Lower maintenance advice please

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by ThePlantAssassin, Feb 7, 2021.

  1. ThePlantAssassin

    ThePlantAssassin Gardener

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    444
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    NuttyFruitCake
    Location:
    East Sussex
    Ratings:
    +1,005
    I'm trying to think of ways to make my garden lower maintenance this year.
    I'd like to have less weeding and hopefully watering to do for a start. Decorative bark looks, well, decorative and I think that might be an option. What are the plus and minus of this? Is it effective and if so are any particular brands better than others?

    I was considering trying nematodes (nemaslug) this spring but assume bark would rule out repeat use of this method of slug control being that it has to be watered into the soil??
    Any thoughts or suggestions gratefully received.
     
  2. noisette47

    noisette47 Total Gardener

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2013
    Messages:
    3,404
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine
    Ratings:
    +7,002
    Hi TPA, a mulch of some sterile material will certainly help cut down on annual weeds, and stop new perennial ones germinating, but you'll need to dig out/kill existing roots of persistent ones like bindweed, couch grass, nettles or docks.
    Bark is attractive, the only two downsides that I know of are birds chucking it all over the place and that it can deplete the nitrogen content of the soil over time, as it decomposes. That's easily put right by watering in a high-nitrogen, liquid feed, if the plants start to look yellowy and starved.
    I couldn't get anything like enough organic mulch to cover the borders here, so some of them were well-prepared then geotextile pegged down and plants put in afterwards. They're the only weed-free areas and the plants have done much better than elsewhere. It's a personal thing, though. Some don't like the look of it until the plants grow to cover the bare spaces, some claim that it harms the soil flora and fauna. Not been my experience, but hey-ho.
    ETA..I tried the slug nematodes, the sciarid-fly ones and the vine-weevil ones. None of them worked particularly well. The weather conditions and humidity have to be just right for the nematodes, which they're frequently not!
     
  3. ThePlantAssassin

    ThePlantAssassin Gardener

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    444
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    NuttyFruitCake
    Location:
    East Sussex
    Ratings:
    +1,005
    Thank you @noisette47

    I think Id go nuts if the birds threw it all over the grass. That would in effect mean as much 'work' as pulling up the odd weed. I almost have a meltdown when next doors birch sheds its 'bobbles' (technical term) all over my newly mowed lawn throughout spring and summer. Thanks for the info on nematodes as they are quite expensive and I don't want to waste money. I suppose if they were the magic bullet they purport to be everybody would be using them. It would be approx £30 for initial treatment then nearly the same for subsequent applications. Guess I'll keep my thinking cap on for now.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Black Dog

      Black Dog Gardener

      Joined:
      Feb 4, 2021
      Messages:
      128
      Gender:
      Male
      Occupation:
      It's a secret
      Location:
      Germany (North)
      Ratings:
      +303
      Well I wouldn't worry about birds. Yes they like to look for snacks beneath the mulch and yes they will throw the odd piece on the lawn. But in my experience, the lawnmower will pick it up together with the freshly cut grass, so it isn't permanent.

      It is much more important to pluck all the weeds thoroughly before mulching. After that, if your layer of mulch is large enough, plucking any newcomers is quite easy.

      And don't forget to add some nitrogen heavy fertilizer before mulching. Rotting bark drains a lot of nutrients from the soil. I prefer ground claw and horn shavings from cattle. I don't know if there is a specific word for it in English at even a brand name, but here in Germany you can buy them in packs of 2.5 to 25 kilogrammes for small money. They degrade really slow (about half a year) and give the plants a steady supply of nitrogenous nutrients.
       
    • ThePlantAssassin

      ThePlantAssassin Gardener

      Joined:
      Jun 6, 2012
      Messages:
      444
      Gender:
      Female
      Occupation:
      NuttyFruitCake
      Location:
      East Sussex
      Ratings:
      +1,005
      @Black Dog
      Claw and Horn shavings?? wow that's a new one on me. Not heard of that before. Cant say I've ever noticed it anywhere in the garden centres. Maybe we don't have it here.

      I seem to have loads of little clumps of grass popping up all over the borders. Im wondering if it has anything to do with the mass of garden centre manure that was dug in during the autumn. Blooming nuisance it is!
       
    • ricky101

      ricky101 Total Gardener

      Joined:
      Jun 15, 2016
      Messages:
      1,981
      Gender:
      Male
      Location:
      Sheffield
      Ratings:
      +2,616
      So many way you can add automatic watering systems these days, such as drip lines or seep hoses etc

      If you have lots of bare soil or the weeds to grow, why not use more ground cover plans to smother them.

      Do you have any form of pond or water feature to attract the frogs and birds who will help eat the slugs and snails.

      Are you just wanting more time for sunbathing and g&t or is your garden becoming too much to handle ? if so consider reducing its size by using a dividing trellis or similar and gravel over the area behind it.
       
    • Black Dog

      Black Dog Gardener

      Joined:
      Feb 4, 2021
      Messages:
      128
      Gender:
      Male
      Occupation:
      It's a secret
      Location:
      Germany (North)
      Ratings:
      +303
      If you have access to manure, that works nicely as well. The problem is, you don't want to disturb the layer of bark once you made a nice blanket above the ground. Manure brings lots of valuable nutrients besides nitrogen (I use dried manure a lot myself) but it's a rather short-lived boost.
       
    • noisette47

      noisette47 Total Gardener

      Joined:
      Jan 25, 2013
      Messages:
      3,404
      Gender:
      Female
      Location:
      Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine
      Ratings:
      +7,002
      I think that our equivalent would be plain bonemeal, TPA. The annual grass that is such a pain also arrives on birds' claws and cats' feet :gaah:
       
    • Black Dog

      Black Dog Gardener

      Joined:
      Feb 4, 2021
      Messages:
      128
      Gender:
      Male
      Occupation:
      It's a secret
      Location:
      Germany (North)
      Ratings:
      +303
      Well if your grass is happy, it will spread. I have to fight that same urge... And you can't really stop seeds from flying in via air-delivery.
       
    • Black Dog

      Black Dog Gardener

      Joined:
      Feb 4, 2021
      Messages:
      128
      Gender:
      Male
      Occupation:
      It's a secret
      Location:
      Germany (North)
      Ratings:
      +303
      Don't mix up bonemeal and horn shavings.

      Bone- (and sometimes blood-)meal has different ingredients (duh) and gives you different nutrients (mostly phosphorus based and calcium)

      Horn shavings are almost pure nitrogen-based.

      They add up nicely though if you decide to use them both, or even add regular manure.

      Hmm writing this, Im coming to the conclusion it probably would be best to buy a whole cow, have a nice BBQ and bury the rest....:ccheers:
       
    • Perki

      Perki Total Gardener

      Joined:
      Jun 2, 2017
      Messages:
      1,337
      Gender:
      Male
      Location:
      Lancashire
      Ratings:
      +4,373
      I've not heard of horn shaving before @Black Dog I don't believe its sold in the UK unless I mistaken . Sulphate of Ammonia is usually the go to for pure Nitrogen feed here , is horn shaving a common product in Germany and else where ?
       
    • Perki

      Perki Total Gardener

      Joined:
      Jun 2, 2017
      Messages:
      1,337
      Gender:
      Male
      Location:
      Lancashire
      Ratings:
      +4,373
      I find the bet way to suppress weeds is using more plants . Bark does look nice and will last a couple of years and don't put a membrane down . An hoe is invaluable for weeding and my go to tool , the wolf tool ones are good.
       
      • Like Like x 1
      • Agree Agree x 1
      • Black Dog

        Black Dog Gardener

        Joined:
        Feb 4, 2021
        Messages:
        128
        Gender:
        Male
        Occupation:
        It's a secret
        Location:
        Germany (North)
        Ratings:
        +303
        @Perki
        It really depends who you are asking. A lot of young people getting into gardening don't want to use horn shavings because they associate it with animal suffering. They are a natural byproduct when slaughtering animals for food so for them it doesn't fit into a vegetarian lifestyle. But a lot of people who are growing their own food are part of that vegetarian group, so they are kind of overrepresented.

        Another reason you might not be able to find them could be the aftershock from the BSE epidemic in 1993. I'm sure a lot of people and politicians were not really keen on distributing parts of potentially infected animals in their garden.
         
      • Black Dog

        Black Dog Gardener

        Joined:
        Feb 4, 2021
        Messages:
        128
        Gender:
        Male
        Occupation:
        It's a secret
        Location:
        Germany (North)
        Ratings:
        +303
        USER=20210]@Perki[/USER]
        It really depends who you are asking. A lot of young people getting into gardening don't want to use horn shavings because they associate it with animal suffering. They are a natural byproduct when slaughtering animals for food so for them it doesn't fit into a vegetarian lifestyle. But a lot of people who are growing their own food are part of that vegetarian group, so they are kind of overrepresented.

        Another reason you might not be able to find them could be the aftershock from the BSE epidemic in 1993. I'm sure a lot of people and politicians were not really keen on distributing parts of potentially infected animals in their garden.

        But I don't really mind the former. I am drinking milk, eating beef, so why not use all the parts. And you can get them for as little as 1€ per Kilogram
         
        • Informative Informative x 1
        • Perki

          Perki Total Gardener

          Joined:
          Jun 2, 2017
          Messages:
          1,337
          Gender:
          Male
          Location:
          Lancashire
          Ratings:
          +4,373
          Bonemeal is widely available , its probably in with that already.
           
        Loading...

        Share This Page

        1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
          By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
          Dismiss Notice