A racecourse is a lot more than just the track. Our groundstaff put in the hard yards all year round to ensure everything is in pristine condition once gates open on a raceday.
Deputy Head Groundsman, Chris Youngs, maintains the sacred turf at Epsom Downs, home of the world famous Investec Derby, along with other areas of the picturesque racecourse. So, whether you have a huge lawn or a window box at home, Chris has some handy tips on how to get the most out of your outdoor space during ‘lockdown’.
Like it or not, the one thing about ‘lockdown’ is that most of us are now at home virtually 24/7, meaning there should be a little more time to get those jobs done around the house and in the garden.
Whatever size outdoor space you have, looking after and maintaining it is something you can do all year round.
And, while some things are best done in early spring or even autumn and winter, there’s plenty you can be doing at this time of year - even if you’ve been putting things off for the past few months!
The one thing I can promise is that the more love and effort you put in, the more you’ll get out of your garden or outdoor space. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do, without breaking the bank.
- It might not be the most glamorous term in the gardening glossary, but compost can play a big role in getting more from your garden. Food waste is an excellent way to create compost, as it breaks down over time and provides free fertiliser for your vegetable patch or potted plants.
- Store your compost in a bin, which many councils have available to order online, or create your own outdoor compost bay which will compost quicker by creating a square with raised sides.
- The key is to make thin, varied layers of material and turn your compost every month or so with a fork, allowing it to break down.
- When it has broken down, dig it into your vegetable patch, or use it as mulch on the bases of plants, trees and flower beds. The best compost will be at the bottom.
2) THE LAWN
- There’s nothing like a well-manicured lawn to instantly smarten up your garden. So the first tip is not to let your lawn grow too high. Cut the grass at least once a week if you can. The ideal grass height for a home lawn is 1 inch.
- Make sure you edge pathways and borders. You’ll be amazed how a nice straight edge can tidy up a lawn.
- Collect your clippings and mix them into your compost bin to add an extra layer of compost material.
- Don’t let moss or weeds take over your lawn. A spring/summer weed and feed will transform the colour and quality of your lawn. Most supermarket stock these at this of year.
- If you don’t have access to a lawn scarifier, vigorous raking of your lawn in one direction will pull up the dead matter and thatch which is preventing your grass from growing. If you have bare patches or compact soil, aerate the ground by forking it every couple of centimetres, cover with some broken down compost or soil and, if you can, add more lawn grass seed which should take 10 days or so to appear.
- Your lawn doesn’t need much water to green-up, so hopefully the great British summer will provide you with the water needed! If, however you do choose to water your lawn, do that at the end of the day before you go inside. There is much less evaporation at sunset and you’ll be really efficient with your water usage.
- If you don’t have a big garden, how about making space for insects?
- Bees need more habitats and it is easy to help. Fill old plastic bottles with bamboo sticks and hang these up. Simply cut the ends off the bottles and cut bamboo canes to size.
- Make sure the bee hotel is tied onto a fence or a balcony so it doesn’t blow in the wind. Also sand the ends of the bamboo sticks to ensure the bees are as comfortable as possible.
4) MINIATURE POND
- If you’re feeling even more adventurous and have the space, find a space in your garden to create a mini pond.
- A large container or washing up bowl is ideal and if you can submerge it in soil then all the better.
- Partially fill the container with clean gravel, logs, rocks and stones from your garden, which creatures can step in and out of. This will also act as a bird bath if it has a shallow section.
- Over time, you can add a pond-weed. Hopefully you’ll have created a new habitat for frogs, toads and lizards.
5) GROW YOUR OWN FOOD
- Try growing your own fruit or veg. It’s getting a little late for sowing seeds but you can purchase young plants online from most popular seed retailers.
- If you don’t have room for a vegetable plot, an old planter or trough would work just as well for most fruit and veg.
- Regular watering during dry periods is essential and will increase you fruit and veg yield. Get growing!