Garden Landscaping Tips

Tree Stumps: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Posted by

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...

Read More

Oxfordshire Fencing and Shed Ideas

Posted by

Oxfordshire Fencing and Shed Ideas

Autumn is a good time of year to consider putting up new fencing in your garden. Climbing plants and shrubs are dying back and losing their leaves, allowing you to check if your fence is in good condition or if it needs replacing. We regularly replace fencing in Oxford and surrounding areas; here’s some basic information to get you started when you look at choosing your new fence. Types of Fencing There are two main types of fencing, and which you go for will depend on your budget and your requirements. Standard fence panels Standard fence panels are the cheaper, quicker option. They’re made from treated wood and built to set heights. They are quick to put up and you’re likely to get 8 to 10 years use from them.   Closed board fencing Closed board fencing is a higher-price option, but it will last longer because it’s pressure treated. You’re likely to get a good 15 – 20 years of use out of it before it needs replacing. The materials might be more expensive, but it has a longer life so may be more economical in the long-run. Another advantage of closed board fencing is that you can make the fence any height you like, whereas fence panels are made at set heights.   Oxfordshire sheds If you’re looking to replace an old shed in your Oxford garden, or install a new shed, this is a great time of year to do it. A standard pressure-treated wooden shed is likely to cost you around £300 – £500. If you’re replacing an existing shed you’re likely to be able to use the existing foundation from the old shed, but if not, you’ll need to build a foundation or the shed will be unstable. The budget option is utility slabs, which are cheap and quick to put down. But if you want a more permanent, secure solution, you could get someone in to put down a concrete base...

Read More

How to Find out Soil PH in Oxfordshire

Posted by

How to Find out Soil PH in Oxfordshire

Last month we looked at how to identify the soil type of your garden to help you choose the best plants. This time, we’re going to look at the other half of the crucial soil equation – soil PH. Soil PH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the soil is. Different plants will thrive in different soil PHs and some plants will struggle if soil is particularly acid or alkaline. It’s useful to test soil PH when you’re planning new planting of flowers, vegetables or fruit. You should also test soil PH if you have a plant with yellowing leaves to see if the soil is the culprit. There are two ways to identify your soil PH. The first way requires you to have a lovely display of hydrangeas in your garden! Hydrangeas are nature’s soil PH testing kits, as the blossom colour depends on the type of soil you have. Blue blossom = acidic soil PH Pink blossom = neutral soil PH White blossom = alkaline soil PH The second way to find out soil PH is to carry out a chemical test on the soil. This is the most practical as most of us don’t have a handy hydrangea! You can get a professional soil PH test carried out, but you can also use a home tester kit which are available at garden centres. If your results come back neutral, this is great as most plants will be fine in this soil. Similarly, alkaline soils don’t throw up many problems. If your soil is very acidic, some plants may struggle, although lime-eating plants like rhododendrons and heathers will thrive. Once you know your soil type you can treat the soil if it needs improving. Acidic soils can be made more neutral by adding lime and alkaline soils can be made more neutral by adding sulphur or iron...

Read More

Garden Design Tips: Oxfordshire Soil Types

Posted by

Garden Design Tips: Oxfordshire Soil Types

It’s important to design a garden that will work well for you, and doing this effectively depends on the type of soil you have. Let’s have a look at the four main soil types, and how to identify them.       Clay soil This is the most common soil type in Oxfordshire, especially in north Oxford. Clay soil is heavy and dense, sticks together in thick clumps and can be rolled and shaped easily in the hands. Clay soil retains more nutrients than other soils, but has poor drainage, which can mean it gets waterlogged in rainy weather and bakes hard in hot weather. Plants like hosters thrive in clay soils.   Sandy soil On the other end of the spectrum, sandy soil is light, crumbly and dry. In Oxfordshire sandy soil is common in the Cowley area of Oxford where large areas of allotments were reconditioned in the past before houses were built on the land. Areas near rivers and lakes also often have sandy soil due to deposits left by the water. Sandy soil holds fewer nutrients but it drains well and doesn’t water log. Lavender does well in sandier soils.   Chalk soil In the Oxfordshire region, Harwell and the Chilterns have chalky soil, easily identifiable by the hard lumps and chalky stones in the soil. This soil type retains some nutrients, and is generally very alkaline.       Silt soil This is the best type of soil for a gardener as silt drains well, is nutrient-rich and very fertile, but is unfortunately rare in Oxfordshire. It has a slippery, soapy feel. Knowing the soil type of your garden will gives you an idea of the plants that will thrive there, and what you can do to treat the soil to improve it.   Gardener’s Question Time! Any questions about Oxfordshire gardening? Drop me a line on our Facebook page or on Twitter and I’ll answer in next month’s...

Read More

Creating a Patio on a Budget

Posted by

Have you got a bit of your garden that needs a little TLC and a new function in life? Fancy a seating area but can’t stretch to a full landscaping project? If you haven’t got the budget for a paved patio with foundations, which could set you back a couple of thousand pounds, this is a great compromise, an attractive way of turning a space into a neat seating area or a focus for container planting. We recently completed this attractive outdoor space at a home in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. It turned a rather neglected side passage into a useful and attractive addition to the garden.   Step 1: Clear the Mess! The first stage is to clear the area you’re going to transform, removing any rubbish and unwanted junk that might be cluttering it, giving you a clear space to work.     Step 2: Weeding Now thoroughly weed the area, pulling up weeds by the roots wherever possible to discourage regrowth. You can also spray the area with a weed killer to stop the weeds returning. Step 3 – Levelling You should now level the surface of the area as much as possible – you can use a rake to do this, spreading the soil evenly. Step 4 – Weed Control Now lay a layer of weed control membrane over the area. This is very cheap to buy from a garden centre or DIY store and keeps the light off the soil so that weeds don’t poke through the gravel. One classic problem with many budget patios is that paving slabs are just laid on bare soil (as in the photo above), meaning that weeds soon sprout through the gaps, but the membrane avoids this issue. Be gentle as you lay the membrane and try to avoid holes – weeds will take advantage of the smallest chink of light! Step 5- Gravelling and paving The membrane will be held in place by the weight of the gravel as you lay it down, although you can also buy membrane stakes to hold down the edges. Spread the gravel a couple of inches deep. It’s a good idea to incorporate paving slabs as stepping stones, as we’ve done here, along the main walking route through the space, as this will minimise the disturbance of the gravel. Clear away an area of gravel to lay the stone, then arrange it tidily around it. You can reuse old slabs for this, and if necessary hold them in place with a wet mix of sand and cement. To create a seating or planting area, add benches, a garden table and planting containers. Super-easy, super-affordable and super-fast – we were done in one day… just about!   Need some advice on transforming a neglected corner of your garden? Get in touch for a...

Read More

November Gardening Tips: Pruning Climbers

Posted by

November Gardening Tips: Pruning Climbers

November is usually the time of year that we have to start worrying about frosty mornings in the garden, but with the weather still very mild and some plants flowering much later than normal, that’s not currently a concern! So instead, let’s enjoy the warm autumn and get in some preparations for the months ahead. It’s a good time to be digging over borders, tidying them for the winter and bringing the roots of any weeds to the surface so that when the frosts do eventually arrive they’ll be killed off. Digging also uncovers tasty worms and other bugs for the garden birds, whose other sources of food are starting to dwindle. It’s worth investing in some frost protection for your more valuable plants that form part of your garden architecture. You can buy frost protection fleece in all shapes and sizes at garden centres and DIY stores – it’s like a fine spider web that light can penetrate but that will keep the frost and heavy snow off your treasured plants. Pruning Climbers Carry on with your pruning and tidying in the garden throughout November, especially climbing plants – pruning will give you a better display of flowers next year. Once the leaves have all fallen from your wisteria, which they are likely to have done by the end of this month, it will be easier to see the interior framework of the plant, making it easier to prune. Take care when cutting –take back the side shoots to two or three buds from the base of the stem. This way you remove soft growth, reducing the amount of nitrogen in plant and so encouraging flower growth instead of leaf growth, giving you a glorious display next year. Honeysuckle is another climber to give some attention to, and it’s easier to handle too. Don’t be scared to cut it back to ground level and it will grow back vigorously. To encourage more flowering, cut the side shoots back to just above a pair of buds. Fruit and Veg Dedicate some time to digging over your veg patch to take out old stems, which can be added to the compost heap. If you have any burned coal, ash or wood from a bonfire, spread it over the top of the soil to improve the soil and drainage. Pick out unwanted weeds or leave the roots on the surface for the frost to do its work. Once you’ve dug over the area, add a couple of bags of manure to improve soil structure and nutrients. Now fruit like apples are going over, make sure you pick up rotten and diseased fruit from ground and add it to your compost heap – allowing fruit to rot on the ground can spread any disease present and have an effect on the grass underneath. General Garden Maintenance Now your borders are nice and clear you can see the gaps between established plants; take the opportunity to spread bark chippings on the ground. They’re great for keeping weeds down and borders looking tidy through the winter and into spring. And of course, keep raking up those leaves from the lawn. You could compost them, or pile them in a quiet corner to build up a stockpile for wildlife over the colder months. Cultivating Wildlife If you’re like me, you enjoy giving some consideration to wildlife when you’re gardening, sharing your outdoor space with the animals that use it. November is a good time to focus on helping smaller animals to survive – there’s a harsh winter predicted, so it’s particularly important at the moment....

Read More