Helen's Garden Renovation Project

Friday 26 September 2014

Fun with netting

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 2:10 pm

Today I seeded the area of the front lawn where the cherry tree roots used to be.

The front lawn, seeded and netted

The front lawn, seeded and netted

Before I started, I had to remove three presents from foxes, and I didn’t want any more, so I netted the area. This should also keep any autumn leaves away. It was difficult to arrange the netting because it was an irregular shape. I used three pieces of netting in the end. I also planted some snowdrops and early irises at the edge of the cotoneaster hedge, and some plug pansies on top of the bulbs. It will be nice to have some cheerful colour in winter.

The weather continues to be exceptionally dry. This is great for gardening projects, but rotten for my anti-vine weevil nematodes, which like being a bit damp. I have had to water my garden every few days to keep the soil moist.


Thursday 18 September 2014


Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 11:19 am

I carried on digging up the cherry tree roots, and finally got them all out, or all the big ones near the surface, anyway.

Cherry roots dug up

Cherry roots dug up

I had hoped that there might be a surplus of soil because the level of the lawn was too high around the cherry tree. No such luck. Indeed, I probably need to import some more soil from the last undeveloped part of the garden. On the plus side, I managed to squish at least 20 cockchafer larvae and two leatherjackets while digging the area over.

I am still thinking about what to do about the back garden lawn. One option is to have the lawn level in the middle, but have it sloping up or down near the edges to match the level of the edging. A level lawn is an advantage if you want to put chairs out and sit on it, but I haven’t done this for years. Alternatively I could make the lawn slope from side to side and front to back uniformly across the area. I think that the option I choose will depend on how extreme the difference is, and I haven’t yet determined this.

With one more day of my week off work to go, I am feeling deeply tired from all this labour. I really hope it rains tomorrow. All day. Interestingly, the Met Office has a maximum probability of precipitation of 50% at 0700, but a yellow warning for rain. Maybe the warning is that, with 50% or less chance of rain, we will all be very surprised if the rain happens and will forget our coats and umbrellas.


Wednesday 17 September 2014

Slope decisions

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 2:54 pm

The weather and my back have continued to be model citizens, and I finished the digging on Monday. Yesterday and today I carried out the macro-levelling of the area, shifting piles of soil from the far end to the near end, and I think there is approximately the right amount of soil, which is great.

So I started banging in some pegs to help me complete the micro-levelling. This was where I hit a problem. The block edging is not perfectly level. Further, the level does not change uniformly. I knew this already, but up to now I was pretending that I didn’t. So if I want the edges of my lawn to be at the same level as the blocks (which I do) then I need to put a slope on my lawn. This requires a bit of thought.

So I thought a bit, and then I decided to switch my attention to a task requiring lots of brute force and not much thinking: removing the cherry tree roots from my lawn.

Cherry root in front lawn

Cherry root in front lawn

I have so far removed two chunks of root, and there was quite a lot of sawing involved. However, it was easier than removing the Leylandii roots because I didn’t have to worry about the tree falling down while I was sawing through the roots. I may not get to the stage of seeding my back lawn this autumn, but I should be able to finish removing the root in time to reseed the bare patch of the front lawn.

We have had a lot of dry weather, and the soil is as dry as dust in the front. I need it to rain because I have bought some nematodes to kill off my vine weevil community, and they need to have damp soil in order to do their job.


Saturday 13 September 2014

Am I nearly there yet?

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 3:39 pm

Both the weather and my back have behaved well, and here is the result:

Back lawn nearly finished

Back lawn nearly finished

I estimate that I can finish the job in two more sessions if the remaining section contains very little rubble. I hit a bad patch of rubble last week, but in my last two sessions there has been almost nothing to get rid of.

I’m quite surprised I managed to make this much progress. At the start, I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to finish the job by mid-September, but I have found that if I do no more than 60 to 90 minutes of digging a day, my back doesn’t mind too much. And with the continued dry weather, the soil has become drier and thus a lighter weight to shift. I have no more turf from the old back lawn to bury in the trenches, but I have been digging up turf from the front lawn to reveal a large cherry tree root which I want to dig out this autumn.


Saturday 6 September 2014

Making a new lawn

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 4:55 pm

The lawn was going to be the last thing that I did because of needing to estimate how much more soil I would need. However, I changed my mind because September is a very good time to sow seed, and there’s still a chance that I might be ready to do the sowing this month if (1) the weather is favourable and (2) my back doesn’t give up.

So I ordered 20 bags of compost from The Compost Centre and started digging. You can see where I have got to by the change in colour of the soil. It seemed like quite a daunting task at first because it’s so tiring that I don’t let myself do more than 1.5 hours in a session. I have mixed in 11 bags of subsoil from digging out the octagonal pond, and several bags of unwanted topsoil donated by my parents. Their soil is chalk, so I have put it towards the middle of the lawn area so it won’t affect any ericaceous plants I grow next to the lawn. I still have 10 bags of compost left to add. And I am over halfway there.

Digging over the lawn area

Digging over the lawn area

That is, halfway there in area. In terms of work it may be less than halfway because most of the area I have dug over so far has been dug over before. I am now coming to the part which was seeded by the builders and has never been cultivated. I have dug up three large chunks of breezeblock, a tub of tile adhesive and several plastic bags, among other things.

The forecast is good, and I have some leave from work coming up, so if my back can hack it, then the lawn might be sprouting by the end of the month! What I need to do soon is to try and estimate whether I need any more soil to finish the job, and order it if I do need some.