Mulching Tips

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.

How to prevent lawn frostbite

It’s quite chilly these days in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Lucky for us, we can turn up the heating. But just think how it must be for your grass out there. Our grass puts up with a lot, but sometimes the colder weather can be a bit too ‘nippy’.

Many plants go into dormancy over the colder periods and can lose their green colour. Freezing temperatures can turn your lawn brown, but don’t fret, this is perfectly normal. Don’t fertilise your lawn during winter, instead wait for the natural cycle to occur during the spring season. Remember to water your plants and grass as they still need to keep hydrated during the colder months. Drought even in winter can cause the roots to dry up and die. 

‘So, when should I water my plants and grass’ you might be asking?
The simple answer is: do it in the morning. This way the moisture has plenty of time to soak into the soil. If it’s done at night, sometimes it doesn’t evaporate well at night which means it stays on the blades and encourages fungal growth. You don’t need to water as much as you would in summer, about half of what you would have done. 

Another tip is to cut your lawn perhaps longer than you normally would. This reduces the risk of ‘scalping’ which is cutting the lawn too short and making it susceptible to weeds and further damage. 

These simple tips will keep your lawn happy in the colder months and prevent those unwanted brown leaves.

Keeping Cats Out Of Your Garden

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. 

What grass is between your toes?

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You may think that grass is a one type suits all, but you’d be mistaken. In New Zealand alone there are about 6 common grasses that are typically used in backyards. It’s important to know what type you have or type you want as this will determine how often you need to water, or if it’s appropriate for children and pets.

Tall Fescue

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue

This is the lush green carpet stuff that tolerates shade. It needs plenty of watering throughout the summer months. Tall fescue is the most recommended for Auckland. 


Fine Fescue

Fine Fescue

Fine fescue

This is similar to the tall fescue except that it has a very fine leaf. It doesn’t live well in humid environments as it easily attracts fungal diseases. Therefore it doesn’t work too well in Auckland but instead in Christchurch.

 


Couch grass

Couch grass

Couch grass

This is the rugged grass that is becoming more popular. It needs to be in the full sun as it doesn’t cope well in shade and frost. In these conditions the grass can become dormant, but will flourish again when soil temperatures increase. This is the most ideal for children and pets as it grows sideways - making it quite sturdy. It would be good for any location with full sun or by the beach as it manages with high salt concentration. 


Kikuyu grass

Kikuyu grass

Kikuyu grass

Very similar to the couch grass but is available in an instant form.


Rye grass

Rye grass

Rye grass

This is popular as a sports field grass especially during winter as it has a positive recovery. Doesn’t like the shade too much and it needs ongoing watering. This is good for full sun exposure. 


Mixed blend

Mixed blend

Mixed blend

This can be one of the more undesirable breeds of grass as it has a blend of different seeds. As a result there can be a mixture of weeds and it can become expensive to maintain. 


Whatever grass you have, Crewcut can keep it tidy. We have the know-how and the skills to keep it in top condition, year round!

Giant Poppy and Crewcut

In 2015, local artist Tony McNeight created a giant poppy in the Auckland Domain with over 59,000 metal poppy discs. People of all ages came down and wrote heart felt messages on these poppies to collectively create the biggest poppy ever. Tony has a strong connection to the Anzac commemorations as his family members served in WW1. This project is for all that feel like they can’t or haven’t been able to truly say thank you to those who served in WW1.  

Tony believes that Anzac is still very relevant today:
There’s something inside of us that wants to keep this fire burning….it’s a fire of freedom.

Especially for the younger generation who may have never met their past family members who served: 

For young people it’s an opportunity for them to find out about their great grandparents and what they did and who they were. What sort of people they were, what sort of hardships they went through - terrible hardships.

During the 9 days that the poppy was being created, Frederic Leturque, mayor of Arras (a town in France) came and placed a poppy. He recently requested Tony to recreate the Giant Poppy in a town square in Arras where there is strong historical connection. During WW1, Kiwis helped the French by building a large map of underground tunnels that were used to store animals, troops and hide behind enemy lines. During this time, many gave their lives to protect our freedom and the freedom of the French people.

This kind of connection is what the French people want to remember, commemorate and give thanks to. 

Tony set up a fundraiser to get his Giant Poppy over to Arras, and Crewcut was proud to support his project. If you want more information on his journey, visit his website: http://giantpoppy.co.nz

The NOT so marvellous mushroom

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

If you don't want them and have a problem with removal - 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.

Why you should get kids in the garden

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As we advance into a more technological age, the art of gardening is becoming more and more redundant. We notice that increasingly, people want ‘low maintenance’ instead. But having a flourishing garden with shrubs, flowers, and fruit & veg is one of the most rewarding things. Kids today spend more time indoors looking at screens then they do outside looking at nature.

Gardening is healthy and is fun for children. Not only will it help with their understanding of how things grow; but they will learn responsibility, love of nature, good nutrition, physical activity and understanding of life. There’s also a great reward if the plants flourish as they will be able to physically see what hard work can earn. 

Some simple ways to get your children interested in gardening include:

  • Giving them their own little garden space. This could even be just a few pots for them to grow their plants.
  • Use specialised, light weight equipment that children will find special to them. Not only is it a lot safer but is more unique as they feel a sense of ownership and pride.
  • Get older kids to plan the garden space and the younger ones to plant them (who doesn’t love a good mud pie!)
  • Visit public gardens for ideas and inspiration. 

Different tasks you can give your child include:

  • Digging
  • Picking flowers
  • Weeding
  • Watering
  • Picking vegetables when they are ready to eat
  • Replanting and potting
  • Decorating pots with paint
  • Picking off dead bulbs

You don’t have to have the greenest thumb to get your child interested in gardening. It’s all about ‘planting the seed’ (see what we did there) so that your children may grow their own healthy garden to share for future generations.

 

Your garden goldmine

Potential home buyers make their first impression on your property from the ‘curb appeal’.

Investing in your front and back yard are some of the most overlooked areas when coming to sell your home. Many go for updating the kitchen and bathroom - which of course add value, but the beloved garden brings the greatest lasting value. In the Husqvarna Global Garden Report 2011, around 5,000 homeowners, valuers and real estate agents from nine different countries discussed how a good garden can dramatically increase house values and sale time. 

Tidy and well planned gardens not only help speed up sale time by a matter of months but they can also add a whopping 16% to the value of a property. Director of Napier valuation firm My Valuer, Andrew White mentioned “Properties often sell within the first ten seconds of viewing, so first impressions are what count.”

Andrew goes on, “Six years ago I valued a property in Hawke’s Bay where the owners were hoping to achieve a $250,000 sale price. They were offered $220,000 but declined, instead opting to invest a further $500 into planting and making the outside more attractive. Within a week they sold their home for $255,000.”

Some obvious things to get done outside include: mowing the lawn, getting rid of weeds and planting some instant colour. However, gardening expert Lee Ann Bramwell shares some less obvious but clever tips for making your garden shine at the open home. 

  1. If you have a driveway, line it with trees. It translates to status and wealth.
  2. Consider a ‘social garden’. This implies a space that you can spend with family and friends. A patio with shrubbery or shady trees with chairs and a table are the perfect ingredients for a backyard barbie and drinks.
  3. A walled garden makes the buyer feel like they are in a safe and intimate area. You don’t have to create the traditional wall, instead use shrubbery, hedges, picket fence or plants in tubs. 
  4. The ‘Grown at home’ movement is becoming fashionable, as people are growing their own fruit and veggie patches. If you have space in your back garden this is definitely a small and effective thing you can create which will make your property memorable.

The Global Garden Report estimates that the average return from your garden investment is 3.1 times the amount of money invested. 

Crewcut understands the value of gardens which is why we spend so much time in them. If you need help getting your garden spick and span, give us a call. We do lawns, hedges, trees, water-blasting, and section tidies. You never know how much money we could make you in the long run!

 

Watering your garden the right way

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.

FFFF-For Autumn

Here’s some Fs with the change of seasons: think fruit, flying insects, fungus and fertiliser.  No, its not that easy to remember is it? But good advice for this time of year! Remove old flowers to make room for autumn and winter bloomers and this weather is still warm enough to get some bulbs in now. Simply place them with a handful of rich compost in sunny open positions.
 
Once your fruit trees are fully harvested, nows the best time to spray while the weather is still warm. If you haven't done so already, hang up garlic and onions to dry. The vegie patch is ready for brassica, carrots, radishes and parsnips, but be on alert for white butterflies and aphids as they will destroy young plants if left unchecked.

Fungus will present with the hot humid weather in the form of powdery mildew and rust. Remove leaves from affected plants to allow air to circulate and let in sunlight . You can also talk to the Crewcut team about sprays to use.

This is a great time of the year if you’re considering lawn planting or re-sowing by pre-fertilising now. The Crewcut team can assist with ground preparation and advise on which seed to sow.

Let us know if you’re falling behind, we can provide help in any area to keep your garden on track.

Hoe Hoe Hoe!

It's a busy month as the end of another year draws close. With the warmer weather upon us it is time to consider feeding, watering and tidying up the garden for summer.

Harvest late fruiting citrus and feed fruit trees. Apply fertilizer to crops such as tomatoes, potatoes and strawberries and feed up the flower beds.

It is a good idea, and not too expensive, to install irrigation systems in your flower beds and vegetable gardens to ensure deep watering. Turn and water your compost heaps as they will dry out and dig that lovely brown compost straight into the garden (That's the hoe hoe hoe part). Mulch flower beds and around fruit trees, but take care not to lay the mulch too close to the trunk as it may burn the bark.

Lastly,  your hedges will need attention as they will take off and a timely prune now will prevent them from becoming unruly. You may also have decks or paved areas that could use water blasting and moss prevention treatments. Crewcut are happy to help with any tasks if you need us, we'll be around over the summer if you need things done while you're away.

Merry Christmas from Crewcut!