When I told Cruella (my wife) that I wasn’t looking forward to scarifying and slitting the lawn. I explained to her that the scarifying machine was terrifying. Don’t worry she instantly said I’ll do it, I like scarifying and I will invite some friends over to help. And that dear reader is how it came about that I woke up the next morning to find Cruella and her terrifying friends dancing around the lawn in ritualistic circles. The photo below explains all.
23rd October 2021. Things I have been doing lately:
Scarifying the lawn. If you have a lawn – and I recognise that not many people do in Spain – then now is the time to give it a reviving scarification. All lawns get a build up of thick matted dead grass, which if left in place long term will cause water logging and patchiness. To stop this happening then you need to completely scarify the lawn every year or at least every two years. Now if you have a small lawn then you can do this with a grass rake, just scratch away at the surface and gradually remove all the underlying dead grass which has formed a thatch.
However, if like me you have a large lawn then you are better off buying or renting a scarifier. I have owned a scarifier for about 3 years but have to work up my courage to use it. It makes a tremendous noise stirs up huge clouds of dust and coats me from head to toe in dead grass. To scarify your lawn, first cut it very short, then water it and wait till the next afternoon before scarifying. The blades of grass should be dry, but the soil moist. All you have to do then is just hang on and pray for dear life. The photos below show me toiling in the wake of the scarifier.
It is not time to prune trees or to undertake the big Winter cut back; that will all happen in January. However, there is some tidying up you can be doing. Here are some of the things I am up to at the moment.
Trimming up the False Pepper tree. The Californian or Peruvian False Pepper Tree is a big favourite in Spain. This tree with its weeping willow looks can be a stunner in any garden, providing you keep it neatly trimmed. Too often I see glowering monstrosities spilling over garden fences and onto the pavement. To get the best out of this tree keep it neat but not constrained. I trim my tree back about every 6 months to keep its shape and do a drastic chop back every 5 years. The photos below show my False Pepper before its very overdue trim and in its new neatly coiffed appearance.
Tidy Yuccas and Palms. If you have growth coming from the bottom of your Palm trees and unwanted growth on your Yuccas (all of which sounds a bit Frankie Howerd; international readers will need to look him up on Google) then now is the time to take them off. This growth saps strength from the main plant and to my eyes is not aesthetically pleasing. Just using long handled lopers slice off the unwanted foliage and compost where appropriate. The photos below some examples of foliage I removed.
In addition to snipping off the unwanted foliage I also tackled the big cutback of my European Fan Palms. The photos below show the battle; I emerged the victor bloodied but unbowed.
Tying up Cannas. By now your Cannas will be looking untidy and scraggly. But don’t you dare cut them down; if you do you will be left with weak, weedy growth next Spring. Instead you need to tie your Cannas up and hold them in place. By doing this you will be allowing the plant to draw the maximum benefit from the foliage back into the Corm (ugly bulb) fattening it up and getting it ready to burst with life next Spring. The photos below show some of my Cannas newly tied up but looking like Cruella after a night at the Coven.
Finally check your irrigation. Now that we are firmly moving into Autumn you need to do a couple of things with your irrigation systems. Firstly, alter your timings to allow for the fact that most things will either stop growing, or grow only very slowly. So you will need to alter the watering intervals and also the length of watering time. Secondly, you need to check your batteries. I have 10 seperate watering timers, but I change all the batteries at the same time to ensure that all are in good working order. It is a false economy to think some are ok, and that way lies confusion. Dont forget to make a note of the date when you did the big battery change over. The photo below shows me at the start of the process.