Q: I have a very overgrown berberis purpurea hedge with several birds nesting in it! Can you advise when is the best time to cut it back please, as I do not want to distress the chicks as and when they hatch? MM, Newport
A: I bet the birds love the cover of your overgrown hedge. To avoid disturbing nests prune between October and the end of February. Berberis can be pruned quite hard back.
Q: When should I start to feed tomatoes? I have been given ten plants and planted them in the greenhouse six weeks ago. They look good and the first lot of flowers is on them. I just feel now is the right time but is it? FE via email
A: Your gut feeling is good. Feed weekly with a high potash feed like tomorite as soon as the first flowers have set (you can see tiny fruit).
Q: We have a bay tree in our garden whose leaves we use for cooking, as do our neighbours and it’s wonderful but it has grown to the top of the shed roof now!! The question is should I cut it back and shape it a little or leave it to grow? Also, when is the best time to prune our lovely tree? GJ, Usk
A: Bay trees can get to quite a size if not pruned as you have found out. I would prune it every year in the summer but not too hard as it might be unsightly.
Q: We have a lawn that is one quarter moss and three quarters grass. We have tried raking it out as advised, then cultivating and re-seeding the area but the moss seems to be winning this battle. Help! We would like to win the war! ME, via email
A: I am afraid you have to keep battling. Under certain conditions ie moist and shade, moss will out compete grass. Unless these conditions are removed the war will go on.
Tips for the week:
June has been a dry month in the main and mulching over bare areas of soil will help to keep it moist. Cover spaces with bark, manure or chippings to reduce evaporation.
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