Weekend Work: Prepare sites for new lawns

What to do

This is a good time to start preparing sites for new lawns, to be sown later in September. The earth should be well raked and all clods knocked down with a fork.

Prune rambling roses, together with climbers that have only one season of flowering. Keep any new long growths that have sprung from the base of the rose and cut out entirely a few of the old growths that flowered this summer. If no new shoots have appeared, cut out one old growth and prune back side shoots on the rest.

There are several hardy annuals which will make a good show early next year if they are sown outside now in the place where you want them to flower. Sow as thinly as possible, cover lightly with sifted soil and firm down the earth on top of the seeds. Then protect them with netting until the seedlings are decently established. Annuals such as poppies, calendula, larkspur, limnanthes (called fried eggs because each flower has a brilliant yellow centre surrounded by white-tipped petals), love-in-the-mist, clarkia and cornflowers can all be treated in this fashion.

Take cuttings of shrubs such as berberis, phlomis and potentilla. They will root most easily in a light mixture of compost and sand or vermiculite. Choose shoots that are 15-20cm long and pull them off the parent bush so each has a bit of a "heel" (part of the older wood) attached. Bury them about 7cms deep and firm the compost down well around them. ......... 

Cut back chives, marjoram, mint and oregano to about 7cms from the ground to encourage fresh growth that you can use during the autumn.

What to buy

Growing things you've never grown before is one of the great pleasures of gardening. Bulbs are so cheap, there's no reason not to indulge in something unfamiliar. Try 'Allium cernuum' (£3.40 for 3) or 'Fritillaria acmopetala' (£4.30 for 3), both available from Avon Bulbs, Burnt House Farm, Mid Lambrook, South Petherton, Somerset TA13 5HE (01460 242177, info@avonbulbs.co.uk, avonbulbs.co.uk)