Happy New Year, there are many delightful ways to garden!

Sneaking some time in the garden throughout the festive season is good for your health and can be used to recharge the batteries for the coming year. Despite high temperatures in most areas of Australia there are still plenty of inspiring projects that can be completed outside. Choose the coolest time of the day, be Sun Smart, coverup and keep cool. Gardening at night by the light of a head torch can be a good solution to beating the heat. It’s amazing what appears in the garden at night. Many insect pests chose the night to devour the latest crop of greens, only to disappear under the cover of mulch at first light.

Spending a few minutes every week to go through the irrigation system and ensure every dripper and sprinkler is working is a must do job. It doesn’t take long for a plant to shrivel when it’s hot and there is no water available. Water smart throughout summer and if any water hits the pathway or paving change the sprinkler setting, water is too precious to waste on concrete.

Firewise Gardens

With the memory of catastrophic fires in almost every state fresh in our minds, take a little time this month to ensure the bushfire plan is current in the event of a severe or extreme fire danger.

Look around the garden and reduce the chance of losing property to an ember attack.

Ember attack is one of the main sources of property damage –

  • Remove any dead leaves on potted plants in under cover areas such as the verandah or alfresco area.
  • Clean leaves and debris from gutters and ensure the lawn is mowed short, as fire can quickly move through long grass.
  • Plant succulents and fleshy plants in pots rather than leave them empty with exposed dry potting mix.
  • Remove any cushions off timber furniture and bring any plastic wicker or wicker furniture inside on severe fire danger days.
  • Create separation of foliage from canopy and mid story in areas close to the built environment. This will reduce the chance of flames reaching the canopy foliage in the event of an ember attack.
  • Ensure gravel areas are clear from dead leaves, bark, and flammable material.
  • Avoid using fine mulch on garden beds and select gravel or coarse chunky mulch.

There are always a few jobs to do in any garden, even if it was planted as a low maintenance garden.  Here are six simple tips will ensure your plants will continue to look great all year round.

  • Group plants of similar watering needs together to avoid wasting water on plants that don’t require as much (and may not like it).
  • Check the label on the plants you purchase and look for the key words – hardy, waterwise and drought tolerant. Water plants in with Seasol or Seasol GOLD to reduce transplant shock and aid plant establishment. Having strong, healthy plants looking after themselves equals less maintenance time in the garden.
  • Plant multiple numbers of the same variety. Think of a flower bouquet; an abundance of a few types looks beautiful, whereas a flower arrangement with ‘everything’ usually looks messy.  A sensible mix of a few species gives your garden a sense of greater continuity and makes caring for plants easier when it comes to watering, weeding and fertilising.
  • Select varieties that flower at different times of the year. It is amazing how a few plants in flower will divert your attention away from the pruning and fertilising of other areas of the garden.
  • Covering bare areas with ground covers or low shrubs, not only keeps the weeds out, but results in a cooler microclimate in the garden and saves on energy costs.
  • Fertilise plants every season with PowerFeed with Troforte All Purpose including Natives or more specifically for flowers, fruit & citrus, mix PowerFeed with Troforte Flowers, Fruit & Citrus into the topsoil. Remember to water it in thoroughly after application.

Five handy hints to how to look after your garden with PowerFeed Troforte

Garden design for small spaces

Thinking of getting stuck into the garden over the summer holidays but have no idea where to start. Here are nine simple tips to successful small space gardens.

  • Think of quality and not quantity. Look at selecting varieties that go together and replicate in different areas of the garden. The guide is less species more of each. Plant varieties in odd numbers to replicate a ‘natural’ look.
  • Focus on foliage as well as flowers. Foliage adds interest to the garden all year round and contrasting foliage creates a further dimension
  • Boldness draws the eye to an area. This may be a bright coloured or contrasting plant at the end of a walkway or a strategically placed urn spilling over with cascading ground covers.
  • Features will take on extra scrutiny, so choose carefully and when placing in the garden ensure they look good from all angles.
  • Create a sense of scale. When selecting plant varieties ensure they will fit the area. A large shrub that flowers only at the top of the foliage is lost in a small garden.
  • Most plants are viewed at close range in a small garden – make every selection count.
  • Group plants with similar cultural needs together. It takes the hard work out of caring for the garden.
  • When landscaping with rocks place in a natural configuration, often this means burying 1/2 -1/3rd of the rock and ensure they are the correct scale.
  • Garden lights installed to highlight features add an extra dimension to small gardens and create a sense of space.

A Little Shade

A little shade goes a long way to protecting plants in the event of a heat wave. Spend a few minutes and create a few temporary structures that can be erected in a few minutes.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or pretty but having on standby in heatwave conditions is worth their weight in gold. Use offcut pieces of shadecloth, hailguard or a cotton sheet to protect tender plants.

Don’t forget to protect plants on hot windy days also, a few minutes work preparing and covering will avoid months of rehabilitation after a heat wave.