Starting 2017 the green way

We all know that Christmas can sometimes get out of hand. There’s tinsel and glitter everywhere, enough chocolate to last you a year and your gift budget went out of the window weeks ago. But don’t worry, there is one thing you can do with your real Christmas tree that will leave you with a big, eco-friendly smile on your face.

mulch

If you chose a real Christmas tree rather than an artificial one, your carbon footprint is already lower than if you had bought a fake one. To go the extra mile, why not turn your Christmas tree into mulch and give it back to your garden this year?

Mulch is material made up of decaying plant matter such as leaves and bark. By using it on top of your existing soil, it can be beneficial to your plants in a number of ways. It will prevent weeds from sprouting through, help retain moisture, ease water drainage and provide an excellent environment for worms and other insects that your garden relies on.

Start by sawing off your Christmas tree’s branches and leaves. Using Cobra’s 40v Cordless Chainsaw will make light work of it – there are no wires to get in the way and its 14inch Oregon bar and chain will cut with ease. Then, cut the tree trunk into small, manageable pieces.

chainsaw-captured-from-website

Cobra’s Quiet Shredder with a large 50 litre collection box will finish the job off quickly and efficiently. The Cobra QS2500 quiet drum shredder is supplied with a practical plunger to help feed through the branches, trunk and leaves and will help to speed up the shredding of heavier loads.

shredder

What would normally be an impossible task without this shredder can be completed within minutes. Cobra’s Quiet Shredder also has a safety mechanism which cuts the motor if the collection box is removed. For extra safety, always remember to wear protective gloves and eyewear when using the shredder.

…and that’s it – your mulch is ready to use! You can spread it around your borders, underneath planted shrubs and in your pots – the garden will thank you!

 

GARDENING JOBS FOR THE MONTH – DECEMBER

December is a quiet time in the garden, many of the plants are lying dormant, waiting for the first warmth of spring to emerge. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of jobs that you can be getting on with, particularly preparing for the new year.

If you haven’t already, you should be protecting your plants through December and January from the cold snaps. Move any potted plants to a sheltered area, such as a greenhouse or conservatory. Alternatively, group potted plants together close to a wall of your house, garage or shed, this way they will be less exposed to strong winds and the colder weather.

It is a good idea to clear fallen leaves from driveways and pathways using a leaf blower. Cobra’s BV65-24v Cordless Blower is the perfect tool for the job; lightweight, compact and powerful. Once it rains (let’s face it, it will!), leaves that have fallen on the ground quickly begin to rot and become slippery. If left, a winter frost will make them stick to the ground, turn hard and icy. The Cordless Blower by Cobra allows you to quickly and easily clear your garden of leaves, making it safer and looking much tidier!bv6524v-angle-2-1

Now is the best time to prune apple and pear trees, as the leaves will have fallen off and the plant itself is dormant. If you have neglected to prune your trees for a while don’t despair, it can be made simply with Cobra’s P20E Electric Powered Pole Pruner – designed specifically to reach awkward heights and angles to prune effectively. With an extendable bar than can reach up to 2.7 metres, you can prune longer branches with ease.p20e-pole-pruner

Start by removing dying, dead, diseased, damaged or weak branches. Remove older branches by cutting back to the origin, and don’t be afraid to cut any branches back that have grown too high, too wide or are causing congestion at the centre of the tree.

Cobra’s Pole Pruner is also ideal for cutting firewood! At this time of year, who is going to say no to a cosy, log-burning fire?

 

 

 

 

Know your engine

Here at Cobra we pride ourselves on offering something for everyone which is why we have electric, battery and petrol powered models available (we also now have hand models too…).

Petrol machinery often requires a tiny bit more TLC than the other, particularly at this time of year, but it’s certainly worth it!

The first tip for getting to know your engine may seem a bit obvious but be sure to read the instructions! Each machine is different and the operator manual contains a treasure trove of information and advice.

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If you’ve lost your Cobra manual then visit w as each product page has instruction manuals available to download.  Another vital source of advice is your local dealer who can help you with any questions. Click here to find your local Cobra garden machinery dealer.

The next step is to get familiar with your engine to find out about prepping it before starting, as 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines vary in the steps required to get going!

2-stroke engines require 1 part 2-stroke oil to every 40 parts petrol (1:40). We cannot recommend strongly enough how important it is to use high quality oil to protect the engine and extend its lifespan. Again your local dealer can assist you with this.  Once you’ve mixed the two, carefully pour them into the engine being careful not to spill anything.

A 4-stroke engine requires oil and petrol separately, and will have separate tanks and indicators for this. Identify the oil reservoir first, check the dipstick and it if needs a top up pour the oil in as directed in the instructions. Then add fresh unleaded petrol to the fuel tank. Unleaded petrol deteriorates very quickly and “tired” fuel can cause equipment starting problems so keep it fresh!

When it comes to winter storage be sure to clean down equipment properly and drain the fuel tank or add a fuel stabiliser to protect the carburetor. 4-stroke engines will require the oil draining at the end of the season too. Clean off any old grass cuttings – a blower is useful for this – and lightly spray the cutting blade with an aerosol lubricant. Most importantly, store it somewhere secure and dry. You’ll definitely appreciate it when it comes to spring and your machinery starts with complete ease!!

Our Garden of the Year competition with BBC Gardeners’ World

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Earlier this year we partnered with BBC Gardeners’ World magazine for our Garden of the Year competition, celebrating Britain’s best private gardens.

The results are in!

But there’s one final stage and this is where you come in! We’re handing it over to the public to pick the winner of the People’s Choice award.

We have the three winners from each category, and it’s over to you to pick your overall favourite.

By voting, you’ll automatically be entered into our draw to win 1 of 5 £100 prizes of Cobra equipment.

Click here to see more about the gardens and to cast your vote http://www.bit.ly/gw-garden-comp

The winners were:

Family Plot – Magda D’Ingeo, Surrey

Magda is a passionate gardener, but the arrival of her daughter (now four) made her see her 8m x 12m new-build plot through fresh eyes. Hidden among the greenery are areas for children to discover: a scented bower with rope swing and a vine-covered treehouse. It was designed as a whole, so has unity and practicality with multi-tasking spaces such as the sandpit that turns into a cocktail table.

“I wanted a natural playground to entice her outdoors, stimulate her imagination and senses, and share my love of plants with her. So in 2015 I redesigned it as a ‘garden within a garden’.”

Wildlife Garden – Pam Woodall, Dorset

Faced with an impenetrable jungle of brambles, fallen trees, rubbish and junk, Pam had a hard task ahead in creating the wildlife haven she has today. Developed in keeping with the natural environment, Pam opened up the ‘jungle’ to reveal plants, to which she added more, mainly from seed or division. The result is a tranquil place with ponds, lush vegetation and vibrant flowers, teeming with wildlife including amphibians, birds, squirrels, insects, badgers and deer.

“The garden is still evolving, but the transformation in only three years is amazing. Derek the deer and Wallace the woodpecker certainly seem to appreciate it.”

Small Space – Steve Moodey, Oxfordshire

When Steve began cultivating his 23m x 8m garden seven years ago, he first had to clear it of the old equipment, waste and debris left by its previous owners. Steve created areas of shade and micro-climates in order to grow tender tropicals in his south-facing space, and experimented with plants and overwintering techniques. The garden is overlooked by the neighbouring houses, so secluded areas were added for privacy. Steve opens his garden for charity, but most of the time he uses it as a space to “unwind, lose myself and play outside as an adult.”

 

Congratulations to all of our winners, and the runners up who were Juan Carlos Cure, Cathy Harrison, Joanne Palmer, Richard Prior, Geoff Stonebanks and Jeremy Young.

Click here to see more about the gardens and to cast your vote http://www.bit.ly/gw-garden-comp

 

What to do in the garden in October

Traditionally October is a time for clearing the garden, removing the remains of summer blooms, putting protection in place for winter, and preparing for next spring. With the clocks changing and first frosts not too far off, here are our tips to make the most of your autumnal garden. leaves.jpg

Gardens are transformed throughout October with autumnal colours creeping in. This is a thing of beauty with a new colour palette appearing in the garden, but it also means one downside for gardeners – leaf fall!

Fallen leaves, if left unattended, can cause problems for lawns. They can prevent sunlight getting to the lawn, preventing healthy growth. They can also bring disease because of the bacteria that grows amongst them. However, this is easily conquered by clearing the leaves. Regular and often is the best way to keep on top of this. The Cobra range of leaf blowers makes this task incredibly easy, particularly with the BV26C petrol powered model as it also has a vac function which sucks up the leaves once collected. We encourage you to use the leaves for leaf mould and compost, ready for next spring.

BV26C.jpgIt’s not too late for mowing either! Once you’ve cleared the leaves off there’s nothing to stop you from maintaining your healthy lawn. At this time of year, it’s usually time to start considering when your final mow will be, but the mixed summer weather that we’ve had has meant the last mow date is being pushed back so keep on mowing!

Now is a good time to give you lawn some TLC before the winter sets it – consider an autumn lawn feed to stimulate good root growth and combine this with aeration (using the Cobra S32E) to prevent water logging and soil compaction. Spend time focussing on the edges too, as you’ll thank yourself later in the depths of winter when you can still access paths without slipping!

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When the last mow does come remember to store your equipment properly. Clean it up and keep it protected, particularly petrol powered equipment, to ensure it all starts properly next season. For further advice, and an end of season service, visit your local Cobra dealer.

Don’t forget as well to protect your plants from the cold! It’s also a good time to plant spring bedding plants and bulbs reading for a beautiful bloom next year.

A tool for every gardening task where space is of a premium!

Choosing the right garden tool can seem quite a challenge, particularly with so many options on the market. Storage for multiple tools can also pose a problem. With the Cobra 4-in-1 multi-tool system these problems are things of the past!
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The Cobra MT250C has everything needed to help around the garden without having to purchase and store four individual tools. The multi-tool is powered by a Cobra petrol 25cc engine and has four quality attachments – a grass trimmer, brushcutter and pole pruner and an articulating long reach hedgetrimmer.
 MT250C Full Multi Tool - Pole Pruner
The grass trimmer attachment tidies long grass and undergrowth thanks to its double line feed, as well as tap ‘n’ go for releasing more string when required with complete ease. It also features a robust guard to protect the user – and their flower beds!
The pole pruner helps to access hard to reach branches with its  long reach shaft and 30cm bar and chain, of chainsaw quality. Similarly, the hedgetrimmer feature has a 72cm shaft with 42cm cutting blade with 30mm tooth spacing along with an articulating head allowing you to easily adjust the angle of the cut through 180 degrees.
MT250C Full Multi Tool - Metal Blade
The lightweight MT250C multi-tool comes as standard with a single shoulder harness for enhanced user comfort. It retails at £219.99.

Helping your lawn in the heat

We might not be having the hottest summer in history but we do keep having the occasional burst of random sunshine for a few days at a time.

Even if those little amounts aren’t enough to make you feel like summer is here, your lawn will definitely be feeling it!

To help prepare you (and your lawn!) for when the sun next comes out, we’ve put together our top tips for how to keep your lawn healthy in the heat.

Watering

Keeping hydrated is vital when the sun shines – for you and your lawn! Although be careful to get the balance right. Just like Goldilocks your lawn can have too much or too little! Too much water can leave your lawn susceptible to pests and too little can dry it out.

Instead of in watering in small amounts daily, try every few days but for longer. This will prevent the root from growing too close to the surface.

water

The best time of day to water is early morning as watering at night leaves the grass time to cool and stay moist for an extended period of time, which can encourage disease.

To maximise the impact of your watering regime you may need to aerate your lawn to allow the water and oxygen into the turf. Our Cobra aerator can help with this, or you can go for the old-fashioned method of simply spiking with a garden fork.

Mowing

Don’t’ mow in the high heat as the lawn will lose all its moisture when the lawnmower cuts the grass blade.

Mow regularly to maintain a consistent grass length. However, the grass doesn’t necessarily need to be short. In fact, a higher cut allows more sunlight to access the grass.

More sunlight = more energy = more nutrients

Remember that grass is rich in water and nutrients so when you mow consider returning the cuttings back to the lawn. A Cobra mulching mower can help you this!

Control weeds

Although weeds grow all year round they somehow seem more prominent in the summer. The heat can accelerate their growth so you need to deal with them quickly. Daily checks around the garden will mean you can spot them as soon as they form and can remove them before they grow roots. Make sure you dig them up from the root to stop them coming back.

However, the best way to stop weeds completely is to have a healthy lawn! It’s a vicious circle really but a thick and well-maintained lawn will stop germination of weed seeds that are spread by wind.

 

If all that wasn’t enough make sure you seed any bare patches and give them particular attention!

 Even if the sun doesn’t shine, at least you’ll have a healthy lawn fully prepared to withstand the winter!