Spring is here and it’s time to get to work in the garden. We asked the experts from Stiga for some advice on the best tools to use
What are the main garden jobs in the Spring?
Thinking of growing a new lawn or repairing/improving an established one? Good soil preparation is essential to achieve a good surface, so make sure you do your homework!
For existing lawns, apply a slow-release lawn fertiliser for ‘summer-long’ performance.
Finally, mowing can begin in earnest now with the mower blades set at their summer height.
Early-sown ‘half hardy annuals’ can be gradually ‘hardened off’ to outside conditions prior to final planting. Some types, like sweet peas will benefit from pinching out the main shoot to produce bushy plants and more flowering shoots.
Direct sown ‘hardy’ annuals such as candytuft, cornflower, larkspur, nasturtium and sunflowers can be started this month. Try the impressive new Calendula, ‘Bull’s Eye’, with its bright yellow double flowers or the stunning new Poppy, ‘Amazing Grey’ with its slate grey/blue double blooms!
Herbaceous perennials are pushing their fresh young shoots through the soil at this time, so be on the lookout for slugs and snails. There is still time to divide clumps of established plants to prevent overcrowding.
See also: How to Create Your Perfect Garden, Part One – Lawns
Plant second-early and maincrop maturing potato varieties and asparagus plants if creating a special border.
Sow beetroot, carrots, lettuce, radish, peas and beans in rotation.
Indoors, sowings of outdoor tomato varieties, cucumbers, sweet corn, courgettes and runner beans can be made.
Divide overcrowded perennial herbs.
- Trees & Shrubs
Finish pruning winter flowering shrubs such as forsythia and prune hydrangeas of last years flower heads and old wood.
Apply a suitable slow-release fertilizer to encourage balanced growth through the summer.
Should we keep our lawns trim, or let them go a bit wild?
The answer is a bit of both! Experts recommend leaving a strip or area of longer grass in your garden when you cut your lawn, allowing nectar-rich flowers to grow and in turn provide valuable nectar for bees and other pollinating wildlife.
The average lawn can support 400 bees a day however ‘superlawns’ cut leaving some longer strips of grass can support over 4,000 bees!
And it’s not just the long grass that is supporting those all-important nectar-producing wildflowers. By having both shorter and longer areas of grass in your garden tall species of wild plants can grow in the longer grass alongside short species perfectly suited to growing in shorter grass – thereby maximising the number of different sorts of wildflowers in your lawn.
What size garden requires a ride-on mower?
If your lawn is larger than half an acre in size, STIGA recommends purchasing a ride-on mower.
Lawn Riders are a great economic alternative and a step up from a walk-behind mower. They are compact, fitting through a standard garden gate as well as being easy to manoeuvre. Suitable for lawns from 0.75 – 1 acre, depending on the model.
For larger areas of an acre or more a Garden Tractor is a must. Choose from a collecting model with the grass collector fitted to the back or a dedicated side-discharge mulching mower, perfect for longer grass. These mowers feature a mid-mounted cutter deck with either a twin or triple blade cutter deck depending on the width of cut.
Front-cut mowers offer great cutting and mulching performance and have a tight turning circle, making them the perfect choice for larger more complex lawns. With the cutting deck situated at the front of the mower that gives an impeded view of the cutting path – these mowers are fast and convenient, fertilising the lawn as you cut! Check out the full range at www.stiga.com/UK.
Are robotic mowers the tool of the future?
Robotic lawnmowers have been around since the late 90’s, however with the advances in battery and smart technology, robot mowers that mow your lawn by themselves are becoming ever more popular in the garden. Controlled by your phone or laptop, robotic mowers can save you time and effort when it comes to keeping your lawn trim.
Robot mowers are designed to cut your lawn frequently – they only cut a small amount of the grass each time, injecting the grass cuttings back into the turf and fertilising your lawn naturally. The initial outlay can be costly as most need boundary wires or cables laying for the robot to identify the areas you want it to mow. The robot mower will also need a charging dock installing.
So, will they replace the traditional walk-behind and ride-on mowers in the future? Slopes and long or denser grass can be more challenging for a robotic mower. Also, in terms of landscaping or producing lawn stripes etc, for the moment at least, traditional lawnmowers tend to give better results.
STIGA along with other leading gardening manufacturers have been catering to the robotic market for the last few years and with the continued advances in robotic technology most gardening experts agree that robotic mowers will be a common sight in the gardens of the future. Look out for STIGA’s latest robotic mower – available very soon in store and on-line www.stiga.com/UK.
What’s the best way to cut a tall hedge?
The best way to cut a tall hedge is with a long-reach hedge trimmer. Choose a model with a telescopic shaft so you can adjust the length of your hedge trimmer pole to suit the task in hand. Long-reach hedge trimmers allow you to reach tall hedge tops with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Most models also have an adjustable head with several positions to choose from, allowing you to cut hedge tops and thicker branches easily.
STIGA’s battery range of long-reach hedge trimmers are lightweight and come with a harness making them comfortable to use. If you need more power try the SPH 900 AE with battery backpack harness for superior performance. www.stiga.com/UK
Which is better for me, a lawn trimmer or a brush cutter?
This will depend on what you are looking to cut. Typically, lawn trimmers are smaller, lightweight and are designed for cutting longer grass, weeds, edging and tidying borders. Brush cutters are more heavy-duty machines perfect for cutting brambles, brushwood and denser vegetation.
It is also important to think about the power sources available. The more challenging the gardening task, the more power you are likely to need. Electric or battery powered machines tend to be lightweight and easier to manoeuvre however they may not be suitable for larger lawns or gardening tasks that require more power for a longer period of time. Petrol machines generally offer more power and performance but are heavier and generate higher levels of noise pollution, along with fumes and mess.
Grass trimmers cut using a nylon line trimmer head – these are designed to cut through long grass and light vegetation. Brush cutters in comparison are equipped with a cutting blade that can tackle and cut through much denser garden material. If you want to both trim your lawn and clear thick brushwood you don’t need to invest in two separate machines.
Many models of brush cutters now come with both a nylon line trimmer head and a metal cutting blade, allowing the user to switch between the two depending on the gardening task. Check out STIGA’s extensive range of grass trimmers and brush cutters on-line now at www.stiga.com/UK.
What’s the quickest way to clear up garden waste?
There are a number of gardening tools to help you keep your garden looking clean and tidy with minimal effort. One of the most common tasks is clearing fallen leaves and other debris on lawns, pathways, patios and driveways. Once solution for lawns can be to use a STIGA mulching mower to finely cut the leaves into tiny pieces and inject them back into the lawn to act as a natural fertiliser.
Leaf Blowers are another quick and easy solution -powerful, innovative and lightweight, STIGA leaf blowers remove dry or dead leaves from lawns and pathways effortlessly. Each blower is equipped with precise airflow and some models also have a vacuum mode too for a quick clean up.
Sweepers are another great option – STIGA sweepers can remove leaves, grass, garden debris and even snow with ease. Featuring a rotary brush at the front and a container at the rear, you can choose from manual push models or self-propelled petrol models for larger gardens.
Harness the power of water with STIGA’s high-pressured washers for powering through dirt, dust, mud and other debris on pathways, drives and patio areas. They are also ideal for keeping bikes, garden tools and cars spotless.
STIGA’s Electric shredders are ideal for recycling garden waste from branches, brushes, and hedges by reducing it to smaller and more manageable pieces perfect for easy composting or disposal. And with no emissions, they’re kind to nature, too. Check out all our garden cleaning equipment at www.stiga.com/uk.
What are the latest developments in garden tool technology?
Battery-power! Using an alternative to fossil fuels has become increasingly important for consumers around the world. This has led to battery-powered tools becoming a lifestyle trend that’s growing fast in the gardening world. In fact, during 2020, a third of the European market was being driven by battery gardening products – surpassing electrics, and projected to overtake petrols in 2022.
At STIGA, we are delivering a cleaner, safer and more reliable energy supply for our customers, dealers and trade partners.
Our battery lawnmowers and handheld tools are built from lightweight, robust materials. Whether mowing, cutting, trimming or clearing, they are as powerful and long-lasting as their petrol equivalent, but with none of the noise, fumes and hassle of engine maintenance.
STIGA batteries are tested at a full, ‘real-life’ usage current that goes far beyond the common, but less demanding, Industry Standard test of only 300 charges at 20% of the ‘real-life’ usage current. Our innovative new E-Power battery – developed, tested and produced by STIGA in our Italian plant – is still going strong after 600 charges. That’s the equivalent to an owner running down and recharging the battery twice a week for six years.
From the family-friendly simplicity of ESSENTIAL (100 Series) and the long-lasting power of EXPERIENCE (300, 500 and 700 Series), to the enhanced spec of EXPERT (900 Series). E-Power is able to drive the smallest tool or biggest lawnmower, including our first ever battery-powered garden tractor range – the STIGA e-Ride. Check out our full range of battery-powered gardening equipment at www.stiga.com/uk
What are the pros and cons of battery, electric and petrol power?
Electric lawnmowers and garden tools tend to be lightweight and relatively inexpensive. Running on mains electric means no stopping to recharge batteries or refuel engines. The downsides however are that you are restricted by the length of your cable. Therefore, they are best suited to smaller-sized gardens. There is also the potential safety hazard of cutting the cable accidently when using your mower or garden tool.
Battery power is generally quieter and better for the environment with no fumes or mess. It also saves you time and money eliminating the need to purchase fuel. With the advances in battery technology battery-powered lawnmowers and garden tools can now compete with their petrol counterparts in both power and performance. Batteries vary in size and power meaning that provided you choose the right model they are suitable for larger gardens too. Cons to battery power are the need to charge batteries and the cost of replacing batteries once they start to lose power over time.
Petrol power is traditionally favoured for larger lawns, providing reliable power and performance especially for heavy-duty gardening tasks. Easy to refuel and start, petrol engines have long been the go-to power source for gardeners. However, with the desire for a greener, more sustainable lifestyle there is a conscious move away from petrol power. Cons include the mess and fumes created by petrol engines along with the time and cost involved in refuelling them. Petrol gardening equipment also requires more maintenance and has a tendency to be much heavier and nosier than battery or electric powered machines.
Where do I find out more about STIGA products?
Visit our website for all the latest products and news – www.stiga.com/uk.
We also have an online news magazine with monthly blogs and gardening tips at www.stiga.com/uk/magazine.
You can also visit one of our many independent Stiga dealerships up and down the country. Find your nearest at www.stiga.com/uk/store-locator.