Fertilising the garden this winter

 

Gone are the glory days of summer to the now dreary days of winter. You don’t need to be on active garden duty, but there are some winter chores you need to do to prepare your garden for spring.

 

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Fertilising the Garden

It’ll soon be time to plant fruit trees and roses. You can prepare holes and add manure, such as sheep pellets, cow or horse manure for these woody plants to develop a deep root system and plentiful fruit and blooms. Next, you want to remove an inch of mulch from your gardens to allow sunlight to penetrate through and warm up the soil for spring planting.

 

If you have poorly drained soils, you want to add gypsum to your garden. Gypsum binds up soil particles together allowing air to help evaporate excess water. Gypsum also helps open up the soil to drain away water.

 

 

 

 

The Magic of Potash Fertiliser

Potassium, also known as potash, is a macronutrient that every plant needs in winter to protect plants from fungal diseases and rot. Your lawn also needs potash in late winter for a quick green-up in spring. Potash enables fruit and vegetables to develop larger crops, it produces abundant flowers and increases plants’ overall health. Potash works in the lawn, too, helping yard grass develop resistance to diseases as well as it improves your lawn grass’s ability to survive drought and heat stress.

 

Before applying potash to your gardens, test your soil’s pH as well as the macronutrients’ levels. Your acid-loving plants, such as azalea, hydrangea, and rhododendrons don’t like alkaline soils. So, don’t add potash to beds with these shrubs because it’ll make the soil more alkaline.

 

Also, if you have sufficient amounts of potash in your lawn and gardens, you don’t need to add more. Potash turns to salt when it’s in abundance and will damage plants. Finally, if you have sandy soil, you can add potassium to it. However, you’ll also need to add leaf litter and other soil amendments to help with drainage and soil health.

 

You get potash from the following fertilisers:

  • Animal waste, such as cow and horse manure as well as sheep pellets
  • Kelp
  • Wood ash added to your compost also improves potash levels.

 

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Fertilising Your Lawn

You should fertilise your lawn in late fall to prepare it for winter or in late winter to get grass to green up quickly come spring. Liquid fertiliser brings the fastest results. Your fertiliser should be high in nitrogen and potassium to give your lawn grass a good start.

Add liquid fertiliser to your watering can and mix with water. Sprinkle it over your grass. You can also use granulated nutrients, but you’ll still need to water your lawn afterward to activate it. Since lawn grass grows best in sweet soil with low acidity, make sure you add lime a few weeks after you’re finished feeding your lawn with fertiliser.

 

In winter, you don’t have as many gardening and lawn chores to complete. However, there are still some necessary things to finish before spring’s arrival in September. If you need a bit of extra help with fertilising, the team at Crewcut will be happy to help this winter. 

 


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The Guide to Tree & Shrub Pruning In Winter
 
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As winter approaches, there are some shrub and tree pruning jobs that are best done during the coldest months of the year. Generally speaking, your deciduous (their leaves drop off in fall) bushes and trees need trimming in the winter. Since deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter, you can see clearly what branches need to go and which ones can stay.

 

However, not all trees and bushes need pruning. To successfully take care of your woody plants in winter requires that you know which ones to trim and which ones to leave alone.

 

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Basically, you can prune trees and shrubs that are deciduous as well as some fruit trees. However, maples and magnolias don’t want to feel your secateurs on their limbs. The only tree pruning you need to do to maples and magnolias is to remove any dead, diseased or insect-infested limbs. If not, heavy winds will lob off those dead branches for you, endangering you and your family.

 

Also, you want to get rid of any diseased or insect-ridden branches on maples and magnolias, so the disease or infestation doesn’t go farther than the injured limb.

 

Further reading for winter garden care

5 landscape ideas to prevent flooding
Getting the garden ready for winter
Dead leaves smothering your lawn this autumn?

 

Selective Pruning

Selective pruning is a form of pruning trees and bushes that respects the tree’s natural shape, but it also allows for air to circulate and sunlight to penetrate these woody plants. However, some homeowners and tree care companies believe in topping trees. Tree topping leaves your trees unbalanced and ugly. Plus, you’ll notice spouts rather than branches growing on the top of the tree.These spouts are fragile limbs that could break off during a severe storm. So, tree topping not hurts the tree, but it also weakens it.

 

Trees: For early spring flowering trees, you want to trim them in late August. Below is a list of deciduous trees, including early bloomers that need winter pruning:

  • Ash
  • Beech
  • Dogwood
  • Eastern ninebark
  • Elm
  • Gingko
  • Locust
  • Smoke tree
  • Oak
  • Tulip
  • Walnut
  • Willow

 

Shrubs: Again, your shrubs benefit from selective pruning too. First you need to remove all dead and diseased limbs. Then you can trim the shrub back to its natural shape. Here are some common bushes to prune over the winter:

  • Abbotswood
  • Buddleia
  • Bush roses
  • Hops
  • Hydrangeas
  • Mock orange
  • Perennial sweet pea
  • Spiraea japonica
  • Summer clematis

 

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Roses

The most popular shrub in Kiwi gardens is the rose. So, it’s only appropriate to talk about the rose’s winter pruning needs. It’s safe to prune most roses over the winter because New Zealand roses bud on new bark rather than old bark. You want to cut above the buds and trim off old, dead or diseased canes. It’s recommended that you prune roses from mid-June through August unless you live in an area that gets very cold. Then you should wait to trim them in August.

 

 

Pruning Fruit Trees

Most fruit trees need pruning in the early spring or fall. And yet, there are two fruit trees as well as two fruit-bearing, woody vines that need winter pruning:

 

1.    Apple and pear trees: These two fruit trees need pruning every winter to ensure a superb crop the following summer. Matter of fact, pears only provide a yield every other year. So, when you correctly prune this tree, you’ll find that it produces an abundant crop of pears in the second season.

 

2.    Grapes and kiwi fruit: Even though grapes and kiwis grow on vines, it’s important to mention them in a shrub and tree trimming article. These fruits need to be pruned back every winter, so they continue to produce plentiful crops. Your goal is to cut back these vines, leaving only three to five buds per plant.

 

Finally, it’s vital to remind you of which fruit trees and woody vines that don’t need winter pruning. If you would trim them this winter, you’d be opening up these plants to disease and freezing temperatures.

  • Almonds
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Chilean guavas
  • Citrus trees
  • Feijoas
  • Figs
  • Nectarines
  • Olives
  • Peaches

 

Your trees and shrubs deserve the best care, and that includes trimming jobs. If you want to avoid the hassle of tree pruning this winter, make sure you hire a professional operator from Crewcut.  Check with your local Crewcut operator to see if they are equipped are trained to properly prune trees and shrubs—preserving the woody plants’ natural shape and taking only off enough to keep them healthy.


CC Group
Getting the Garden Ready for Winter

 

Fall is in the air. Moreover, that means it’s time to clean up your summer garden and prepare it for winter. While the days are getting shorter and the air is a bit crisper, you can still work the soil, creating beautiful landscapes as well as nurturing winter vegetables and herbs.

 

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Keeping Your Gardens Tidy over Winter

As the summer melts into winter, your flower and vegetable beds will start to look tired. Your gardens can get that tidy look back when you

 

 
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When you’re done restoring your winter garden, you want to add a fresh application of mulch. Mulch has many benefits:

  • It keeps moisture in the soil
  • It protects plant roots from extreme cold and heat
  • It keeps weeds at bay
  • It moderates the soil temperature 
  • It provides nutrients as it continues to decay
  • It gives your gardens a tidy appearance.

 

Are you planning on adding hedges to your property this winter? Check out this blog 'How to plant a hedge for privacy'.

 

Getting Ready for Winter Gardening With These Plants

This fall, the first place you want to be is your vegetable garden. It’s time to harvest the remaining summer bounty, cook or preserve it for eating over the wintertime. For example, if you’re having a plentiful tomato harvest, you can add breading and fry up green tomatoes.

You can also oven-roast tomatoes or make them into spaghetti sauce or stewed tomatoes. Your homemade spaghetti sauce and stewed tomatoes freeze well for you to use throughout the winter.

 

If you live in a temperate zone, the following vegetables will grow well in your garden:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kohlrabi
  • Radishes
  • Shallots
  • Spring onions
  • Strawberries.

 

For those of you who live in Northern New Zealand with its sub-tropical or tropical winters, you can plant the following vegetables:

  • Beans
  • Capsicums
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Parsnips 
  • Tomatoes.

 

Of course, there are herbs to add to your garden to make your winter vegetables taste delicious. Here are 10 must-have herbs to add to your vegetable patch:

  1. Bay
  2. Chervil
  3. Coriander
  4. Mizuna
  5. Oregano
  6. Parsley
  7. Rocket
  8. Rosemary
  9. Sage
  10. Thyme

 

Beautiful Flowers to Grace Your Gardens

Flowers give pops of colour and create a palette that brightens your landscapes and lifts you out of the winter doldrums. When you plant flower seeds in the warm soil in early autumn, you’re encouraging those seedlings to develop deep roots. During dry spells, your garden plants’ deep roots help keep the plants alive by finding new moisture stores in the soil.

If you prefer not to deal with seeds, you can visit your local garden centre and buy established seedlings that you only need to transplant into containers or your flower beds.

 

The following flowers make lovely plants for your winter garden:

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  1. Pansies: These flowering plants have beautiful blossoms that come in a wide variety of colours, such as whites, yellows, pinks, purples and black. Here’s an easy gardening trick: When your pansies start to look leggy, trim them back and give them some liquid fertiliser. Your pansies will bounce back in a few weeks with more blooms.
     
  2. Polyanthus: Bold, bright colours will cheer up any winter garden. Polyanthus belongs to the primrose family.
     
  3. Lobelia: These flowers have the corner market on the blues. Lobelia produces sprays of blues, whites, pinks and light purples. Great for garden borders and hanging baskets.
     
  4. Alyssum: This is a hardy flowering plant. Alyssum looks exceptional in between sidewalk cracks, nestled in with spring flowering bulbs and as a border plant. It keeps reseeding itself throughout the winter. Alyssum comes in white, pink, cream, purples, apricot and a whole host of other colours. They also perfume the air with their gentle, baby powder scent.
     
  5. Fairy primrose: Another primrose variety that does well during New Zealand winter months. The fairy primrose grows larger than polyanthus. These primroses look great in a flower bed and containers.
     
  6. Forget-me-nots: Lovely white, blue or pink blossoms cheer up your flowerbeds. These little flowers look great as a border plant. Forget-me-nots will reseed themselves. You’ll want to pull out spent plants from your gardens before they start looking tatty.
     
  7. Violas: These blossoms are cousins to pansies. They’re more like perennials since they keep popping up throughout the winter and early spring. Violas look excellent in borders or containers.

 

There’s something therapeutic about working in a winter garden—whether it’s vegetables or flowers. New Zealand’s climate makes gardening throughout the year enjoyable. Use these final fall months to get your vegetable and flower gardens in order. Then sit back to enjoy the blossoms and delicate scents that waft throughout your beds and borders.
 

If you do require any help in the garden before winter makes its full appearance, the Crewcut team would be more than happy to help! Just contact us on 0800 800 286 or leave us a message in our chat below. 

 


CC Group
5 landscape ideas to prevent flooding
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The end of summer weather hasn’t been too kind to us in little old New Zealand. Experiencing two tropical cyclones in a short space of time, many parts of the country have suffered severe flooding. They say when it rains, it pours, and the past couple of weather patterns have done just that. If you’re fed up with your backyard filling up with water, and the lawn needing a lot more care, then we have a few creative landscape ideas to help you.

 

Identify the problem areas

You will need to observe how water enters your lawn, where the gravity pulls it, and where it ends up. Flooding only happens when the soil can’t absorb any more water, so it may take a few heavy rains for you to see. When the soil can’t drain away any more water it will run to the lowest point in the lawn which will be where the drainage needs to be. 
 

Other signs your backyard is prone to flooding:

  • Pooling of water on the driveway
  • Water stains in the bottom level of your home
  • No roof top gutter system
  • Lawn sloping towards the house

You may find that a bit of water actually trickles in from other parts of your property, like the driveway or downpipes. If this is the case you will need to find a way to divert this extra water. 


 

1. Diverting extra water

If you have no guttering or spouting systems, sure your lawn might be slanting the right way but it will be no match for the roof run off come a few days of rain! Consider installing a few gutters to collect the rain off the roof. 

Diverting downspouts away from your house and lawn in heavy rain will prevent water pooling near your house. The easiest way to do this is by using a downspout extender. These can be easily found at your local hardware store along with an elbow corner pipe. This can be easily attached at the base of the downspout and the water diverted away from the house into dry areas, or into any drains. 

Remember to check and clear blockages in your downspout extender prior to heavy rain to prevent overflowing. Just make sure you don’t divert your drain towards your neighbours or  somewhere else it will become a problem. 


 

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2. French drain

A french drain is an ideal way to control excess water without be too much of an eyesore. It works like an underground creek, a drainpipe below the soil that diverts water to areas that are dry. French drains are ideal to be constructed where the water is pooling, around gutters, garden beds or uneven driveways. There are so many ways to create these french drains, so here is the basic guide so you know what labour is involved, and if it would be an option for you:
 

  • Get all the necessary materials (pipe/gravel/plastic) for the method you choose. 
  • Dig the trench to fit the pipe leading towards the space you want to divert excess water.
  • Line the trench with plastic or gravel.
  • Fit the pipe to the trench.
  • Fit the entry point for water, whether it be stones or a drain like top. 
  • Test it!
  • Cover the trench with stones/soil or grass. 

 

There are professionals that are experienced in french drainage, so have a look into those options if you are not so keen to start hacking away at your lawn. A DIY french drain can be done easily enough, just make sure you check with your council as to whether you are allowed to dig or not. There are so many ways you could construct your drain all using different materials. 


 

3. Rain garden

If you have a spot in your lawn constantly taking on a bit of water - this could be the simple solution for you. 

  • Select a spot on your property where water will run into it and plan out an appropriate shape for your rain garden. 
     
  • Plan out the shape of your rain garden and research some native plants, flowers and grasses that do well with large amounts of water. Plan to plant the ones needing a more drier climate on the outer edge. 
     
  • Dig up the turf of your grass at least 20cm deep. Create a berm on the edge as a border and remember to add an overflow, a break in the berm where excess water can flow through. 
     
  • Plant the grasses and natives and add a heavy mulch a few inches thick that won’t blow away. Feel free to add stones or other grasses on the outer edges. 


 

4. Swales

If water is running down your driveway, or down any hills in your property - this may be the answer for you. The basic function of a swale is to redirect water to other places, and soak into the soil along the way. So it is perfect to incorporate where there will be lots of water hitting as it can delay and soak up the water running to the bottom of any gradients. You might have seen these on large hills, or farms looking like a staircase. It prevents the water from rushing to the bottom and creating gullies - and from taking all the nutritious top soil with it. 


All you need to do is dig a long shallow trench along the contour of the land, and the water will flow where directed, spreading out the impact of the water. Swales can definitely be incorporated into your residential home by yourself, or if the job might be a bit bigger, consulting a landscaping professional is a good idea.  

 

The process:

  • Locate the water run off areas, where it rushes to as that will be where you need to prevent it from going to as quickly. 
  • Locate were you could dig the trench to direct the water, maybe a rain garden, drain or other part of lawn. 
  • Dig a trench 25cm deep or more along the contour of land, and adjust the width to your preference. 
  • Place the excess soil on the side of the berm, downward hill side. 
  • If building multiple swales, have an overflow spout running between them. Lastly, plant grass or plants on the berm to hold in place. 


 

5. Kit out your backyard

A key part of preventing flooding is preparing for bad weather to come. You can do this by:
 

  • Using heavier mulch on plants so that it that won’t float away come some rain. 
  • Planting more water loving grasses and plants in areas that take on water. 
  • Using rain barrels under spouting to collect water in heavy rain. These can then be used after wild weather. 

 

 

So there we have five ways you can prevent your lawn and garden flooding. Get creative and give it a go! Many of these methods can be done yourself, and now is the perfect time before winter sets in. Remember to do a few more preparations for wet weather and keep up with your lawn mowing even in winter. You could even consider working together if a few neighbouring properties are in the same boat with flooding issues. 


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How to Plant a Hedge for Privacy
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So, you decided that you want some privacy to drown out traffic noise, nosey neighbours or to create some green space.

You don’t want to build a wall or a fence that doesn’t give you the privacy you want. Additionally, you want to add greenery that will add depth and dimension to your garden.

So, what is the answer?

Hedging plants.

A hedge that grows densely will keep out noise and prying eyes. And yet, it’s something that adds texture, colour and a home to local birds and insects. Growing a hedge is a great alternative to building a fence.

 

Picking Out the Right Shrubs

Before you can plant, you need to purchase the right shrubs for the spot where you want to plant them. You also need to know how high your woody plant will be—and if it creates the privacy you desire.

For example, how high do you want your hedge to grow—2m or 4m? To envision how high a plant will be, have someone stand on a ladder to give you a visual of that height. Some hedging plants, like photinia, grow up to 2m while michelia figo can grow up to 4m.

Then, you need to decide if you want a hedging plant that flowers or one that is an evergreen. Fortunately, you have a lot of varieties and species to choose from to create the perfect privacy hedge.

 

Six Popular Hedging Plants

Here are our six favourite hedging plants that reduce noise, create privacy and add to your garden’s greenery:

 
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1. Bamboo: Do you want to add a song to your garden? Then you need bamboo. It’s fast-growing and a popular privacy screen. When the trees sway in the wind, they sound like they’re singing.

 

 

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2. Camellia: Which variety gives you a living privacy screen—japonica and sasanqua? The sasanqua is the faster growing of the two types. The sasanqua has small leaves and a higher sun tolerance compared to its japonica cousin. Plus, it provides beautiful blossoms in autumn.

 

 

 
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3. Griselinia: A New Zealand native, the kapuka (another name for griselinia) is an evergreen hedging plant that does well in drought and coastal conditions. It also attracts bird to its berries.

 

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4. Michelia figo: The michelia figo is part of the magnolia family. It’s an evergreen that produces fragrant blossoms. It works well as a privacy screen due to its density.

 

 

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5. Photinia: The vibrant red leaves look brilliant as a hedge in your garden. This hedging plant also produces blossoms.

 

 

6. Monkey apple: A New Zealand native, the monkey apple, is also called lilly willy. It’s a popular evergreen with many varieties available. New growth has red or bronze tips

 

 

How to Plant Your Natural Privacy Screen

Now that you know what kind of hedge you’re going to buy, it’s time to plant it. You can plant each hedge in individual holes or a trench. It’s better to plant them in a trench, but you’ll need to keep them well-irrigated and fertilised.

 

Here are five steps to planting your natural privacy screen:

1. Preparing soil
For your hedging plants to succeed, you need to first prepare your soil. For example, you want loose soil so roots can anchor and water can percolate deep in the ground. So, if you have heavy clay soils, you need to work it to make it loamier. Likewise, if you have sandy soil, you need to add compost or organic material to it for better water retention.
 

2. Spacing between plants
How much space do you need between plants? It depends on your hedge variety and how dense you want it. Generally speaking, if you’re planting a 2m plant, you want to space the plants 1m apart.
 

3. Don’t mess with the roots
It’s tempting to comb out the roots of your new plants, but don’t do it. You can kill your new hedges.
 

4. Don’t forget to fertilise
 When you’re finished installing your hedges, feed them fertiliser, so they get a good start growing a deep root system. Plus, cover them and then add mulch to protect the roots as well as to keep the soil temperature even.
 

5. Make sure you water your new plants 
After you finish planting your hedges, you must water them immediately. And they need a good soaking, up to 3-5 cm of water. You also need to continue watering your plants every day for the next two to three days, then cut back to two days a week, and finally to one day a week. Of course, this routine is based on your region, including the season, weather conditions and soil type. Your goal is to keep the soil moist.

 

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Maintaining Your Hedges

After your hedges get established, their maintenance is pretty simple:

  1. Regularly fertilise them
  2. Get a hedge trim about twice a year. 

 

Your local garden centre can help you pick the right fertiliser to use. Each hedging plant has different fertilising needs. So make sure you follow the package directions. For pruning, it’s essential that you properly trim your hedges to respect the plant’s natural shape. But there is also more to it than a hedge trim every now and then. You also need to make sure that light and oxygen can get into the centre of each plant.

 

To save you time and aggravation, you want to hire a professional hedge trimming company to keep your privacy screen growing densely and beautifully. At Crewcut, our hedge trimming crews will bring new life to your natural privacy screens to protect you from wind, nosey neighbours and noise pollution.

 

If your natural screens need pruning, you can contact us by clicking the buttons below


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Dead leaves smothering your lawn this Autumn?
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If you’ve been to your local park lately, you may have noticed something different – and I’m not talking about rubbish bins full of empties left behind by cricket fans. It’s the influx of greenkeepers and lawn mowing council staff trying to do something about the state of the grass after a crazy summer of droughts and cyclones.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that your lawn at home isn’t in much better shape. When out lawn mowing and gardening, Crewcut contractors up and down the country have encountered lawns that are madly overgrown in some areas and sun burned yellow in others.

 

So, what can you do to rectify the ravages of summer, protect your lawn from Autumn weather and get your lawn in tip top condition ahead of winter?

 

Crewcut’s operations manager Pauli Horgan says that as the days get shorter and wetter, it’s a good idea to keep grass long so that it can soak up some rays, and to do your lawn a favour by letting air in to dry it out. He says a trap for young players is to cut off long summer lawn in one fell swoop at the end of the season. 

“Cutting off the long blades will leave the earth exposed and open to root burn when the ground gets cold.” 

This makes sense – imagine if you were enjoying a late summer nap outside when someone simultaneously turned off the sun and stole your clothes. It would be a horrible shock to the system.

 

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Exfoliate

Get yourself a stiff rake and go over any dry patches, to weed out the dead grass. Grass needs mowing less over Autumn because of the weakening sun but it does need to convert all the energy it does get into growth – there’s none to spare for dead weight. Pauli advises grooming and caring for the lawn to ready it for winter hibernation. Depending on where in the country you live, you will have to watch out for sogginess, frost and suffocation. The last applies to lawns nationwide, so don’t put that rake away even if you’re not doing any lawn mowing.

 

He says that Autumn leaves aren’t just a pain and an eyesore, they can kill: 

“You need to keep all leaves removed or your lawn is being smothered, the fallen leaves are choking the grass growth.” 

So even if your lawn mowing schedule drops back to two or three weekly, keeping on top of garden clearing is just as important to the health and appearance of your lawn. Blowing and raking leaves off the lawn also removes dead grass and gives your lawn maximum exposure to the sun. (And who doesn’t love having some fun with the leaf blower? Just make sure you herd the leaves into a green bag). 
 

Aerate

From Northland to Southland, no part of the country is now immune to extreme weather and its likely many of you will have a bog at your back door at some stage over the next few months. Aeration is the practice of jabbing short narrow holes into the soil that provide channels for the air, fertiliser, rain and water to get through. This applies to water that might otherwise run off and not be absorbed into the ground, particularly if you have clay soil, advises Pauli. Rather than have your daughter’s rugby team go hell for leather on your turf, call your local Crewcut team. They are less busy with lawn mowing over the cooler months and happy to help with any gardening advice.

 

Further reading for Autumn gardening:
- All about Autumn pruning
- Autumn gardening tips
- There's more to hedges than trimming

 

Nourish

The lawn is going to need feeding ahead of the barren winter months and Pauli is a big proponent of including fertilising in his Autumn lawn mowing regime. The solution he advocates is a simple yet sustainable one. 

“Mulching clippings into the soil is ideal at this time of year to enrich the earth. Make sure you use a mulching lawn mower, not just a catcher mower with the catcher removed – this will just leave clumps that will smother and kill the grass.”

 

Purify

A new unauthorised biography of Prince Charles claims he has four gardeners who “lie flat, face down, on a trailer pulled by a slow-moving Land Rover” to hand pluck weeds, because of our future king's hatred of pesticides. If you too dislike pesticides but are on a lower budget, your lawn will love to be rid of energy sapping, eyesore weeds that you could pull yourself or call in a Crewcut gardener. 

It’s quite likely that you’ll also need to do some patching. Ensure you get the correct seed by taking a photograph of your lawn to the garden shop and asking an expert. Do not plant just before heavy rain (wash away) and do sprinkle top soil over the top and water daily for the first two or three weeks.

 

So, while serious lawn mowing takes a back seat from now until Spring, lawn maintenance is more important now than ever. After all, it’s when one’s vulnerable that one needs TLC and your lawn will need to be in its best possible health to face a hostile Winter and emerge strong again in Spring. Try not to forget about your lawn during those cold dark weeks ahead when you see it less and less, because it is suffering out there! Ultimately, grass is a plant and like any other it needs love and attention.

 


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Garden TipsCC Group
All about Autumn pruning
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Autumn in the garden can be a dismal time. The food supply is dwindling, the lawn is soggy and when you gaze upon your domestic forest you’re faced with the full trifecta. There's summer overgrowth, a shaggy orchard and the resident maple dropping its leaves in the guttering.

Tree pruning is necessary to keep nature in check and ensure the garden is a safe place. Untamed or diseased trees will not only fail to flourish or bear good fruit, they can be a real health hazard to humans. Branches that are overgrown or weakened by disease can take an eye out or crush a person. Remember to be sensible and call in the experts if a tree pruning job is too big.

 

Cut don’t kill!

It’s vital that no diseases develop as a result of your tree pruning efforts. If your tree develops a disease it could die, which is devastating if it’s a fruit tree that has only just started to bear after years of nurturing. To minimise the chance of spreading infection and to ensure you give your tree the best shot at post-surgical recovery:

  • Clean/sterilise equipment so you don’t transfer bacteria between plants
  • Prune on an angle so water doesn’t pool in the cuts (use pruning paste if you wish)
  • Prune on a dry day so cuts heal quickly
  • Cut away all dead, dying and diseased wood

 

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Flowering trees

Don’t be shy about cutting back your dried out dead hydrangeas now: leaves, stalks and all. They will bounce back with new growth next spring. 

Trim into shape sun-loving shrubs that prefer to hibernate over winter and won’t fancy their snooze being disturbed by a nasty haircut. This includes lavender and rosemary. Deadhead your roses but wait until winter before you do any pruning – any new growth will suffer in the winter cold. (However, if you live in the north and your climbing rose has exhibited runaway growth due to the hot wet summer, wait for flowering to finish and then you go for it!).  

With all flowering trees and shrubs, remember to cut at least 2cm-3cm above new bud growth, in a downward direction away from the new bud.

 

 

 

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Climbers

The long, hot, wet summer means the Crewcut gardening team has been overwhelmed with demand for a garden tidy up service. Jasmine, wisteria and other climbers are running riot, canes sprawling over the deck, garden and into the vegetable patch. In a couple of months deciduous vine leaves will be falling too fast for you to sweep up, so now is a great time for pruning trees that should be thinned out.

 

 

Fruit trees

Berry bushes – once finished, thin out to ensure bumper crops next season. Use secateurs to maintain control when you prune back tendrils to encourage fresh growth in spring. Remove spent branches, dead wood and unproductive ‘traffic’ clogging the main highways. When your stonefruit have finished bearing, it’s safe to pick up your loppers and start tree pruning. There are several things to consider before you start. First, the age of the tree – just like people, it’s best to shape trees from infancy. So, if you want to block the view of an ugly telephone pole, leave the central leader (trunk) and prune the lower branches.

Prefer a low, spreading lemon tree that’s easy to harvest for cocktails? Remove the central leader to encourage sideways spread. This will form the tree’s future shape. Remember – you want the tree to put its energy into producing fruit, not sustaining extraneous growth, so don’t be shy about pruning away branches that are crowding the party. Tree pruning is trickier with saplings, but you must try to envision the future shape of the tree and imagine what it will look like with branches full grown. You don’t want to cut off a branch at the base if it will leave an ugly gaping hole in the eventual shape of the tree.

 

Hairy hedges

There are some extraordinary hedges about at present – solid dark green boxes with metre-long pea green shoots waving wildly from the top. Crewcut has dedicated and experienced hedge trimmers but if you’re going to tackle these yourself, remember to put safety first. A stable ladder and preferably a second pair of hands to pass you equipment and keep the ladder steady. Check the underside of your ladder’s feet for the state of the grip – it may need new rubber shoes. Don’t overstretch, get down regularly to move the ladder or set up a trestle. If you’ve a super thick yew, you might be tempted to walk and cut at the same time but this will likely result in a sprained ankle.

 

 

Dead trees are deadly

Every winter, the country is subjected to increasingly violent weather events, resulting in loss of property and occasionally life. In January, a Rotorua woman died when a tree fell on her car and earlier this month in the Northeastern United States five people, aged six to 77, were killed by falling branches and trees during a two-day storm. Five people in one storm killed by trees!  

 

We can’t stress enough the need to ensure the safety of your family, property and passing pedestrians and motorists. Make tree pruning a priority before winter. Take a good look at each tree and if in doubt, have an expert come and assess your property for anything that might pose a safety hazard should a big storm hit. It’s better to be safe than sorry so take it out or lop it off. Two children in the US were actually inside their homes when trees fell through the walls. Trees near the street and out on the berm should also be inspected for signs of rot and your local council notified if necessary. The hot, wet spells in summer that give us wonderful vegetable harvests have the flipside of fostering rot and disease. In the past, nature evolved together with the weather. Now, climate change has thrown it out of kilter and it’s struggling to establish its defences.

Finally, before you go outside, remember the first rule of tree pruning – safety first. Protect yourself against falls, cuts and eye injuries and call on your Crewcut team for advice or assistance any time. 


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Hedge TipsCC Group
Autumn Gardening Tips

The onset of cooler temperatures is the opening of a starting gate for gardeners champing at the bit indoors, clutching their forks and trowels. Previously limited to moonlit watering, they let loose attacking the weeds and bugs and carry everywhere their lists of tasks and plans.

At this time of year there is plenty of vegetable gardening to do, but not much in the way of instant reward. Most Autumn gardening involves either cleaning up after the last harvest of summer or tending winter seedlings that won’t deliver for the table for weeks or months. In between is a great deal of weeding and lugging about of compost. You can get a lot of fun from planning your winter garden, sketching it out on paper, trying new varieties of vegetable and deciding which to sow in the greenhouse and which to plant straight from seedlings bought from the garden centre. 

A greenhouse can be just a two-shelf number with a plastic cover from the hardware shop. Growing your own seeds is very satisfying – just remember that one seed sometimes means one vegetable (broccoli) and sometimes one plant (beans) and sow accordingly! Seedlings also make great gifts.

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  • Remember to wear gloves and a mask when opening bags of bought potting mix, because of risk of legionnaire’s disease. Airborne bacteria from the soil can cause lung infection.
  • Stock up on neem oil, a natural solution to battling most bugs that love your vegetables.
  • Downy mildew is a fungus that develops on the underside of the large leaves of cauliflower, broccoli and many other vegetables. It loves humidity – and loves Auckland! Most gardening suppliers have a product to combat it, you might even be able to find gardeners in Auckland to help you out.

Prepare the soil

On a sunny day, go through your garden and pull out all dead vegetable plants and any that have gone to seed or bolted. Weed your beds and add compost. Practise green gardening by recycling - stakes and ties pass seasonally between tomatoes and beans, and 1.5l transparent plastic bottles (with labels and ends removed) encourage both celery and leeks to grow strong and tall. If you plan to give up vegetable gardening until salad days return (not unwise given how cheap winter vegetables are), then it’s tempting not to weed it at all. Cover the garden in newspaper (weigh it down) to choke weed growth and unveil at the end of winter.

Much of vegetable gardening success comes down to composting and Autumn is the best time to get a new system started so it has time to decompose before it’s needed in early Spring. Once your household gets into the groove, composting becomes a way of life, plus it saves on rubbish collection fees. The best bin is the type with drawers at the bottom for easy access to the good stuff while you keep loading the goodies in the top. Keep the mix wet with the odd feeding from the hose and of course, throw in those grass clippings. If your garden is low on soil, then an all-purpose garden mix (and compost if you’re short) will bring the garden back to life again.

Auckland Council is encouraging Aucklanders to reduce food waste and is offering free workshops, online tutorials and discounts on worm farms, compost bins and bokashi systems – find out more here. There’s even a food scraps/compost matching service, kind of Tinder for fertiliser?

While you’re in the vegetable garden, check on the health of your herbs. Basil won’t be happy about the cooler weather, so bring him inside. Likewise, any houseplants that have been holidaying in the sun – peace lilies should come back in now and any tropical pot plants.

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Bulbalicious

Not all autumn gardening is dull! Here at Crewcut, we love bulbs because they’re hardy, self-sufficient and they set off a lawn to perfection. It’s wonderful after a grim winter to suddenly see the first merry daffodil faces, followed by beautiful tulips, elegant irises and cruisy colourful freesias. Planning this display is masses of fun and helps take the edge off the upcoming cold season. Some bulbs are high maintenance, so if time-consuming gardening maintenance isn’t your thing, best avoid hyacinths.

Try framing the sunny end of your lawn with masses of daffodils or clumps of tulips, set little crocuses in and around a rockery or along a path. Many freesias have a beautiful smell (check the pack) so plant near the house or in a patio pot. Garden centres are always well-stocked with bulbs, or order online from a nursery for more variety. New Zealand has several excellent, reliable bulb nurseries.

Remember – when the flowering is over, wait until the leaves have died before disturbing the plant. The leaves are still collecting energy from the sun and storing it in the bulb for next year’s growth. Depending on the type of bulb, you can dig it up for storing in a dry place, or in some cases (daffodils, crocuses, freesias) leave bulbs in the ground to naturalise (wait for the leaves to brown before snipping off).

  • Summer bulbs aren’t planted until spring – these include dahlias, begonias and gladioli.
  • The pointy end is the stem and the messy, rough side is the root system. Plant pointy side up.

Gardening Maintenance tips

  • Check fastenings on plants and trees such as beans and climbing roses. Make sure ties aren’t too tight or in a position that will hinder new lateral growth.
  • Newly planted saplings, including hedges, will need support against strong winter winds so choose a stake size accordingly.
  • If your deck or front steps are mossy, get them water blasted so they don’t become a slippery health hazard over winter. Do this now rather than waiting to do it in the cold and rain.
  • Clear your section of junk (broken kids’ Christmas presents) and take it to the local recycling centre (tip). Spending all winter watching it rust on the lawn is just depressing on several levels.
  • An exceptionally long, hot, wet summer has resulted in triffid-like tendrils all over the place and we’ve been inundated by SOS calls from hedge owners. There’s a lot of pruning that you can do with your secateurs to keep things tidy and in check. Look out for upcoming articles here for pruning advice.

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There's More To Hedges Than Trimming

One of our valuable Crewcut customers wrote us this piece while looking for help with their hedges

 


The hedge is nature and human working together to create the ideal wall – easy, cheap and environmentally friendly. With ongoing care, it can also be beautiful. But what else can be done aside from hedge trimming to give you the best hedge on the street? North Shore Crewcut operator, Larry, says that when it comes to ongoing care, there is no ‘best’ tree species for a hedge.


“It really comes down to personal choice. If thought is put into the planting of the trees, then the hedge can be kept looking good through regular maintenance.”


If you want a low maintenance hedge, he suggests buxus as a good choice and says that, along with acmena and pittosporum, it’s very popular with Kiwis.

 

It’s all about the base

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Planting has a big effect on how easy the hedge is to control in the future. Larry says that foresight is crucial. “You have to plant for how things are going to look in the future.”
Consider your needs are before you choose the trees. I wanted a fast-growing hedge to screen out the neighbour’s wall and I wanted a tree with light foliage that would be easy to prune and would not block out the light. Attractiveness was important because the hedge is near our front door and finally, my partner had insisted on a native. After much enjoyable research I chose pittosporum tenuifolium Wrinkle Blue, with a height after 5 years of three metres, although I’ll be keeping it at about two.

 I dug a trench rather than individual holes so that I could play with the distance spacings marked on a piece of string (also, it was a lot easier on the back!). This method meant I could lay fertiliser along the trench to be reached by future root growth, rather than just under the root ball. Because of the proximity of the wall I tossed in some small bits of scoria for drainage and scattered sheep pellets and fresh compost on top. Early and continual pruning of the branches at the back ensures the hedge won’t become congested against the wall.

 

 

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Too close for comfort

Surprisingly, Larry says that many hedges aren’t the result of meticulous planning but of overeager gardeners. “The main thing people do wrong is they plant things for how they look now, so they plant trees too close together and end up with a hedge.”

This strategy will be difficult to keep looking tidy if the trees have different growth rates and characteristics, however it can make for an interesting effect. I am actively hoping to incorporate an existing camellia into my new hedge. It’s at the end of the hedge line – I doubt it would have survived in a more central position.

 

 

Flower bank

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Camellia hedges are very popular, with sasanqua and hybrids the best for hedging (I have a japonica Roger Hall and it’s quite woody, with slow, straggly growth). “If It’s a flowering hedge then the best time to trim depends on when the hedge comes into flower,” says Larry. Sasanqua are winter bloomers, so early Spring is the time to get out the shears or call in a hedge trimming professional before the hedge launches into its annual growth spurt. Water well because they have shallow roots but since they are also prone to root rot from waterlogging, mulching is especially important. (If you’re a camellia fan, make a seasonal visit to the impressive forest at the Auckland Botanic Gardens).

 

Let the light in

Larry says that when you trim your hedge depends on its growth stage and the type of tree. “Some people like to trim it in spring because it will grow faster.”
If your hedge is difficult to control, trim the trees twice yearly, in early spring and late summer. I keep a garden diary and it’s invaluable. Over winter, make a note of whereabouts your house becomes dark and gloomy due to lost light and which parts of the garden are dampest and sunless. Are they shaded by a wall of greenery? If so, you may wish to significantly cut back hedging in spring.  Likewise, if you are planning to plant a hedge later this year, make a note of where your house gets its winter sun and don’t plant where it will be blocked. You’ll be glad you have the information.

 

Don’t leave it too late

Although common advice is to prune deciduous hedges in winter when the trees are dormant, I detest gathering fallen leaves, so I trim in early Autumn. This isn’t limited to hedges – we have a leaf blower just to cope with the wisteria. A single morning spent carrying branches and green clippings to the garden bag is preferable to the misery of raking up leaves all Autumn. You know it makes sense.

 

Taming the hedge hog

Have an enormous hedge, inherited from a previous owner? The kind that as a kid you had great fun making huts inside? Rampant real estate inflation has dramatically increased the cost per metre of property, but you can regain some of your precious section by cutting back heavily. We cut back our monster laurel hedge and salvaged enough space for a bike shed.

However, it’s not your own hedge that is giving you trouble but the behemoth encroaching from next door, don’t get out the chainsaw as a first response. Asked what should be done if the neighbours’ hedge is a problem, expert Larry says, “Personally, I’d go and talk to them about it.”

 


If you're looking for someone to look after your hedges this coming Autumn, be sure to leave it to the professionals. Contact Crewcut for your free, no obligation quote on 0800 800 286


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How to stop your dog destroying the garden
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Nothing brings a tear to your eye quicker than seeing your freshly planted garden trampled, or your neatly mowed lawns sporting fresh new holes. While your garden and lawns may have been your pride and joy, your dog evidently wasn’t happy with them and felt they needed some minor alterations.

 

If you’re inclined to disagree, it’s time to take action. While a stern word and a sit-down chat aren’t going to stop that troublesome behaviour, some of these tips below might.

 

 

Supervise Their Yard Visits

Rather than leave your furry friend to their own devices in your backyard, why not take the time to go with them? The less time they spend on their own, the less likely they are to resort to destructive behaviour that requires a significant clean-up job. While dogs love being outside, they do have relatively short attention spans. Therefore, that fluffy tennis ball begins to look far less appealing than your gorgeous flower bed that’s lacking a bit of trampling courtesy of Rover.

 

Take the time to play tug of war, throw a frisbee, play a game of fetch, anything that both stimulates your dog and stops it from adding new and unappreciated focal points in your yard.

 

Utilise Fencing

To protect your prized peonies from your destructive dog, it might be worth investing in fencing that acts as a deterrent. While the fencing doesn’t have to be six feet high, serving as a barricade, it can be a way in which to show your dog their intrusion into this area is not appreciated. Whether you had a gardener complete the work or you did it yourself, any method of protection is going to save you both money and time in the long run.

 

Distract Them

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Dogs require constant distraction, and you’ll soon learn what happens when you don’t. That’s when holes are dug in your freshly seeded lawns, and when garden beds become flattened. While you can hire experts to fix the problem, isn’t it best to avoid it in the first place?  To distract a dog from causing havoc in your yard, be sure to exercise them every day.

 

In most cases, a brisk stroll around the block won’t do. Trips to the dog park, ball games, and beach adventures are all valid ways in which to tucker out your pup and stop that destructive behaviour. After all, it’s not a naughty dog that sets out to trample the tulips; it’s a bored one.

 

Try Home Remedies

If emotions are running high because your previously immaculate lawn is looking like a battlefield, it’s time to try absolutely everything. If exercise, distraction, and fencing are not enough to stop your pup, then maybe home remedies are. Dogs are not fond of the smell of white vinegar. Therefore, you can use this dislike to your advantage. In your dog’s “hot zones” – the areas in which they tend to flex their destructive muscles, spray the area with vinegar.

 

Alternatively, cayenne pepper is equally as beneficial if your pup tends to dig in the same spots over and over again. A smattering of cayenne pepper from your spice rack can often be enough to have them opting for “tamer” hobbies such as chew toys.

 

Create Their Own Space

While there’s no denying that man’s best friend loves to roll around in the grass and enjoy the fresh air, they might not have enough stimulation in that space to keep them entertained for hours on end. So, instead, they make their own fun at the expensive of your beautiful gardens and lawns. 

If you find that stress, anxiety, or separation is not the cause of your dog’s destructive behaviour, but boredom is, then creating their own area in the backyard can help to at least partly solve the problem. Offer plenty of toys to play with and chew, or even tunnels to run through if they’re agile and active pups.

To create a space just for them, you may like to take it one step further and attach them to a proximity lead. This lead system is a stake installed in the ground with a wire that’s available in various lengths. While your dog can still run around and enjoy themselves, they may be just that little bit too restricted to gain access to your gardens. Just remember that dogs are social creatures and alone time should be kept to a minimum.

 

Your dog doesn’t set out to be naughty, even if it seems that way. However, even being compassionate to your dog’s anxiety, stress, or boredom doesn’t fix your now trampled lettuces. If you’re getting ready to contact the experts to recreate your garden or mow your lawns, then there’s no time like the present to begin altering that destructive behaviour.

 


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Grow your own Avocados
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Who doesn’t love a good avocado these days. Smeared on a bagel with a drizzle of olive oil and crumbles of feta. Mmmmmm. But who loves paying $5 for one? Not us.
So why don’t you try growing your own avocado tree and never run out of one of the most popular green delicacies? Many of our franchisees enjoy running their own avocado orchards when they’re not behind the mower. (YouTube link here) 

So here we have created your easy, how-to-guide for growing your own avo tree.

  1. When you next eat an avocado, keep a hold of the big seed inside. Wash it and then pierce it with 3 toothpicks evenly around the seed. 
  2. Fill a glass with water. Next place the avocado on top of the glass so that half of the seed is in water, and the other half above water (this is where those toothpicks work well).
  3. Now place this glass in a warm area that’s out of direct sunlight.
  4. The next stage is waiting. Generally roots and a stem start showing in about 2-6 weeks. When the stem reaches 6-7 inches long, cut it back to 3 inches.
  5. When the steam gains leaves again and the roots are fairly thick, you should be able to plant in rich soil, with half the seed exposed. 
  6. Make sure to continue watering, but don’t let it drown! Keep it in some sunlight and the plant should be forever happy.
  7. When the stem grows to 12 inches, cut it back to half this height as this will encourage new shoots to grow. 

When the avocado sapling is a bit big for the pot, it will be able to go into the ground. Place it in good sunlight - avocados love sunbathing as an adult just like us.  You won’t need to dig too deep a hole as the avocado plant is shallow-rooted. 

All things aside, it does take a few years to see any of those green delights. If you grow from a seed, it can take anywhere from 5-13 years before the plant is able to produce avocados. It might seem like a long haul, but once they reach 5 years old, they can produce around 200-300 avocados….that’s about $1000-$1500 in today’s market! 

And if you don’t end up wanting the avocados after all? They make a great side-of-the-road sale, especially in summer!

Avocados are definitely in fashion, and they will be for a long time to come. So get the shovel out and start making your own avocado plantation! 


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Mulching Tips
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Mulching is essentially any type of material that covers soil and prevents weeds, frostbite and loss of moisture. It’s something not every home owner knows about but is beneficial to the health of your garden and plants. It can come in the form of bark, grass clippings, newspaper or shredded leaves. We have gone into a bit more detail to explain how mulching can benefit your garden. 

Grass clippings - this type of mulching is great for suppressing weeds. However as grass has a high water content, it can decompose fairly quickly. This is a simple addition your Crewcut operator could offer you after cutting your lawn. 

Newspaper - this type of mulching is becoming increasingly popular. Layered newspaper sheets are effective for moisture retention and are also good at suppressing weeds. Spread 4-8 sheets of newspaper around the plants you want to mulch near, and moisten the sheets so they don’t blow away. 

Bark - this type of mulching is best used around trees, garden beds and shrubs. They don’t however mix well with soil so they can be hard to shift around when you want to create space for new plants. Bark is the most long lasting of all the mulches, which is why it is commonly used. 

Shredded leaves - this is natures most favourite mulch as they can be used anywhere in the garden. It’s a big advert for earth worms which will really help with your soil. 

One of the questions we get is: "Should you mulch during the winter?" To which the simple answer is - Yes! Mulching helps to protect the plants from frostbite and from completely freezing which can damage the plant’s roots. It’s important to get in the mulching before the spring season when there’s a surge of rapid growth. 

You only need to place down a few inches as mulch will eventually decompose and will need to be replaced. Our friendly operators would be more than happy to help out here. Next time your operator is in, ask if they would be able to add this to your regular garden service. Trust us, your plants will thank you for it.


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Keeping Cats Out Of Your Garden
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We’ll let the cat out of the bag, nobody wants their beautiful garden turning into a neighbourhood litter box. Cat urine is extremely harmful to plants, and aside from this, it smells pretty bad too. Unfortunately male cats do this to claim their territory and to let female cats know they’re in the area. You could shoo them off every 10 minutes, but there are far less exhausting methods to keep those cats in their own gardens. Some ideas include:

Motion activated sprinklers

This kind of sprinkler is only activated when a cat comes nearby. The unexpected burst of water is enough to make the cat run for the hills and not return. It’s in no way harmful to the cat, just a bit unpleasant. 

Chicken wire fencing

If you’re growing a bit of a veggie patch, the best way to keep those paws out is with chicken wire fencing. The texture of this will keep cats away as it’s quite uncomfortable to sit on. 

Pine cones

Cats don’t like the feeling of pine cones, so try spreading these around some of those toilet hot spots. 

Citrus and coffee grounds

An easy way is using strong scents. Cats don't like these smells. But be sure not to put the citrus and coffee grounds ON your plants, just around the area. 

A cat’s ‘present’ in your garden isn’t generally appreciated, so try these handy tips to keep your garden feline-free. 


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The NOT so marvellous mushroom

Are you battling with Mushrooms or Fungi in your garden with all the wet weather?

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If you’re noticing mushrooms popping up on your lawn and roadsides you are not alone. It means that autumn is in full swing, the prime time for fungal growth. Fungi grow quickly in wet weather that occurs right after a dry spell, so New Zealand should be covered in them this Autumn. 
 

There are over 7,500 types of fungi identified in New Zealand, and more to be discovered. They can be found in moist soil, wood and compost. They grow plentifully on dead tree trunks or branches in low lying forestry. One of the most distinct mushrooms are the Werewerekōkako, which even features on our $50 note, a bright blue fungi. 
 

However not all mushrooms are for foodies, these unique plants can often be unsafe to eat which can be a bit of a worry if you you have curious pets or children. Mushrooms can also be an eyesore on your pristine lawn, but how do you stop them growing?
 

Mushroom removal

Fungal disease on your lawns increases when the grass is stressed. This could be from droughts, poor drainage, low soil fertility and low cutting. If you have tried pulling out or mowing over your mushrooms, but still they keep coming back, try this old method.

 

Epsom salts are all you need! The Epsom salts will balance the pH of your soil to help get rid of them. 

 

Method

  1. Grab a 5 litre watering can and fill with water.
  2. Put 60g of Epsom salts and stir in.
  3. Pour over the affected area.

 

Epsom salt is safe to use and won’t burn your grass. It is a great fertiliser as it contains magnesium which helps plants absorb nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur which are the main ingredients to a green lush lawn! You can expect a few to pop up in your garden over the winter period - so remembering this handy tip will keep them at bay.


 

Can I eat the mushrooms in my backyard?

Mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins and minerals such as selenium and zinc, plus protein,  some species are recognised for their benefits to health and disease prevention. With so many types of mushrooms out there, we don't recommend picking anything you aren't sure is safe to eat.
 

Field mushrooms are commonly found in NZ bush and are safe to eat. However the differences between a deadly and edible mushroom can be so minor, it is not safe to eat anything that hasn’t been identified by a professional. 
 

Rules for fungi eating:

  • Never eat unidentified fungi - some can be deadly, and it is better to be safe that sorry.
  • Eat new mushrooms in moderation, try a small amount and wait a few hours, keep some of the fungi aside to determine what they are in case you get some ill effects after consuming.
  • Don’t mix fungi together - unless you have eaten them before.
  • Cooking, heating and salting do not destroy poisons inside the mushrooms. Doing this will not ensure any safety for unidentified mushrooms.
     

Common NZ Mushrooms

-       Wood ear mushroom, virtually stemless and frill-less these mushrooms are often found on tree trunks in clusters. Still used today commonly in Chinese dishes, these mushrooms are crispy, but fairly flavourless and take on flavour within the dish.
 

-       Puffballs, you have most likely seen these mushroom varieties at one time or another. These species are pure white on the inside which later turns to spores and air. Spores are released with the help of an animal, or human who can’t resist smushing or kicking it, and are spread around with wind. Many puffballs are safe to eat, as long as the inside is white. Some giant puffballs found in NZ have grown to extreme sizes and they are often mistaken for sheep!

 

Puffballs were traditionally eaten by Maori and also used for medicinal purposes. The spores could heal burns, was used to stop bleeding as well as an anesthetic. 


 

Poisonous mushrooms

·       The death cap, a known mushroom to the world that can be fatal if ingested. Often mistaken as other edible fungi this mushroom can cause effects in a few hours. The symptoms are similar to food poisoning, over the course of a few days. Toxins in the mushroom act on the liver and kidneys, after a few days it will become clear that a liver transplant will be needed, but the end result can often be death. Luckily there have been no such extreme cases in NZ.
 

·       The Fly Agaric is the mushroom of fairytales, bright red with white spots, from the toadstool family. These toadstools are pretty and bright, but not to be played with as they are poisonous. If too much is ingested it can lead to liver failure, so our best suggestion is to take a quick photo of these then remove them before your dog gets any ideas!

 

Grow Your own

If you have an interest in mushrooms, and don’t want to pay big bucks at the supermarket, you can easily grow your own. Mushrooms don’t require much attention as they don’t even photosynthesize. Have a look at what kinds you can buy that will thrive in New Zealand. 
 

You can purchase a mushroom growing kit, or investigate yourself and spread spores from an existing species. Mushrooms prefer dark, cool, moist, and humid growing environments. Easily grown indoors in a spot under a sink, a garage or basement. You can also grow them outside in logs but it may take longer to germinate than indoor controlled conditions. Mushrooms grow quickly and you can be eating them within 4-6 weeks, they are a great produce choice for winter especially if you are an impatient gardener hanging out for Springtime. 


 

Before going mushrooming and seeking out this free food we recommended that you consult someone who knows them, and use the mushroom eating guide listed above! Otherwise get onto growing your own and you will be making creamy mushrooms galore in just over a months time. 


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Watering your garden the right way
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Lush green pastures are the dream, but getting to this stage can often be a nightmare. Aside from spending lots of money on inefficient equipment, there’s a problem of when to do it and how? Crewcut has listed for you 3 common watering forms with pros, cons and tips!

Hand watering

Pros: you can control how much water you spread over the garden.

Cons: hose can be annoying and often doesn’t reach large areas.

Tips:

  • Use a special diffuser or nozzle to help control the flow and get even distribution.
  • When water stops absorbing, move to another dryer location.
  • Wait about an hour, then drop a long screwdriver into the ground (about 6-10 inches) to see if the soil is moist. If not, repeat watering. 

Sprinklers

Pros: they cover large areas and require minimal effort.

Cons: sometimes can be wasteful with water and can oversaturate areas.

Tips:

  • Set the timer to water earlier in the morning to reduce evaporation.
  • If water is overflowing, split the watering times into perhaps two to three sessions.
  • If it’s raining often, turn off the system

Drip irrigation

Pros: good for individual plants or a small yard and are water efficient by reduced run-off and evaporation.

Cons: can be a bit more tricky to install and maintain.

Tips:

  • Periodically check your emitters for clogs and make sure each emitter is dripping the right amount of water
  • Flush your irrigation lines at least twice a year or when you change the schedule.
  • Generally, the smaller the plant, the less water emitters it needs. As it grows, give it a bit more water.

So make the most of the sun while it’s out, but don’t leave your grass high and dry. If you need any more help or advice make sure to give Crewcut a call.


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