilise every 4-6 weeks.
  • Mow the lawn before you fertilise so that the feed reaches the base of the plant more easily
  • Fertilise only when the lawn is dry. Otherwise, the fertiliser will stick to the leaf, causing it to burn.
  • Water your lawn immediately after fertilising
  • Respect the recommended amount to use. More fertiliser is not a greener lawn!
  • Fertilising only works on actively growing grass. If the grass is dormant (due to drought stress, for example), it won’t absorb the nutrients.

Strimming and trimming lawn edges

Person using a lawn edging tool

It’s all very well having a beautiful lush lawn (and if you follow our tips, that’s precisely what you’ll have!), but most grass varieties are creeping plants that spread quickly.

If you’re not careful, your grass will spread into your flower beds, so cut the edges with a strimmer or edging tool. Not only does it prevent spread, but it makes the edges look much neater – win-win.

Trim the edges of your lawn every eight weeks for best results.

Remove weeds

If you take good care of your lawn, you’re less likely to see weeds growing within the texture of the grass. A healthy, well-fertilised, regularly mown lawn doesn’t give weeds a chance.

However, some weeds do creep in every now and then. If you’ve let the lawn go a bit, then you’ll probably need to scarify.

But, if you have just a few weeds, you can remove them by digging them out of the earth with a knife. Make sure you remove the whole root system; otherwise, they’ll just return.

Fill in the holes in your lawn with a little compost or garden soil, and cover with MOOWY Quick Repair grass seed.

Keep the new seed moist, and after a week, fresh grass will appear.

Explore Our Help & Advice Page

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our expert tips; use them to keep your lawn in shape during the summer.

We have plenty more tips and information about achieving and maintaining the perfect lawn on our Help & Advice page.

Thanks for reading.

Watering Your Garden: 10 Top Tips!

We all know that we need to water our gardens. But how much is too much? And how much is too little?

When is the best time to water? How much water do your plants need? And how often should you water your lawn? It’s all questions, questions, questions, isn’t it!

Luckily, this blog provides the answers to everything you’ll ever need to know about watering your plants. And if you still have a burning question at the end, just get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.

Because, just like humans, plants need nourishment from the sky and the ground to survive and thrive.

Here are our ten expert watering tips for a beautiful garden.

Tip 1: Identify your soil type

First things first: your soil. Do you understand the water retention properties of the earth in your garden?

Don’t worry – you don’t need a degree in agriculture to identify your soil type – you just need a handful of soil to squeeze.

Yes: squeeze. Water it first, then grab a handful, and squeeze.

Once you’ve squeezed a handful of soil in the palm of your hand, you’ll know (in no uncertain terms) what type of soil you have:

  • if the soil clumps firmly together in a lump, you have a heavy clay soil
  • if the earth falls apart and holds little form, you have a light, sandy soil

Heavy clay soil retains water well (but can quickly become waterlogged). Sandy soil retains moisture poorly (and dries out much more rapidly than clay).

If you have sandy soil, you’ll need to water more regularly. If you have clay soil, you should leave it longer between watering.

For more details about soil conditions, check out our article: How To Improve Your Lawn in a Shaded Garden.

Tip 2: Develop a sprinkling strategy

Water sprinkler in action

You can water your garden by hand, of course. It can be calming and satisfying to sprinkle water using a can, but it’s also time-consuming if you have a large garden. And if you’re watering your lawn, it takes forever with a can.

The most time-effective method of watering, by far, is using a sprinkler or soaker hose system (see Tip 8)..

But before you just set your sprinkler to sprinkle every day, there are some things to consider.

In the wild, very few British plants can expect water every day. Sure, we all moan about the British weather and complain that it rains too much – but, on average, it rains 1-in-3 days in the UK.

If you water your plants every day, their root systems become lazy. Plants are only as healthy as their roots – overwatering encourages roots to spread little and remain shallow in the soil. We want our roots deep into the ground, helping the plant develop greater drought resistance, while absorbing the nutrients to be found in the deeper earth.

So, develop a watering strategy. For a lawn:

Check the weather forecast and make sure there’s no rain ahead.
Water once or twice a week – about 2.5 cm of water, causing the water to penetrate more deeply into the soil. This will make the roots search deeper for water.

Deeper roots keep your lawn greener for longer, even during drought and when hose pipes are banned!

Tip 3: water in the morning

Believe it or not, the time of day you choose to water is significant.

The best time to water is in the morning – but this advice comes with caveats: you don’t want the leaves of whichever plant you are watering to be wet while the sun is at its hottest because it will scorch the leaves.

So, early morning is best when the sun is still low in the sky.

As well as scorching the leaves, full sun will cause the surface water to evaporate (see Tip 8).

If you leave watering until the evening, there’s a higher chance that you’ll encourage mould and vermin – the surface of the soil remains wet and cold all night, and this is the perfect environment for mould.

Saving tip 4: Save rainwater

We might think that running the tap is free, but you’ll quickly discover how expensive it can be to water your plants if you’re on a water meter.

Rainwater, on the other hand, IS free and usually in reasonably plentiful supply in the UK.

Rainwater is rich in minerals and doesn’t contain lime (like tap water), making the water quality soft and perfect for your plants. Additionally, the temperature of rainwater is less likely to shock your plants (it’s more likely to be closer to the air temperature).

Saving tip 5: Collect water in a water butt

We tend to think of drought as the product of a long, hot summer, but drought can occur at any time of year. A drought is a period of unusually low rainfall, but it can also be caused by heavy demand for water supplies.

So, wherever possible, it’s always best to collect rainfall in a water butt. There’s a range of styles and sizes of rainwater harvesting systems, but the simplest are really affordable.

Just think of the savings against your water bill.

Simply attach your water butt to a downspout from your roof guttering, and it will collect rainfall for later use. Keep a lid on the butt to keep the water clean.

Find out everything you need to know about collecting rainwater here.

Saving tip 6: Design your garden smartly

Believe it or not, but the placement of your plants affects how much you need to water them. You can save water by considering how much direct sunlight your garden receives.

Most gardens have sunny spots as well as shaded areas covered by overhanging trees or walls. Some plants are more naturally drought-tolerant than others – arrange your plants by the amount of water they need. Shrubs and bushes tend to be more drought-tolerant than smaller, single-stemmed plants.

So:

Place your drought-tolerant plants in the areas that get the most sunlight and your more thirsty plants in the less sunny spots.

Of course, most plants need lots of sun to thrive, so always read the plant’s label when you buy it from a garden centre (or the seed packet if you’re growing from seed)..

Saving tip 7: Mulch – covering your soil

Mulch around a new seedling

Mulching helps save water by minimising evaporation and suppressing moisture-stealing weeds. Mulch also improves the appearance of the soil around your plants.

A good layer of well-rotted mulch helps warm up the earth in the spring, retain moisture during the summer, and encourage greater water penetration in the winter.

You can cover your ground with biodegradable mulch, such as garden compost, leaf mould, well-rotted manure, straw, or wood chippings. These organic mulches contribute nutrients to the soil, but they’ll need regular topping up.

Non-biodegradable soil coverings such as slate, pebbles, gravel, or stone chippings can be a better longer-term mulch, but they don’t break down and provide nutrients. Any dark-coloured mulch will warm the soil up in the sun, whereas lighter-coloured mulch keeps the ground cool.

Alternatively, you can choose a sheet (or woven) mulch for longer-term coverage.

Saving tip 8: Use a Drip

A soaker (or drip) hose is a porous hosepipe, designed to leak. It ensures that whatever water you provide gets to the plant’s roots.

One of the problems with watering from a can (or a traditional hosepipe) is that the water doesn’t always penetrate deeply into the soil before the sun evaporates it. And some plants (like courgettes) dislike getting their leaves wet, so a soaker hose is an ideal solution and uses 70% less water than traditional watering, providing continuous watering at a slow dripping rate.

Connect your soaker hose to the garden tap or your water butt.
Keep the water pressure low (use a regulator if you’re unsure).
Make sure the water butt is suitably elevated so that there’s enough water pressure!

A drip hose prevents overwatering and makes excellent use of your water butt.

Summer tip 9: Prevent Legionella

Always drain residual water from your garden hose, especially during the summer months.

If you leave your garden hose in full sun, the water that sits in the pipe heats up, creating the perfect environment for the Legionella bacteria to develop.

You probably know that Legionella (more commonly known as Legionnaires Disease) is a potentially life-threatening respiratory condition – effectively a severe form of pneumonia. If the water sitting in your hose is contaminated, you can inhale some of that bacteria while you spray.

Err on the side of caution: rinse your hose before use.
Remove the nozzle and hang the end into a bucket filled with water.
Leave the tap running for a couple of minutes with the end of the hose submerged in the bucket to prevent spray.

Winter tip 10: drain your garden hose

Man spraying water from a hose

You probably don’t use your hose during the winter months (unless you’re washing the car), so ensure that you drain it thoroughly before putting it away for the winter.

Any water that remains in the hose can freeze when the temperatures plummet.

We’ve probably all left a bottle of wine in the freezer before (or is that just me?). If you forget about it and the wine freezes completely, the liquid expands as it freezes and breaks the bottle. This can happen with your hosepipe.

So, drain your hose entirely so that you’re not rushing off to the DIY store in the spring.

Leave some comments!

There you are! 10 Tips on watering your garden.

Do you have more water tips? Leave them in the comments.

Thanks for reading. Happy watering, everyone.

Is Your Grass Type Right for your Garden?

If you want the perfect lawn, you need to choose the grass type for your garden. But all grass looks the same, right?

Wrong.

This article will help you identify the predominant grass species you have in your existing lawn. And we’ll explore which species is more likely to thrive in your garden based on climate and soil type.

So, get comfy. We’re about to learn all about grass species.

 

Identifying your hardiness zone

Now, we’re suddenly going all American for a moment, because we don’t tend to consider the UK to have different climate zones like they do in the US. In the United States, they have three principal climate zones for grass (or Plant Hardiness Zones):

Warm Season grasses grow better in the south
Cool Season grasses grow better in the north
And across the middle of the mainland, there’s the Transition Zone (where you choose between Warm and Cool grasses depending on your proximity).

The US is MUCH bigger geographically than the UK, of course, and we don’t really have the same degree of climate variation across our island. However, the north of the UK is noticeably cooler than the south (in both temperature and edginess!).

For the most part, our climate is most similar to the US Cool Season grass zone.

 

USDA Plant Hardiness

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) define the Warm/Transition/Cool zones and, although this is a North American standard, it has been largely adopted worldwide to help gardeners understand the land they cultivate.

The hardiness zones are defined by the ten-year average in weather conditions, so – in a country as meteorologically diverse as the UK, there’s a little more to it than a horizontal slice between the north and south.

What are the USDA Zones in the UK?

Depending on which source you use, the UK’s hardiness zones are defined as between 6 and 9, although The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) defines the entire UK as Zone 7.

However, we must remember that we’re an island – and coastal weather is different from inland.

Map of the UK's USDA hardiness zones

Here, you’ll see the weather climate zones, from 7 to 9 (with a few 10s on the coast of the Republic of Ireland). Our climate is defined by cool (but not fierce) winters and warm (but bearable) summers, with a frost-free season between early spring and late autumn.

Essentially, the lower the zone number, the lower the average temperature. These zones are used to identify how well any plant will withstand the colder temperatures during the winter.

So, take note of your zone as you read on. (If this all sounds a bit over-complicated, don’t worry: MOOWY offer seed mixes that proliferate throughout the UK, regardless of the zone. More about that later).

OK, all the geeky weather stuff out of the way; onto your existing lawn!

 

What type of grass do I have in my garden?

Most of us inherit a lawn. That’s not to say it gets left in someone’s will, of course – we just mean that you inherit a lawn when you move into a property. So, most of us don’t have a great deal of control over the TYPE of grass we currently have.

But this article is all about finding the correct type of grass for your garden, so if you’re dissatisfied with the quality of your grass, there’s a high chance that’s it’s not thriving because it doesn’t suit the conditions.

A rule of thumb for the best quality lawn: seed mixes are best because they have the most significant level of resistance and robustness.

Perennial Ryegrass

Most lawns in the UK are mainly perennial ryegrass, a hard-wearing species that can tolerate warm sun and minor drought conditions. It germinates quickly and handles the frosty snap of British winters.

However:

Ryegrass alone might become clumpy and patchy if you don’t look after it. And – after a while – these lawns begin to thin out and develop bald spots.

The principal features of perennial ryegrass are:

  • Perfect for cool-season regions – that’s mild winters (as in the UK) and warmish Summers.
  • Fast germination (so good for overseeding)
  • Withstands minor shady spots
  • Minimal maintenance (other than fertilising)
  • Tolerant to heavy use

Perennial ryegrass has poor disease resistance and is a slow spreader. Once damaged, it’s reluctant to bounce back, so a seed mix (like one of MOOWY’s mixes) will help to boost your lawn’s resistance.

What does it look like?

Perennial ryegrass, long and unmown

Perennial ryegrass thrives in USDA zones 2 to 8 and has medium- to dark leaves, with a fine-leafed texture. It grows densely and tends to maintain its good looks after heavy use.

To maintain the health of perennial ryegrass, it’s important to fertilise your soil regularly.

Red Fescue

Red fescue thrives in USDA zones 8-10, so it works well in warmer parts of the UK. With a deep root system, red fescue is particularly resistant to heavy use and drought conditions (once established).

Red fescue struggles with intense heat, but – unfortunately – we don’t get a lot of that in the UK. It goes brown and dormant in high temperatures or heavy humidity, but it will rebound once the conditions are more suitable.

Red fescue grows quickly and spreads well, and is remarkably tolerant of sandy soil.

The principal features of red fescue are:

  • Very deep roots, making it resistant to drought
  • Particularly pest-resistant
  • Copes well in moderate heat – perfect for warmer parts of the UK, particularly zones 8 onward

What does red fescue look like?

Red fescue with a single red poppy

Red fescue is characterised by its very fine blades and a deep, attractive emerald green colour. This species spreads quickly via rhizomes (underground stems) which helps the grass recover from damage.

Red fescue can be cut shorter than perennial ryegrass, so it is particularly recommended for ornamental lawns but is commonly found on golf courses and recreation fields.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Much like red fescue is not red, Kentucky Bluegrass is not blue. And despite its name, Kentucky Bluegrass is native to Europe and North Africa.

So, that’s confusing, isn’t it?

Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) has what is described as a broad, “boat-shaped” leaf and has a rich, deep, dark green colour. It’s tolerant of heavy use and goes dormant during periods of drought. It turns dry and brown in the summer unless you water it.

This is your cooler climate grass type and does well in USDA zone 7, so it grows most vigorously during the spring and autumn. Because it favours moderate heat and can withstand British winters, KBG is particularly recommended for northerly UK climes.

Kentucky Bluegrass needs quite a high level of maintenance to keeps its healthy look.

What does it look like?

Well mown Kentucky Bluegrass lawn

The leaf is described as “boat-shaped” – however, think canoe rather than cross-channel ferry. It just means that the species is broad-leafed.

Kentucky Bluegrass is winter-hardy, but it’s not a fan of drought, so it will require watering during the summer to maintain its beautiful dark green colour.

So, what type of grass should I choose?

The Weather

Think about your weather first. Perhaps what characterises the British climate more than anything is its unpredictability.

But:

We could consider some cliches as rules of thumb:

  • The warmest part of the country is the South Coast.
  • The wettest part of the country is NOT Manchester, contrary to popular belief. Swansea and Plymouth are the wettest cities in the UK; Manchester is the 17th!
  • Coastal towns are windier than inland towns and cities.

Check your weather conditions here.

Your soil type

Soil types are different all around the country. In fact, soil conditions can change from street to street.

When you consider your soil, think about its density. Heavy clay holds onto water and doesn’t drain quickly. Sandy soils dry out very easily (regardless of the amount of local rain you experience).

Choose a grass type that tolerates drought well if you have sandy soil. If you have a heavy clay soil, think about giving it a hand with drainage. Find out how here.

Consider a grass seed mix

Ultimately, like a pedigree dog, mixing species offers greater resistance to disease (and drought). But never allow a dog to experience drought!

Seed mixes offer the best of all worlds, but getting the mix right for yourself can be tricky.

Luckily, you don’t really need to worry because you can get premium seed mixes from MOOWY. We’ve expertly blended grass species that accommodate the entire UK climate.

 

Power Lawn

MOOWY’s Power Lawn mix has a high percentage of perennial ryegrass (80%), mixed with red fescue to improve resistance. This seed mix is suitable for all UK climate zones and produces a Premier-League quality turf.

As the name suggests, Power Lawn grass seed proliferates and keeps going regardless of the pounding you might give it throughout the year. The 20% mix of red fescue provides hardiness to heavy use.

Premium Lawn

Our Premium Lawn grass seed is a high percentage mix of red fescue (75%), which tolerates shorter mowing. So, if it’s that classic, manicured look you’re hoping for, Premium Lawn is your mix of choice. The other 25% is a mix of perennial ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass, making this mix hardy and perfect for all UK climates and soil types.

Remember, red fescue does best in moderate heat, so if you’re in the hottest parts of the UK, it might get scorched. However, the mix with perennial ryegrass and KBG gives it more resistance, and it should cope in even the warmest regions.

Quick Repair

As the name suggests, MOOWY’s Quick Repair grass seed is especially recommended for overseeding and replenishing the bald spots that appear in high-percentage perennial ryegrass.

With an 80% mix of perennial ryegrass, Quick Repair germinates and establishes quickly. But it’s the 20% mix of red fescue that offers greater structure, density, and resistance to drought and disease.

Designed for overseeding, this seed mix does well in all UK climate zones. It’s also recommended for starting new lawns from scratch.

Shade & Sun

One of the big problems with many British gardens is the lack of sun we experience – or (perhaps, more precisely) the inconsistency of sunlight.

Even if your lawn is south-facing and open, sunshine often struggles to penetrate rain clouds, even during the summer.

So, Shade & Sun grass seed has been developed to thrive in both full sun and shaded areas.

The high percentage of red fescue gives this seed mix its shade tolerance, while the perennial ryegrass (40%) offers speedy growth and Kentucky Bluegrass (10%) provides structure and strength.

Again, this seed mix is perfect for all UK zones but does particularly well in cooler, northern climes.

Sport & Fun

Our Sport & Fun grass seed is a mix of perennial ryegrass (60%), red fescue (35%), and Kentucky Bluegrass (5%).

This is our most robust seed mix, offering the best all-round results regardless of soil type, climate, and region.

If your lawn experiences high levels of use, then consider Sport & Fun the perfectly balanced mix of grasses to maintain beauty, colour, and texture, regardless of the service it provides.

All Grasses Require Feeding

If you want a beautiful lawn, it doesn’t matter what type of seed you choose unless you commit to a regular feeding routine.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to sowing grass seed for the best results.

Keep a lookout for our expert’s guide to fertilising your lawn. Coming soon!

Get in touch

Hopefully, you feel better informed about your grass type, but if you have more questions, we’d be very happy to help.

If you have any questions, email us at hello@moowy.co.uk. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading.