The Robots in Your Backyard
robot-gardener.jpg

Take a quick stroll down your local street on a warm summer’s day. While you’ll surely see plenty of people outside doing something fun, you’ll see even more dripping with sweat, swearing at their petrol mower, wondering why the 20th pull start didn’t work. You may also see clouds of smoke dissipating into the air after it has finally coughed and spluttered to life in the most dramatic way possible.

That’s the reality for many people who mow their lawns and don’t hire someone to do it for them. They spend 90% of their time tinkering with the mower to start, and 10% actually mowing their lawns. What if robots could change that?

Imagine this for a scenario: you’re sitting on your deck in the sunshine, enjoying a cold beverage. You might even be pool-side. Next to you is a lush piece of grass with a robot silently cutting it without anyone to show it how. Imagine no more. That’s now a thing.

Robots are Taking Over…and We’re Okay with It

In 2002 when the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner hit the market, consumers were in awe. They couldn’t believe that a robot would actually vacuum their floors without them having to do a thing!

In time, the novelty wore off, and it was a common sight in many homes. But over that time, people began to wonder if they could take that same technology and create a lawnmower that could effectively do the same thing. It turns out they could. After some years, robot lawnmowers hit the market, and, they too, are now a common sight in homes across the world.

Think about the benefits of having a robot lawnmower for yourself. While they won’t be as detailed, passionate, or particular as a lawn care expert, they can certainly tick all the boxes on the convenience front.

You can effectively set and forget. Some robotic lawn mowers will even return to their charging station to stock up on energy before they set back out to take care of the rest of the lawn. You can also spend more time doing the things you love, which is certainly bound to be a nice change.

Are Robots the Future of Lawn Mowing?

At the beginning of 2019, the East Devon District Council allocated a small sum of money to a trial run of robotic lawnmowers to cut specific sites in Exmouth. Their goal was to save time, effort, and manpower at the council. 

During the trial, many of the mowers weren’t able to complete full nights of mowing due to interference. According to locals, children had been using them for joyriding and target practice. Once stopped, they had to be reset again.

In places where mowers were able to be used without tampering or vandalism, they were classed as successful trials. However, while robotic lawnmowers could be the future of lawn mowing, they are not able to reach their full potential if people will not respect them to do their job.

Robotic Lawn Mowers for Home Use

While commercial robotic lawn mowing may not be a perfect option just yet, there is no reason why you can’t invest in one for home use. There are many excellent options on the market, such as these below.

robin.jpg

Robin Autopilot

The Robin Autopilot is an electric lawnmower that contributes to less noise and air pollution than most mowers for sale. It’s also one that’s used in a residential and commercial capacity.

This mower is part of a subscription-type service where users pay per week for the use of the mower, rather than having to fork out an upfront cost of thousands of dollars. You don’t own the mower, but you receive the convenience of a lawn mowing service that’s entirely unmanned.

Husqvarna Automower.jpg

Husqvarna Automower

Many people like the idea of a robotic lawn mower but don’t believe their lawn will be suitable for such an advanced piece of technology. If you have sloping lawns, a few inconsistencies or even little berries and obstacles dropped by trees; then this mower could be for you.

The Husqvarna Automower is capable of tackling gentle slopes, uneven lawns, and even pinecones that happen to get in its way. What’s more, it’s quiet enough that you can (apparently) use it overnight.

If you’re worried about your mower taking off to a neighbouring property while you sleep, then you don’t have to. Thanks to technician-installed boundary wires, this mower knows where home is.

Honda Miimo.jpg

Honda Miimo

No one likes spending a fortune and dealing with the hassle of picking up lawn clippings and taking them to a waste centre. That’s why many people rely on lawn care services. However, if you’ve been interested in robot lawnmowers for some time, then the Honda Miimo could be for you.

This machine mulches your lawn clippings as it goes, delivering them back into the lawn for vital nutrients. You can also control it via smartphone and send it to its home dock whenever you feel like it.  

Could There be Robots in Your Backyard?

Robots are the future of lawn mowing. While there will always be a place for lawn care services, there is also a growing number of Kiwis who see the value in purchasing a robot to take care of the grass for them. Could a robot be in your future?

Klaris Chua-Pineda
The Lowdown on Lilly Pilly

Nearly half of Kiwis don’t know their neighbours, don’t get on with them, or would prefer they weren’t there. Sometimes, it’s a lack of privacy that causes frustration, and other times, it’s noise. It might seem like the only way to escape your neighbours is by moving, but there’s actually another way. It could be time to look at your hedging options – such as Lilly Pilly.

Lilly Pilly is hands down one of the most popular hedging plants in NZ, and it’s of no surprise to anyone why. It grows quickly, doesn’t sulk in winter, and has everchanging foliage that can make every time you go outside a surprise.  

It also makes for an effective noise barrier when trimmed and shaped correctly, and acts as a privacy screen at the same time.

Lilly Pilly is a broad term for a range of plants in NZ, but some are better than others. Eugenia Ventenati would have to be one variety that almost walks out the door as soon as it arrives in a nursery. It’s dense, stunning, and can handle a little bit of neglect if you haven’t had time to call your friendly local gardener.

You can plant Eugenia Ventenati at around 0.75 metres apart and watch as the hedges grow up to between 1.5 and three metres tall. They thrive in full sun and free-draining soil and love it when you treat them to some organic matter as well.

When you bring your Lilly Pilly plant home from the nursery, give it as much care and love as you would a newborn. Plant it in a hole that’s twice as large (and deep) as the pot it’s in, and fill it with soil, compost, and sheep pellets. If your soil is a little on the heavier side, you might want to complement that mixture with some gypsum and water deeply.

Lilly Pilly in NZ might love a lot of sunshine, but young plants require plenty of water during those warmer days. It also helps to prune it often, especially during its early growth, so that you can help build the density of the bush. The thicker the hedge, the more privacy and noise control it can offer.

Lilly Pilly NZ

I’m Not a Gardener

Lilly Pilly is a popular plant type in NZ for anyone, not just gardeners. If you need privacy and a little noise dampening, then Lilly Pilly is going to be a superb choice. However, the thought of growing a hedge from scratch can put a lot of people off. Yes, it does need a lot of love and care, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be you who gives it.

Talk to your local gardening expert about hedge growing and trimming. Not only can they offer helpful advice, but they may be able to provide a regular tending service to help your hedges grow up big and strong.

What About Monkey Apple?

Avid gardeners or shelter seekers who are on the hunt for Lilly Pilly in NZ may be confused by all the hate it gets online. Surely, this beautiful evergreen hedge plant is not an unwanted species? Lilly Pilly is a common name in the plant world but is also used to refer to Monkey Apple.

Monkey Apple is, indeed, Lilly Pilly, but it’s classed as a pest plant here in New Zealand. It doesn’t require the best environment to thrive and can also outgrow native trees if it finds a large enough light gap. Given how invasive it is, and that birds can quickly spread its seeds into native forests, it’s banned nationwide.

Nurseries can’t sell it, although some will try, and it can be incredibly hard to kill once you have it. The Auckland City Council recommend a few different approaches for taking care of Monkey Apple – the lesser loved member of the Lilly Pilly NZ family.

  • Pull or dig out the Monkey Apple seedlings

  • Drill holes in stems and fill with two grams of metsulfuron herbicide in 50mL of water

  • Spray in spring and autumn with penetrant and metsulfuron

  • Cut and use stump paint

Go Silly for Lilly Pilly

If you’re in the market for an evergreen hedge that will grow quickly and provide as much privacy and protection as you need, then Lilly Pilly varieties in NZ can deliver. They are hardy, beautiful, and exciting to watch them grow to their full potential.

Be careful with the varieties you select, especially if someone tries to sell you Monkey Apple, and talk to a gardener if you need some advice or assistance. It won’t be long until you’ve got a beautiful, bushy, and well-formed hedge gracing your backyard.

Klaris Chua-Pineda
Raising Chickens in Your Backyard: Part 2

In our previous post, we discussed the things to consider when raising chickens in your backyard. Today, we’ll dive deeper and discover how you’re supposed to take care of them like any other pet or domestic animal. Most of us have probably cared for a pet or an animal at some point, so we mostly know the responsibility it entails and how to ensure their welfare.

Chickens are full of character, very cute to hold and make soothing cooing noises through the day, but they do require ongoing checking, sometimes grooming and obvious things like clean food and water. There will also be vet or medicine costs associated with any problems that arise.

Chicken-Specific Problems

Chickens have their unique benefits like eggs and eating all your scraps, but they also are prone to a few particular problems, even if things go well.

Curious.jpg

Lice or mites

Chickens like to dig in the soils and scuffle under plants, so they can catch little pests which love to burrow in their plumage. Sometimes chickens you purchase or are given may already have them so be very careful to check because it is hard to get rid of mites once you have them. Hot tip: Dusting chickens with diatomaceous earth is a great way to naturally kill mites and pests without any chemicals and can also be spread in nesting boxes and around the coop.

The mud

Chickens love digging and rooting around in the ground so depending on the enclosure size, they can quickly reduce your ground to mud or barren earth. This can be messy in wet months and be an eyesore, so consider how you want your coop viewed and where you want them to live. They also drag all sorts through their water source too, so you need to keep this clean often.

The droppings

Chickens create a fair bit of manure, which is great for your garden compost. Be aware though that the proliferation of such organic material does attract flies, so your placement of the coop should consider this (even the neighbours might notice!) and you will need to have a constant system to remove the droppings from their coop and general area. If you’re not using it for your garden, consider bagging it and selling it or giving it to neighbours. Just a note too: Chickens have Campylobacter bacteria (among others) as a natural part of their digestion so their waste contains this naturally. Proper cleaning is a must to avoid any spreading of bugs to you, and your kids need to make sure they have thorough hand washing techniques especially if it is their job to clean the coop out.

chicken-manure.jpg

The great escape

Chickens aren’t that bright but know how to get out and see the world easily enough. They will escape to neighbours, visit neighbouring coops or just run in the house if they get the chance. Therefore, the security of your coop is important for protection, especially if you or the neighbour has a dog. Clipping of the feathers on one wing is the best way to upset their flying attempts, they are discouraged from retrying after a few failed attempts. Think about how to enclose them economically in your property and take into consideration the cost of any timber fencing, mesh and, of course, the coop itself.

Predators and rival birds

Chickens aren’t great fighters (although Roosters are) when it comes to a predator. There is the danger of some cats, rats, dogs, mice and, in rural areas, even Harriers can attack small chickens, so keep an eye out for any signs of uninvited guests. Rats and mice do all sorts of damage to property, but they also bite chickens and eat their food. Sparrows can be known to clean out a chicken feeder in hours so best to feed your chickens by hand rather than leave food lying about.

No men allowed

Let’s be clear, keeping chickens for pets or backyard eggs does not include a male of the species; this is a different job altogether! Roosters crow at all hours (not just early in the morning) so there may be noise restrictions by some councils. Plus not all roosters are kind loving male companions (they do exist!), but some are pure bullies, often mating the female against their will and harassing your hens most of the day mercilessly. There is no school you can take such a bird to improve his temperament, he would have to be disposed of. Not to mention raising chicks takes your hen off the lay for a substantial time while she is broody and raising them. And of course, you might get more rival roosters so the circle starts again! Roosters also ensure the spreading of lice, mites and disease through the whole flock by contact alone. Hens have a more desperate pecking order too, picking on weaker hens even more so when there is a male around.

pet-grave.jpg

The circle of life

Chickens are susceptible to father time just like us, and sometimes fall ill or even die unexpectedly. This is a natural part of pet care, but you may have to euthanise a beloved old chook sooner than you realise. One advice would be to get the bird to your vet, just like any other domestic animal. While it’s traditional to cull/eat older chickens, putting an animal down humanely is not easy for beginners and it can be traumatic for some. Preparing a bird for cooking takes a lot of time and work as well so its not necessarily saving you money. Chickens will live approximately four to eight years and are only productive (egg-wise) for about half of those.

In conclusion

You need to have a love of animals and have the time to put into your chickens to ensure their welfare and their productivity. As their owner, it is your responsibility to provide them with a humane and protected way of life, so consider this carefully before you jump in. Chickens are a wonderful animal with the benefit of eggs and there is something about raising them that feels so wholesome and natural. However, you will get your hands dirty and you will only get out what you put in. Check that chickens are a good mix for your busy or urban lifestyle.

ADMIN
Raising Chickens in Your Backyard: Part 1

In this two-part series, we’ll discuss how you can go about raising chickens in your backyard.

As chicken farmers struggle to gain consents for free-range systems that become compulsory in 2022, consumers see not only a lack of eggs on supermarket shelves, but an increase in pricing as well.

By January 2019, the price of chicken eggs had risen by an average of 11.84 percent. In April 2019, a dozen eggs were $4.43, up from $3.89 in April 2018. Before long, eggs could become unaffordable for many average New Zealanders.

What’s stopping you from raising chickens for fresh eggs every day? Caring for these backyard animals is easier than you think.

egg.jpg

The Rules and Regulations

Rules and regulations can differ from one local council to the next. Most councils provide loose guidelines, such as making sure they don’t cause noise or hygiene problems. Like dogs and cats, there is also a limit on how many you can own. If you require a more detailed set of requirements, get in touch with your local council before you bring your new feathery friends home. 

Chicken-run.jpg

Caring for Chickens in NZ

Auckland Council requires any backyard chicken owner to provide an enclosed rainproof chicken coop for chickens to sleep and lay in. It should have a roost or perch for each chicken and a minimum roof height of 60 centimetres. The coop needs to have a pecking and scratching surface and a secluded nesting area as well.  

You must also follow all the rules surrounding hygiene. Line all floors and nesting boxes with hay or untreated wood chips, clean them out regularly and remove waste at least once per week.

If your section is smaller than 2,000 square metres, you may not be allowed any more than six chickens. However, chickens require company, so you should have a minimum of three in your flock.

Some councils also recommend that you keep them a minimum of two metres away from neighbouring properties. Make sure they are confined to your section to prevent them from becoming a nuisance to neighbours.

How to House Chickens

Because more and more people are seeing the value in keeping chickens, it’s not all that challenging to find a chicken hutch for sale. These can vary in price, depending on the quality and size. The hutch needs to have nesting boxes, a sheltered place to sleep, roosting perches, and protection from the elements.

Alongside a chicken hutch, they also need an ideal outdoor environment. Chickens love nothing more than to forage, take dust baths, scratch, and roam around. Make sure you have enough space for them to go about their natural chicken business! As a side note, chickens love to make a mess. So, if you have prized peonies or a beautiful garden, pet chickens might not be for you.

What to Feed Chickens

Healthy chickens produce delicious eggs, so you need to be quite careful with your new feathery friends’ feeding regime. Provide them with fresh food and water every day. If you find any mouldy, old, or stale food, throw it away to reduce the risk of rodents taking up residence nearby.

How to Feed Chickens

Head along to your nearest farm supplies store and stock up on commercial layer hen pellets. These pellets contain plenty of the vitamins and minerals your chickens need to remain in tip-top shape.

You can also supplement this feed with fresh food such as green leafy vegetables and the occasional helping of table scraps. Don’t give your chickens anything that you wouldn’t eat yourself.

Feeding Chickens in Winter

During winter, chickens may require additional nutrients to keep them in the best condition. They often lose their feathers and stop laying for a time. Ask your local vet or farm supplies store worker what they recommend.

Chickens also require plenty of calcium to produce quality eggs and to keep their legs strong. You can purchase soluble calcium grit for your chickens to peck away at, or you can dry crushed eggshells in your oven. Crushed oyster shell is also a preference by many chicken owners as well.

Where to Buy Chickens

Many people decide to hatch fertile eggs themselves so they can rear friendly hens. The problem is, at least half of those eggs that hatch will be roosters. If you live in an urban area, roosters are not permitted and can be exceptionally difficult to find a new home for.

The Type of Chicken to Buy

If you’re ready to bring chickens onto your property, consider purchasing hens that you already know are hens. Pullets are young female hens that are almost ready to lay, and hens at 21 weeks or older should already be laying. You can purchase chickens from breeders, local farmers, or even from the SPCA or another rescue group that may have hens to sell or give away from time to time.

What Now?

If you’re fed up at paying a premium for eggs from the supermarket, and you wouldn’t mind a new pet, then looking after a chicken or three could be for you. Check with your local council, purchase or create a hutch, fit it out with everything you need to keep them happy and healthy and bring them home! Chickens are sweet, nice-natured creatures that will produce beautiful eggs almost every day.

roosting.jpg
Klaris Chua-Pineda
Why Gutter Cleaning Remains Important

When something is out of sight and out of mind, you often don’t spare a thought for it. For example, every time you flip your couch cushions, it’s not uncommon to find crumbs, wrappers, and even coins, that may have sat there for months.

The same concept applies to your guttering or spouting. If you can’t see it, you don’t think about it. Unlike couch cushions, however, not checking your gutters can end up costing you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. If you can’t recall the last time you checked it out, then it’s probably long overdue.

Read on to discover why gutter maintenance and spouting cleaning is imperative, how to do it, and what you need for the job.

gutters.jpg
overflowing-gutter.jpg

Why Gutter Cleaning is Important

Gutters or spouts serve an essential purpose. They control the rainwater flow, protect your landscape, and ensure that water stays as far away from your roof, walls, and foundations as possible. When they are clean and functioning at their best, they do this job well. When they’re not, they are a costly nightmare with a flow-on effect that leaves you with an empty bank account.

Gutters can quickly and easily fill up with debris, sticks, leaves, and other foreign matter and muck. They then become a haven for birds, rodents, pests, and insects. Before you know it, water is trying to flow through, only to get stuck and begin to flood over the edges of the guttering instead.

That water has to go somewhere, and it’s not down your drainpipe. It flows onto your roof, down the sides of your home – and everywhere but through your guttering. Stagnant water then promotes algae and mold growth, which is a whole new issue altogether.

New Zealand is known for its reasonably mild climes, but some regions are more prone to rainfall than others. During the wet season (which, depending on your area, can be all year!), it’s imperative that your gutters are obstruction-free, clean, and ready to tackle rainfall head-on.

How to Maintain Your Gutters

As we established, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is one of the main reasons why homeowners fail to maintain their gutters. A lack of understanding of how to do it is another. Cleaning out your spouting is easier than you think, so set aside a sunny day to get the job done.

Remove leaves and debris and throw it into a bucket or the ground so that you can clean it up once you’ve scaled your entire home. Secure any loose gutters into place with a cordless drill. The best hardware for this job is gutter screws.

If you notice any leaks along the seams and joins, then clean the gutter section and apply silicone caulk. Finally, make sure that any water flowing down your guttering is diverted away from your home. You should have a downspout extension or irrigation pipe to take care of the job.  

Around one in 15 people are scared of heights, which can mean even a simple job like gutter maintenance can be terrifying. If that sounds like you, then you should call in gutter cleaning professionals to lend a helping hand.

cleaning-gutters.jpg
gutter-protection.jpg

If you haven’t cleaned your gutters or spouting for some time, then you’ll likely find the first time you do it is a monumental undertaking. Regular maintenance from that point onward won’t be so bad. However, if you would prefer to spend more time on the ground and less on a ladder, then why not invest in some gutter cleaning tools that make it easier?

The first thing you can buy to make life easier is a gutter blaster. These tools extend out to around 1.7 to 2 metres and fit onto any standard hose fitting. You can adjust the water pressure, rotate the nozzle, and clean out the debris from your gutter without seeing it from a great height.

Alternatively, you can purchase shields which stop leaves, debris, and other grime from setting up camp in your gutters in the first place. These vary in price and style, depending on what you require. Some are a mesh that goes over the top, while others are thick tubes which allow water in, but nothing else.

Decide what’s more relevant to you – clean gutters all the time with a small investment, or not spending any money, but dedicating an hour or so every few months to removing potential blockages.

Conclusion

Gutter cleaning or spouting cleaning is an essential task that protects your property and can save you thousands of dollars. Dedicate time every few months to gutter maintenance to ensure your gutters and home remain in tip-top condition. Alternatively, you can ask your trusted Crewcut operator if they can recommend someone who can take care of gutter cleaning for you.

Klaris Chua-Pineda
How to Encourage Native Birds to Your Backyard

New Zealand is blessed to be home to a range of beautiful native birds, such as Tui, Kereru, and Piwakawaka. However, not everyone gets to wake up to the sound of birdsong every morning. If you’d love for your alarm clock to be the sound of native birds awaking from their slumber, then read on. We’ve included a few helpful tips on how to encourage native birds to your backyard.

Make a Pinecone Bird Feeder 

It can be a sight to behold when sparrows and starlings grace your section. If you have nothing to offer them, however, it’s not long before they fly off somewhere else in search of food. If you want to be the “go-to” property for birds in your area, then why not make a pinecone bird feeder? According to the Department of Conservation, it’s easy!

Fantail.jpg

You’ll need a pinecone, scissors, string, smooth peanut butter, lard, a butter knife, birdseed, and a plate. Cut a piece of string to hang the feeder, making sure it’s thick and long-lasting to handle weather conditions. 

Pinecone-feeder.jpg

 Use the string to tie a knot around the pinecone near its stalk and use this as the hanging point. You can then use your butter knife to smear lard and peanut butter in equal parts inside the pinecone and around the edges. Hold the pinecone over your plate and sprinkle the birdseed over it. 

To finish, roll the pinecone in the plate to pick up any remaining birdseed. Hang the feeder at least three metres off the ground to keep it safe from predators. To avoid rats and mice getting to it first, take it down at night. 

In springtime, when lawn care experts are out in their droves, you may not see as many birds making use of your feeder. Natural food sources are starting to become readily available again.

Plant Desirable Trees, Shrubs, Climbers, and Container Plants 

Native birds are more likely to come onto your property and say hello when you have something they want. If your plant selection caters more to what you like than what a bird does, then they often won’t have a reason to visit. Talk to your local gardening expert about what to plant and where to plant it. 

Cabbage trees, Kowhai, Broadleaf, and Mahoe, are all trees that grow over six feet high and offer an abundance of food for native birds. The Cabbage Tree, for example, boasts a cream flower, while Kowhai’s yellow flower is a treat for native birds as well. There is a range of different trees with fruits and flowers that will appeal to the native bird population.

If you don’t like the idea of a six-foot tree towering over your property, then you can look at shrub options instead. The Korokio shrub offers red fruit, while the New Zealand Iris has a lovely orange seed pod that appeals to many critters as well. Even the Corprosma is appealing, with its orange-red fruit. 

Woodpigeon.jpg
Cabbage_Tree.jpg

Create a Safe Environment

If native birds feel under threat in your property, then they won’t be likely to hang around for long. Try to understand what it takes to give the birds confidence, and you may find they stick around for longer.

When you plant their favourite sources of food, make sure you do so away from your home. Window reflections confuse birds, particularly the Kereru which tends to be a frequent flyer when it comes to window-related injuries. 

If you are trying to attract fantails and similar native birds, then encourage insects alongside plantlife for the larger birds. Fantails love moths, beetles, earthworms, and spiders. Talk to your local gardener about adding mulch and leaf litter to your garden to encourage insects. 

It also helps if your yard is free of animals that prey on birds, such as cats, hedgehogs, possums, weasels, and rats. 

Get to Know the Species

If there is a particular bird you want to see more of than others, then make sure you know as much about it as possible. Become an expert. By doing so, you will be able to create a paradise in your backyard that appeals to that particular bird.

For example, if you want to see more Kereru, then ensure you have an abundance of fruit and foliage. Or, if you want to see more Tui, then you will need to have insects, nectar, and fruit. The more you know about the native birds of Aotearoa, the more likely you will be able to cater to their needs.

Tui.jpg

Conclusion

As the New Zealand population increases, more houses are being built on even smaller sections than ever before. With smaller sections come smaller gardens. A postage stamp backyard, however, doesn’t mean you can’t wake up to birdsong. Find out what your favourite birds like, then give it to them. They’ll be calling your home theirs in no time.

(NZ bird miniatures courtesy of Jesika Maessen)

Zach White
Tree Bugs and How to Fight Them

We are blessed here in New Zealand not to have all that many destructive, environment-destroying bugs. Biosecurity New Zealand, with our help, is doing all it can to keep it that way. However, that’s not to say we’re pest-free and that our pest management is already at its peak. 

We’ve got a significant gorse problem, and possums are eating all our fruit. We also have many different tree bugs that don’t seem to want to play nice. If you find yourself with vulnerable trees thanks to the local bug population, then read on. Below, we identify some of the more common tree bugs and insects – pests in New Zealand – and how to fight them.

Millipedes

Millipedes, in the scheme of things, aren’t as much of a major threat as what other countries are facing. However, they can take a fancy to your young seedlings, which can be devastating if you treat your plants like your children. 

borer-beetle.jpg
MILLIPEDE.jpg

Millipedes eat leaves, roots, and stems. They’re also carnivorous, feeding on spiders and insects that cross their path and look slightly delicious. One or two millipedes in your garden are no problem at all, but too many of them can be a pain.

 Fortunately, you don’t have to reach for the chemicals to give these multi-legged creatures their marching orders. Because millipedes love moist environments, you merely have to take away what they love the most. 

Identify where your millipede population is gathering. What’s there that the bugs would like? Any decaying plant matter, rotting wood, rotting leaves, or similar, is like a candy store for a millipede. Take care of the material yourself, or ask for a helping hand. Those pesky critters will be gone in no time. 

Scale Insects

If your hydrangea leaves have strange-looking blobs on them that are white in colour, then you most likely have cottony hydrangea scale bugs. Those white blobs you are looking at are egg mass! 

Scale insects hatch in mid-summer and suck the sap from the underside of your hydrangea tree’s leaves. At the end of summer, they’ll then run out of leaf sap and move onto the stems. While the occasional infestation is possibly something your tree can take in its stride, multiple attacks can weaken it. 

The next time you’re hanging out the washing, trimming trees, or mowing the lawns, wander over to your hydrangeas and inspect the leaves. If you see those dreaded masses, pick off the leaves and put them in your wheelie bin. 

If you want a more permanent solution for this type of pest control, then you can use a pyrethrum-based spray with newly-hatched scale bugs from midsummer.

SCALE.jpg

Citrus Tree Borer

Citrus-Borer-Beetle.jpg

The name of the citrus tree borer can be deceiving. You might think you’re safe from it because it only attacks citrus trees, but this little critter doesn’t discriminate. Instead, it’s a beetle whose larvae will bore into any garden tree or shrub it takes a fancy to if it can’t find its favourite warm home – the lemon tree.

The borer can cause significant damage, taking you unawares. Adult borer will lay eggs in cut or damaged tree bark; then the larvae will bore into the living wood. They will then create holes to get rid of their frass (a nice name for waste). If you don’t take care of citrus tree borer, it can eventually make your tree its victim – killing it. 

 Take action immediately by pruning the affected limbs. You can also call an expert for help. Clean away the dead branches and leaf litter then purchase a borer injector fluid to inject into the waste holes the borer create. Once you kill the larvae, you can fill the holes with a Blu-Tack-type product. 

Native Moth Caterpillars

If you thought standard cabbage moths were a problem, then you haven’t seen what the native species of moth caterpillar is capable of! The caterpillars of native moths don’t have many predators. As it turns out, they aren’t that appetising to other insects.

As a result, they can create a lot of carnage in a short time without anything else standing in their way. Their favourite victim is the cabbage tree. They form deep notches in every leaf they can find, not stopping until the cabbage tree is a mere shell of its former self. 

There are various products you can buy to take care of these creatures, but you can also try home methods as well. Mix two cups of water with two teaspoons of garlic powder and one of dish soap. Spray the mixture onto the cabbage tree leaves, and you’ve (hopefully) seen the last of them.

Tony Wills ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Tony Wills (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Bronze Beetle

bronze-beetle.jpg

Bronze beetles are tree bugs that you want to take care of while your trees are young. Otherwise, they are a “take no prisoner” bug that can ravage a tree in no time at all. They are only small, at around four millimetres, but love leaves, apples trees, and rose flowers. 

They create substantial leaf scars, take big bites out of your apples, and shred your beautiful rose petals until they’re in tatters. When your trees or plants are young, you can shake them off the leaves into a container. Otherwise, you may need to try a spray from your local garden store.

Conclusion

We have many introduced and native tree bugs and pest species that like to make their mark on our native ecosystems. Take back control by taking preventative steps and investing in quality tree care products or experts. These will help give them their marching orders sooner rather than later.

Zach White
Top Garden Lighting Ideas for Your Outdoor Paradise

There’s no better way to end the working week than with a catch-up with friends over dinner. For those who love to entertain, having a range of options on your property to do it properly is paramount. 

There’s nothing wrong with inviting everyone into your home and breaking bread over the dinner table. The average new home has an open plan living, dining, and kitchen area, making it more than big enough for families and friends to gather. However, what if you want to make the most of the beautiful weather? If you don’t have a well-lit outdoor entertainment area, all you’ve got is a wasted area. 

Make the most of your patios, backyards, and gardens during the day and at night by installing the best outdoor lighting. Here are some options that may appeal to you. 

Garden-Paradise.jpg

 

fairy-lights.jpg

Fairy Lights

One of the best garden lighting ideas is the use of fairy lights. They’re easy to install so it’s an easy D.I.Y outdoor lighting idea. They add ambience, whimsy, and light to a previously dull and poorly-lit garden. What’s more, they’re an affordable and convenient form of lighting.

In the past, you may have had to run extension cords all over your property to make it to the nearest power source. Now, many sets of fairy lights come with discrete power packs that either run on batteries or sunlight.  It’s a perfect option if you’re looking for an effortless garden that still has style.

Fairy lights are an entirely customisable option as well. You can drape them over furniture, balconies, or even hang them in trees. They come in many different sizes, shapes, and colours, and don’t break the bank either. If you need a touch of charm and a spot of light in your patio area, then it might be time to go shopping for fairy lights. 

 

Solar Path Lighting

Navigating your garden and entertaining friends outside can be a challenge without path lighting. All it takes is for a deceiving shadow to trip you up and cause an injury. That’s why solar path lighting is an excellent idea for your garden. 

It lights the way, provides plenty of illumination for guests, and looks stunning as well. You can either install path lighting yourself or ask your local gardening expert if they could do it while they’re tidying and weeding your garden.

Solar path lighting now comes in many different shapes and sizes, all in bulk packs for affordability. Many of them stab into the soil to tie in with your plants, while others can sit on the surface without any adhesion. If you’re looking for garden lighting ideas, solar path lighting is certainly one to consider. 

solar-path-lights.jpg
 
stairlights.jpg

 

In-Stair Lighting

If you’re not only looking for garden lighting ideas but complete entertainment area construction, then in-stair lighting could be for you. While your labourers are working on the stairs, ask about the options for lighting. They can sit flush with your stairs, turn on automatically, or turn on when you switch on your outside lighting. 

In-stair lighting has many benefits. Guests who arrive after dark will have no problem handling your stairs, and it’s a form of security as well. The more lighting your property has, the less likely it will become a target of burglars.

 

Garden Ornaments

Cottage style gardens are a breath of fresh air. They’re full of beautiful flowers and ornaments and boast a rustic feel. However, when it comes to lighting, you may find it a challenge to find some that match that theme. Many garden lights on the market today are more on the contemporary side than classic. 

That’s why those with a classic, cottage-like garden may look at garden ornament lighting. You can buy the cute little garden gnomes, but with solar lighting inside. You get the best of both worlds – a new decoration, but a way in which to light up your quaint patio for guests to sit and converse.


Park-Style Lighting

An important part of al fresco dining is the lighting. You want to see what you’re eating and appreciate the sight and taste as one. That’s what park-style lighting can offer. Once you have your indoor-outdoor flow nailed, you can talk to your local lighting experts about how to install park lights on poles. 

They go in the ground or attach to your decking areas at various intervals, taking on the look of a vintage street light. These lighting styles are a preference for spacious dining areas with a need for plenty of lighting.  You can then link them together with fairy lighting for the ultimate appeal. 

garden-flamingos.jpg

Conclusion

Lighting is a must-have inside your home, so why do some homeowners place less importance on it outside their homes? Outdoor lighting can enhance your entertaining experience while adding value to your property. Discover the various options available, come up with your own garden lighting ideas, then get started. You’ll be ready for summer al fresco dining in no time. 

Zach White
Alternative Hedge Ideas to Give Your Property a Point of Difference

There’s nothing wrong with a standard evergreen hedge. It provides privacy, gives a lovely touch of greenery, and saves you a fortune on fencing materials as well. However, they require a lot of love and care and are a haven for wildlife as well.  

If you’d rather not have hedgehogs taking up residence on your property, then it might be time to look at alternative hedge ideas. You can still enjoy that hedge-like appeal, but you can make sure your property stands out from the crowd. Here are a few other hedge options that might appeal. 

Hedge/fence formed from grasses

Hedge/fence formed from grasses

fruit-hedge.jpg

 Fruit Bushes

Imagine being able to walk up your driveway, dining on delicious fruits? That could be the reality with a fruit bush hedge. Once you establish them - with or without the help of an expert- you can enjoy both privacy and something to eat. Blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, orange trees, just to name a few, could form the boundary line for your property. 

Aside from having snacks at your disposal, and being able to fill your cupboards with preserves, you also get a hedge with a difference. Instead of a solid block of green as is standard with a regular hedge, you get a kaleidoscope of colours. Each fruit tree or bush type offers different leaf shapes, textures, and colours. You’ll never tire at looking at it in full growth. 

 

Ornamental Grasses 

You would be surprised at what you can do with ornamental grasses. Form a planter box around the edges of your property to keep them contained, then let them grow to their heart’s content. Ornamental grasses, depending on the variety, can grow to some spectacular heights and volume. 

They also offer that privacy you desire while being a low maintenance plant. You don’t have to worry about hedge trimming, but you get all the seclusion of a traditional hedge. 

 

Holly Hedge

If you face weather battles on a constant basis, then you’ll need to think outside the square with your hedge variety choices. Holly could be the answer. Not only is it a tough and tolerant plant that boasts red winter berries, but it’s a form of security as well as protection. Those leaves are anything but for show. 

With the prickly foliage growing without hesitation, it can be the perfect hedge type to stop unwanted little critters from calling the area home. It also requires minimal care - even as it grows up to two metres high. It will, however, need someone to trim it from time to time. 

holly-hedge.jpg
bamboo.jpg

Bamboo

How often do you see a bamboo hedge? While it’s not your average hedge material, that doesn’t mean it won’t be suitable. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that grows thick and plentiful. The bamboo is a useful material for staking in the gardens, while it also adds privacy to your boundary lines as well. Talk to a gardening expert and see if you have the correct climate for bamboo to thrive.

 

Before You Start … 

If you have your heart set on a hedge, rather than a fence, then it pays not to jump into the planting phase just yet. There are a few things to consider, such as the height, width, area mapping, the planting process, and how to train your plants. You can call upon experts for help, or you can plan out the following. 

 

HEIGHT

If you’re not sure how high you want your hedge to be, then find something for comparison. Use members of your family, a ladder, or other furniture in the area you’re going to plant the hedge. All your efforts from that point can be with a height goal in mind. 

 

WIDTH

If you don’t have a lot of room, then you need to be quite selective and careful with your plant of choice. Some like to spread out and don’t enjoy you boxing them in. Talk to a gardening expert about plants that will work within your measured area. 

 

MAP THE AREA

Depending on your plant of choice, you may need a helping hand to ensure your hedge is straight and conforms. To do so, insert stakes into the ground at regular intervals and tie them together with a string. You can then ensure your plants will be as straight as possible. 

 

PLANT AND TRAIN

If you have bare root shrubs, you can dig a straight trench and plant them directly into it. If they are in containers, dig individual holes. You now have the makings of a hedge! You will need to start training your hedge to conform by trimming the tops and sides every few months. It may take up to two seasons to see the makings of a proper hedge - no matter your plant of choice!

 

If you need a helping hand with hedge trimming, hedge creation, or general garden and lawn care, then get in touch with the experts. They may even be able to help you come up with some exceptional alternative hedge ideas! 

Zach White
Best Places for Hiding Easter Eggs in the Garden
Hiding-Easter-eggs.jpg

It’s that time of the year again – the time when supermarkets and retail stores pack their shelves full of delicious and delightful Easter goodies. The smell of hot cross buns is wafting out of the corner bakery, and sticky fingers eagerly unwrap caramel-filled eggs with sweet and sugary chocolate shells. It’s not Easter without boxes and boxes of eggs lining the shelves, but it’s also not Easter without an egg hunt.

If you love celebrating Easter, then now’s an excellent time to start planning an Easter egg hunt to remember. After all, the kids are only young once, and the longer you can keep the magic alive, the better it is for their imagination. You may even find it encourages them to spend more time outside. 

If you’ve been shopping and have a basket full of goodies at the ready, here are a few of the many places in your garden you can hide them. It will be surprising if the kids can even find them all! 

Up High 

When your cherubs make their way into your garden, baskets in hand, on the hunt for Easter goodies, they’ll have their focus on the ground. However, why not make it a bit of a challenge by hiding all the desirable ones up high? Place one on the top of the basketball hoop, another in their treehouse, or even dangle one precariously off your perimeter fence.  

The goal of hiding eggs up high in plain sight is to make the kids work for them. They have to work together and put their thinking caps on to figure out how to get them. An Easter egg hunt can be both an educational experience and something fun to celebrate the occasion. However, supervision for young ones should be paramount. 

Hiding in Plain Sight 

Hiding Easter eggs in your garden is not about making them invisible. It can also be about being tricky with how you hide them in plain sight. Hide eggs wrapped in silver foil among your grey rock garden, and try to match coloured eggs with different environments. 

For example, if you haven’t yet done a garden tidy up, you can arrange green coloured chocolate eggs amongst your plants. You may also see value in matching pink eggs with some of your finest pink flowers. Hiding eggs in this fashion can make the process more of a challenge than merely picking up eggs with minimal effort.

Eggs-hidden-grass.jpg

Commonly Used Areas

Kids will always gravitate to the areas they often frequent in their yard, so make sure you hide plenty of eggs in these areas. Include plenty in the vicinity of their playhouse, one on their swing and slide set, and even some under chair cushions or other play equipment. 

If you have some particularly tricky spots, then make those eggs something of value – such as boxed eggs of their favourite TV characters. It will be even more of an incentive to have eagle eyes during the hunting process. 

Easter-tree.jpg

Hidden by Nature 

Once you’ve run out of areas to hide eggs amongst your furniture and kids’ toys, then focus on the natural hidden spots your hedges and trees provide. Secure them under the leaves of shrubs, in the base of hedges, or hollows of your trees. If your kids love to climb trees and you don’t want them to shy away from adventure, then up the trees is also an excellent hiding place for Easter eggs. Don’t be afraid to use your surroundings – all in the name of encouraging adventure and exploration. 

Best Eggs for Easter Egg Hunts

The most common type of egg for Easter egg hunts is, of course, the chocolate variety. Most people select a range of marshmallow and solid chocolate eggs that are small and inexpensive to buy in packets of a dozen or more. However, you can also do better this year.

Consider bigger eggs that you can hide in challenging locations. Such rewards can be an encouragement for kids to challenge themselves and explore different parts of their backyard. Alternatively, you can invest in plastic eggs – with the goal being for each child to collect as many as possible.  

Some of those eggs can contain a golden ticket or sweet treats. If they get a golden ticket, they can bring it to you to exchange it for a treat of their choice. Such a method cuts down on their chocolate and sugar intake, but still gives them the thrill of the adventure.  

Easter is a fun and memorable experience for the whole family. However, you can make your Easter egg hunt even more so by putting effort into the hiding process. Challenge your children, make them think about what they’re doing, and encourage teamwork as well. The hunt can be educational as well as fun. 

success.jpg
Zach White
What Ground/Soil Types Are You Planting In? 

Soil is soil. It’s brown, you plant shrubs in it, and when you look after those plants, they use the earth to grow and thrive. However, there is more to soil than its name. Did you know that in New Zealand alone, we have 15 primary soil types? If you’ve ever struck trouble with trying to get your plants to grow, then the soil you have on your property may be to blame.

Read on to find out more about ground and soil types, and their role in your planting success. 

Soil-Planting.jpg

What Soil Types Do We Have in New Zealand? 

Around 43 percent of New Zealand has brown soils. They form our moist lowlands, hills, and mountains. In the North Island, there is a more significant percentage of Pumice soil. Much of this is around Taupo and surrounding townships. Around 1,800 years ago, a volcano erupted and sent pumice flying in all directions. 

We even have ancient soils at around 50,000 years old, and young soil that evolve with sediment every time a flood occurs. Then there are artificial soils— these form from landfill sites and earthworks, rather than thousands of years of creation.  

Every soil type plays its part in growth, but would it matter which type you had for fruit, vegetables, and other plants? It just might. 

 

subsoil.jpg

What Soil Type Do I Have? 

Not everyone is an expert on soil. We’re more likely to take what we have and plant anything in it, hoping for the best. If you want to offer your plants the best fighting chance or match your plants to what soil you have, then read on. We can help you to work out what soil type you have.

Dig a hole that’s about twice the depth of your spade. The top, a darker layer is called topsoil. The layer beneath it which is pale and denser is subsoil. The subsoil is where all the nutrients are, but it’s structurally inferior to the other layers.

If there is red or brown soil underneath your subsoil, you have hardpan. Hardpan is compacted soil that does not allow water to drain or fine roots to take hold. If the earth in this area is grey or pungent in odour, it’s water logged. If you plant in it, nothing will grow well. You will need to break through it to change its composition over time. 


Is My Soil Full of Sand or Clay? 

Establishing whether you have clay or sandy soil is straight forward. Take some dirt in your hand and try to form a solid sausage shape. If it develops well, it’s clay-based. If it’s gritty and doesn’t create a shape, it’s sand. If it holds together, then falls apart once you touch it, it’s loamy and is the perfect soil type for a range of plants. 

 

How to Improve Soil Type for Vegetable Planting 

Different soil types can affect vegetable planting quite dramatically. Organic matter is going to improve almost any soil type, but you can also try different material combinations with sand-based and clay-based soil too.

With sand-based soil, incorporate as much organic matter as possible. Mulch it, add water, and use fertilisers such as blood and bone. Stay away from highly-soluble fertilisers that wash away. It can also help to keep digging the soil over. 

Clay-based soil may take a bit more hard work before you plant vegetables. If you don’t put in the hard yards, however, you might find it affects the growth of your vegetables. Add grit or sand to the soil to enhance its drainage capabilities. 

Avoid fine sand as it worsens the drainage rather than improves it. Add lime every couple of years if you’re happy to play the long game. If not, buy around 20 centimetres of topsoil to put on top so you can start planting immediately. 

Soil-for-vegetables.jpg

 What is the Best Soil for Planting? 

So many things contribute to the best soil for planting in New Zealand. Very few people will get it 100 percent right the first time. If you are having trouble, there’s nothing wrong with calling in the gardening experts who know how to make plants thrive.  

Healthy soil has plenty of air and water. It also has soil fungi, earthworms, microbes, and bugs to promote healthy soil life. However, you need to strike a healthy balance. Too much water prevents plant roots from being able to breathe. Too much air causes acceleration of organic matter decomposition. 

Then there’s acid and alkaline soil. Acidic soils are low in phosphorous, and alkaline soils lack iron and manganese. Aim for a pH level of between 5.5 and 6.5. You can buy a testing kit to find out what yours is.  

advice.jpg

The Right Soil

Different soils affect the growth of various plants. It can be a balancing act to put the right plants into the right soil environment. Once you establish what soil type you have, it’s about altering it to become one you can work with, or changing the plants you use. 

If you still aren’t sure how to create the most workable soil, then get in touch with other local gardeners. There are bound to be plenty of gardening experts near you who are willing to offer a helping hand.  

Zach White
To Use Pesticides or Not?
pesticide-spraying.jpg

The problem with pesticides in lawn care and gardens is that it is made to kill, repel or control certain kinds of plants, animals, and insects which people consider pests. It is also applied to get rid of weeds and mildew. However, there are environmental and health risks which are involved when garden and lawn pesticides are used. You need to always take into account how to properly use them safely. Besides, there are both pros and cons when pesticides are being used, and you should know about both sides.

 

First the pros

Pesticides do have a use in society because they are used to destroy pests which can bring harm. Because pesticides help controls insects, weeds and other pests, it helps with crop growing and the economy. Because of the mistrust of the type of chemicals which had been used for pest control in lawn care and gardens, manufacturers have come out with biologically-based pesticides. These use pheromones and microbes as a base instead of harmful chemicals. The popularity of these types is safer than using traditional pesticides, and the Environmental Protection Agency has been registering reduced-risk conventional pesticides.

 

Pros:

rats-vermin.png

Pesticides can help to keep destructive pests away from developing fruits and vegetables. Mice and insects can contaminate a whole plant which has bloomed which makes the plant useless for eating. When using pesticides, more plants survive, and there's a more abundant harvest.

weed.png

Pesticides also get rid of weeds when used in lawn care and gardens. When weeds grow in an area which is being used for food consumption, they make use of space in the soil which is supposed to be for crops. Plus, the weeds drink the water and will overtake and choke out other plants.

mosquito.png

Mosquitoes which carry yellow fever, malaria and the West Nile virus can be killed by pesticides. When used for this purpose, the pesticides are a prevention of these diseases. Reducing allergic reactions to wasps, ants, and bees are one way not to have these insects around when pesticides are used.

fleas.png

Plus, since fleas are parasites and can make your dog or cat miserable, they can be shielded from this discomfort. Removing fleas from their origin and then making sure the infestation doesn’t start up again is one way that chemicals can decrease this.

easy.png

Pesticides are easy to get, and you don’t need to be a professional to use them. Whatever you need them for, whether it be lawn care or getting rid of fleas, they’re easily accessible. They can be bought at hardware stores and even grocery stores. Because of manufacturers competing for business, pesticides are more affordable as well.

food-prices.png

Lower food prices are the result of using pesticides because of losses being cut. If the harvest is small, then the prices of food will rise so the farmers recoup some of their losses. When using pesticides, then the harvest yield is higher, and the cost of food will be lower. The losses have been reduced so the farmers can offer their products at a lower cost.

 

Then the cons

toxic.png

With using pesticides in both lawn care and gardens, there are cons which you need to consider. There are significant concerns that the mixture of chemicals used isn't safe for human ingestion. Plus, when used on lawns, if children are present, it can be dangerous to them. With children, they have vital organs which are still developing, so they breathe at a faster rate than adults do. This causes them to breathe in more pesticides, plus, they are closer to the ground.

pollinators.png

When pesticides are used, it can cause a decline in the pollinators. Bees and butterflies are affected by the use of the chemicals, and the rate of abundance is changed. Then the fruit and vegetable supply become lessened, and pollination isn't as effective. With agricultural production relying on pollination by insects, around 5-8 percent, some butterflies are becoming an extinct species.

Other-species.png

Chemicals from the pesticides can also harm animals as well as the environment. Since a pesticide is made to kill living things, it makes it harmful to those species which is intended to be used. There are a lot of animals which have been killed by eating the plants which have been sprayed with chemicals. Grass and flowers are affected when pesticides are used. Pesticides which have the chemicals fipronil and neonicotinoids are a threat to the environment. Plants ingest this type of pesticides through the vascular systems and then go through the other the plant's tissues, roots, leaves, flowers, and nectar.

helpful-species.png

Pesticides used around the home for lawn care and gardens aren't really recommended for around residential homes. You may think that since the chemicals are readily acquired that they are safe, but it isn't true. Using pesticides can kill beneficial insects as well as affect your children's health. Plus, a pest can build up a resistance to chemicals over time. You will have to use more and more of these products to get the same result, making the whole process even more dangerous.

aquatic-life.png

Chemicals from pesticides can also affect the environment because 98 percent of insecticides which are sprayed, and 95 percent of herbicides go somewhere other than where they were targeted. So, air, water, soil and non-targeted species of insects and animals can be affected by contamination. This is called a pesticide drift that will carry to other areas and cause contamination. Water pollution is often caused by this pesticide drift.

poisionous.png

It can be ingested accidentally by humans which is hazardous to your health. This is especially true within the third world countries. Some farmers may be careless and not use the proper protection when using chemicals, such as gloves or face coverings. If they eat and don't wash their hands, the substances can be ingested which can cause respiratory problems.

 

As you can see, the debate of using pesticides has two sides. It comes down to a personal choice of what you feel is safe to use or not to use in your lawn care schedule or in your garden.

 

ADMIN
Best Summer games to play out on the lawn
backyard-cricket.jpg

The best part about heading into the warmer weather is that you get to make more use of your backyard. While summer calls for more lawn care and yard maintenance, it also calls for the swingball set to be brought out of hibernation and more time for an intensely competitive game of backyard cricket.

 

If you’re dabbling in lawn care to prime your backyard for summer activities, you may be wondering what on earth you can get up to you with your friends and family. Here are some of the best summer games to play out on the lawn.

 

Backyard Cricket

Backyard cricket has been responsible for tears of joy and sadness, arguments, and long-standing family feuds. In fact, it’s not Christmas if someone doesn’t bring out the beaten and weathered wickets, the worn-out cricket bat and the ball that every losing team swears was “tampered” with.

 

Backyard cricket has become so entrenched in Kiwi summers that you can even join backyard cricket championships with a chance of being reigned the champion.

 

If you take a game of Christmas cricket quite seriously, then there’s also no time like the present to get lawn care preparations underway. The backyard has to be in tip-top shape for what is one of the most highly anticipated family games of the year.

 

Swing Ball

Can you really say you’ve experienced a Kiwi summer if your cousin hasn’t run off crying after a ball to the face? From November onwards, swing ball sets are in hot demand, as parents look to provide entertainment in the backyard for children throughout the school holidays and on Christmas day. However, swing ball is more than entertainment for the kids. Mum and dad also take great pride in hitting the ball as hard as they can to let off steam and have a few laughs with the family.  

 

However, swing ball can take its toll on your lawn. Not only does it create a great, gaping hole in the backyard, but it grows ever larger with each big hit. What’s more, grass around the set also flattens with being stepped on and takes a while to come back to life. If you plan on introducing swing ball into your Christmas festivities, consider placing it somewhere where your grass can recuperate without foot traffic once celebrations are over.

 

Badminton

Badminton usually is a game reserved for those with a large backyard. It requires a net, a minimum of two people, a competitive nature, and a strong racquet arm! Most toy outlets begin stocking badminton sets as soon as the warmer weather hits, with enough shuttlecocks and racquets for at least four players. If you have grounds galore and plenty of players, then why not create a competitive family team sport? You never know, badminton could become a new Christmas tradition.

 

Slip ‘n’ Slide

If you’re prepared to let your backyard get a little bit messy in the name of summer fun, then it’s time to dust off the slip ‘n’ slide and get the whole family in on the action. While you are going to have to dedicate time to lawn care after the fun stops, it’s an activity that’s bound to cool everyone down - even if it does cause arguments with who gets to go down it first! When you add a water slide to your backyard, it’s also a good idea to inspect the ground for anything that could make your trip down it painful. After tree trimming, remove all sharp sticks from the lawn, and make sure you’ve left a little bit of growth on the lawns for padding.

 

What’s more, it might be best to leave your garden tidy up until after you’ve had your fun, as there can be nothing more uncomfortable than getting covered in mulch and dirt that remains on the lawns after digging around in the garden.

 

Water Fights

If you’re looking for an activity that will keep the kids in the backyard all summer, then a water fight is it. All you need to do is buy a few water guns, some water balloons, and let them loose with the outdoor tap. Once the cousins and other family members turn up, they can then spend hours running around the lawn getting soaked to the skin but having loads of fun. The best part is, summer can be quite dry in some parts of New Zealand, so the bit of water can be a welcome addition to a suffering lawn.

 

Sack Races

If lawn care is the least of your worries, with trying to entertain children at the forefront of your mind, then why not invite them to take part in sack races? Every child has a competitive streak, and if they can make use of their Santa sacks long after they open all their presents, then all the better. Line all the kids up on the lawn, have them get into their Santa sack, then let them run and hop to the other side. The first person to get to the other side of the lawn wins!

 

It’s not a Kiwi Christmas unless you spend a little time in your backyard soaking up the summer rays. If you’re short of ideas and need something to keep little minds and bodies active, then try these options above! You may also like to check out the Backyard Bash and see how you can sign up to be part of the backyard cricket championship!

 

Zach White
6 fun ways to prepare your backyard for Christmas
christmas-backyard.jpg

The most action any backyard ever sees is around Christmas. If it’s not the kids playing cricket, swing ball and rugby in it, then it’s mum and dad rushing around like headless chickens trying to make it look stunning for guests with gardening, pruning, and a Christmas garden tidy-up. If your yard is not quite up to croquet-playing standard, that doesn’t mean it won’t ever be.

If you start early enough, you will have plenty of time to have your yard looking immaculate for your impending guests. You can either try out these five ideas below or call in the big guns. (No one ever has to know that you had a helping hand, and we don’t mind if you take all the credit!)

 

1. Go Big or Go Home

Hedges are a much-loved part of many people’s home. They add privacy, stop the kids’ frisbee going over into the neighbour’s yard, and add much-loved shade during an intense Kiwi summer as well. However, after winter, they can look a little worse for wear, and may be in need of a haircut.

 

While your hedge is unlikely to have anything on the tallest and longest in the world, that doesn’t mean you don’t still need to take care of it. Pruning and hedge and tree trimming is by no means a “fun” activity, but it’s a satisfying one. You can call in the experts who can take care of your residential hedge trimming, or you can get to work doing it yourself. 

 

For general garden tidy-ups, pruning, and hedge trimming, you are going to need pruners, loppers, and a curved hand saw. Remove dead and damaged branches and dispose of these. Then, step back and have a look at your masterpiece. Identify where you need to make cuts, and where you could add shape. Don’t stop until your dishevelled hedge is looking far better than ever before!

 

2. Pruning

hedge-trimming-christmas.jpg

OK, so we lied, pruning isn’t all that fun, but once you snip away the imperfections of your shrubs, you will be delighted with how tidy all your plants look! That way, when your in-laws join you for Christmas lunch, you can rest assured everything seems perfect! Pruning is a necessity, and can completely transform how your yard looks.

 

Pruning is also about more than shaping and sculpting, although that’s a fun hobby for many people. Instead, it’s about getting rid of dead, dying, or diseased branches and stems that are ruining the appeal of them! Pruning can also play an essential part in your garden tidy-up while improving plant health and controlling growth.

 

Unfortunately, all plants are different, so pruning techniques for one plant may not work for another. Confused yet? Lucky for you, it’s a job that you don’t have to do on your own. In the lead-up to Christmas, we can let you off the hook and take care of your pruning and tree trimming for you!

 

3. Outdoor Areas

If you barely have enough space in your home for the permanent occupants let alone people joining you for Christmas dinner, then you will no doubt be taking advantage of your outdoor areas. Rather than trip over everyone, you can enjoy fresh summer air while listening to the distant yells of children not sharing their toys with their cousins.  

 

If, however, you have not yet cleared away the dirt, dust, spider webs and debris that makes its way in there over winter, then there’s no time like now to get started. Arm all the kids with scrubbing brushes and water and let them earn their keep. While you take care of the gardening and garden tidy-up, they can be making sure all the outdoor furniture is sparkling clean and ready for guests!

 

4. Decorating

Now the fun really begins! Decorating for Christmas day can put a smile on everyone’s face – even if you’re a little bit stressed! Add Christmas lighting to the areas around your home that matter the most, and don’t forget a spot of tinsel here and there for good luck. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can also give the kids a can of fake snow each, trusting them to add it to your windows (carefully). Being a Kiwi Christmas, snow in a can is the only snow you’re going to see!

 

backyard-christmas-lights.jpg

5. Lighting

Summertime at Christmas means we can spend far more time outdoors than we would during winter. However, do you want to be entertaining your guests in the dark? Take the time before the big day arrives to invest in quality outdoor lighting. Permanent lighting can even add to your property’s overall value! Set it up around dining tables, along fences, and even fairy lights adorning your conservatories. Lighting can be both festive and ambient.

 

6. Water blasting

If you want to go all-out this Christmas with your gardening, pruning, and tidying up, then don’t forget to water blast your home too! Water blasting is an excellent way to get rid of moss and other built-up grime that graced your surfaces over the winter months. What’s more, it can stop your surfaces from being slippery and dangerous to walk on! Water blasting doesn’t take long, but it can make your property look spick and span in no time!

Don’t pull your hair out this Christmas. Get the kids involved in preparing your backyard for Christmas, or why not call on the experts for help as well? While you’re at it, check out our other useful advice to see how you can make your backyard look great!


Related Articles

ADMIN
Best ways to jazz up the Christmas tree
christmas-tree-decoration.jpg

The festive season has finally arrived, and if you’re chomping at the bit to put your Christmas tree up, you can finally let loose and get started. Even though spending hours untangling Christmas lights can provide you with time to think about how to decorate the tree, don’t you think it’s time to get a little more creative than usual?

 

Tinsel, baubles, and Christmas lights always look striking on any tree, but can you go one better this year? Below, you will find many quirky and fun ways to make your Christmas tree stand out from the crowd, as well as how to care for a real tree should you decide to steer away from the artificial variety.

 

Go Vintage

It doesn’t matter whether you have an artificial or real tree, choosing a vintage look is going to get heads turning. Instead of decorating it with baubles and tinsel, why not opt for flowers and natural-style items? Flowers, pine cones, natural wreaths and a tin bucket to house your tree in can make it look beautiful. However, the only downside to this look is that you may need to erect your tree nearer to Christmas if you use real flowers. Otherwise, they can die and look dismal instead!

 

Contrasting Colors

If allergies or a lack of time stops you from going down the real tree route, then why not get creative with your artificial tree? Instead of selecting a traditional green one, you can now get a range of beautiful colours. You can then select contrasting colour decorations to go on it for a contemporary and elegant style. For example, choose a white tree with black or pink ornaments, or a black tree with white or gold. Use striking colours and make your tree stand out from others.

 

crewcut-christmas-tree.jpg

Full Traditional

If you’re a big fan of traditional Christmas movies, then you will love looking at the big trees with all the trimmings. Some American families go all out on Christmas, with no expense spared on making sure the tree is dense with the best ornaments money can buy. If you get equally as excited about Christmas, then create the full traditional experience. Add that beautiful angel on top, use thick and bushy tinsel, and buy the most substantial baubles you can find. Go big or go home!

 

Theme It

Do you and your family have a hobby or passion? Then let it shine on your tree. If you’re passionate about family and your pets, then make your tree a real family affair. Cover it in photo baubles of your loved ones, and even get the pets in on the act. Instead of tinsel, you can even create your own ribbons out of colourful clothing. A themed tree is also an excellent way in which to remember those who have passed.

 

Minimalist

If you’re short on time and have a house full of pets, then putting up the Christmas tree can become more of a chore than anything else. Even if you did take time to add a range of decorations, you would find most of them on the floor in pieces after your pet realised they were there! Go down the minimalist route and decorate your tree sparingly. Omit the tinsel and instead choose a few standout decorations to go on the front of it. Four or five can be all it takes to give your tree flair but also keep it easy-care.

 



How to Care for a Real Christmas Tree

Many people don’t like to buy real Christmas trees because they think caring for them will be hard work. At most facilities, you have to select one, cut it down, drag it home, then spend hours vacuuming dead pine needles for most of December. However, even for all the labour, nothing beats coming home to the smell of fresh pine filling your home.

 

If you haven’t had a real tree but would like to, then there’s no better time than now to bring one home. Below, you will find helpful tips on how to care for your real Christmas tree. Leave your artificial one in its box until next year!

 

1. Place it in a stand

When you bring your new tree home, cut the trunk above the initial cut you made so it can drink water, then place it in the stand you prepared earlier.

 

2. Keep it away from heat

Anything that creates heat can accelerate moisture loss in your new Christmas tree. Place it away from the heat pump, fireplace, and even TVs.

 

3. Water it

Once you have set your tree up, water it with plain warm tap water. Add around four litres to the stand and check the water level daily. You may find that on its first day, it can consume up to eight litres of water. Keep it moist.

 

Whether you’re jazzing up an artificial tree or a real one, nothing spells the beginning of the festive season better than a beautiful tree taking centre stage in your home. If you are yet to put a tree up, why not consider these fun options above and try something different?


 Related Articles

ADMIN
The secret magic of composting
Two hands holding compost against blurred green background

The world is facing a waste crisis, with not enough of our everyday products being recycled, and too much going into landfill. However, with parts of the world considerably at risk of being lost to plastic and other trash, it’s important to look at what we can do to shrink our environmental footprint. New Zealand, while a small country, is still contributing to a growing problem, with 2.5 million tonnes of rubbish, or about one tonne per household, going into landfill every year.

Did you know that a lot of what we are throwing away we can actually use in the garden? While gardening isn’t for everyone, you would be surprised at what you can consider to be garden waste or green waste, breaking down in your own yard for use in gardens and soil. There’s no time like the present to join the compositing revolution and do your part for the environment. You will be surprised at how a bit of composting education can transform your waste production.

 

What is Composting?

Compositing is the act of using decomposing organic matter, turning it into a soil conditioner. It’s nutrient-rich, and those who love to get involved in gardening refer to it as “black gold”. It’s an excellent way in which to revitalise your soil while taking care of garden waste and green waste in the process.

 

What Can You Compost?

You will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of food scraps and other things you are throwing into landfill, that can actually benefit your garden. Fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, paper products, rice, pasta, chips, bread, cheese, cereal, crackers, seaweed, hair, cotton, nail clippings, dryer lint, ashes, and latex balloons are just a few of the many options.

 

In essence, almost anything you can break down is beneficial for your garden. That list doesn’t even extensively cover garden waste and green waste such as lawn clippings, twigs, leaves, and dead plants. Don’t underestimate how dramatically the act of compositing can empty your rubbish bin marked for landfill.

 

Benefits of Composting

Many people get a lot of pleasure from gardening, but composting with garden waste, green waste, and other ingredients can be equally as satisfying. What’s more, there is a range of benefits on a local and global scale.

  • Less rubbish going to landfill

  • Enriches your soil

  • Suppresses plant diseases

  • Reduces the need for a chemical fertiliser

  • Lowers methane emissions from landfill

  • Creates a nutrient-rich material your garden will love

 

How to Compost

Many people with a lot of garden waste or green waste will see the benefits of composting, but may not know how to get started. Then, there are those who don’t dabble in too much gardening but would like to reduce how much of their trash goes into landfill. Whichever category you fall into, you will be pleased to know that composting is an effortless process – and one doesn’t require you to be a seasoned gardener.

 

Method One – Backyard Composting

The first step to backyard composting is to set up an area in your yard for the process. Ensure it’s near a water source and as far away from your home as possible. Remember, the compost bin or area will feature a lot of garden waste, green waste, and smelly, decomposing products. As a result, you won’t want it too near an outdoor dining area!

 

You can either use a bin or create a pile – whichever you prefer. Begin by adding brown and green waste as you collect it, shredding and breaking up any large pieces as you add it to the bin or pile. When you add any dry products, wet them to keep them moist.

 

After establishing your compost pile, you can add grass clippings and green waste, burying fruit and vegetable matter underneath the newly created pile. In warmer regions of the country, it can be challenging to stop compost from drying out – at least on top. Therefore, you can keep a lid on the bin, or cover the compost pile with a tarpaulin. It can take between two months and two years to create a layer of dark, rich compost (toward the bottom) that’s ready to include in gardening.

 

Method Two – Indoor Composting

For those who don’t have a backyard or even a strip of lawn for a garden, it can be more challenging to jump aboard the composting bandwagon and give the environment a break. However, did you know you can do some composting indoors?

 

While it’s not suitable to begin throwing scraps in the middle of your living room, there are specially sealed containers you can buy that break down food waste, green waste, and other waste so that you can reduce your footprint. While this method is one that may have unwanted rodent visitors gracing your doorstep, it’s still a valid option if you’re interested in creating “black gold” for the gardening community.

 

Composting Types

Along with indoor and outdoor composting, you can compost in a whole range of ways with different techniques. Even if you’re not that interested in gardening, you are sure to find it’s a lot of fun to think outside the square. Compost bin types and methods can include:

 

  • Plastic, sealed bins – suitable for small areas but harder to harvest

  • Pits – no construction or labour, just set up where you intend on having a garden

  • Open bins – suitable for hot and cold composting and you can use wood and wire mesh to build them

  • Piles – no materials or labour required, just dump your green waste, garden waste, and other products onto the pile

  • Vermicomposting – make worms do all the hard work

Composting is not for everyone, but you will be surprised at not only how beneficial it is, but how little effort it takes. By choosing to put your waste back into your own property, you’re able to keep more of it out of landfill and shrink your ever-growing environmental footprint at the same time. What’s more, if you have to pay for your wheelie bin service, it means you’re able to save space and potentially money in the long run. Jump on the composting bandwagon and reap the rewards sooner rather than later.

 


Related Articles

Garden Gnomes: The Curious History
 
Garden gnome behind blurred blades of grass

Garden gnomes started as a tradition over 200 years ago and continues today. Our plastic or plaster garden gnomes today are different than the original ones in the 1800s. Believe it or not, these clever decorations have a fun history!

The Origins of Garden Gnomes

Garden statues are a long-standing tradition dating back to the Renaissance. People believe that these little human-like statues would keep away evil from those that live in the house.

Garden gnomes originated in Germany in the early 1800s, and producers created them out of clay. By the 1840s, the craze reached England and slowly appeared throughout the country. Baehr and Maresh of Dresden created these early gnomes.  From there, their popularity grew rapidly.

By the 1870s, two large, German companies started to mass produce garden gnomes. These companies were Philipp Griebel and August Heissner, but Heissner became the most popular German manufacturer. The love affair with gnomes continued, but World War I and World War II stopped a majority of the German production. Many of the warehouses faced destruction throughout the wars.

The popular Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tales contributed to the popularity of garden gnomes. “The Gnome” was one of their short stories that featured gnomes, and it depicted gnomes in a benevolent and malevolent light. These stories continued and encouraged the craze!

The 1960s brought plastic recreations, but most people didn’t like the cartoonish appearance. Companies located in the Czech Republic and Poland started to create their versions in the 1980s. Now, one American Company, Kimmel Gnomes, continues the tradition of crafting garden gnomes of clay and resin.

 

Why Put a Gnome in Your Garden?

Gnomes are a symbol of good luck, so placing them in your garden should bring luck to your crops and livestock. In the 1800s, a plentiful harvest meant more than having too much zucchini; it meant your family would have food. A bad harvest meant a long and hard winter.

Old world farmers believe placing garden gnomes on their property would bring some good luck to help their fields produce more and stop pests.

Many silly stories surrounded gnomes! There are stories that gnomes can move through the soil, but they only move at night. During the day, gnomes turn to stone. The term gnomes comes from the name “genomus” which means earth dweller. The idea is that these clever little statues come alive at night and assist with landscaping and gardening chores left uncompleted.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

 

What Do Garden Gnomes Look Like?

Meditating garden gnome in long grass

Chances are you can picture a gnome in your mind. We see them on TV movies and advertisements.

The classic look is a short gnome with a long, white beard, a red hat, and simple clothes, such as blue pants and a shirt. Female gnomes have longer hair, a red hat, and a dress.

You can find garden gnomes in all sorts of different costumes and configurations. There are gnomes with built-in solar lights, gnomes that fish, drink beer, moon onlookers, sniffing flowers and more. The options are endless; the limit is up to the imagination of the manufacturers.

 

Using Garden Gnomes in Your Garden Today

Gnomes are making a comeback, so it’s the perfect time to add one or several to your garden. Aside from being adorable, they are supposed to bless your gardening attempts, so its worth the consideration. Here are some tips for using garden gnomes in your garden.

  • Stick with your personality and hobbies. You want gnomes that reflect you and your family. If you love to fish, a cleverly placed gnome holding a fishing pole near your pond would be adorable. If you love to read, find one that is holding a book to place near your favourite reading spot outside.
     
  • Look for quality gnomes. Plastic gnomes look cheap, and their colours will fade over time. Resin or clay are stronger materials that won’t lose their bright shade of colours.
     
  • Make a fairy garden. Fairy gardening is all the rage right now! Gardeners are making separate fairy gardens, or they are blending elements into their existing garden beds. Fairy gardens can be as simple or as complex as you want! A garden gnome fits right in with the décor!
     
  • Hide them around your property. Finding secretive, yet funny, places to hide your garden gnomes can be a clever game. Place one in a tree or behind a rock. Look for places that your neighbours might laugh when they notice the gnome cleverly placed.
     
  • Put a gnome near a water feature so that he can look at the sounds and sights of the water. It might be a fountain or a pond. If you have a gnome that is sitting down, you can place the gnome on a rock with his feet dangling towards the water.
     
  • Make sure your gnomes are near family activities. Put your gnomes near the patio or deck, wherever your family loves to gather. You can place a gnome in a pot with flowers; container gardening and gnomes work great together! Gnomes love to participate in family activities.

 

To Steal a Gnome or Not

Have you heard of the term “gnoming”? There is a game that involves stealing garden gnomes. It is a silly prank that people continue. Some people go so far as to travel around the world collecting – aka stealing – gnomes from gardens in different countries.

So, if you decide that you need a garden gnome for your landscaping or vegetable garden, remember that there are gnome lovers who want to liberate gnomes from their servitude. Your lovely garden gnome might wind up missing, and then you might get sent back a picture of the sites your gnome visited.

 

No matter how you decide to place your garden gnomes, remember that a natural setting is best and you want a gnome that reflects activities you regularly do. You might find some of your gardening tasks are taken care of when you wake up.


Related Articles

ADMIN
Want Backyard Chickens? Here are our top tips!

 

If you’re lucky to live in an area where chicken ownership is allowed, and you have plenty of grass, then there’s every reason to become a hobby chicken farmer. Not only do they enable you to enjoy fresh eggs on toast every morning for breakfast, but they can take care of grass insects, clean up your food scraps, and even help with the lawn mowing. Here are our top tips for backyard chicken ownership.

 

Opt for a Portable Hen House

While a permanent hen house is adequate for those with plenty of grass, they do make lawn mowing a little tricky. Not only do you have to mow the lawns around them continually, but the hens can end up in a muddy, dirty environment come winter time. Therefore, if it’s possible, either buy or build a hen house that’s on wheels.

By doing so, you can merely push the house to a new area of grass for them to enjoy. A portable hen house also makes regular cleaning far easier than one you can’t quickly get inside or push around.

 

Buy Mature Hens

It might seem like a good idea to incubate eggs, raise the chicks, then enjoy the fruits of your labour at a later date, but it can be a challenging task. If you’re new to chicken ownership, it’s best to familiarise yourself with their daily needs and consider raising chicks from eggs at a later date. When you’re only starting out, it’s best to buy mature hens to fill your coop. Right from day one they can help with lawn mowing and take care of those grass grubs.

However, it’s always helpful to be careful where you source your hens from. Some people choose to get rid of them because they’re not laying. Therefore, you run the risk of spending a significant amount of money on feed, without the reward of fresh eggs in your morning omelette.

 

Backyard chickens getting water

Cover the Coop Basics

If you’re choosing to build your hen enclosure from scratch, you may wonder what you need to do to make sure your new hens are as happy and as healthy as possible. Before you get your hens, you need to ensure they have a place to roost at night, a nesting box for those hens who are laying, as well as plenty of room to move around.

What’s more, if you can provide protection from predators – such as a lock-up area at night time, then you increase their chance of survival. Unfortunately, there are plenty of dogs, cats, stoats, and other creates all too keen to take your hens for themselves.

 

Establish a Routine

While hens are quite happy to do their own thing, scratching at the grass, running free on your lawns, and helping with the lawn mowing by clearing up all the bugs, they also thrive on routine. While most hens you buy as mature birds aren’t the friendliest of creatures, you’ll find that if you establish a routine, they’ll expect and look forward to your visit.

 

Therefore, whether it’s you or the kids maintaining their coop, make a point of doing it at the same time every day. The kids can collect the eggs first thing in the morning, give them any food scraps, and clean the nesting boxes too. Adding fresh hay or straw for the boxes can help to both keep your eggs clean and the coop more hygienic.

 

Girl holds a chicken

Make it a Savings Scheme for Children

If you feel like you’re continually opening your wallet for your children’s wants and needs, then chicken ownership can open up the doors for a potential income source for them. With a well-established coop on the grass in your backyard, they can collect the eggs, sell them, then keep the funds as pocket money.

However, that doesn’t mean that they collect the money and don’t have to do any work! Chicken ownership does take time. You need to feed them, clean up after them, and ensure they have plenty of hearty tucker to keep producing those delicious free range eggs.

 

Know Their Food Requirements

Hens are relatively low maintenance in the respect that they eat any bugs present in your lawns, and are quite happy to look for grass grubs and any other critters as well. Therefore, having your hens free range is quite beneficial for both you and them. However, providing them with fresh water, laying mash or wheat, and any of your table scraps is also helpful. Hens will eat almost anything you eat, but be sure not to feed them citrus. You can even mash up their own eggshells to offer an extra dose of calcium.

 

Having to make the daily journey to the hen house to feed them scraps also offers more benefits than only getting rid of your leftovers as well. You benefit from getting outside in the fresh air, taking note of when you need to begin lawn mowing, and checking on your grass quality as well. As many of us work full time, we often neglect our outdoor surroundings, but hen ownership can make it more of a priority.

 

Keep it Clean

Hens aren’t fussy about where they do their business. They are quite happy to go in their nesting box, where they’re eating, where they’re roosting, and around your lawns as well. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find hen poo on your grass right where you’re about to walk! While most people buy hens to benefit from the eggs, you also have to put in the hard yards as well. Keep their coop clean, and you’re more likely to benefit from clean eggs and a nicer backyard grass area.

 

Replace their straw or hay in their nesting boxes whenever it gets dirty, and try to rake out the dirt in the bottom of the hen house where possible as well. If your children are benefiting from the pocket money, this could quickly become their regular chore.

 

Small carton of 6 chicken eggs

 

 

 

If you have plenty of lawns and grass area to share with feathered friends, then there’s no time like the present to become a hobby chicken farmer. In fact, given the ever-increasing price of free-range eggs, you can do your part for your bank account at the same time.

 

 

Related Articles

ADMIN
The complete history of the lawn mower

 

A right of passage for many kiwi kids. Driving the lawn mower has always been a good bit of pocket money, and a step towards getting a licence for many. Mowing the lawns is engrained in NZ culture as we’re lucky enough to have so many properties with a decent patch of grass on it. 

 

So when did the first lawn mower come about? It's hard to remember a time when we didn’t have lawn mowers. Before the lawn mower was invented, we must have done something to keep our homes from becoming jungles right? 


 

A life before lawn mowers

Lush field of long grass and flowers

In the beginning, people didn’t have ‘lawns’. Everything was either occupied by livestock that kept it short, or was a patch of dirt. Come the 1820’s, some decided they would enjoy a trim turfed lawn. So instead of having your cattle trample all over it, you would need to employ a scythe man to cut it. A specialised man who had the knack of cutting an even height of grass with only shearing blades or a Scythe. 


Employing someone to cut your lawns with scissors was definitely not affordable. So only the elite had ‘lawns’. It was quite a status symbol to have a nicely kept yard. 


 

Vintage lawn mower illustration

The First Mower

The 1830’s trend of having trimmed lawns increased, and one smart engineer Edwin Beard Budding built the first (first patented) mechanical lawn mower. From Gloucestershire, England, Edwin first thought of the idea after seeing a mechanism in a cloth mill, a cylinder that cut the cloth smooth after weaving. 


He teamed up with a local engineer and they built a machine based on the cloth mill concept. A push mower, very similar to manual ones still seen today, except this was made of heavy cast iron, complete with wheels, a rear roller and a rotating cylinder of blades at the front. 

Budding’s patent said “country gentlemen may find in using my machine themselves an amusing, useful and healthy exercise."

The mowers took two people to use! One person to push, and one to pull. More than a healthy exercise by the sounds of it. However, the London Zoological gardens were the first to purchase these iron mowers for their large lawns.


Budding intended the machine to be for large estates and sports grounds, like the London Zoological gardens. But his invention did more than that, it made having a trim lawn available to more people. Lawns were slowly becoming more attainable for all classes, less of a symbol of status. 


 

Sport Innovation

Pink soccer ball on long soccer field grass

With the invention of the lawn mower, sports games were able to develop quickly. Some refer to this as the “Budding effect” as the invention created many flow on inventions and economic growth. 
 

  • Lawn bowls - Well cut grass meant lawn bowls were now not only for the rich that could afford to employ a scythe man. 
  • Football - Now easier to maintain a decent pitch, football took off. Budding was a football fan himself, some say it motivated him to create the lawn mower.
  • Cricket, lawn tennis, sporting ovals and countless other ground sports now take advantage of lawn mowing patterns. 

 

 

 

Lawn Mowers, a History:

Over the years, many people replicated Edward Budding’s original design. From 1830 - 1850 Budding and his parter had a patent on the product. During this time they licensed other companies to produce it, but after it was terminated in 1850, it was free reign for all to invent.  

 

1830

From this time until the 1850’s companies produced variations of Buddings original design, but only under a licence. 

 

1840

Early models of horse drawn mowers were designed (which of course had previously taken two people to push as it is cast iron). This didn’t suit everyone as the horses would trample gardens with their hooves. As a result the horses had to wear leather booties to prevent impressions on the grass - which sounds like a challenge in itself to organise.

 

1859

Budding's patent on the lawn mower was terminated and Thomas Green created the Silens Messor. Meaning ‘silent operation’ which was an immediate success. Using chains to transmit power from rollers rather than gears, it was more quiet than those before it. You could also get add-ons such as a clipping box. This was one of the first commercially successful mowers, over a million were produced until World War Two when production stopped. 

 

1870

Elwood McGuire designed a push mower that was much lighter with less moving parts, more functional for the everyday person.

 

1890

Steam powered lawnmowers were invented. This was quite a bulky machine with a water boiler, steam cylinders and a seat to ride up top. It took longer to heat the steam than to mow the lawns so gasoline powered mowers rose in popularity over steam.

 

1919

The United States manufactured a gasoline powered mower thanks to Colonel Edwin George. However, being created around The Great Depression, it didn’t take off straight away. It wasn’t until after World War Two that it rose in popularity. 

 

1930

The electric powered mower, also rotary cutting blades were developed, but again were not mass produced due to a lack of demand at the time. 

 

1960

Variations with lighter plastic were continually adjusted into what we see today. 


 

We can see the evolution of mowers from scissors, to manpower, horses, steam, gasoline and plastic. But the original design has stuck to what we see today and many people still purchase mowers that have the same design from 100 years ago. So the real question is; where will we be in 100 years time? 

 

For now though, we're still convinced that the best lawns are the ones looked after by Crewcut.
If you have a lawn that needs mowing, be sure to contact us for a free quote. 


Related Articles

ADMIN
How to make the most of feijoa season
 
Feijoas in the formation of a heart

Crisp and sweet, yet tangy and soft, the taste of fresh feijoas cannot be replicated. For New Zealanders, feijoas seem to be everywhere at the moment. Like a yearly epidemic sweeping the country they are being offloaded into workplaces in any form possible. 

For those with fruiting trees, hundreds of the green morsels will be carpeting your lawn (and also possibly your neighbours). We know it can be difficult to keep up with picking, and would hate to see these tasty fruits go to waste. Here is some of our best advice on how to maintain and deal with your abundance of feijoas this season. 
 

4 easy recipes to use excess feijoas

If eating raw feijoas day after day is getting a bit tiresome, try these easy recipes to make use of a few cupfuls.

Feijoa cupcakes with flowers in the foreground
  • The classic feijoa and apple crumble dessert will never miss the mark. A great warmer on colder evenings and easy enough to get kids to help out with. But if you’ve already made enough crumbles, have a go at this feijoa crumble slice from NZ’s Nadia Lim as a lunchbox treat.

  • Feijoa, date and ginger loaf, another great lunchbox addition that keeps well and uses lots of feijoas! Great toasted for breakfast with lashings of butter, or as an afternoon snack.

  • Feijoa ice blocks! Enough of the baking and extra sugar, simply blend feijoas, canned pineapple and some orange juice together, then spoon into ice block moulds. Kids will love them and they are a healthier dessert option.

  • Feijoa and white chocolate muffins, these have a bit more flavour than just plain feijoa muffins. The white chocolate adds some luxury to these easy muffins and are sure to impress.


 

If you’ve had enough of baking, try a few preserving methods:

  • Freeze them and save for later. Just peel and throw in some freezer bags. Great for baking a few months down the track, or to toss into a smoothie.

  • Feijoa chutney, simple to make and very delicious! Beats paying big bucks at the supermarket and is great with crackers, sandwiches in cooking and so much more.

  • For something a bit sweeter and slightly more adventurous try a Feijoa Jelly. A little more preparation is required, but the result is very unique. But best of all, no peeling involved, wahoo!


If all else fails and you’re almost tossing your falling fejoias straight into the compost - get your kids to set-up a stall selling them. Buy or reuse bags, and set-up a manufacturing line with your kids. They can make signs, set-up a table outside and make a few extra dollars. Very popular for those who’s only access to feijoas is for $7 a kg at the supermarket!



 

Feijoa tree care tips

If you have missed out on the feijoas this season, it’s not too late - you can plant one now, or any time of the year really. Autumn is a great time so the roots can settle in and get ready for growth in Spring. If you are in a colder climate and could be expecting snow, hold off until the soil is a bit warmer during Spring time. There are a few different types of feijoas out there, so you can do some research and plant your favourite. 


 

Why should you plant a feijoa tree?

Feijoas are great for the garden and super easy to look after. If you want to feel like successful gardener these are definiely the way to go! Feijoa trees are not affected by many diseases or pests and with a little compost and feed once a year you are good to go. 


 

Harvesting the feijoas

It is best to let your feijoas ripen naturally on the branch. When they do fall, don’t let them sit for too long on the lawn as the dew on the grass will make them go bad quickly. Gently pick your feijoas from your tree by cupping the fruit, and lifting gently to see if it will fall off without much effort. 


 

Trimming a feijoa hedge

Feijoa Hedges

Feijoa trees also make great hedges. they stop wind and will grow just about anywhere as they can cope with a bit of sun, snow and sand. The Sellowiana feijoa is most commonly used for hedges, the type of feijoas they produce can vary - mostly producing small and sour fruit and great for pollinating other trees.  They will generally grow 1.5-2m wide so make sure you plant them a good distance apart.


 

Pruning feijoa hedges and trees

The best time to prune your trees are the winter after fruiting. For your hedges it is best to cut them back about 1/3 in size, you can do this once a year. If you have a large hedge that might require some equipment definitely give your local Crewcut operator a call, as most locations offer hedge trimming services.  For regular feijoa trees (not for hedges) pruning isn’t necessary, but if your tree is struggling to produce fruit this could help. Prune it back after fruiting in winter and you may find that with more branches exposed to light, next year will be more fruit. 

Feijoas in the formation of the Crewcut logo

 

 

Feijoas can definitely become a garden nuisance if you don’t keep an eye on them. You miss a few days and the whole lawn could be covered, so try to keep up with them this season and make use of them all! Try not to let them sit too long on the grass, if you can, sweep them out of the way and into the compost if they are rotting. Your lawn mower will thank you, and it will deter animals from taking all the good fruit left on the tree. 

 

Good luck, and happy harvesting!


Related Articles
 

ADMIN