In any given week you could see Greengage gardeners leave for work in shorts one day and waterproof clothing the next. It is not unusual in England to have a range of weather in one week or sometimes perhaps even in one day and we are known worldwide for our soggy unreliable weather. However, extreme rain, heat, wind or cold can seriously alter how we work and how our gardens thrive.
Our gardeners are always trying to be one step ahead of the weather. It is not just about kit and clothing, although being safe and dry are key for happy gardeners, but also about the jobs that can be carried out. In heavy rain, you don’t want to be trampling on clients’ waterlogged lawns or beds and in strong mid-day sun you do not want to be digging in parched, rock-hard ground. Certain jobs absolutely shouldn’t be carried out in adverse weather to prevent damage to equipment or gardens.
Weather affects gardens differently; for example, too much rain often affects plants adversely – bad news for our customers with gardens in the Somerset Levels. Too much water in the soil will affect oxygen levels which impedes respiration and causes a build-up of gases that can essentially cause plants to suffocate. There are steps you can take to make sure your garden is protected from excess water, you could put in drainage systems such as French drains which are essentially underwater drainage pipes. You could also change the topography of your garden; water will flow downhill so create a lower point near to drainage so you can channel the water away.
If it is too hot, pests and diseases which spread more quickly in warmer conditions could be an issue. Watering plants and lawns becomes the number one priority and large public areas such as parks become dry and brown. Dry gardens are usually much more difficult to dig and the soil will need watering before any planting can take place. There are steps you can take to ensure your garden is protected from drying out such as seaweed rich composts, more mulching and wise watering but long periods of heat with no rain are seldom welcome.
Strong winds have been known to blow out panes from greenhouses and, whilst fallen trees mean work for tree surgeons, the winds can cause damage to your plants. Damaged plants become more susceptible to disease and careful pruning is needed to allow the plants to recover. Again, you can take steps against the wind, pruning being key particularly with trees as you need to allow the wind to pass through, rather than push the tree. Removing branches and raising the crown of the tree will help, as will thinning out the crown and canopy of the tree. For plants and shrubs, fences or wind tolerant shrubs can be the only answer.
Severe frosts mean emerging shoots can get scorched and cold temperatures can affect germination. Cold can freeze the cells in a plant, which causes damage and interrupts the flow of nutrients and water around the plant. To prevent damage to your plants in cold spells, choose hardy plants, consider frost barriers, mulch over the base of plants to protect the root zone or keep plants in pots so that they can be moved inside when the weather becomes too cold.
So, whilst we experience all different types of weather, Greengage rarely closes for business unless its severe frost or snow. We are always prepared and can help your gardens be prepared too.
Words: Jude Eastick, Company Director & Head Gardener