Helping make gardening easier
Many of us love to spend hours in the garden pottering, but for those with busy lifestyles, we just want our gardens to look tidy and inviting for the least amount of effort and time spent possible.
So how exactly can we give our garden the least amount of attention to get the most from its appearance?
To help you garden smarter, our team has suggested 10 tips across garden design, watering & garden maintenance to help you see greater rewards from your garden from less effort.
1. In the summer, it's better to water plants in the evening or early in the morning, when the soil is cooler, as less will evaporate than during the heat of the day. It is also better to water deeply every 5 - 7 days, than a little 1 - 2 days. When we say deeply, that would be a bucketful per plant, so that the water infiltrates deeply into the root system. This then encourages downward root growth.
2. When removing existing weeds, make sure you remove all the weed. Get to the roots by using a weeding trowel or knife. If you have weed mat on your garden beds, this is going to be impossible to do - another reason to remove it.
3. Use a thick later of mulch (10cm) to prevent weed seeds from sprouting.
4. To prevent weeds from growing in the first place, choose a vigorous ground cover plant, to minimise the space available for weeds to develop.
5. Invest in a professional garden design or some expert advice so that the plants you have in your garden are low maintenance and require minimal upkeep, depending on where you live and your soil conditions. Experienced gardeners and garden designers will not only know what plants grow well in your area but also which wont take up too much of your time.
6. Invest in some good quality gardening equipment, so that garden maintenance tasks are made easier with clean, sharp, well designed tools.
7. Have a definite border between lawn and garden bed. This makes the overall garden look more tidy and stops the grass spreading into your beds.
8. Consider getting rid of lawn areas which have no purpose. Little patches of grass around the property take time to mow and can look untidy. The same area with an attractive aggregate stone, a feature pot and low maintenance planting can be a much better alternative.
9. Invest in a good leaf blower. Nothing tidies your pathways and concrete areas quicker.
10. Employ the services of a local gardening business to help you. You may only need a couple of hours once a month to make a significant difference to the overall appearance to your garden.
We hope that some of these garden maintenance tips will make life a little easier for you.
If you do need some help in the garden, either garden design advice or a couple of hours garden maintenance a month, please email us as firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this blog to receive 10% off your first visit.
It's good practice to keep your garden tools clean and sharp. Not only does it help prevent the spread of disease, fungal infections and pests spreading from plant to plant or garden to garden, it also helps keep your tools in good shape and extends their life. Especially important for our gardeners as they use them daily.
Victoria, our gardener keeps a wire brush and clean rags (old cut up t shirts) in her tool bag and uses them to clean off dirt, sap etc. If she's been digging in heavy clay soil or when it's wet, spades and forks get very muddy, so she hoses them clean first using the power hose setting, then wipes dry with a rag.
Victoria keeps some wire wool in her bag too, to help remove any rust and sticky sap, especially on her secateurs. She also has a little sharpening stone to keep her tools sharp, which makes pruning a whole lot easier and it's much nicer for the plant having a good clean cut.
Once cleaned she uses either a bleach and water solution or Jeyes Fluid in a little hand held spray bottle and sprays the tools with this. It disinfects them and helps prevent the spread of disease. She then drys them with a clean rag.
Even though some tools are made of stainless steel, they will rust over time as they are constantly in contact with wet soil and damp conditions. So our gardeners spray them with WD40 to help protect them and keep moving parts moving.
Garden designer Mirabel Osler once asked, "What gardener worth his salt sits down?" But a garden bench isn't only somewhere to sit – it can be a focal point, a design statement or a place to store tools. A bench provides the perfect excuse to pause and take stock of a job well done. It also adds the finishing touch, so some thought on how a bench fits your garden's style and atmosphere pays dividends.
The right site is important, too. In smaller gardens, that's often the patio, so the bench can be used for relaxation and socialising, as well as being the place to take in the view. The patio also provides a level, dry surface – great for encouraging use all year. Elsewhere, paving stones or a well-tamped gravel bed provide a good, dry placement – needed for wooden benches to avoid rotting feet.
If your garden has water, a seat nearby makes use of the sounds and tranquillity on offer. Lavender, herbs or a rose over a seated arbour will surround the bench with scent. Swishy grasses provide an audible and tactile lift. Scented and nectar-rich plants attract wildlife, too, great for observation close at hand. On paving or gravel, cluster pots around the bench. Or place a bench among your favourite foliage, to create a surprise hideaway.
Whatever your budget, seek out the best in the price range. Local auctions and salvage yards mean a more individual piece may be found at an affordable price. Wood recycling projects often offer a bespoke service, such as a tailor-made bench to fit around a particular tree.
If you already have a bench that's in need of a little love, painting is a fun way to personalise it, to add a designer touch or simply to make it look new again. White or cream is soothing, while black merges with the background and provides a surprise discovery. Blue adds distance – useful for small gardens – while red brings a bench closer and contrasts with greenery. Bright colours provide contrast and a contemporary feel.
In smaller gardens, everything needs to earn its keep, so a choice with more than one function is valuable. This could be a bench that doubles as storage or sits between planters or a decorative arch. One with wheels can be moved around easily.
Try before you buy. Some designs that are pleasing to the eye may not be practical or comfortable for extended use, such as reading. Look for a seat height of around 45cm, which is comfortable for sitting, with a similar allowance for depth if the bench has a back support. The angle between back support and seat should be 85-105 degrees. Backless benches are often narrower in depth, around 30cm – great by a path where space may be an issue. Check the width, too, because many have room for only one or two people.
Article first appeared in the Guardian June 7th 2013
We have been made aware of the growing concern about myrtle rust by our friends at many of Auckland's plant nurseries.
Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the myrtle family. Plants in this family include pohutukawa, manuka & also feijoa and guava.
The spores are easily spread by wind and via insects, birds, people or machinery, making it very easy for it to spread.
Severe infestations can kill affected plants and at this stage it isn't known just how big an impact it could have in New Zealand.
Identifying myrtle rust
Myrtle rust only affects plants in the myrtle family.
It generally attacks soft, new growth, including leaf surfaces, shoots, buds, flowers, and fruit.
Symptoms to look out for on myrtle plants are:
If you think you've seen the symptoms as in the photo above, contact the MPI Exotic Pest & Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66. DO NOT TOUCH as you risk spreading the spores further.
If you are planning to plant
Here is a list of our 'go to' ground covers for our client's gardens in Auckland.
1. Purple Bidibid (Acaena 'Purpurea') - if you need some colour on the ground, this is a perfect option. Plant this native in full sun and feed annually.
2. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) - perfect in shade or full sun to get the full effect of the coloured foliage, this groundcover is easy to divide and spreads rapidly.
3. Baby's Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) - perfect for a damp shaady spot, this groundocver creates a lush green carpet. Also looks perfect between pavers and path edges.
4. Prostrate mingimingi (Coprosma 'Taiko') - hardy low growing native, which is thick and ground hugging. Hard for weeds to enter here!
5. Coprosma repens 'Poor Knights' - the lush green foliage is perfect for the more tropical garden. Hardy and tolerates those North Shore clay soils. One of our 'go to' ground covers.
6. Dwarf mondo (Ophiopogon 'Nana') - we can't not mention mondo grass. This is the baby version and perfect for a no mow lawn. Just make sure you plant close enough together to form a thick mat, so you dont need to weed between.
7. Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) - also works well on the floor as well as up the walls. Great for softening the edges of large expanses of concrete and paving and works a dream over water tanks too.
8. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) - although it does like to climb up, star jasmine can be encouraged along the ground. Great underplanting for specimen trees or hedge lines.
9. Lilyturf - (Liriope muscari) - if you are looking for some spring colour, the purple spires of Liriope are striking enmasse. Give it a trim when the leaves are looking straggy and some slug pellets will deter the munchers.
Prune in June .....
We prune plants to keep them the size and shape that is right for the space they are occupying, to keep them healthy by removing the 3 D’s - dead, diseased and damaged shoots and with some plants, pruning is to help with flower and fruit production. There are a lot of rules around pruning plants, which puts many people off. Most of it is common sense .
Lots of plants have different pruning needs but luckily, many of them can be pruned following the simple rules below:
If in doubt, take a photo and post on our Facebook page and we will get back to you.