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7 Quick Garden Fixes to Attract Buyers for Your House

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7 Quick Garden Fixes to Attract Buyers for Your House

Summer is here, and it’s a popular time of year for putting your house on the market. Maybe you’ve decluttered indoors, spruced up some paintwork and placed some strategic flowers around to brighten things up – but what about one of your most important assets? Is your garden really working to impress buyers? Your garden is one of your most powerful selling tools. If you have a front garden, it’s literally the first thing potential buyers see as they approach the house. And if it’s presented well, a back garden can be like another room in the house, making the whole place seem more spacious. Every buyer is looking for something out of a garden, whether it’s low-maintenance or potential, and as a seller, your job is to present your garden in the best possible way to meet as many of these criteria as you can. A messy, neglected garden with an overgrown lawn may well put buyers off; not only does it obviously need hard work, it sends a message that the rest of the house may be equally poorly cared for. But don’t panic. Even if your garden isn’t exactly Open House standard, there are a few quick things you can do today to dramatically improve that first impression that won’t burn up your bank balance. Hanging baskets and planters This is a quick fix that can immediately brighten up an area of the garden. It’s particularly effective for giving the front of the house an immediate facelift, or brightening up a bleak patio area. All you need are some planters and some easy options to go in them. To create hanging baskets yourself, you’ll need a basket, lining material, compost and plants to put in it, plus a bracket to attach to the wall if you don’t have one. All these are readily available at garden centres. Some easy and colourful planting options are fuchsia, pansies, violets and lobelia. You can even buy pre-planted hanging baskets or pots to save you any effort at all. Just make sure whatever you choose is watered regularly – every evening in hot weather. A hanging basket full of dead plants does not send a positive message about a house! Front garden blitz Your front garden is what welcomes a potential buyer when they first arrive. It needs to make an immediate impression, even if that impression is only of tidiness and good maintenance. Even if you only have a pocket lawn, concrete or a strip of border down the side of a drive at the front, take an objective look at it. Is it as tidy as it could be? Weed borders, mow lawns, clear away rubbish and prune any unruly plants to neaten them up. Fragrant plants We all know the old trick of brewing coffee and sticking some bread in the oven before a house viewing – scent is a powerful sense and can make a buyer feel at home as soon as they come through the door. But what about scents in the garden? These can be equally powerful, and can be achieved without too much effort. Pots of flowering lavender either side of the door will give off a delicious scent in the summer, and you could use other highly scented plants such as wisteria, roses or honeysuckle. You could plant these in pots and planters (or buy them ready-potted) and place them on a patio or steps for an instant effect. Lawn makeover Your lawn will make a subconscious impression on your buyers, even if they’re not examining it closely. If it’s overgrown, full of weeds...

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Dealing with Moles in Oxfordshire Gardens

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Dealing with Moles in Oxfordshire Gardens

You may have spotted the signs of moles in your garden; those small heaps of soil spread in lines across your lawn or borders or sunken areas of lawn are a clear indication that these burrowing creatures are around.  Moles can live in suburban areas of towns near to woodland or wild land, and in Oxfordshire they most commonly seen in gardens in areas like Boar’s Hill. Moles love to dig through free-draining, soft soil that’s got plenty of juicy worms for them to munch. Of course, this is exactly the kind of soil gardeners like too, but unfortunately moles and gardeners don’t mix well! Moles are a symbol of the English countryside, much-loved characters in many children’s books, but for the gardener, moles can be a pest and hard to get rid of. Their digging can ruin lawns, destroy plants and interfere with borders; although moles don’t directly eat plants (they live on earthworms and insects), their digging interferes with root systems, harming plants. Their mounds of excavated soil on a lawn can be unsightly and must be flattened before mowing, and mole tunnels under a lawn can also cave in, creating an uneven surface. But getting rid of moles in your garden can be tough. We look at some of the best solutions to try if you spot those mole signs. Mole traps Mole traps are come in two types – traps that are intended to kill the mole, and those that capture the animal alive. Traps that kill moles are meant to be humane, using a strong spring mechanism to kill the mole instantly through impact. Live mole traps capture the mole so it can be released elsewhere. Both types of trap have their drawbacks though; they both take careful setting up, involving digging into a molehill to find the tunnel direction and placing the trap into the tunnel. Soil can clog traps as the mole digs, setting them off early so they need resetting. There is also a risk that traps don’t work as humanely as intended; moles are sometimes not killed outright, or may die of starvation or panic in a live trap if it isn’t checked regularly. If you capture a mole in a live trap, you also have responsibilities when it comes to disposing of the animal – you must have permission to release it on someone else’s land, and that land must be suitable to support moles. Call in the professionals One option is to pay a professional mole catcher to come in and deal with your mole problem. They are experienced at setting traps effectively, and are likely to deal with the issue faster than you can. But any trapping method has the disadvantage that it doesn’t permanently get rid of moles – empty tunnels can be re-inhabited by new moles, and if your soil is particularly mole-friendly, more are likely to move in. Planting solutions There are natural anti-mole techniques that some gardeners swear by that are supposed to discourage moles from your garden altogether. Planting is one of them; some of the species that moles are meant to dislike include alliums, marigolds and daffodils, whose scent is meant to be effective for three months after flowering. To plant these anti-mole varieties, you much first identify the boundaries of the land you want to protect and plant at points around that area. An organic solution: pet hair Another organic, mole-friendly solution is to spread cat or dog hair over the boundary of the area affected. Moles apparently hate the smell of the hair because both animals are predators, and...

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June in the Garden: Planting Shady Spots

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June in the Garden: Planting Shady Spots

The start of summer is finally here! June has arrived, and with the recent mix of some gorgeous sunshine and all that rain, everything in the garden is growing fast. We’re at the peak time of year for grass cutting, while those new shoots are growing like mad before it gets too hot, and it’s a good time to be keeping those weeds at bay before summer kicks in fully. If you’ve done your autumn and winter preparation, you should now be able to sit back a little and enjoy the results of your hard work as those tidy borders and clipped shrubs spring back into life. Planting shady spots Shady spots in the garden are some of the hardest to plant successfully. Even plants that are described as tolerating partial shade often don’t thrive in certain spots, and you can be left with unsightly bare borders or weeds. But never fear, we’ve got four great recommendations for herbaceous plants we love that really will do well in shade. Hosta These attractive foliage plants give a lovely array of different shades of green, with a wide choice of leaf shapes and sizes. Once they’ve grown to full size, which takes around five years, they can simply be left to their own devices and will cover shady areas year after year. Hosta are particularly good growers if the area is damp, and they do well in clay soil. But be warned, slugs are very partial to them so you may have to take steps to prevent them being nibbled to nothing. Ferns In most woodland areas of UK you’ll see a spread of ferns under trees, and you can use them in similar spots in the garden. Ferns are a classic choice for a shady spot under trees, bringing a touch of the wild forest to your garden with a beautiful array of greens and browns throughout the year. There are many different varieties of fern, and you can pick types that suit your soil and the spot you want to fill, whether it’s dry or damp or has acid or alkaline soil. Lily of the Valley A really pretty and traditional cottage garden option for a shady spot, Lily of the Valley produces scrolls of bright green foliage and strings of delicate bell-shaped white blossoms that give out a beautiful scent. It’s a great way of bringing colour and light to otherwise dull and shady areas, and they grow particularly well in damp areas, useful if you have a damp pond area you want to plant around. Hellebores Hellebores, commonly known as the Christmas rose or Lenten rose, are perhaps the most obvious solution for a shady spot; they produce pretty blooms in late winter and early spring when there’s not much other colour in the garden. They’re not keen on extremes – very dry or very boggy soil won’t suit them, but they’re happy in shade under trees. To make sure the flowers stay visible, remove older leaves, and you can propagate a plant by dividing and replanting in early spring. Late spring pruning June is a good time to get shrubby hydrangeas under control, pruning back the branches and dead flower heads from last year to the first healthy buds. Other flowering shrubs like skimmia japonica, mahonia and abelia can also be cut back before flowering in late spring and summer. With all these shrubs, especially on more established bushes, check carefully for birds nesting in the branches before pruning. Lawn and border care Our lawns are growing rapidly at the moment, enjoying the mix of wet...

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Tree Stumps: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

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Tree Stumps: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

It’s common for gardeners to have to deal with tree stumps. Whether it’s an old stump you inherited after buying a house or you’ve had a tree felled yourself, you’ll have to make a decision about whether to leave the stump in place or remove it. Stumps can also cause problems on commercial premises, where trees have been cleared and planting or building work is planned. Should I remove tree stumps? The answer is probably yes. Of course, the easiest course of action is to leave the stump in place. You can use a stump weedkiller to kill off the stump and hopefully prevent regrowth, and they can be made into a garden feature and will become a home for wildlife. But there are several disadvantages to leaving a stump in place: ‘Suckering’ can occur, even if a stump is treated with weedkiller. New shoots can grow from the roots which will need to be dealt with all over again. Roots underground can interfere with digging borders and new planting. Stumps can be a trip hazard in lawns. Root diseases like honey fungus can grow in dead wood, affecting other plants and grass. Removing a stump yourself It is possible to remove a stump physically yourself. But there are drawbacks; physical removal involves a lot of hard labour digging the stump from the ground, which can be a serious undertaking if the tree was large and the root system extensive. You can use the tree trunk for leverage to remove the stump, but only if part of the trunk is still in place, which is unlikely to be the case for an older stump. You could hire equipment to remove the stump – a mechanical mini-excavator, for example. But this obviously involves a cost, and you will need to operate the equipment yourself. Professional Stump Removal The other option is to get the stump removed by a professional. The advantage of this approach is that they will be able to bring in the right equipment, will be experienced in using it and can remove the stump quickly and without any hassle to you. If you’re having a tree felled by a professional lumberjack, they will usually have access to stump grinding equipment, or a mini-excavator, and can remove the stump as part of the tree felling process. But this often carries an extra cost, and isn’t much help if you’re dealing with an older stump. Alternatively, you can call in a professional to deal with the stump alone. Acorns Landscape and Gardening can help with professional tree stump removal in Oxford and surrounding areas. Our tree team uses heavy-duty stump grinders to make quick work of your problem stumps – just call and have a chat about how we can help. Don’t be stumped, get it sorted! For Oxford tree stump removal, click here to get in touch for a free, no-obligation...

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Muntjac Deer in Oxfordshire: A Problem for Gardeners?

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Muntjac Deer in Oxfordshire: A Problem for Gardeners?

I’ve been hearing of a new kind of garden pest targeting those new spring shoots in the Boars Hill and Cumnor Hill areas of Oxford – deer! Muntjac deer are a common sight around Oxfordshire,  and they’re now often seen in urban gardens in suburban areas close to wasteland or woodland. It’s straightforward to identify a muntjac – not least because they’re the only breed of deer likely to be breaking into your urban garden. They’re small, stocky and brown in colour, and adult males have short, straight antlers. Muntjac are a prehistoric species, and aren’t native to Britain. They’ve been around since the early 1900s, when they were imported from China to Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, subsequently escaping into the wild. Urban Muntjac Muntjac mostly keep to forested areas, but they can also sometimes be seen in urban gardens, especially in larger, more overgrown gardens that give plenty of cover and back on to woodland or wasteland. Muntjac are a threat to plant life as they eat low-lying plants voraciously, and can also be a big problem for gardeners. They’re partial to fresh shoots, flowers and vegetables, and will happily strip bark from your lovely ornamental and fruit trees. Laurel shrubs and tulip bulbs are particular delicacies. They can quickly devastate a garden, if left to their own devices. What can I do to protect my garden? If you don’t want muntjac to get into your garden at all, you’ll need to improve your fencing, making sure there are no holes or weak areas the deer could get through. Munjac are good jumpers though, and can jump a fence several feet high with no problems. You’ll also need to protect the ground around fence with chicken wire, as muntjac can dig too. You can protect vegetables and seedlings with strong plastic trellis laid over them and secured with pegs. A natural deterrent method is to plant lavender around borders, as the strong smell deters muntjac. One other approach is to offer the muntjac alternative food sources to protect your treasured plants. Fence in plants to prevent them becoming an easy target for the deer and offer them something else that’s easy to get to – muntjac will eat vegetables, carbohydrates like bread and even leftovers from your dining table. If all else fails, you could look at installing a deer deterrent, like this commercially available one. The noise, light and human voices deter the animals. Or try making your own contraption like...

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