Friday 17 April 2015


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

The use of garden machinery can be hazardous and result in injury.  Whilst it is the duty of employers to take reasonable care for the health and safety of their employees this does not apply outside the work environment.  

Ensure that you protect yourself whilst operating machinery by carrying out grass cutting safely. Safe operating procedures for the use of pedestrian mowers are detailed below.

  • Familiarise yourself with the operator’s manual for your mower and know how to stop the machine quickly in an emergency. 
  • Wear suitable clothing (Personal protective equipment) whilst operating the machinery. This should include non-snag clothing, safety boots with non-slip soles and ear protection. Long trousers should be worn to prevent injury caused by objects discharged from the machine. 
  • Ensure the machine is maintained and serviced regularly, as detailed in the operator’s manual. When maintaining or cleaning machines, turn it off and remove the spark plug to prevent accidental starting.
  • Before using your mower carry out some pre-use checks:

    • Check that all guards are in place, drive belts are adjusted correctly and all grease points are greased. 
    • Ensure the oil level and fuel levels are correct and there are no leaks. 
    • Check electric cables for damage and use a RCD at plug source.
    • Check the operation of the clutch and the emergency stop works. 
    • Check the blades are not damaged, excessively worn and are adjusted correctly.
    • Clean any grass from the machine, especially around the exhaust manifold and cooling fins. 
    • If box mowing ensure the grass bag is fitted and if fly cutting ensure the correct deflector is fitted in the correct position. 
    • Fuels, oils and greases must be handled carefully. If you have a petrol mower then take additional precautions. Never smoke or handle ignition sources whilst fuelling. Make sure correct fuel type is used and correctly mixed with two-stroke oil where applicable. Switch the machine off and allow it to cool before adding fuel in a well-ventilated area. Be careful and use a funnel (if required) when filling to prevent spills. Wipe off any small spillages and use a spill kit for larger spills.
  • If you are using electric mowers then ensure that you have adequate cable for the job.  Do not over extend the cable or link extension wires together. Find a suitable length extension cable fitted with a RCD.  Take care to ensure the cable is kept away from the mower blades at all times to avoid risk of electrocution.
  • Before commencing mowing check the grass for any objects that may be discharged by or cause damage to the blades. Look out for trip hazards and ensure the ground conditions are suitable i.e. not too wet, uneven or too steep for the machine. 
  • Do not operate the machine on slopes greater than the maximum angle as detailed in the operator’s manual. Be sure of footing. Great care must be taken when turning on slopes.
  • The height of the cut should be adjusted and the machine should be started and operated as detailed in the operator’s manual. 
  • If collecting the grass cuttings in the grass box (box mowing) then learn to recognise when the grass bag/box is full. Remove and empty the grass bag/box when required by the method as detailed in the operator’s manual. Check the bag/box for damage each time you empty it and replace it if necessary. Do not operate the machine with a damaged bag/box.
  • In areas of heavy growth that require box mowing it may be necessary to cut the area first without the bag attached at a high setting. Once the grass is dry the area can be cut again with the bag attached at the same height setting. The height of cut can then be reduced for a final cut to the correct height.
  • If you hear unusual noises from the machine, stop the engine immediately and investigate the noise Do not operate the machine until the repair has taken place and the defect is remedied.

For related articles click onto:

Friday 10 April 2015


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

I have just finished a little maintenance on my lawn.  We turfed the area last year but several shadier areas had become bare and there were a few weeds (mostly moss) in it. Now it is spring it was time to give the lawn a little TLC.

I decided not to re-turf the lawn as 70% of the grass sward was still in good condition.  Rather I decided to use grass seed to fill in the bare areas as this is a quicker and cheaper alternative to re turfing;' although establishment of the area will take several months rather than the instant effect of re-turfing.  Remove any perennial weeds by hand with a fork and fill the divots with soil.

This is a spring job, mostly because the temperatures are consistently warm enough now to allow grass to germinate but not too sunny that the newly germinated grass is at risk of drying out without persistent watering.

First you need to remove all the thatch (the dead grass that lies on the surface of the soil) and moss. To do this use a springbok rake to rake over the grass area.  This will remove all the thatch and debris, as well as tilthing up the soil in preparation for seeding. In order to ensure better establishment of the grass seed you need to improve the nutrients in the soil so add a pre-seed fertiliser to the ground.  You may also wish to infill any divots or uneven levels with top soil at this time.

The key to a successful lawn is to select the correct type of grass seed.  There are many seed mixtures available which are suitable and the success of your lawn will depend on selecting the right type of grass variety for the use and maintenance of your lawn. There are many different types of lawn grasses which can be used in combination to find a perfect grass surface for your needs. So whether you require a shade loving seed mixture, a hard wearing lawn for the kids to play football on, a wildflower meadow or a showcase lawn there is a grass mixture out there for you.

Distribute the grass seed across the lawn at a rate of 25 g/m2.  You can either use a hopper to distribute the seed on larger areas or sprinkle by hand for smaller ones. Water the seed in gently using a rose attachment (or you will displace the seed and end up with a patchy result).  

Water regularly during the first few weeks until germination of the seed.  This will usually take 7-14 days depending upon the temperatures and soil conditions. Do not walk on the lawn during this time so barrier off any areas as necessary to prevent access.  Your grass seed will be a great meal for birds so if you have a lot of birds in your garden you may wish to deter them by hanging CDs or similar.  You may need to top up areas with seed as necessary.

Do not mow your lawn during the establishment period as the new grass is very weak and easily damaged.  When the grass is 7.5 cm high you can top off the top third growth and mow gently with a mower set at its highest cutting height. Do not cut lower than 5 cm initially, and mow infrequently at first (every seven days) and gradually lower the level of the mower to the desired cutting height.

Water well during establishment as drought will easily kill your new grass. Do not apply a selective herbicide to the lawn for at lest six months after establishment. 

For related articles click onto:
Fairy rings and toadstools
Grass maintenance - laying turf
Grass maintenance - sowing a lawn from seed
Lawn care
How to grow a lawn from seed

Paths - Brick paving
Preparing a seed bed
Soil structure
Using pedestrian mowers

Sunday 5 April 2015


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

When I was little I used to watch thunderstorms from the safety of out house.  We would all stare out of the window watching the storm explode around us, counting the seconds in between the lightning and the thunder to tell how far away the storm was.

The power of a significant storm is still awe inspiring today, and a reminder that mother nature is very powerful indeed. Lightning is an electric current that is produced during a thunderstorm,and that we see as a bright flash of light.  All thunderstorms produce lightning.

An electrical charge is built up when frozen raindrops within the clouds bump into each other.  The cloud fills up with electrical charges where positively charged protons form at the top and negative electrons form at the bottom of a cloud.  This results in a positive charge being built up on the ground below the cloud. 

The charge from the ground will be most active around taller objects such as trees, mountains and people. This will eventually connect with the charge coming down from the cloud and lightning is formed.

Thunder is a result of lightning.  Channels of air are created when a lightning bolt travels from the cloud to the ground which then collapse on themselves and creates a  sound wave that we hear as thunder. As light travels faster than sound we see lightning before we hear thunder.

The safest place to be outside during a storm is a car or sturdy building.  If you are caught in a storm then crouch down in an open area with your feet together and hands over your ears.  Avoid trees, water and dug outs.  Do not carry out any activity in water such as a swimming or wadding as electricity is conducted easily through it.  Avoid anything metal for the same reason, so remove your back pack if it has a metal frame. 

If you are indoor then keep away from doors and windows. Avoid water so do not take showers or wash your hands and do not use electric equipment like computers and other appliances.  Exterior phone lines may be struck so do not used land line.

For related articles click onto:
How far is the moon?