Monthly Archives: July 2018

  • 10 Great summer holiday garden games for children

    School’s out and summer fun is in!

    Water Slide
    Image by Luke Porter (Unsplash)

    We did a quick, entirely unscientific poll of mums and dads to find out what the kids really love to do in the garden in 2018 – and for many, old school games are still tops. Here are 10 of the most popular activities for children of primary school age…

    1. Bubbly mower. Where else could we start, but with the children’s lawnmower that blows bubbles?! Suitable for children aged 3 and over, they’re great fun for the younger ones – and they don’t cost the earth.
    2. Make a splash. Whether it’s paddling pools, water pistols or water fights, doing stuff with water was the clear Number 1 in our poll of parents. Just make sure it doesn’t contravene any water restrictions that might be in place!
    3. Penalty competitions. We couldn’t leave this one out, after England’s first ever penalty shoot-out success in the World Cup.  Mark out a penalty spot, invest in a net and you’re ready for action. Don’t have a net? Not a problem … a couple of jumpers are a good substitute.
    4. Garden Olympics.  Hula hoop and skipping contests, egg and spoon races, boules, badminton and tug-of-war are all popular this year, again showing that the oldies are still goodies. Skittles are dead easy too, using a tennis ball and empty water bottles.
    5. Build a den. All you need for a perfect hideaway is a few bamboo canes, an old sheet and something comfy to sit on. Or go natural, by creating a den amongst the trees.
    6. Bounce. Trampolining came a close 2nd to water games in our poll. A trampoline is a bit more of an investment, but it’s guaranteed to get plenty of use.
    7. Wheelie fun. Scooters are right up there with trampolines and water games this year. But when it comes to fun with wheels in the garden, you can’t beat a wheelbarrow race!
    8. Get arty. Wall murals will add a splash of colour to the garden, but for something the children can do over and over again, buy a roll of lining paper from the DIY store and let them get creative – and messy – on the lawn.
    9. Treasure hunt. Hide or bury a treasure chest of goodies, with a trail of clues in envelopes for them to follow en route to finding their rewards.
    10. Nature activities. Planting and tending plants and creating nature-friendly zones are a great way for children to get involved in the garden. Or buy them a little trowel so they can join in when you’re doing the gardening.

    All we need now is for the fabulous summer we’ve enjoyed so far in the UK to last throughout the school summer holidays!

  • Lawnmower racing - the grassroots Grand Prix!

    July 5-8 sees one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, the Formula 1® 2018 Rolex British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone.
    lawnmower mower
    Hamilton v Vettel, Mercedes v Ferrari; Ricciardo v Verstappen, Red Bull v Red Bull!  With the cars costing millions of pounds to build, and reaching speeds of over 200mph, who wouldn’t want to swap places with the stars of the track, even for just one day? The thrill of the race, the exhilaration of hitting those speeds. Ah, if only.

    However, there is a version of motor racing that’s open to everyone – lawnmower racing. It might not be quite so quick – the top speeds are 50-60mph – but if it’s good enough for Sir Stirling Moss, then it’s good enough for us.

    It all started in a pub

    As with so many good ideas, lawnmower racing was born out of a chat with mates over a beer down the local pub. It was 1973, the pub was The Cricketers Arms in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, and the man with the lightbulb moment was motor sports fan and former Ford rally driver, Jim Gavin. Fed up that Formula 1 had become inaccessible and commercialised, Jim and his pals organised a race in a field in the village – and 80 racers turned up with their mowers. A 1923 Atco was among them!

    The new sport soon took off and has attracted big name celebrities and motor racing legends, including Sir Stirling Moss, Murray Walker, Chris Evans and Kimi Raikkonen. Sir Stirling, a veteran of 16 Formula 1 victories, won the Lawnmower ‘Grand Prix’ in 1975 and 1976 – there’s a wonderful black-and-white photo from the 1975 race, where an Atco lawnmower is pictured just ahead of him! Sadly, the rights prohibit us using the photo – but you can see it if you do an internet search.

    These days, races take place right across the UK, run by the British Lawnmower Racing Association (BLMRA), a non-profit organisation that uses the events to raise money for charity. The biggest event of the year is the 12-Hour Endurance Race which this year takes place near Billinghurst in Sussex on 4 August.

    Push or ride, you decide

    The first ever race was for self-propelled, roller-driven mowers – and the spirit lives on in the Group 1 races. Basically, the mowers will go as fast as you can push them!

    Group 2 is for cylinder-type roller-driven mowers with a towed seat. The BLMRA reckon that Atco lawnmowers are among the most popular in this group.

    Groups 3 and 4 are the fastest. Group 3 is for ride-on wheel-driven mowers with no obvious bonnet, and Group 4 is for ride-on wheel-driven tractors with a bonnet. For more exact definitions and rules and information on how to get involved, visit the website, www.blmra.co.uk.

    Mowers might not be ready to give the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari a run for their money – yet – but lawnmower racing really does bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘grassroots’ sport!

  • July is the pinnacle of summer

    JULY is the pinnacle of summer. It’s when we’re anticipating our holidays and just want to enjoy being in our gardens. And why not? You did all that hard work (well, it wasn’t that hard I hope, but it should have really paid off) – you now deserve some deck chair time. So, other than mowing with a good sharp blade (and keeping the air filter clear – there’s a lot of dust around), the only thing to worry about – or not – is watering. And watering lawns just happens to be one of my hot topics…
    July garden
    If summer is being kind to us, one of the concerns we may be having is whether to water the lawn or not.  In fact, dependent on what our irrational weather has thrown at us, you may already be watering but here are some helping points regarding water.

    Water is the world’s most valuable resource and plenty of thought should be made before you decide to embark on what could be a lengthy and costly watering program.

    DO I NEED TO WATER THE LAWN? You’re going to feel concerned if your lawn is beginning to brown up in dry conditions. But if the lawn is basically in good condition (and assuming the rains return eventually… and they will!) then there is nothing to worry about. Grass always bounces back. In fact the turning brown is not a symptom of it being unwell but simply its own proven survival technique. But yes, there are plenty of reasons why you may want to minimise this seasonal behaviour. So…

    WHEN SHOULD I WATER? Many think about watering when the lawn is already brown.  It’s a simple fact that to get the lawn lush green again, it will take a lot of water; so it makes much more sense to water the lawn earlier, before it gets too dry. With the plant still growing, it can utilise the water more efficiently.

    HOW DO I WATER? For maximum efficiency there are some things to consider.

    Do you have a water supply sufficient to be able to put enough water down in the time frame you have?  Many never know their water pressure and when it comes to the time to water, soon realise that watering may be a mammoth time-consuming task.

    Do you have the correct tools to be able to water quickly and efficiently?  Do you plan to water by hand?  Is your sprinkler working correctly?  Do you have all the connectors you need?

    Have you worked out the best time to apply the water, to ensure the plant gets the best use out of it?  Evening (after 8pm) is the optimum time as the grass has all night to use the water more efficiently.  Mornings are ok, but you have to remember that soon, it will be warm and moisture can be drawn back to the surface.  And that’s not great for the roots.

    July dog

    So, water is expensive and the life source to all; choose to use it well and don’t waste it. If you can live with a little browning mid-summer, then do. It’s just your lawn having a ‘siesta’ as it’s done for millions of years – and when it’s ready it will soon green up again.

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