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How can knowing the pH level of your soil help with your gardening?

How can knowing the pH level of your soil help with your gardening?

 

How can knowing the pH level of your soil help with your gardening?

It might not be something you’ve ever thought about!

Or at least not since testing with litmus paper in Science lessons!

 

But if you like your grass to look fresh and green it’s a handy thing to know and keep track of!

 

As a quick reminder:

pH 1 = acid

pH 7 = neutral

pH 14 = alkaline

Why do you need to know this?

When it comes to having healthy grass, the ideal soil pH level is between 5.5 and 7-8, with around 6.5 being preferable.

Grasses such as our Family Garden Turf prefer the lower level of around 5.5.

This grass is a combination of the finest bents, fescues and durable dwarf rye.

 

While our Ornamental Garden Turf would prefer a pH of around 6.5.

This grass contains fine fescues, bents and smooth stalked meadow grass.

As our turf is locally grown, it’s suitable for local soil types.

 

A neutral pH level is ideal for nutrients too.

Grass loses nutrients from lots of use and when we mow it.

So it’s a good idea to apply Lawn Dressing regularly to top up the nutrients and keep the grass in good condition.

 

Unlike grasses, plants like pH levels from one end of the scale to the other!

Some do well in acidic soil and others prefer alkaline.

You may have different plants that have similar coloured blooms i.e. purples and pinks. This can be caused by the pH level of your soil.

How do you test the pH level?

You can buy pH testers and find the level yourself, or you can have a soil analysis carried out.

If the pH level falls on either side of the ideal, you may want to adjust it to keep your grass as healthy as possible.

So how do you adjust the pH level?

If you need to adjust the pH level drastically, it’s best to call in professionals.

They will carry out soil analysis and give you expert advice.

 

But for smaller adjustments, it’s easy to do yourself.

 

Adding sulphur (Ferrous Sulphate) will add more acidity to the soil (lowering the pH level).

Adding limestone will give the soil more alkaline (raising the pH level).

 

Right, who’s off to buy a pH tester?!

 

Happy Gardening!

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Revamp your garden for the summer!

revamp your garden for the summer!

 

Spring is here!

It’s that time of year!

When people start to get a bit more enthusiastic about their gardens after the cold of winter has passed!

Revamp your garden for the summer!

You might be planning to revamp your garden with a new lawn, a play area for the kids, or a swish summer house to escape to!

Or maybe you want to dig in some new flower borders or a veggie patch?

 

Whether you’ve got a large garden or a smaller space, it’s quite easy to introduce defined zones.

Maybe a dedicated barbecue area or a wildflower corner to encourage bees and butterflies.

 

Sketching out how you’d like your garden to look can really help you to plan it. Think about what you want in your garden – from seating to plants and colours – and add it to your plan.

Make a list of what you’ll need such as seeds, plants, turf and aggregates (not forgetting the summer house!) and tick them off as you buy them.

Then once the hard work is done you can sit back, relax and enjoy your new garden!

Be inspired!

If you’re stuck for ideas, take a look around our website for inspiration!

From turf to aggregates to play surfaces, we offer a wide range of products to help you create your dream garden!

 

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up-to-date with our latest news, hints and tips!

 Happy Gardening!

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Kieran’s Garden Tips for February

 

Here are Kieran’s garden tips for February!

 

If there’s enough snow on the ground then definitely build a snowman or two! As well as being fun it’ll help your lawn by not letting the snow sit on it for too long.

 

But if there’s no snow and the ground isn’t too wet, now is a great time to aerate and scarify your lawn to keep it looking its best.

 

Aerating

If the soil under your lawn becomes compacted, the rainwater won’t be able to drain properly and fresh oxygen won’t reach the turf.

This can damage the lawn as the grass will grow much slower and thin out.

Spiking or aerating the ground will improve drainage and allow oxygen to reach the grass.

You can use a hollow-tine aerator which will remove thin plugs of soil.

If you don’t have an aerator you can use a garden fork to spike holes in the ground. Push down to a depth of about 15cm / 6 inches.

 

Once you’ve covered a few square metres, brush a sharp sand dressing (NEVER builders’ sand!) into the holes you’ve made then spread a top dressing over to help the roots in the spring.

 

Only do this if the weather is mild and dry. If it’s still quite wet it might be best to wait until March.

 

Scarifying

Scarifying is the process of removing moss or thatch build-up from your lawn to allow it to breathe.

If the weather is mild and dry, now is a good time to do this.

You can hire or buy scarifying tools, or you can use a soft rake to gently remove the thatch.

Results might not be immediate but in the spring you’ll really see the benefits of having done it!

 

 

Of course, there are always other jobs to do in the garden aswell!

  • Prune some shrubs and climbers such as clematis, buddleia, hydrangea and roses
  • Plant bulbs for summer flowers
  • Sow sweet peas

 

And keep your eyes open for daffodils and snowdrops starting to come up, for the start of the spring displays!

Happy Gardening!

 

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WHAT CAN YOU DO IN THE GARDEN OVER WINTER?

 

It’s that time of year when gardening isn’t really on people’s to-do lists!

It’s easy to forget about it when you’re spending more time indoors than usual!

 

But there’s still plenty you can be doing in the garden now.

 

It’s great for you and your garden to get out there, even if it’s only for a short time each week!

You can keep your garden tidy and your lawn in good condition ready for the summer, and keep yourself active and healthy!

 

It’s great for the mind too – a scientifically-proven way to stay happy!

  • The Mycobacterium vaccae inhaled when gardening increases serotonin and norepinephrine levels, making us feel happy
  • Sunshine increases our all-important Vitamin D levels
  • The colour green is linked to good health and nature

 

Ok, even if you don’t fancy gardening, it’s still great to get outside for some fresh air! So wrap up warm and get out for a nice walk to Beat the Winter Blues!

 

Here are our top tips for winter gardening!

Lawn Care

You may not be out in the garden or using your lawn much at the moment, but you can still take care of it so it’s in the best possible condition come the spring.

  • Treat your lawn mower to a service and have the blades sharpened. This will keep your mower in good condition and your grass too! Blunt blades won’t cut the grass properly and will leave it bruised and cause it to turn brown or yellow
  • “If it’s still growing, keep mowing!”. Grass will still grow if the temperature is above 5 degrees, so you may still need to cut your grass over the winter. Try to let it dry out as much as possible first though, and keep the blades on a raised setting
  • If there has been a heavy frost or your grass is waterlogged try to stay off it as much as possible. Overuse of a wet lawn can cause a lot of damage
  • Remove fallen leaves and twigs from your lawn. If left on the lawn they can create brown patches and can even spread lawn disease

Get ready for spring and summer!

If this is the year you’re going to give your garden the makeover you’ve been promising, what better time to start than now?!

Doing as much as you can in the garden now will mean that you can relax and enjoy it much more when the warm weather arrives!

  • Now is a great time to plan your garden for the year ahead. You can sketch a plan of what you’d like where and order any seeds, plants or aggregates needed
  • Zones can be created using aggregates and play surfaces, such as:
      • Play areas for the kids or pets, using play bark and sand (for soft-landings!)
      • Feature and low-maintenance areas, using pebbles and stone or slate chippings
  • Repair and paint fences and sheds. Clean the greenhouse, plant pots and equipment ready to use
  • If the ground isn’t frozen, roses can be planted outdoors, as well as some fruit bushes and fruit trees
  • It’s the perfect time to start growing flowering plants from seed indoors, as well as spring and summer veg such as cress, salad leaves and spring onions
  • Prune, tidy and shape bushes, shrubs, grasses and trees

General jobs

  • Harvest winter veg
  • Keep paths and patios safe for use by removing moss and slime that can be slippery. It’s a good idea to keep a stock of rock salt in case you need it on your path, patio or driveway
  • If there has been a heavy snowfall, carefully remove it from hedges and greenhouses etc to avoid damage being caused
  • Weed borders and beds
  • Remember to keep bird feeders and water baths topped up and clean
  • If you have wet and muddy gateways or unmade paths, laying a good layer of bark chippings helps to absorb the water and make them easier and safer to walk on

 

Happy Gardening!

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How to prepare for Laying Turf

So you have made the decision to lay new turf!  The real secret to making sure you have the best lawn is to get the preparation done properly!

 

It can be tempting to skip this step but trust us getting in the preparation will ensure you don’t end up with a lawn that doesn’t look as good as it should.

 

Before you are ready to create a new lawn male sure you allow yourself enough time to do the preparation work in advance.  Once you have your turf delivered it needs to be laid as soon as possible! Leaving it on the pallet could kill it!

 

So this is what you need to do!

 

1 – Check the weather as far in advance so you can plan the time to do the prep work! You may not want to do it if it is bad weather and likewise if it is too hot you may struggle!

 

2 – Depending on how big the lawn needs to be, give yourself some days and a bit more time to do the following tasks and then estimate when you are likely to need your turf.  Don’t order it too early or too late!

 

3 – Assemble your tools!  You will need:

  • Shovel 
  • Fork
  • Garden Rake 
  • Maybe a mechanical turf cutter or rotavator if you have a large area to turf.

 

4 – Clear the Area!  You need to remove all plants, weeds and debris like stones, rocks, roots, twigs.  Every bit of plant material.  You need to make it as bare as you can.  Dig it up with a garden spade to remove all the surface.  You can put all the old turf in the compost somewhere.

 

5 – Rotovate  – Once you have removed the top. You need to dig and rotovate the soil.  Turn it over to remove any bricks, stones, or debris.  You need to remove any stones that are bigger than 4cm and dig about 15 cm/6 inches (or deeper).  If you are planning to add more topsoil or soil improvers add in at this stage so you get it evenly spread and incorporated.

 

6 – Rake and Level – Once the area is prepared you need to make it nice and level.

 

7 – Firm It Up – At this stage the soil may be a bit too loose for laying the turf.  Turf needs a firm base (not rock solid).  It needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the turf and not sink, but not so solid the roots cannot grow.  This is where you learn to do the “gardeners shuffle”  You also need to make sure that you allow any depth for the grass to be level with a path or paving, giving approximately 20mm lower than the desired height will be just about right.  

 

8 – Rake and Level again – You may find that you have a few lumps and bumps after you have firmed the ground. 

 

9 – Shuffle again! Break up the last of the clumps and firm

10 – Lay your turf!

 

Alan Titchmarsh demonstrates all of this really well (including the gardeners shuffle) in this video:

 

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How to edge a Lawn

Do you ever find that you mow your lawn but it just doesn’t seem to look that smart?

 

Those bits that grow up and the mower won’t get near it and the strimmer keeps breaking when you try?

 

If you take some time to defining the edges of the law it will:

🌟 make mowing easier 

🌟 Help to separate borders from the lawn

🌟create a smart appearance. 

 

Here is our Quick Transform Your Lawn Guide to get your edging right!

 

It’s easy to transform a lawn simply by taking some time to tidy the edges properly

Do this once a year and your lawn will look so much better.

 

Tools you will need are:

 

Lawn edging shears! (Long handled are best)

Half Moon Edging Iron or Garden Spade.

 

Step 1 – Map out where you will edge

Use a plank of wood to help you stay in a straight line.  If you want it to be curvy, lay the hose on where you want to go.  

 

Step 2  – Start to cut the edge

Take the Half Moon Iron and cut.  Keep it straight at 90 degrees to the lawn so you get a crisp edge, go down as far as the footplate as a guide to keep it all the same depth 4-6 inches.  This will cut through any roots that are trying to spread and help to keep your borders free from stray grass.

 

Step 3  – Maintain

If you are edging for a garden border, a layer of fine border bark on your beds will make it look clean and tidy.  If you need something more permanent you can look into edging that is plastic or metal to separate lawn and garden beds. 

 

Ideally, address the edges every time you mow with shears and strimmer and repeat with the half-moon iron or shovel at least once a year.

 

Do this as not only a great way to make your lawn look neater and tidy. It will add value to your property and garden fast and free.

 

Providing the root barrier will save lots of time weeding your beds and it will pay off. (not to mention it’s a great workout!)

 

 Let us know how you get on.

 

If you need more support get in touch. If you are looking to edge with bark or decorative chips have a look at the ranger we provide throughout Essex and Suffolk.

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Kieran’s Garden Tips for April

Garden tips for April

April means spring has sprung officially and we can make sure our gardens are ready to be enjoyed in the summer, so here are Kieran’s top garden tips for April

So what can you do now?

  • Order some summer bedding and hanging plants online!
  • Check your planters aren’t drying out! As it warms up the soil moisture will quickly change so keep an eye on these.
  • Lift and Divide any Perennial Plants, This will create new plants for your garden. (perennial plants are plants that live for 2 or more years)
  • Feed Trees and Shrubs.
  • Check and tie back any tree ties or tie any climbing roses.
  • Deadhead the daffodils and tulips

FOR THE LAWN

  • Now is a great time to sow lawn seed if you have patchy areas.  Just remember to keep the soil moist while it germinates.
  • Lay new turf.  It’s a great time to make the lawn greener, do remember to water it and keep it moist until it is established. If you lay in April you should expect your lawn to be good in 2-3 weeks
  • Apply a lawn dressing or fertiliser – see our lawn dressing here
  • Mow your lawn!  But remember not to cut too short
  • Aerate the compacted areas with a garden fork

Happy Gardening!  

We hope you enjoyed our garden tips for April.

If you are wondering should you lay turf or buy seed have a look at this blog post

We share lots of tips on our Facebook page!

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Should I Turf My Lawn or Buy Seed?

Should I buy turf or seed?

If your lawn isn’t looking great (or non-existant) you may ask yourself, “should I buy turf or seed?”

If you are faced with the choice between buying grass seed or turf here are the key things you need to know:

COSTS


Grass seed is cheaper than turf

TIME

Turf will be an instant lawn look and ready to use in 3-6 weeks, whereas seed will take around 6-12 months to mature.

HASSLE

With seed you need to protect against birds who may eat it and cats who will use it as a lavatory. You also need to wait for seed to germinate and it can be uneven and slower at times of the year.  Also you need to choose the right seed mix for you. It may also germinate weeds!

Seed needs to be sown evenly (not the easiest of jobs )

Turf is perishable.  You need to ideally lay it as quickly as possible.  It requires some muscle and effort to lay (but is a great work out)!

PLUS POINTS

Seed can be stored easily until the weather is right.  It’s very easy to sow, you don’t need to put too much effort into it and you don’t get as dirty!

Turf is easy to lay and your lawn will look great quickly and be usable in a few weeks.  You are not at risk from birds eating it or cats digging at the soil. You don’t have to choose the seed mix, we have done that already.

 

So what is your decision?  Should you buy turf or seed?

We hope this helps you and if we can help with your turf needs do have a look at the online calculator to see how much turf you need or call the office we are based near Harwich Essex, and deliver all over Essex and Suffolk.

Are you on social media?  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook

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Improve your soil with Manure

Now is a great time to add manure to your garden. You can layer it on nice and thick and cover the soil. This acts as a great protective layer to your soil making sure none of the goodness is lost. Left over the winter the worms will do most of the work for you and come the spring you can simply turn the soil over and its ready to plant. as the years go by it is great to see so many of our customers returning to us for Manure to repeat this process. We think manure is a great way to add structure and nutrition to your soil in the most natural way. What ever jobs you are doing in the garden this Autumn, remember the number one rule…have fun!

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Schools out for the Summer!

It’s been a great first half of the year at Oakley Turf Farm. With new family members and product lines, it’s a really exciting period for our family-run company.

To celebrate this success we want to thank and reward our community. Simply subscribe to our newsletter and you will receive a discount code. Leave your email here if you want to be part of it and we look forward to hearing from you.