Commercial grounds maintenance: our top five tips

1. Winter maintenance pays dividends in Spring
When autumn comes around, it’s tempting to put the external furniture in the store room and forget about the grounds until March. But some jobs are essential; leaves must be blown or raked off grass, or they’ll kill patches of the lawn. Paths need to be kept clear of slippery leaf mould to keep them safe.
And if winter does bring snow, it’s much quicker to clear snow from a path if it doesn’t also have a layer of leaf litter on it. Many restaurants now have kitchen gardens but there won’t be much left of them if leaves aren’t cleared. The reason for this is that they’re a five-star hotel for slugs which will happily overwinter in garden debris, ready to march out and start eating everything in sight in spring.

2. Lawns, like people, are individual and need year-round care
Lush lawns and velvety golf links are wonderful sights, but every lawn is different, as maintenance experts appreciate. They will need different kinds of feed, weed control and treatment depending on the type of grass, underlying soil, position, watering and many other factors. A professional firm such as Four Seasons will survey your lawn or sports course to determine what it needs and can then give it four custom treatments a year, together with extra care if it requires it.
If your existing grass is unrecoverable, it may be better to lay turf, or if grass is out of the question, to cut and fit artificial grass.

3. You may need to grit at short notice
Our climate is notoriously variable, and we don’t always get a lot of notice of snow. Professional grounds maintenance firms can arrange gritting whenever the temperature heads towards freezing. This will help to prevent accidents on paths and in car parks. If there is a sudden fall of snow, your business may be severely affected unless snow removal is carried out.

4. With hedges, it’s all a matter of timing
It’s essential to know when and how to cut a hedge. Anyone can hack at it with a pair of hedge trimmers. But a hedge cut at the wrong time of year may not recover that year. It may miss out on a year of growth, looking sparse, gappy and twiggy. If it is a fruiting or flowering hedge, it may not produce anything.
Different hedges need pruning and cutting at different times of the year so it’s essential to use a commercial grounds maintenance team that knows what it’s doing. Expert pruning can restore a hedge that’s run away or become “gappy” by encouraging the right kind of structural growth.
For mature hedges, there’s a huge difference between the look of a hedge that has been hacked and a hedge that has been precision trimmed, with sharp edges and superb architectural lines. These things can make the difference between stunning grounds that really repay the effort put into them, or a slightly straggly, uncared-for look. A properly pruned and cut hedge will keep its shape; a randomly chopped one won’t.

5. Expect the unexpected
There’s always something new happening in grounds. Japanese knotweed suddenly needs to be dealt with; a pond needs to be drained; there’s a decision to landscape the entire grounds differently; a hedgehog refuge needs to be established; a fountain needs putting in. Nothing fazes a professional crew like Four Seasons with experience in creating and maintaining top quality grounds and landscape schemes.
First impressions only get made once, so follow these tips to make sure you make the best impression possible. Why not give our friendly team a call if you’d like us to help you get your grounds looking their best?
Need any advice please call Nathan at Four Seasons Grounds Maintenance today for a Free telephone consultation!

Winter garden maintenance: our top tips

As the winter evenings draw in, many avid gardeners are left twiddling their thumbs looking for something to do. However, this shouldn’t be the case. Although the flowers and fruits are gone from your garden, there is still a huge amount of work to be done. This is also one of the main seasons for pruning shrubs and trees. Garden maintenance is the name of the game in wintertime and the more care you take of your garden now, the better your summer results will be. If you are unsure what you are looking for exactly, call us today for a free telephone consultation at Four Seasons Grounds Management.

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Neat and tidy

Before the frost begins to destroy dead plants and faded annuals, now is the time to remove and cut back all organic material in the garden. This means, leaves need to be raked, fallen stems must be cut and anything dead must be pulled out, roots and all. Naturally, once this is complete, you’ll be able to see where soil needs to be added and if there is any damage to the lawn edging or walls. Finally, it’s time to take a pair of secateurs to the herbaceous perennials to promote next year’s new shoots and blooms.

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Prepare the ground

While your winter garden is looking bare and forlorn, the time is right to work on improving next year’s soil quality. Add organic matter and dig well, keeping an eye out for clumps of perennial weed roots and the white, spindly bindweed roots. Accomplishing this early in the winter months will give the worms the chance to work the new nutrients down into the soil. The processes of repeated frost and thaw also act to break down soil, leaving it soft and workable for next year.

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Tools down

On particularly cold or wet days, a nice shed job is tool management. Clean everything off to look for damage and loose screws and then get to work sharpening edges. Secateurs and shears need sharpening regularly, at least once a year, even if they are rarely used. The sharper the blade, the cleaner the cut and this means, less damage to the plant or opportunity for disease to take hold. When cleaning or sharpening your blades, safety comes first, so it’s best to keep your gloves on. Once you’ve removed any dried sap, use an oil stone or diamond tool to sharpen. Using a lubricant or oil will help stop moisture creeping into any notches and creating rust over the winter.

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Bring in your containers

While this is usually one of the first jobs we think to do in winter, some people leave their pots out until the first frost. However, the frost isn’t necessarily the biggest threat in winter. As growth slows and stops, these plants need less water, but winter rains often give them too much. If your container plants are very hardy and you intend to leave them out, make sure you raise them off the ground with bricks.

Good neighbours and good fences

If you have summer plant life growing up and over fences and dividing walls, winter is your chance to make sure they aren’t doing any structural or social damage. Check for signs of breakage, weakness or rot and aim to carry out the repairs before the middle of winter. If your climbing plants, such as Virginia Creepers, are getting a little too friendly with the neighbours, now is the time to cut them right back. This creeper is invasive and once it begins to spread, there might be no stopping it.

And finally, the vegetables

For those still growing vegetables outside over winter, or looking for early carrots and greens, now is the time to cover the ground with straw to act as insulations. If snow is expected, an old heavy carpet can also do the trick. Just make sure it is free from house insects and any cleaning chemicals.

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Need any advice please call Nathan at Four Seasons Grounds Management today for a Free telephone consultation!

Japanese Knotweed. What is it?

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Japanese knotweed

While quite an attractive plant, Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is one plant you’ll never wish to see in your garden. Its lush green foliage and bamboo-like stems shoot up overnight, and against fences and buildings, it can rise to over 7ft tall. However, left to its own deceives, Japanese Knotweed can cause serious structural damage to homes and properties in a matter of months.

This is why, if you hear of cases of Japanese knotweed in your area, it is imperative that you go around your property to make sure there is none beginning to take root or spread. If you are unsure what you are looking for exactly, call us today for a free telephone consultation at Four Seasons Grounds Management LTD.

Japanese knotweed identification

However, although the plant can transmit from garden to garden by seed and stem, knotweed travels most often via a rhizome root structure. This means that, in early spring, you’ll need to look out for fleshy red tinged shoots breaking through the soil, which grow quickly, up to 20 cms a day. Once leaves appear, they tend to be heart-shaped or spade-shaped and light to dark green. The single leaves form at the end of a thin stem, which grows off the main bamboo-like stalks. And as the plant matures, these bamboo stems become woody and hollow. By early summer, the leaves it produces will also be larger and you’ll be able to see a zig-zag pattern in the leaf arrangement. By the end of summer, a large, clumping knot of bamboo and green leaves on spindly stems signifies a looming Japanese knotweed problem.

Japanese knotweed removal

While it is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed in your garden, there are ordinances that must be observed. A recent amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act of 2014 states that the property owner must take reasonable steps to control and optimally, eradicate the plant. The amendment also states that homeowners can carry out this removal personally, however, a specialist company is still needed to dispose of the plant waste.

How to get rid of Japanese knotweed

Generally speaking, there are two approaches a contractor can take with Japanese knotweed removal: chemical or cultural. The cultural control refers to the method of digging out the rhizomes and their removal to a specialist waste site. The chemical approach requires the use of pesticides over three or four summer seasons.

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. The cultural method is labour intensive, and one must be meticulous about collecting and disposing of the waste. The root system can be three feet deep or more and the digging may need to be repeated. However, environmentally speaking, this is the better method. The chemical approach requires the use of Glyphosate, a very strong pesticide which needs to be carefully applied when the weather and temperatures are optimal, however, but once the plant is dead and has dried out, the waste can be burned on site.

Seeking professional help

If Japanese knotweed on your property becomes an issue, there are contractors like us who are licensed to destroy and remove the plant. Four Seasons Grounds Management LTD can guarantee the treatment.

Call Nathan at Four Seasons Grounds Management LTD today for a Free telephone consultation!