I HAVE spent the last two weeks judging a gardening competition that Gourock's Cardwell Garden Centre sponsor throughout Inverclyde.

Apart from the odd spot of rain, as is common in Inverclyde, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

My late father used to be involved in the competition and would always return from a judging trip full of enthusiasm about how hard local gardeners worked on their own patches.

Having now shared the experience I can only agree with his opinions.

I and my fellow judge visited around 50 gardens, and each one was unique.

There were so many different sizes and shapes that it was impossible to carry out like for like comparisons.

However, there were a few common problems that I feel are worth addressing.

Lawns suffer from several common problems and one of the most prevalent is moss.

Moss will occur in any lawn or area where drainage is not great and sunlight does not shine.

Moss is particularly a problem in the autumn, when the sun does not shine as strongly or for as long as summer.

The only way to treat a drainage problem is to create more drainage. This means using your garden fork or hollow tine aerators to create holes which must then be filled with a coarse sand, not builders' sand

The moss itself can be treated with any of the off the shelf remedies, but remember that scarifying the lawn afterwards to reduce dead moss will make a huge difference.

Inverclyde is at the 'Tail 'o the Bank', and gets the brunt of any bad weather blowing in from the west. Although Glasgow is more sheltered, it's worth bearing in mind that some taller plants or containers may need support.

I saw a lot of tall perennials, herbaceous and sunflowers that could have benefitted from a bamboo cane, stake or frame.

You can avoid a lot of heartache for just the price of a garden cane.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who were growing their own fruit and vegetables, and it is not just tomatoes and potatoes that were on show.

It was a pleasure to see so many people growing corn in their gardens and greenhouses and I learned something as well, thanks to my fellow judge George Irvine - corn should be planted in squares, not rows, to allow for cross pollination.