Spring is defiantly upon us. There’s a glorious display of spring flowers everywhere you look, with daffodils taking centre stage. Hedgerows are also now coming into leaf, all encouraged by the recent spell of warm fine weather.
I took full advantage of the warm weather and took it upon myself to get my mower out of the garage and start mowing and renovating a few of my customers’ lawns.
With soil and air temperatures now into double figures, these favourable temperatures will promote some much-needed grass growth. April is a good time to carry out any relevant spring renovation work to your lawns. This usually sees an application of moss killer, a light scarification of the lawn in two or three directions to remove any dead moss and clean out the base of the grass plant in order to be able to re populate the lawn with some new grass seed. Also, if required, you could aerate the lawn and finish off with applying a granular spring 9.7.7 NPK ratio or similar fertiliser product. Within a couple of weeks you should start to see a vast improvement to the appearance of your lawn.
This favourable weather will have encouraged and helped the hundreds of cricket grounds professionals and volunteers to complete their pre-season rolling programmes as well as their wicket preparations for the start of the playing season - usually beginning in April.
Green Flag Awards
Last week I was also given notice of the start of the Green Flag awards programme where us judges are given a list of parks and public open spaces to assess. Every year I, along with some 400 other judges, are enlisted to help examine over 2000 parks and public open spaces in the UK.
The Green Flag Award scheme say they recognise and reward well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.
The purpose and aim of the scheme is to ensure that everybody has access to quality green and other open spaces, irrespective of where they live and ensure that these spaces are appropriately managed and meet the needs of the communities that they serve.
I have been judging parks for well over ten years now and find it very rewarding to see that considering all the government cutbacks, many local authorities are still trying to deliver decent standards of maintenance and retain the many skills required to look after these very diverse public spaces.
The awards started in 1997, when the first Green Flags were awarded. The green space sector in the United Kingdom was in a parlous state. Decades of underfunding had left many once proud and beautiful historic city centre parks derelict, dangerous, no-go areas, and many other green spaces were neglected or barely maintained.
Experts with a shared interest in promoting natural spaces from a range of backgrounds came together in response to this decline. The Scheme was directed by a Steering Group made up of individuals and representatives of larger organisations, led by Mark Davis of the Pesticides Action Network UK.
Their intention was to establish agreed standards of good management, to help to justify and evaluate funding, and to bring people back into the parks. And it worked. As the Standard became established, other green spaces began to apply for the Award, and now Green Flags fly over parks, cemeteries and crematoria, recreation grounds, canals, reservoirs, educational campuses, hospital grounds, housing estates, nature reserves and allotments. There is no limit on the size of the site; they currently range from less than one hectare to thousands of hectares. So I am looking forward to meeting the many people who are responsible for maintaining and managing these nominated parks.
And finally, I was recently invited to one of recent Fully Charged Cordless Roadshow events at Harper Adams University, one of eleven held throughout the month of March.
The event was organised by STIHL to allow larger professional users, such as councils and major landscaping contractors, exclusive access to its range of cordless machines, as well as providing local dealers with what the company describe as "more support than ever before."
There’s no doubt the range of cordless STIHL products continues to grow, with many now equally as powerful has their petrol-powered equivalents. I was personally interested in the running and charging times of these new products - all of which are now powered by a range of different powered batteries to suit the needs of the machine being used. With chainsaws and blowers requiring more energy to run its important you use the right battery to give you the running times you need. However, with charging times coming down significantly and the fact you can multicharge more than one battery at a time, effectively there will be no down time on the use of these new cordless products.
The benefits of using battery powered tools are immense in that noise and vibration levels are reduced dramatically, and they are generally lighter and more ergonomically cleaner and easier to handle.
Mark Hall the estates manager at Harper Adams University was impressed with the performance of the new cordless chainsaw range and says he can see many benefits from using these products in and around the university campus due to their reduced noise levels.
I’d like to thank STIHL for inviting me. I was certainly impressed by the continuing growing range of their battery products now on offer. I may myself be looking at investing in a couple of their products - namely a FSA135 R battery powered strimmer, FSA 84R hedge trimmer and a BGA 200 handheld blower.