Happy New Year from the team at Seasol, we hope you have fun in the garden!
Spending time in the garden this month is more important than ever after a busy festive season. Latest research is confirming, what gardeners have instinctively known, that cultivating a garden or spending time in nature is beneficial for our mental health and well being. As little as 40 seconds looking out a window onto a tree and garden or both is all that’s needed to reduce blood pressure and give a sense of calm. Creating gardens doesn’t have to take too much time or space, even a mixed large planter can be classified as a garden and strategically placed outside a window will create a calming view.
January is busy and stealing a few minutes in the early morning or late evening this month will ensure last minute jobs will be completed easily. Follow a few of our gardening tips to get yourself going this January.
If you have only have 5 minutes –
- Liquid fertilise potted ferns and indoor plants. Try PowerFeed Pro Series Pots & Planters Indoor & Outdoor. Mix 10mL of the concentrate per 9 litres of water on ferns and 20mL of the concentrate per 9 litres of water on other indoor plants.
- Wipe white oil over indoor plants to remove dust, clear up scale insects and shine the leaves.
- Thin out fruit on citrus trees if there are more than two forming in the same cluster.
- Trim bougainvilleas lightly to encourage bushy growth and multiple flowering over the next few months.
- Keep Hibiscus plants well watered so they don’t drop flowers.
- Plant hardy annuals such as portulaca for summer colour.
- Put out shallow dishes of water for bees, these are crucial for pollination of crops such as cucumbers and melons.
- Check irrigation system regularly to ensure water is being delivered to plant’s roots.
With extreme temperatures experienced in many parts of Australia, there are many sun-scorched gardens that will benefit from a little extra care. Top tips for summer garden survival include:
- Ensuring a covering of mulch is on the ground to shade the soil. Mulch is applied to reduce evaporation and reduce soil temperatures. The majority of plant’s roots are in the top 10cm of soil and keeping these cool is crucial to extreme temperature survival.
- A few pieces of shade cloth for extremely hot days is a cheap, quick temporary solution to preventing sunburn on branches and leaves. If extreme temperatures are forecast throwing a piece of shade cloth over the canopy or draping over vulnerable branches early has the potential to save a tree or shrub.
- If foliage is burnt resist the temptation of pruning off immediately as the burnt foliage will shade protect the stems and vulnerable new shoots from any future extremely hot days. Prune after the danger of extreme heat has gone.
Summer Survival cont
- Plants will wilt in extreme temperatures, but it’s knowing what is a plants normal response to conserving water in the heat or wilting to the point of no return that is the key to summer garden survival. Observe any sudden changes in a plant. Aside from wilting, bright yellow leaves and sudden leaf drop will indicate heat stress.
- The addition of wetting agents such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner to all lawn and garden areas will make the best use of water applied. Conserving every drop is important and wetting agents ensure the water gets to the plant’s roots. Mix 50mL of concentate per 9 litres of water (standard watering can or bucket) or use one of the hose-on packs.
- Plants in small pots should be repotted into larger pots. The more soil in a pot will keep a plant cool.
- Avoid black plastic pots in sunny areas where the afternoon sun shines directly onto the plastic. The roots of plants are scorched from the absorbed heat. Repot into clay or glazed pots selecting light colours to reflect the heat.
Garden design ideas for bushfire prone areas.
With large tracts of Australia burning and many communities affected by bushfires or living with the threat of fire, it is becoming increasingly obvious that incorporating firewise design principles into gardens and property layouts will be a priority in the future. This will include areas that historically haven’t been considered a high fire risk area.
Firewise Landscapes – Managed landscaped area and entry and exit points to a property.
Incorporating good design principles into large gardens ensures that a garden can be created that is bush fire wise, aesthetically pleasing and functional. Creating a cleared 20m barrier around the house and outbuildings certainly reduces fire risks, but doesn’t need to be bare earth. This area can be used as access driveways and paths, gravel, lawn or planted with low flammability shrubs. This area is referred to as the managed landscape area. Correct plant selection is crucial in high risk areas and the use of certain tree varieties have been proven to slow the speed of a fire, reduce radiant heat and reduce the risk of ember attack. Many deciduous trees are particularly effective as they have high moisture content and minimum volatile oils within their foliage. Mass planted they also look spectacular in autumn with their ever changing golden, red and claret hues.
Firewise Landscapes – Managed landscaped area and entry and exit points to a property cont.
Investing in structure or background plantings forms the backbone of a large garden. Think of these background structural plantings as the ‘walls’ of the garden, and positioned correctly can assist with managing fire risks within a property. Without these plants, the whole garden will fall apart and feel like an eclectic collection of plants in the ground vying for attention as an individual rather than joining together as a whole and creating a complete feel.
Creating a master plan is important, this sort of planning doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be created on a piece of butchers paper, but will outline the different areas needed on the property. The easiest scale to work with is 1cm = 1m. Firstly, mark boundary fences and a north point then draw in any building footprints or proposed footprints and existing footprints if required. Remembering perfect straight lines isn’t important many famous gardens have been created with a few line drawings and sketches.
Entry and exit points on a large property are a priority. At this stage consider the existing points, were they adequate or can their placement be improved to facilitate service vehicles and delivery vehicles. Is it possible for large oversized vehicles to turn around? Take into consideration overhead height. Mark on the master plan driveways and parking areas, basic garden areas and outdoor living areas, in block form at this stage. It’s a good idea to colour code different areas. Consider how these areas may be linked together in the future. Are there any level changes on the property? Look at access onto lower levels. The sloping ground is deceiving and often the drop or rise is far greater than first thought. Is it possible to get any machinery that may be required to a different level of the property? This is the perfect time to consider the north-facing aspect and to take advantage of solar passive design principles.