Category

Garden

Category

Many homeowners have a lawnmower, but few know how to use it and often end up causing more damage to the grass by making simple mistakes! Read our lawn mowing tips to make sure that you cut the lawn perfectly, every time!

Lawn Mowing Tips and Tricks

thehandymano mano lawn mowing tips feature cover photo

Don’t set your mower too low!

Many don’t realise that you only need to cut the top third of the glass blades at any time, this sounds like a waste of time as you’ll have to cut it again sooner, but, longer grass blades develop a deeper root system which mean that it is easier for the roots to find water. If you cut the grass too low, you risk ‘scalping’ the lawn, which means that the roots will focus on growing upwards rather than downwards and growing longer roots. It also means that you’re more likely to get weeds, as taller grass blades shade the soil and prevent weed seeds from sprouting.

Choose your time wisely!

Many people mow their lawn on a hot afternoon, but, this can cause a lot of damage to both the lawn and the mower! We recommend mowing in early evening when the lawn is dry, as this allows enough time for the lawn to recover before the afternoon heat the following day. The lawn has to be dry otherwise you’ll risk getting an uneven trim and any wet clippings can clog your mower and, if not raked up, can end up thrown out onto your grass and result in patchy, brown spots!

Stay sharp!

For the cleanest cut every time you mow you lawn, make sure that you keep an eye on your blades and sharpen or replace them as necessary. Dull blades can do more harm than good by tearing up the grass and causing their edges to brown,leaving you with an unhappy lawn! You can find many tutorials online about how to sharpen mower blades or you can head to your local hardware store or a sharpening service.

How often?

Many people choose to mow their lawns based on a routine, ie every weekend. However, this can cause problems for your lawn, and one of our most important lawn mowing tips is to mow it as of when it seems like it needs cutting. Make sure to cut it less frequently in early spring as the grass takes longer to grow at this time of year. In late spring and summer, you may need to mow it more often (such as every week) which is possible as long as you’re never cutting off more than a third of the grass blades. In summer, we recommend leaving the grass clippings on the lawn as they can help retain moisture and add in more nutrients!

Take your time

If you mow the lawn too fast then you’re likely to miss parts of the lawn and create more work for yourself in the long run. If you rush your job, then you’re more likely to have an uneven cut and leave behind poorly mulched clippings, even if it’s dry grass!

Got green fingers for more advice? Try our other articles: 

Types of Shrubs – Seasonal Guide

Top Nine Low Maintenance Flowers

Up for changing your garden but unsure about what shrubs to go for? Here’s our complete guide to different types of shrubs and when to plant them! So you can finally shrub up on your knowledge 😉

What is a shrub?

Types of shrubs mano mano the handy mano

Let’s get this clear before we move on to the various types of shrubs! A shrub is mostly any woody plant that has several stems and is usually less than 3 meters tall. Think of them as small trees!

How do you plant a shrub?

Before you get all excited about the different types of shrubs which you can have all year round, you need to make sure that you know how to plant one prior to buying one! Fortunately, we put some simple instructions together for you!

Step 1: Pick a location Make sure that the shrub won’t grow to block your driveway, entrance, or become an obstruction to anyone else!
Step 2: Prepare the ground Remove any trace of weeds, grass or flowers. If you don’t remove them now then they’ll soak up your shrub’s moisture and nutrients!
Step 3: Dig a hole The hole needs to be at least double the width and depth of the bottom part of your shrub; this leaves room for roots to grow freely in the compost surrounding them
Step 4: Fill hole with compost and put the plant in! Fill the bottom of the hole with at least an inch of compost, and place your plant in the center of it. Finish by filling the area around the plant with a mixture of compost and soil. And voila!

Find our range of claw weeders and rakes here, they even come with a soil-loosening tools buying guide!

Types of shrubs to plant in summer

Hydrangea Paniculata

Types of shrubs mano mano the handy mano Hydrangea paniculata

One of the easiest shrubs to grow, the beautiful Hydrangea provides fluffy clusters of while flowers that eventually fade into shades of pink and green. They tend to blossom in late summer and autumn, and are perfect for a large container or any landscape spot!

Oleander

types of shrubs oleander the handy mano mano

You may have seen these on the road, this is due to the fact that they are so easy to grow! Throughout summer, Orleander produces pink,red,purple, yellow, lilac and sometimes white flowers. Be careful though, it is very poisonous so keep your animals off them!

Spirea

types of shrubs spirea thehandymano mano mano

Another easy-to-grow shrub is Spirea! In midsummer it produces clusters of pink flowers, however, you can also get golden or lime green leaves if you buy the ‘Goldmound’ variety!

Rose of Sharon

types of shrubs the rose of sharon thehandymano mano mano

Not all roses need to be difficult! The rose of Sharon blooms during hot seasons and produces flowers in shades of pink, lavendar, blue and white. Our top tip is to look for more sterile varieties, such as Minerva, to avoid lots of weedy seedlings which can fill up your garden!

Types of shrubs to plant in winter

Firethorn

types of shrubs the handy mano mano mano firethorn

These beautifully bright orange berries look stunning in the winter! The leaves stay green throughout summer and then turn a darlker green-brown over winter. You can use it as a hedge or against a wall or trellis!

Witch Hazel

witch hazel types of shrubs the handy mano manomano

These delicate petals bloom and curl up at night, but, on a sunny winters day they emit a strong but lovely fragrance! The flowers range from yellow to red, depending on the variety you choose.

Paperbush/Edgeworthia

Paperbush, or Edgeworthia, is a multibranched shrub that drops its leaves in mid-December to reveal its bark and white and yellow clusters of flowerbuds. Also with a strong fragrance, the Paperbush emits a lovely aroma during winter days – what more could you want in a shrub?

Want some more gardening advice, petal? Why not try these articles?

Top 8 Weird Flowers

Top Nine Low Maintenance Flowers

Be eco-friendly and save some money by learning how to make organic compost to use as fertiliser in the garden. Whether your a compost queen or you’ve never had green fingers, turn your spoil into soil and cut down on household food waste with our guide!

🌿 Keep calm and keep composting. 🌿

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile

No idea what we’re talking about? Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything you have to do step by step and you’ll understand how to make organic compost for yourself.

What is compost?

Compost is the result of composting: the process of decomposition of organic matter in which micro-organisms, fungi, earthworms and oxygen all play a part. Composting prevents bad smells and means the waste you generate doesn’t rot, instead allowing you to create this high quality fertiliser known as compost.

Why make compost?

Need some convincing? Before you learn how to make organic compost, here are some more reasons why it’s a great idea to make your own fertiliser by composting.

  • It offers a 100% natural solution for soil fertilisation, with no chemical substances to reduce soil quality through contamination.
  • It helps plant growth.
  • It aids household recycling, reducing organic waste and contributing to the reduction of environmental problems linked to its transportation and treatment.
  • It can offer a good way to work as part of a community (try installing a composter in your neighbourhood, or the communal yard of your building).

What do you need to make compost?

1. Organic matter (that’s the food waste!)
2. A composter
3. Soil
4. Dry leaves
5. Moisture and oxygen

What can be composted?

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost fruit peel• Fruit and vegetable waste (except for banana peels and citrus fruits, which are recommended in smaller quantities)
• Tea leaves and coffee grounds. Filters can also be composted but if using tea bags, watch out for staples!
• Withered flowers and plants from around the house
• Sawdust, wood shavings and wood ash (untreated and not chipboard)
• Egg shells
• Gardening and vegetable patch waste
• Waste from pruning trees, bushes and hedges (chopped up in advance) and cut grass
• Household waste: kitchen roll, cardboard or corrugated card egg boxes, newspaper (not colour-printed)

How to make organic compost

1. Invest in a composter or a worm factory

You will need to situate the composter near the soil in a damp place or in the shade. If you live in a flat, you can use a worm factory and put it on the terrace.


The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost composter

Example of a simple garden composter

 

 

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile indoor worm farm

Indoor worm factory examples

 

2. Add organic matter

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile composter outside

 

First add a layer of dry materials (leaves, branches). Then, add the organic waste that you want to recycle and water thoroughly.
If you prefer, you can cut or grind up the waste to speed up the composting process.

3. Add soil

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile add soil

Add another layer of dry materials and cover this with some soil.

4. Mix it!

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost tools needed

You will need to stir the mix every so often because, as noted above, the composting process requires oxygen to take place, making it a good idea to air it out often. Use a hoe, fork or a pitchfork like the one in the picture.

How can you tell if it’s ready?

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile dirt compost

It normally takes around 4 to 6 months to produce your organic fertiliser (compost).
As for the amount, this depends on the absorbency of the materials used in the compost mix (the amount itself, whether it’s ground up or not, how often you mix it…).
As a guideline, you will produce around 20kg of compost for every 100kg of organic waste. Voila! Now you know how to make organic compost!

Things to consider throughout the composting process

1. The temperature

Due to the activity of the developing microorganisms, your compost will heat up to around 60°C. This temperature will usually decrease bit by bit. If not, then you need to check what the compost looks like:

• If it’s very dry: grey fungi may occur. To lower the temperature you should water the compost to return its required moisture level.
• If it has a strange smell or a greenish appearance: this means there is too much water in the compost. To counteract this, add more dry materials (branches, leaves, dry grass).

2. The microorganisms

  • Fresh or semi-mature compost

After reaching high temperatures or a peak of heat, wriggler worms will appear on top (they are pink with white rings). At this stage the compost is labelled fresh or semi-mature. It can be used for spreading on poor or sandy soils, or around plants.

  • Mature compost

Mature compost, like semi-mature compost, can be used to plant trees or bushes. Its main feature is its dark hue.

 

Composting techniques

There are three techniques you need to consider when learning how to make organic compost. The technique you choose will depend on the amount of space and time you can dedicate to it.

1. Composting in heaps

This consists of making a heap of soil fertiliser. This can be done if you have plenty of space (a large garden or vegetable patch/ orchard). Although this technique is similar to the layer technique explained above, here the layers overlap horizontally. This process is much faster.

2. Composting in silos

For this composting method, you need a large container, usually round or wooden, which you will cover in transparent plastic sheeting. One side is detachable, making it easy to monitor the composting process.

3. Composting directly in the ground

This makes the decomposition of waste go directly into the ground. You will deposit the waste in the soil where your crops will be planted, until decomposed. This is the easiest technique, requiring no extra work.

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile composter complete

Still got green fingers? Keep adding to your garden here: 

Garden Ideas on a Budget

Garden Design Ideas – Furniture Inspiration

 

Some people prune their plants every day, whilst others never even consider it! However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated to reach that middle ground. That’s why we want to help you learn how to prune the two most common plants in your garden.

Go on, stalk us below!

To do the cuttings, you will need:

Which plants do I prune?

This can be difficult to answer because, as a rule, not all plants need pruned, and when they do, the time in the year varies depending on the plant. This is because the main reason to prune a plant is to control growth and define the shape for the following season.

For example, Hydrangeas bloom on the buds formed in the previous year. If you take their cuttings in winter then you will remove these buds, meaning that throughout the year you won’t see a single flower.

Spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned in late June, after they have flowered. We recommend pruning larger shrubs quite hard, whilst giving the younger plants just a small cut at the back.

How to prune roses

Roses are pruned in spring to rejuvenate the plant and stimulate its growth. Remove all of the dead or dying stems, as well as those with a brown interior as this implies that the winter cold has frozen them.

Always cut above a bud that is growing towards the outside of the plant, at a height of around 5cm or 6cm above. This allows the sap to reach the bud as normal, fostering growth.
It is also important to remove any stems or twigs growing at the base of the plant, sometimes known as suckers. It’s highly likely that your rose has been grafted, and allowing these branches to grow not only leaches nutrients from the rest of the plant, but can also eventually kill the grafted part.

thehandymano manomano prune plants rose cutting prune

How to prune geraniums

Geraniums are pruned in late winter or early spring. This will strengthen the plant and remove the thick, unproductive stems that tend to spoil them.
Pruning geraniums is much more drastic, as you are reducing the plant almost to ground level. This can be difficult to come to terms with at first, but, remember that for each stem you cut, more will appear!
Remove any stems that are diseased or weak, and any others that obstruct the shape you want to give the plant. The more compact geraniums are, the better they look and the more flowers will bloom.
Don’t forget that from all of the offshoots you remove, you can take cuttings for new plants. Cut the stem on an angle, apply rooting powder, and sow them in a pot with new soil.
During the blooming period, remove any flower heads the minute they begin to wither. This will allow the plant to produce new flowers instead of wasting its precious nutrients on the creation of new seeds. Cut the heads at their lowest point, right where they join the main stem. This will activate dormant buds, which will begin to grow and form new buds.

thehandymano manomano prune plants geraniums cutting prune

Top tips on how to prune

  • Don’t forget that a cut is basically a small wound that we’re creating on the plant. To prevent it from becoming infected, we recommend you use pruning sealer any time the cut has a diameter greater than 5mm. To use, apply the sealant to the cut area then spread with your fingers around the sides of the stalk. It’s a good product to keep handy not only when you are pruning, but also as a preventative measure in case of accidental breakage of our plants, grafts, or any damage caused by frost or hail. If you don’t have access to pruning paint then just make sure that you prune at the correct time of the year, as this will leave the cut to naturally heal itself!
  • You also need to keep your pruning tools sufficiently well maintained.
    One of the most important things to do is disinfect them with alcohol any time you are working on a plant that may be diseased. This prevents disease from spreading from one flower to another.
  • Quality pruning tools will provide many years of service. Make sure to clean them thoroughly after use, and oil them if you’re using them a lot. I personally recommend going for the well known brands, as you will also easily find spare parts or replacements if needed, saving yourself the price of new ones.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to feed your plants. Especially if they’ve just survived the winter cold and now we’ve subjected them to stressful pruning.

We hope you rose to this occasion and will now help your flowers bloom!

When it rains : Gardening Advice

As the weather gets warmer, we can all start to appreciate a glass of wine on the decking after a long day. So why should small gardens be excluded? Whether you already have decking in your  garden or if you’re considering putting some in, our decking ideas for small gardens can help you make the most out of your humble space!

As a side note, if you’re wanting to build your own decking then make sure that you plan your decking space based on exactly what you want on the deck. It needs to be big enough for any garden furniture you want there, as well as some room leftover to move! Make sure that you think about barbecues and other garden plants before choosing the shape and structure of your decking, which, once permanent, can be very difficult to change!

There’s always thyme

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens plant pots herbs flowers

 

You don’t need a huge garden to make the most of how great bright flowers can look on your decking. To add a simple burst of colour to your decking consider investing in various plantpots and filling them with the bright flowers of the season. Remember to choose plants which won’t shed leaves that will stain your decking, because, if they do stain your decking you’ll be scrubbing it with sandpaper for a while afterwards!

If you’re into your cooking, consider growing your own herb garden to add some vibrant green to your garden. Good choices for a herb garden include cilantro, basil, dill, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Don’t have much shade in your garden? Consider investing in some succulent plants (left photo) which need less light throughout the day compared to other plants.

Not for the paint hearted

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens paint decking and furnitureOne way to spruce up your small garden is to add colour to it by painting the wood or the furniture in it! Exterior wood paint comes in many colours and can also add to the life span of your decking by protecting the wood. You can opt for a bright colour or a dark brown colour depending on your garden accessories. Our top tip when painting a wood surface is to make sure that it hasn’t previously been oiled. If it has been oiled, the paint won’t stick and it can ruin your decking! If you insist on painting the surface then make sure to fully sand the wood down first and using a paint remover to prevent problems.

Bright Idea

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens outdoor lighting fairy lights

If you’re putting the decking up yourself, then make sure to take advantage of existing trees and shrubbery for shade and privacy, especially over Summer! However, if you have a poorly lit small garden with decking then consider filling it with outdoor lights to make the summer evenings last even longer! Strings of lights work best for really small gardens because they don’t take up much room but can light up a small area, especially with the help of a few candles!

Wood you cut it out?

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens wood on wall

 

Recently finished the decking and have some planks of wood left over? Use any spare deck boards for landscaping up the walls. It can add a quirky touch to your garden and means that you don’t have to break the bank when making your garden look different!

Treat yourshelf

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens shelves shelf plant pots save space

If you don’t have spare wooden planks to use for the walls, then why not decorate the walls differently by putting up shelves and placing plant pots on top of them? Shelves can save a lot of floor space which means that you can squeeze some garden furniture into gaps which were previously taken up by plant pots.

Want more garden ideas?

Small Vegetable Garden Design Tips

When it rains : Gardening Advice