Love your hedges & lawns and feed your plants. Here are some jobs in the garden this month.
Now is the time to trim, feed and mulch your hedges. Nothing looks better than a sharply defined hedge in a garden. Trimming now will mean the new growth will harden off before winter. I use Travis at Greengrass Property Maintenance for all my clients’ hedge and tree trimming and shaping needs, on Auckland’s North Shore. Travis has a great eye for detail – he used to be a picture framer! You can contact Travis on 021 619 266 for a quote.
Now’s the time to cut it back by a third. If you don’t, it gets leggy and woody. Cut at least two thirds of the new growth back into the old wood. This leaves new shoots below the cut, which is next season’s new growth. I know it is hard when it looks so lovely, but you have to be cruel to be kind.
Autumn is nature’s best planting time, so if you want to add something new into your garden, dig plenty of compost through your soil and get planting. Just remember to water new plants deeply at their roots every few days. Add general fertiliser around the garden to obtain that extra flowering and encourage growth - and don’t forget your citrus too.
Love your lawn
This warm weather is an ideal time to makeover your lawn. Sowing now means your new grass will be well established before the winter chill hits. I like the “Weed & Feed” combo products, which kill weeds and fertilise at the same time. Wait a couple of weeks to let the weed killer do its thing, then bare patches in the lawn can be filled with “Lawn Mix” to a maximum depth of 30mm. Dampen the soil then sow the lawn seed, raking or lightly topdressing (scattered layer of lawn mix over the top of the existing lawn) with more Premium Lawn Mix afterward. Lightly water in the dry days following.
Watering, weeding, mulching and feeding are the most useful jobs you can be doing this month in your garden. In fact February is 'Feed n Fert' month, so grab a good quality granular fertiliser and feed all the plants in your garden. It might be wise to wait for a day that we are expecting rain, so that the fertiliser can be watered in well.
Applying 5 - 10 cm mulch around the base of your plants can conserve up to 70% moisture in the soil and suppresses weeds too.
Get your fruit trees ready for winter. Feed citrus trees with a citrus fertiliser for best results.
It is not too late to plant end of summer crops of lettuce and herbs to enjoy summer salads for as long as you can.
If you have Feijoas, keep them well watered to ensure big juicy fruit.
Put a bucket in the shower to preserve water and use this instead of the hose.
Summer is the perfect time to trim your hedges, Buxus & topiaries. Trim on a fine day, and spray buxus hedging especially with a copper spray afterwards.
Your garden & any pots will need a bit of attention after the holidays so feed with a good quality fertiliser such as Nitrophoska.
February is our driest month so water every couple of days to give your gardens & pots a good drink. Watering also activates the fertilisers.
If you need help fertilising your garden this summer, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
With forecasters predicting this summer’s El Nino weather pattern to be one of the top 3 or 4 driest on New Zealand’s record, what is the best way to water your garden?
Water more seldom but thoroughly
One to two watering sessions per week are usually sufficient: better to water more seldom but with plenty of water rather than a little water often.
Keep leaves dry
Water at the roots using a soaker hose, rather than shower setting if you have a sprayer – it’s the roots that need the water not the leaves. Wet leaves can become diseased leaves and leaves that are made wet in the sun can develop slight burn marks. Use the soaker setting for efficient watering at the root zone.
Water late in the evening or early in the morning
When you water in the evening, less water evaporates off the cooled soil and the plants can sufficiently supply themselves with water before the next day’s heat.
If you water in the morning and you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It's much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
Give the right water quantity
This means that the water must sufficiently reach the plant's roots. Low water quantities often only reach the top few centimetres of soil. Lawns and annuals concentrate their roots in the top 15cm / 6" of soil; for perennials, shrubs and trees, it is the top 30cm / 12". This means that in heavy clay soil, it may take hours for water to percolate down. Use your finger or a shovel to check the progress.
Water in stages
Water needs a moment to seep into the soil. To stop the water flowing away unused, it’s better to water repeatedly in stages.
Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.
We feel a sense of well-being living in spaces that are light and look out onto attractive gardens and the views beyond.
A small investment in our garden can make a huge difference to how we feel and spend our time outdoors, alone or with friends and family.
A well-designed outdoor space can make life simpler, easier and more enjoyable. A place to entertain or sit with a cup of coffee in the morning sun; a place for children to safely play, without need for constant supervision; a place to park the car, store firewood, hide the dustbins and hang out washing on a sunny day.
Excellent garden design provides creative solutions to our needs and desires for our garden and when combined with thoughtful plant selection results in a beautiful yet functional, garden space which makes our life easier, healthier and more enjoyable.
This is a simple recipe for eye-catching containers that helps me think about the size, colour and texture when I'm choosing plants for my pots and planters.
Firstly, you need a bold, upright, architectural plant - that's the thriller. Good examples for New Zealand gardeners are Phormium, Canna, Cordyline, Agave and Agapanthus.
The filler is a plant of medium height. At this time of year, flowering annuals that are a colour matching something from inside your home, (e.g. cushions, artwork, or feature wall), are ideal.
Finally, the spiller, which tumbles out of the edge of your pot, falling towards the ground and softening the edges of your container. Ivy, Verbena, creeping Rosemary, Dichondra Silver Falls will all do the trick.
Early September is the ideal time to feed your garden. Whilst you can add organic matter like sheep pellets or compost at any time of year, it is good to give some inorganic fertiliser over the next few weeks as your plants all move into leaf.
* Rose fertiliser for your roses and flowering plants.
* Citrus fertiliser for all your citrus and fruit trees.
* General fertiliser for everything else.
It is a good idea to feed when it is going to rain as this will wash the fertiliser in and make it available to the plants.
And finally, don't forget to make the amount of fertiliser relevant to the size and age of what you are feeding.
I’m currently pulling out the weed matting I inherited in my back garden. A while back, I’d noticed that my beautiful palms weren’t thriving and looked like they were on their way out. When I finally saw the soil underneath I understood why. The roots were living in a solid, compacted soil and what had compounded the problem further was the decorative river pebbles that had further compacted and hardened the soil. It had created a dead zone where my plants struggled to survive. Add to this the clay soil of Auckland’s North Shore and I was left with bone-dry cracked earth, or when wet, waterlogged, petrified, smelly earth.
One of the biggest problems I see in gardens are plants dying or at the very least failing to grow because they are surrounded by weed matting. I now routinely recommend to my clients to remove weed mat in their gardens and once I explain why, most are happy to do so.
If you lay weed mat on your garden, you stop the natural cycle that keeps your soil healthy. When plants are growing in soil that is constantly enriched by organic matter in the form of fallen leaves, wood chip mulch, compost, manure etc., worms are attracted into the soil where they aerate the earth (essential if you have clay soil) and leave behind their castings. Worm casts hold moisture, which means less watering and the soil stays lighter and fluffier. The soil’s microorganisms also thrive, breaking down the mineral matter into the nutrients that plants need to grow.
So if not weed mat, what else? Firstly, keep on top of weeds by pulling them when they are tiny. Secondly, lay a good 3 inches of wood chip or forest floor mulch over your garden. It is every bit as effective as weed mat, keeps soil from drying out, (so reduces the need for watering, especially in summer) and allows your soil to enjoy the benefits of the mulch slowing breaking down, adding organic matter to your soil and releasing the nutrients your plants need to thrive.
So, in summary, pull up your weed mat, add in some organic matter, layer over some mulch and watch the garden grow.
So what could you be getting on with in the garden during these colder months?
A Latin proverb imparts ‘Every soil does not bear the same fruit.’ If your plants haven’t been thriving in the past year, ask yourself ‘Have I been giving them the essentials?’
Soil has 4 basic requirements, food, water, shelter and air. Come spring, billions of soil organisms will come to life, recycling nutrients, capturing water, fighting pests and diseases and improving the structure of your soil.
So before this happens, feed your soil with organic mater. Using a hoe, incorporate the following into the top 10 cm of your soil - fallen autumn leaves, homemade compost and garden debris, slow release fertilisers or blood and bone. Adding these materials now, will give them time to break down for use when plants need them in spring.
If all that seems a bit complicated, like it did to me last week, just buy some compost and sheep pellets from the garden centre and mix them in! Your plants will thank you for it and come late spring, you’ll notice the difference.
At this time of year, as we spend more time indoors, it is the quality of the view from inside our home out into the garden, that becomes the focus of our attention.
Take a moment to sit in your favourite chair and look out of the window. What can you see? Power poles and a washing line, your neighbour’s fence and the recycling bin? If so, a little creative garden design could be all you need to transform what was a dreary, uninspiring outlook, into a green and appealing vista.
Frame your view with feature trees or hedging. Plant some cheery annuals to brighten the gloomy days. Cover bare external walls with climbers and creepers. Hide bikes and bins behind fencing panels. Create texture and reduce the weeds in empty garden beds with groundcover plants. Finally, distract the eye away from less appealing areas by drawing it towards focal points in the more beautiful parts of your garden.
Then find yourself a drink, light the fire, snuggle down into your favourite chair and enjoy the view.
Planting ... Why? Because the ground is still warm even though the air temperatures are dropping and it is moist due to the Autumn rains that we have had so far this season. So if you have a project to do like put in a new hedge or redo a piece of garden then get onto the job. Autumn and Winter are the planting seasons for trees, shrubs and hedges. And if you need some help.... contact me!