When I meet clients for the first time, as part of the initial discussion I usually get asked how long a project can take to complete and also when it is the best time to plant. Expectations can vary and I think at an early stage it is useful to be realistic about project timings to ensure that a project can be a success. So, below are some guidelines, based on my experiences, for actual project timings in what might be described as a ‘typical residential property’ together with the best times for soft landscaping.
Designer selection Variable
Survey and design 3-6 weeks
Contractor selection 2-6 weeks
Interim period between contractor selection and hard landscaping start Variable
Hard landscaping 2-10 weeks
Soft landscaping 1 week
Best Times for Soft Landscaping:
Trees / shrubs
Best planted between October and April, not when ground is either waterlogged or frozen. Container grown plants can be planted anytime (as long as the soil is not frozen or waterlogged) but must be watered regularly in the dry seasons. Bare root plants are only available in autumn and winter and must be planted immediately.
Best planted when ground is moist in spring (March to early May) or autumn (late September to October) although container grown plants can be planted anytime as long as plants are watered in the warmer months.
Spring flowering bulbs (e.g. daffodils) should be planted by end of September. Tulips should be planted in November. Hardy summer flowering bulbs (alliums, lilies) should be planted in September / October. Autumn flowering bulbs (nerines) should be planted by late summer.
Lawn from Turf
Turf is best laid in mid-autumn, but can be laid any time between mid-autumn and late winter whenever the soil is not too wet or frosty. In spring and autumn little mowing is needed so newly-laid turf can be left relatively undisturbed for several weeks. Turf laid in spring often needs watering in dry spells over summer. Both dry soils and mowing before grass is fully rooted, stresses turf and delays rooting. Turf-laying is best avoided from mid-spring until early autumn to avoid the need to repeated watering.
Lawn from Seed
Seed germinates most readily in early autumn and mid-spring. The soil is warm, there is plenty of moisture and the weather is neither too cold nor too hot. Germination should take between seven and 10 days and seedlings will become established before the first severe frosts in late autumn, this is the preferred time as the roots establish better through the winter. Sowing seed in spring, grass will want to flower quite early before roots have established.
I'm really excited to have been shortlisted for the Pro Landscaper Small Project Big Impact award, Design and Build under £35K.
Rob Howard, Garden Designer