Q&A: patchy lawn and unhappy pear tree

Horticultural advice from the experts at the RHS
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Question: We have a 50ft garden however our lawn is very uneven in places and has old ant hills too. Is there a way I can fix this without spending hundreds on laying down a new lawn?

Also we have a beautiful pear tree that desperately needs some tlc as over the last couple of years it hasn't really flourished, could you advise what we should do?

Answer: Spring is a good time to get to grips with bumpy back gardens. To do this, slice an H shape into the turf with a spade or edging iron and roll it back. Loosen the soil underneath and add or remove as needed. It’s always an idea to check that the lawn is level before rolling back the turf. Just to encourage the sliced turfs to root together, you could brush a lawn top dressing into the spaces between them. You can buy this ready mixed or make your own (using three parts loam, six parts sharp sand and one part peat substitute by volume). It’s very handy for filling uneven lawns over a couple of seasons. Make sure you work the top dressing well into the surface so that the grasses are never buried by your lawn-improving enthusiasm.

Pear trees love a sunny position and regular extra water from the time the fruit sets to when you pick your crop. Check that you have a grass and weed-free tree circle of about a metre in diameter around the tree so that you can apply fertilisers and mulches. In April, your pear tree would benefit from a spring feed of Growmore, fish, blood and bone or Vitax Q4 to start the season off. To help keep moisture in the ground, add an 8-10cm layer of whatever organic matter you can find. This could be anything from well-rotted stable manure, home-made garden compost to recycled green waste from your local council. Pear trees need to be pruned every year in winter to allow air and light into the tree. Although not complicated, we have created a web page on pruning pears which you may find helps lift the tree’s gloom.

Send your questions for the RHS to: gardenproblems@standard.co.uk.

Only a few questions per month can be answered. For further advice on handling problems in your garden, visit www.rhs.org.uk/advice/index.asp.

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