If you’ve been thinking about planting a tree in your garden, now is the perfect time of year to be doing that. From about mid-November through to March, bare root trees and hedging plants are available from most garden centres. Bare root trees offer much better value than pot grown varieties, being simply lifted straight from the ground while dormant ready for planting in a new location.
Even if you only have a small garden, it’s possible to find a suitable tree to fill a little space. The tree that you choose depends on your own taste of course, but if you want a flowering tree, look for one that has been grafted onto a smaller tree; this is quite common with ornamental trees. You really don’t need much space to grow fruit trees. If you choose one that has been trained as an espalier, or fan shape, these can grow quite happily next to a fence or wall, provided you prune it well every year. A good tree for winter interest is the Paper Bark Maple; as its name suggests, the bark peels off the tree and it has a very attractive cinnamon-coloured stem.
Moss in the grass is an ongoing battle for many people. It’s important to understand that moss is a symptom of a problem. If you kill moss without addressing the cause it will return.
Compaction is a major cause of moss growth, and fortunately relatively simple to overcome. Moss requires very damp conditions and if you have not treated the lawn to allow drainage, when it rains the water will remain at the surface providing the ideal conditions for moss to thrive.
Compacted areas of lawn, such as paths or places that children play, should be aerated. This involves driving spikes quite deeply into the lawn and can be done with a garden fork for smaller lawns; for bigger ones you can buy or hire specialist tools. Aerating will allow the water to drain and deprive the moss of the conditions it needs to thrive. It looks a bit of a mess straight after you’ve finished because the plugs stay on the surface, but for the long term health of the grass it is well worth the time and effort. Over the winter, try to avoid walking on the lawn whilst it is wet as this will compact the soil.