Gardening at the end of April: Privet hedge | Buttercups | Setting Red Robin
Q. Caitlín in Donnybrook
"I set a Privet hedge around two years ago. Now, some of it has started to grow well, while other sections don't seem to be doing well at all. Any advice?"
This is the time where the hedge is in the process of establishing itself and getting its roots into the ground. Even if you get a short dry spell, this can be enough to dehydrate it. So make sure that you water it very regularly in the fine weather. It would also be a good idea to put organic mulch around the base.
The idea is is avoid it getting too wet - or too dry. It needs to be kept just so until its roots get well set.
Q. Anna in Sandycove
"How do I get rid of buttercups? They are covering over half the garden?"
Anna - Embrace the buttercups!! They can be a wonderful flower, and gives a garden that lovely meadow look :) But, if this is not for you, your best option is to mow the lawn tight, do this regularly, and then set a more grass seed. The grass will eventually overwhelm the buttercups, but it will take time.
Q. Alan in Ranelagh
"I have some young apple trees. They are producing fruit, but its out of shaped and deformed, like crab apples. Can I or should I spray them? If so, with what?"
No, there is no need to spray them. Always use chemicals as a last resort. If they are producing crab apples, there is a reason for that. It could have to do with nutrients.
Give it a feed which has a high potassium content, something like tomato feed. This will help no end. It should then produce fruit for you just the way nature intended!
Q. Louise in Wilson Road
"What is the best thing to do with Daffodils now they they have faded?
If you enjoy daffodils, take away the dead flower heads, and leave the leaf's! Its the leaf's that are producing the flowering energy for next year. Let them die back and then take the heads away.
Q. Sarah in Rathfarmham.
"About a year we trimmed a Red Robin too early and it never grew back. But this Spring part of it produced new leaves. What should I do with it now? Should I take out the section with no growth?"
Yes, the section not producing new growth should be taken out for sure. It sounds like it may be dead. If you take it out, it should encourage growth of the remaining plant. Also, there is a very good organic feed spray called 'SB Plant Invigorator'. Spray it on (but not while in direct sunlight) and it will give the plant a boost.
Q. Conor in Pembroke Dublin
"I live in a housing estate, part of the garden is slightly waterlogged, not on the surface but around two feet under ground. What is the best type of tree to have here? I don't want one too dense or too tall. Any suggestions?"
Willows love those type of conditions. You have to cut them back once they reach the height you prefer them at, as they tend to keep on growing! There is a lovely one called Golden Stemmed Willow, which is very nice indeed. It might not suit a small garden though. If the garden is small, there are other trees you could consider that are more manageable in the long run, like Birch for example.
Q. Grace in Cowper, Rathmines
"What would I do to take out roots?"
It depends on the roots. If its Bamboo, well, you can pretty much forget about it! A mini digger would have to be brought in. The absolute best way is to dig well below ground level and cut them out. Its time consuming, backbreaking work, but it is by far and away the best job.
Alternatively you could use weedkiller. At the trees base where it was cut, you would need to drill down vertically into the tree (so you are drilling on the actual face). The longer the drill bit the better (a 18 inch bit is ideal). Drill approx 3 holes, then pour weedkiller into the holes. Its advisable to then cover the base of the tree, and let the weedkiller go to work.
This is NOT an option that I would recommend, and for two reasons: it involves weedkiller, and, is a painfully SLOW PROCESS. It can take literally years before the root dies, and you may still have to deal with parts of the roots / tree anyway.
Whatever route you decide to go, when filling in the hole where the root once was, use very well conditioned soil for doing so. Keep in mind soil is a living thing, and you want to encourage life within. Mulch up organic compost (this is where your home compost heap could come into play) and dig it back into the soil.
Q. Anne in Marlborough Dublin 4
"My daughter has recently moved into her new apartment. What would you recommend for a garden on a balcony?"
The first thing you need to figure out is 'aspect'. Will the garden be getting lots of sun, or lots of shade? Once you can answer that question you begin from there. There are lots of beautiful bedding plants available, so you really can go to town (so to speak!). Just make sure to pick the appropriate plants, flowers or shrubs that will suit your aspect (ones that like light, one that like shade?).
Don't forget that herbs can suit a balcony garden perfectly. Not alone are they practical, but can introduce lovely smells to the area. One more tip is to set some lavender - its worth it for the scent and colour alone.