Tag: Gardening

Hazel / Willow Hurdles

Screening off areas in a garden can be achieved in many ways such as growing a hedge, using a wooden lattice or fences.

Hedges are economical but take time to grow and can have a large width taking up ground space.

Recently my wife became frustrated with a laurel hedge we had hiding our oil tank, it was taking time to cut, time to dispose of the waste and was a taking up space which could maybe be reclaimed.

We live in a character property in the countryside so ruled out traditional shiplap type fences. After some deliberation we decided that a woven fence would offer a nice rustic feel and having large air spaces should not suffer that much when storms blow in.

We have never used a hurdle type fence before but measured the area and went to local fencing company to purchase some. Whilst opinions my vary on how best to fit them the fencing company told me that they used cable ties. I was a bit surprised but decided to give it a go, in many ways it made sense and would avoid drilling through the small canes to fix them to a post. The idea of using cable ties also appealed since it should offer a quick method of fixing the panels.

Using hazel hurdles wasn’t the cheapest of options and the fact you can’t cut the panels down meant some wastage with overlapping due to the small area we wished to cover. Having said that I like the rustic charm and feel that the area is now screened off but also that some planting in the foreground with annuals will help to provide some extra colour. We have planted a row of sun flowers in the reclaimed space, I love sunflowers they always make me happy when in flower.

 

 

 

 

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HUSQVARNA 115IL REVIEW

A strimmer / edging tool is an essential piece of kit in keeping a garden looking tidy. Regardless of the design of your garden there will usually be points which you can’t reach with the lawn mower or areas where the grass encroaches onto paths.

For the past 2 years we have used a multitool for tasks ranging from strimming / edging through to hedge cutting. Whilst the tool has worked well the engine has recently started to stall. 2 Stoke engines are great when they work, they offer power and portability without the need to run electrical cables around. However when the engine has a problem fixing them can be time consuming and expensive.

My wife found the old 2 stroke model too heavy so I had a look around at what alternatives there might be with the following being the key points we were looking for.

•Light weight

•No cables – we wanted the ability for go from one end of the garden to the other or into the front garden with ease.

Having previously unsuccessfully entered into a competition to trial a Husqvarna automower I thought perhaps we should buy the Husqvarna 115IL 36v trimmer since it seemed a good fit for out requirements. I also looked at the Stihl battery tools but having only a 1.4ah battery put me off.

I have now used the machine of multiple occasions, for both a one off start of season hack back and for subsequent general maintainance. Below are my finding after several uses.

Weight – The machine is around 4kg which is around 3kg lighter than the petrol model.

Power – The model had no issues with cutting borders and working hard to cut back areas where the grass was growing over paths.

Noise – The real advantage of this model is it is a lot quieter and there is no need to walk around with ear defenders.

Fumes / smell – Normally after using the 2 stroke model the smell of fuel permeates into my clothing. The Husqvarna is clean which is ideal, I have found I don’t need to change clothes or shower if I want to go out in the evening after using this machine, which was not the case with the old machine.

Vibrations – The 115IL is a nice machine from this point of view. It is low vibration and your arms do not suffer fatigue as a result.

Runtime – The 2ah battery is sufficient for routine maintenance where you are basically tickling the edges of paths and borders. If the edges have been neglected and a harder hack is required such as at the start of the season you will require multiple charges. I have found that for general maintenance and when trimming just grass I am able to complete all the edges on a single charge in economy mode (which also reduces the noise).

Cord – The model came fitted with a reasonable cord however after doing a few edges I soon ran out. I fitted a 3mm cord which due to the way the head is designed worked without issues. With this thicker cord fitted it was much easier to reduce the grass which was growing over the path and as a side effect also helped save the battery.

Replacing the cord – This is a made easy since the head clips in place via 2 recessed press buttons.

Running costs – The 2 stroke tool is not very efficient and given I anticipate I would have used around 1 litre of petrol strimming this area (on an initial hack back), which at current prices is around £1.20 a litre. The Husqvarna batteries state they are around 75 watts, so 5 charges would use 375watts. My current electricity tariff is 12p a kWh meaning that it cost 4.5p in electricity as saving of £1.15. A new battery costs around £60, however I would expect to get several hundred charge cycles out of the battery. As can be seen above if the battery lasts 50 charge cycles the saving in fuel alone has covered the cost of another battery.

The 115IL worked without issue and being battery operated offered us the ability to easily work around the garden. The runtime is around 20-30 minutes so if you have done a one off hack back are basically tickling the edges of paths and around borders you should be able to complete the job on a single charge. If the device is put into economy mode the noise level drops and I found I was able to edge the garden at 7:30 am without having to worry about the noise level and being anti social since the noise was so low the neighbours would be unaware and could have a lie in at the weekend. Using the old petrol machine I used to wear ear defenders and wait until 9am before starting the task to show some consideration towards my neighbours. Now I can do the edges first and wait until 9am to mow the lawns which takes around 10 hour with a 21 inch push mower a walk of around 4 miles (I cut fast).

The great thing about the 115IL is it has enabled me to start earlier in the day and get all the routine garden jobs finished earlier, which has changed my weekends routine. Finishing earlier is great since I now have more day light hours to do fun things like going on bike rides, walking the dog, taking picnics, visiting playgrounds with my daughter etc.. In the future maybe I will get a robotic lawn mower which would free up even more time, however for now I find the 4 mile walk pushing the mower as a reasonable amount of exercise and not that onerous.

The tool has a wire contraption which sits on the front which can fold upwards. This can act as a guide and help prevent you strimming too close to a surface. When better access is required this wire guide can be easily folded upward to get close access or work in tight angles.

As can be seen from the images below the brick edging by the pergola looks neat and tidy and the path by the conifer has been cut back to reveal a much wider path (although in the photos it is covered in the grass which has been trimmed back). The alpine rock garden edges and the triangle border in the rose bed look well defined.

Overall I would say this is a good tool and being electric it should be reliable and not need expensive servicing unlike a petrol alternative.

I would recommend replacing the standard cord with a 2 or 3 mm thick cord, particularly if you are trying to cut back the edges of a path.

 

Spring is here

At last spring is here and the garden is returning to life. The lowest winter temperature recorded on our weather station was -6c so most of our plants should have made it through.

The last few weekends have been fairly mild and so we managed to get out and cut the lawn and have a tidy of some of the flower beds.

So far we have several plants in flower including

  • Daffoldils
  • Primulas
  • Camellia
  • Hellebores
  • Crocus (just going over now)
  • Hyacinths
  • Muscari

Its always a joy to return to the garden after the winter months and appreciate the new growth and take in the beauty of nature.

One of the particular joys of gardening is the sensual nature ranging from the visual appreciation of a well manicured lawn or beautiful flower through to the multiple scents which permeate the air.

In terms of scent at this time of year the front garden is often permeated by the lovely scent from a Daphne Odora. The rear garden has a more musky scent from the foxy smell of Fritillaria Imperialis .