Sub-zero landscaping

landworks-trenches-in-the-ice-aberporth

It’s been a cold, hard week of freezing temperatures. It’s hard to dig trenches in frozen soil, and it doesn’t help when the little terrier steals the tennis ball from the collies and won’t give it back!

landworks-drilling-the-frozen-earth-aberporth

At the start of the week we used a pick-axe and mattock to get through the frozen soil, but by Friday the earth was solid to a depth of 12cms (5 inches) and we had to try something else. We’ve never used a hammer drill to dig before, but it certainly worked!

landworks-completed-vegetable-beds-aberpoth

We built nine raised, level beds in this gently sloping garden. Several smaller beds are easier to manage than a single large one, as you can have different crops in each bed and there is access all around for planting and harvesting.

landworks-fighting-the-coastal-wind-tresaith

With the job successfully completed, the only remaining challenge was to try and fold the tarpaulin up in winds gusting at up to 80km/h….

Good bye, January!

landworks-dawn-behind-buds-cardigan

January is a notoriously miserable month, and this one has been a prizewinner. Rain, mud, biting winds and general gloom as far as the eye can see. But if you look a bit closer, there’s plenty to fee good about. Buds are swelling ready to burst into flower or leaf, and snowdrops are up with daffodils not far behind.

Primroses

Primroses are coming out now, and garden birds are starting to establish their territories ready for mating. The days are getting longer….and this is the perfect time to think about your garden.

Thank you flowers

Is your garden becoming more cheerful with bright hyacinths, daffodils, hellebores and snowdrops? If not, make a note on your calendar for this autumn – ‘plant spring bulbs’. And if your whole garden is lacking that certain something – why not contact us for a bit of inspiration? March is only just around the corner….

Working around storm Cristoph

landworks-cilgerran-garden-pembrokeshire

Working in winter in West Wales often involves working in fairly extreme weather, but storm Cristoph added a few extra problems to this garden near Llechryd….

landworks-trench-pots-cilgerran-pembrokeshire

Before the storm arrived, we protected our half-metre-deep trench with extra-large tree pots to prevent it collapsing from the weight of the rain.

landworks-muddy-tools-cilgerran-pembrokeshire

After the rain had stopped, we were back to work in the mud. We got filthy, the tools got filthy and the mud was so deep we lost a lump hammer without trace!

landworks-muddy-wellies-cilgerran-llechryd

We were building a half-sleeper boundary wall to honour the Cardi bach railway that once ran along this site. It was opened in 1886 and served small quarries and mines as well as passengers. It was closed in 1963, and only fragments of the original structure still remain.

landworks-upright-sleeper-wall-cilgerran-pembrokeshire

The structure is ready for some original iron fixings to be added, and local history is commemorated.

Attracting wildlife

landworks-natural-treehole-birdbox-carmarthenshire

Everyone loves seeing birds in their garden, and many people put up bird boxes to encourage them to nest. But there are good bird boxes and bad bird boxes. Here is a quick guide to selecting and positioning a birdbox for your garden. Some birds won’t nest in boxes until they have been in position for a couple of months, so now is the time to get them up!

landworks-short-nestbox-carmarthenshire

Firstly, the materials are important. Never use creosoted or treated timber, as this can harm the birds. Untreated timber is best – larch (like this one) or oak (like the one above) are ideal. Pick a sturdy box with thick timber, tight joints and an overlapping roof, as these will last longer.

Tall nestbox, Carmarthenshire

Each bird has its own preferences. Boxes like these are perfect as they actually contain the hole in a tree that the bird is naturally looking for. Holes need to be different sizes for different species – 32mm for great tits and nuthatches; 25mm for blue tits.

landworks-barn-owl-box-aberporth

Some birds such as owls have their nests very high to avoid predators (this barn owl box is in a tall ash tree). Smaller birds rely on small entrance holes to protect their young families, while robins like to nest in more open boxes in thick vegetation. Cats, rats, squirrels and magpies are clever and determined predators – make sure your boxes are secure.

landworks-boxes-and-feeders-carmarthenshire

Information on the best size and position for nestboxes can be found on the RSPB website. The wood and timber boxes featured in this post are made by a local naturalist from fallen trees. Contact us for more information – prices start from around £25 and each box is unique.

Tree planting

January – tree planting time! We are in our second year planting and restoring hedgerows at a 200-year-old farm in Ceredigion. We use bare-root trees a for large-scale planting jobs, as they are lightweight and economical.

landworks-hedgerow-plantingresaith

We are planting a native mix including hawthorn, guelder rose, field maple, rowan, oak, spindle, hazel and hornbeam. These will provide food and shelter for birds, small mammals and insects.

landworks-fleece-and-woodshavings-mulch-cardigan

Bareroot trees are often planted through plastic to keep weeds down and allow the trees to establish. We have come up with a natural and biodegradable alternative – each tree is protected with a handful of sheep wool covered with woodshavings.

landworks-tree-planting-tresaith-ceredigion

We planted over one thousand trees last winter, and hope to do more this year. On a dry, clear day it’s a wonderful job, but winter in Wales is often very wet indeed….