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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Autumn 2001
John Cushnie On...

Are you a first time gardener, want your garden to be low maintenance, or just don't know where to start with your front or back 'garden'? Then let John Cushnie help you. Here is John's first instalment on how make your garden a perfect place to relax and enjoy for the years ahead.

In the Beginning

Garden that needs a make overAdam and Eve started off with a fine garden and still managed to make a mess of things so don’t worry if you make mistakes. It could be worse, there could be serpents!

The first step is to find out what your site offers. Is it sunny all day or shaded by the house or the neighbour’s house? Is it sloped or level? It might be covered in weeds or already sown in grass.

Dig a few holes as deep as 12 inches to find out the type and quality of the soil. Measure the area and mark the shape on a sheet of paper. You may do whatever you want and that includes talking to yourself.

What sort of garden do you want? Perhaps you don’t like gardening. You may be too busy to garden or simply prefer to play golf or sail.
There is no such thing as a “no maintenance” garden but you can have a “low maintenance” attractive garden which leaves you time to sit out and enjoy your surroundings.

Make a list of “must have” items. Garden seat, patio, barbecue area, paths, children’s play area, water feature, flowers for cutting, lawn, vegetable garden, the list can be long or short.

The first serious work should be to clear the whole garden of weeds. There are two types:
Annual weeds are generally soft and easily removed by hoe or hand weeding. If they are disposed of before they form seed there will be less next time round.
Perennial weeds are more persistent. Many of them have deep roots and spread rapidly. Digging to remove all of the weeds’ roots is effective. Spraying with weedkiller such as Glyphosate when the weeds are growing will sicken if not kill most weeds. Apply the weedkiller on a calm day when there is little chance of rain for a few hours.

Cultivate the soil. For large areas it is best to hire a rotavator. Smaller areas for vegetables may be hand dug. Turn the soil to the full depth of the spade, burying the layer of annual weeds in the bottom of the trench. They will rot down adding humus to the ground.

While this work is going on outside, the garden planning and design can be tackled in the comfort of your favourite chair in front of the fire.

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