Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gardening tips

A few months ago I bought a couple of Skimmia japonicas to add colourful berries but none have grown. Why?

You need a female and male plant if you want fruit, which are formed mid-autumn on female plants. Find your plant a couple of mates or buy the variety Simmia reevesiana, which is bisexual, so one plant will bear fruit alone.

My new allotment is covered in weeds like ground elder and nettles. Must I resort to chemicals?

No, you could cover the area with a black polythene sheet for a year or more. Without light, the plants will die.

For a quick fix, wait until spring then zap the weeds with a glyphosate weed killer such as Roundup.

Which mulch do you recommend?

Cocoa bark is superb for keeping down weeds but you should avoid it if you have a dog as it makes them sick if they eat it.

Aggregates are worth considering but steer clear of gravel if you have young children, as they usually love to throw it around.

Garden buildings

Garden buildings can be designed and built to suit all your gardening and storage needs as well as give a place to sit, work or play.

Modern greenhouses: These come with aluminium or cedar wood frames and in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can also build your own on solid foundations, copying a traditional lean-to style with brick base walls.

Expert tip: A normal greenhouse will not usually require planning permission but a lean-to may be counted as part of an extension. Contact your local planning department.

How much? Classic greenhouses cost from approximately pounds 259.

Open shelter/ gazebo: These simple structures are made from smooth timber or rustic in style, they are best suited to lush planting and woodland gardens.

Expert tip: Lightweight pop-up gazebos, which are large enough for a table and chairs, can be temporarily used during summer for al-fresco dining and entertaining.

How much? Costs vary from DIY centres.

Slim-fi t sheds or storage cupboards: These can be squeezed into the tightest corner to house all your gardening tools and accessories.

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