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Why Do Trees Shed Their Leaves?

September 27th, 2015

This time of year, you might find yourself spending a fair amount of time raking up or mulching leaves in your garden, yet soon enough the problem will return no matter how meticulous you are. Although it isn’t totally necessary to get rid of all the leaves, if they are covering a significant area of your lawn they can be detrimental for your garden by next spring. It will stop the grass from growing, promote mould and can accentuate any damage caused by animals.

So if you do decide to spend some time raking or mulching, you might ask yourself, why exactly do leaves fall from trees in autumn?

Trees that lose their leaves are called deciduous trees (compared to the evergreen trees that do not), and the leaf shedding can happen at different times of year depending on species and climate. For example, in tropical forests trees will lose their leaves at the beginning of a dry season, rather than during autumn to prepare themselves for the cold weather. It is a tactic that has evolved over thousands of years; trees shed their leaves to survive in the toughest seasons and conditions that they face. By shedding, they are able to save more water and energy, and when spring appears, the lack of leaves means that pollen can blow freely over larger distances to help pollinate.  Trees and plants absorb their energy from sunlight, which there is considerably less of throughout the winter months, meaning that they need to preserve as much as they can to make any supplies last.

The shedding of the leaves is done by a process called abscission, which is when specialised cells ‘cut’ the leaves off. Before the leaf is cut, anything of value from the leaf is reabsorbed back into the tree; one of the most important things that is reabsorbed is chlorophyll, which absorbs sunlight and is vital in the process of photosynthesis, but it also gives the leaves their bright green colour, meaning that they slowly change to the colours of autumn as the chlorophyll is broken down.

So, next time you are raking up leaves or mulching in your garden, lawn or driveway, think that, although it might seem like a never ending job, the trees are actually just doing their best to survive into next year, and no trees would definitely be worse than having to clear up a few leaves here and there.

Water While Away – Automatic Watering

July 31st, 2015

Over the summer period, your garden or allotment will need very frequent watering to keep it healthy and free from drought. However, if you go on holiday, away for the day or even work long hours, it can be difficult to keep it up and give your plants the care and attention they need. Fortunately it is easy to set up an automatic watering system, which will water while (you’re) away!

We specialise in the installation of automatic watering systems, and we can assess your garden or allotment to work out which method of automatic watering will be best, as well as the size of the system, appropriate timers and any thing else you might need. Water for these systems can either come directly from an outside tap, or an underground or overground water tank – you can have a look at our previous blogs to find out more about different types of tanks and which one might be more appropriate for the space. Automatic watering uses a network of pipes that carry water around a garden and range from tiny systems for container plants to large-scale, sophisticated systems, they usually do not take long to install and can save you a lot of time, effort and worry.

Using recycled rain water is the preferred method of automatic watering, simply because it saves water and costs you less! In a time of an international water shortage, every drop counts and it is beneficial to use recycled water for more reasons than just saving money. In the event of a hose pipe ban, you can still use your harvested rain water as you please, but there can be restrictions on any sort of watering (have a look at your local water company for a full break down of do’s and don’ts). Of course, we understand that this is not always possible for every garden, and there are many options available.

Summer Gardening

June 29th, 2015

June and July are perhaps the best months for enjoying and appreciating your garden. With the majority of the planting done, the hanging baskets in bloom and the sunshine hopefully making an appearance, the summertime garden is beautiful. It is this time of year that any hard work that you did in the spring will be paying off, however there are still plenty of things to be doing to keep your garden in tip-top condition throughout the duration of the summer.

Unfortunately, the conditions that your garden loves are also perfect conditions for many unwanted weeds to thrive in. This time of year they will need constant monitoring and removal, particularly around areas such as flower beds and vegetable patches. You will also need to be more thorough with watering the garden, as the hotter weather and lack of rainfall means that the plants could start to wilt and suffer from drought. A hot day will evaporate any water in the soil,and the more dry and ‘baked’ it becomes, the more difficult it is for water to penetrate it; so be sure to keep watering your plants, particularly those which have only recently been planted, or are producing fruit and vegetables. For more information about watering your garden and conserving water, have a read through our blogs page.

Lawns are quite resistant to drought, although it will start to turn brown if it is left for too long. Mowing will need to be regular, as the grass will grow fastest at this time of year. If there are still weeds appearing in your lawn, at this time of year you can still apply weed killers to remove larger weeds.

 

 

Rain Harvesting Tanks

May 31st, 2015

We’re all aware of the benefits of collecting rainwater run-off from our roofs, driveways and other non-porous surfaces, and with an international water shortage topped off with an annual hosepipe ban, it can be a huge inconvenience to not have any water for use in your garden. Rain harvesting can be installed in any size garden, and there are two main types of tanks that are available to you – above ground and under ground. Both of these types of tank come in a huge variety of sizes.

Above ground tanks can be very small, but some manufacturers make these tanks to a capacity of 20,000 litres or more. These tanks can be installed in basements, corners of your garden or even up against walls or in small, narrow passageways. Just because they’re not underground doesn’t mean that they have to be in the way, or an eyesore for that matter. Column design tanks are ideal for smaller gardens, and they can be quickly and easily attached to a downpipe. Irrigation systems still work with these tanks, and mains top ups are always available if your tank runs empty.

The main benefits of having an above ground tank are that it saves the effort of having to dig a large hole and install an underground system, and that they are more easily accessible should they require cleaning or there is a fault in the attached pump system. However they do take up considerably more room, so make sure you have the space to put it!

Under ground tanks require a more complex installation, but they are completely hidden and take up no space in your garden. There are four major below ground systems, and the one that you choose should depend on the capacity you are looking for, the water table in your area and if there are any ground water issues or stony ground in the location you want to put it. Once again, these tanks come in a very wide range of sizes and capacities, they can all be topped up from the mains and a range of irrigation systems are available to you, just as they are with the over-ground tanks.

The biggest advantage of having a below-ground tank is that it takes up no space, while providing a huge amount of storage. If it is a large tank  that you’re looking for, they can take up a lot of room in your garden if they are above ground – putting them below ground completely removes this problem.

If you are unsure about what you’re looking for and the capacities you’ll need, you can use our tank calculator. This takes into account the roof area, the annual rainfall and the profile of your roof, as well as all the advice and information you’ll need to work out the plant area you’ll be watering and the drought protection you’re after. The tank calculator can be found here, or alternatively you can give us a call.

Watering Your Garden

April 30th, 2015

When it comes to watering your garden, it can be difficult to know how much water you should use, which plants need more (or less) water and if you’re in an area with a water-meter, whether or not you should just pray for rain. Water is a precious resource, and a costly one at that, so employing water conserving methods can be very beneficial.

Of course, some of the best ways to conserve water are to install a rain garden or to harvest all the rain water that lands on your roof and driveway. However, there are other simple ways to reduce the amount of water you use on your garden:

The time of day that you water your garden can  make a big difference to how much water you need – on a hot afternoon a lot of the water will evaporate before the plants have a chance to use it. Watering in the morning means that you will lose less to evaporation and also that foliage will dry by evening. This becomes even more important if you use a sprinkler because it means you are not keeping an eye on the water used in the garden.

It is far better to have a few deep waterings in a week rather than frequent shallow waterings, this is because it encourages roots to go deeper which means they will be less effected by dry weather. Similarly, if you keep your plants close together less water will be used.

One of the biggest challenges that gardeners face is knowing how much water a plant needs – unfortunately the symptoms of an under-watered plant are strikingly similar to that of an over-watered plant. When a plant has too much water, the soil becomes water-logged and leaves no space for any oxygen, which is needed for the plant to survive. With this, the roots cannot absorb any oxygen and display the same wilting symptoms.

If there are puddles and the soil is very soggy, there is too much water. If the soil is bone dry then obviously there is too little. One of the best and easiest ways to tell if the soil is moist enough is to prod it – if a small amount of soil sticks to your finger the level of moisture is about right, whereas if your finger stays clean or ends up completely covered in soil then you need to think about changing how much water you are giving the plants.

 

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