BMWs, icons of the working garden
Have you ever noticed the number of BMWs your landscape company arrives with to use on your property, and to what extent it demonstrates the impact on the aesthetic value, visually and physically?
From a garden maintenance point of view, blowers, mowers and weed whackers are a relatively recent introduction to the “tools of the trade” list of garden implements.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a thing of beauty should be a joy for ever, if it is looked after and maintained to an acceptable level. Fallen foliage is a valuable source of compost – if stored correctly – and can be recycled in the garden when ready. Small clippings of twigs and deadheaded flowers can also be composted for future use, which is an asset to the garden as well as a money saver in not having to be trucked away.
Lawns are most appealing when comprised of lawn grasses mown to a designated height and maintained to encourage a constant thick sward of lawn grass without weed infestation. Mowing is a critical exercise in lawn care, with height of cut being a key factor in achieving a good weed-free lawn.
Not so very long ago, lawn edging was carried out by long arm-lawn shears which gave a nice straight finish which was followed up by “flicking” the soil back from the lawn edge with a half moon, thus forming a V which stopped the lawn growing into the flower bed.
Weeding of hard landscaped areas and tall weeds in flower beds was maintained by using a Dutch hoe. This was especially useful in flower beds as it was an easy exercise in pushing the hoe through the surface of the soil, which removed germinating seeds and young plants, including the roots. Pruning was an exercise carried out with secateurs – for small cuts – loppers and handsaws for larger pruning.
Are BMWs worth their billing as valuable, time-saving efficient entities? Consider the facts: Blowers are used, in most cases, to disperse leaves etc to any location, as long as they are out of sight. What this means is that they are likely to be further dispersed around the garden during the next windy period. Picking them up and either composting on site or removing from the site would be far more beneficial in time and money.
Mowers are removed from the back of the truck and trundled around the lawn area at whatever height the blades are set at, which is not good for the grass in the short- or long-term. Height of cut should be dictated by grass type, as this will create a superior lawn visually and, with proper weed control, a weed-free, thick-swarded lawn.
Weedwhackers, the tool for any accessible job that needs to be reduced in size and/or generally disfigured, create curved outlines of the lawn whilst scouring chunks of earth from the surface.
More haste less speed fits the average landscape maintenance to a tee; speed reduces the exercise of observation which is a valuable tool in identifying potential problems and treating them accordingly. An infestation of insects or a disease can spread rapidly if not noted in its early stages, with the result being a heavily damaged plant or “disfigured” appearance of the lawn.
It seems the need of knowledge in garden maintenance is slowly ebbing away into the annals of history, which I would suggest is diminishing the aesthetic values of the garden and landscape in general. It is an old saying, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”; it can also be a costly exercise to boot.
In today’s fast-moving lifestyle it is worth, on occasion, to remember “the good old days” when life was slower and “measure twice and cut once” was an accepted axiom!
Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the United Kingdom. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society