Chemical Free Weed Control by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Periwinkles are a popular ground covering plant

Chemical Free Weed Control

Geotextile membranes were one of the great gardening innovations of the 20th century promoted as a chemical free low maintenance weed control solution, used in conjunction with decorative mulches such as bark flakes or gravel.

Generally unsuitable for use in an herbaceous border or where bulbs are planted membranes are primarily found for separation of gravel surfaces from the underlying soil and within mass plantings of shrubs and trees.

In the short term geotextiles can be highly effective at providing a low cost/low maintenance option for these areas but it would be a mistake to believe that they are maintenance free. Typically the kind of issues that may arise are birds disturbing decorative bark mulches thus exposing the underlying fabric and the effect of strong gusts of wind actually lifting the fabric away from where it has been placed.

Geotextiles are popularly used for weed control

This is far less of an issue where gravel mulches have been used but other problems can arise. Despite claims to the contrary by the manufacturers in our experience these membranes impede the exchange of air within the soil resulting in the ground becoming compacted, anaerobic, slimy and poorly drained with little beneficial earthworm activity apparent. This does not represent good growing conditions for healthy plants to thrive in.

In the longer term further negative impacts have become apparent. Whenever a mulch is used it will over a period of time trap wind-blown dusty soil particles and seeds, often those of the most vigorous invasive weeds such as bramble, nettle or couch grass. Under these circumstances ideal germination conditions may arise and these seedlings will soon anchor themselves to the membrane and worse still eventually root through it into the soil beneath.

Weedy & neglected, the plants have failed to thrive despite the use of a membrane

Dealing with this kind of scenario, especially once the perennial weeds are well established negates any benefit derived from the use of the geotextile with the most likely solution being to grub everything out and replant afresh.

A solution that appears to work best is to plant quite densely and to omit the membrane, using  a decently thick layer of composted bark instead.  Ground smothering plants such as periwinkles are a particularly useful way of filling the gaps in and around other trees and other shrubs. The planting needs to be regularly inspected and any losses made good, the bark needs to be topped up as necessary and any incipient weeds dealt with before they have become established.

Please visit our Tim Brayford Landscapes  website email or phone 07890 869918 to discuss how we can assist you with your landscape garden project.




An Isle of Wight Wildlife Garden by Tim Brayford Landscapes

Tim Brayford Landscapes – A flowering currant & bee

Well before wildlife friendly gardens became fashionable Tim Brayford Landscapes was in the forefront of their design and installation on the Isle of Wight.

Here a grateful client recounts her experience:-

She had bought a pair of run down country cottages in a rural setting complete with badly overgrown neglected gardens.

She said that “I simply could not visualise what to do with the garden and although I am keen gardener I am not  very knowledgeable” so she turned to us for help and said “Tim picks up on what I want and makes it better, we work together and he makes suggestions as to what might work”


Tim Brayford Landscapes – Wildflowers attract wildlife

The cottages are built into a slope so it was necessary to integrate level grassy areas into steeper banks, our client was concerned that her grandchildren might slide down these banks when the grass was wet. She wanted to create a natural break and barrier.

We suggested edging the area with Box hedging planting inside with ground hugging plants including Geraniums, Campanulas and Pulmonaria.

Our client was pleased that we had” translated her ideas into reality and wanted an easy care garden that also put something back to the countryside, but had to be practical regarding maintenance”

crab apples

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Crab Apples

It was important to her that wildlife should be encouraged with habitat for visiting birds and butterflies. We suggested putting in a small wood as with careful management this could be established in a confined space. We planted Silver Birch, Rowan, Crab Apples, Sweet Chestnut and Hazels together with indigenous Cowslips, Bluebells and Snowdrops, whilst Common Orchids naturalised in the surrounding grass.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Toad & Ivy

Fragrant climbing Roses and Honeysuckles attract insect life to some trelliswork and overall our client is delighted with the rich variety of wildlife visiting her garden, these include many different birds and butterflies and Dormice may even be feasting on the Hazel nuts.

She commented ” I still cannot believe I wake up in the morning and see all this. It is my idea of heaven”

Tim Brayford Landscapes – A visiting partridge gives his approval

Please visit our website or contact us by email or phone 07890 869918 to discuss how we can assist you with your landscape garden project.



Peat Free Gardening by Tim Brayford Landscapes Isle of Wight

A natural peat bog, according to the IUCN peatlands store 30% of global carbon

Peat has long been used within the horticultural industry both as a growing medium used in composts and as a soil conditioner. It is a natural product composed of slowly decaying plant material built up over many thousands of years.

It is harvested primarily from lowland raised peat bogs, an increasingly endangered form of habitat along with the flora and fauna that it supports. But this is not all, it efficiently locks up atmospheric CO2 forming an effective and vital buffer against climate change.

Modern peat harvesting destroys the original peat bog

Fortunately advances in recycling and composting technology has rendered the use of peat redundant for most conventional gardening purposes. Peat free compost is made up mainly from recycled waste organic material such as bark, sawdust, coir, paper etc. blended with inorganic materials such as sand , grit or perlite, with fertiliser added as appropriate.

Ways to avoid using peat:-

Only purchase composts specifically labelled as being “Peat Free”

Use recycled garden waste as a soil improver and conditioner. Traditionally gardeners have done this for themselves by constructing their own compost heap, high quality recycled composts are also available from many municipal authorities

Source plants from nurseries and garden centres that have peat free policies

Plant only what will already grow in your existing soil without adding peat

Raised peat bog flora like this Bog Cranberry will be destroyed by harvesting

It is the policy of Tim Brayford Landscapes to avoid using peat and peat based products.

To learn more about what we have to offer please visit our website, email or call 07890869918