Working Towards a Revolution in Yards Around Auckland

Jim’s out in nature.

Jim’s out in nature.

Project Yard 1.0 is a partnership which brings together expertise from across the environmental sector, including expertise from Jim’s Mowing.  The initiative encompasses a range of goals around environmental education, waste management, reduction in pest plants and improving biodiversity.  Often large-scale environmental programmes target public land, but the reality is that 80% of land in Auckland region is in private ownership.  Much of it in Auckland yards. This project recognises that by supporting positive change in private land, the wider environmental goals in the Auckland region could be reached.

A critical piece in this puzzle is the Jim’s Mowing franchisees who work in many of these privately owned yards. Project Yard 1.0 brings environmental knowledge and training to Jim’s Mowing franchisees, enabling them to offer extra services to their customers.  Services like; pest plant identification and clearing, recommendations for native plants and planting, and waste management and composting.

How did Project Yard 1.0 Get Started?

Project Yard 1.0 is the brainchild of Challen Wilson (Director of The Sisters Consultancy) and Stefan Meier (Jim’s Mowing Green Bay franchisee).  As volunteers, Challen and Stefan have both enjoyed learning about environmental opportunities from the experts at Kaipātiki Project, a North Shore based, Auckland environmental organisation. Challen was also aware of Auckland Council’s (AC) massive spend trying to manage environmental concerns. In 2017 Auckland Council tagged an investment of $307 million over ten years to remove pests from public land. This aspiration would severely miss the mark without the participation of people tending to private land too.

Challen comments: “The idea came out of conversations Stefan and I were having with people at Kaipātiki Project.  I intuitively put the three concepts together – AC’s desire for more pest control and increased biodiversity, the environmental knowledge and training packages held by key people at Kaipātiki Project, and Jim’s Mowing in the Auckland region who have people actually on the ground.”

While the idea for Project Yard 1.0 came almost seamlessly, the hands-on work to achieve its potential has already spanned three years.  From planning, achieving funding from Auckland Council to creating the prototype for the programme, designing the workshops, and practicing the training. At each point Challen and the project partners have put in the hours required to form a robust plan for the vision going forward.  Presently, the Project Yard 1.0 team is all set to run its first full 2021 programme workshop on 1 May for a group of Auckland and Auckland North Jim Mowing franchisees.

Who Else in Involved in Project Yard 1.0?

As Project Yard 1.0 gathered momentum it found two additional partners.  The first, Uru Whakaaro, introduced a unique flavour to the project, applying and teaching environmental practices from a kaupapa Māori perspective, with intellectual property on this component being shared by key partner and restorative ecologist, Charmaine Bailie, Director of Uru Whakaaro.  This practice is based in a rich, timeless tradition of acting in partnership with the whenua (land) with the benefit, in turn, of being nourished by the whenua.  Concepts of community, sustainability and standing up to protect the land are key.

Charmaine Bailie teaching native restoration in the back yard.

Charmaine Bailie teaching native restoration in the back yard.

The other partner for Project Yard 1.0, The Compost Collective, add knowledge and training around waste management and soil improvement, both of which are valuable contributors for the overall vision in Auckland region’s environmental improvements. And this learning forms the potential for another valuable service for Jim’s Mowing customers.

Jim’s Mowing are a Key Part of the Team

Project Yard 1.0 became a reality when Jim’s Mowing Auckland franchisor Alex Smith, and Auckland North franchisor Gary Turton, came on board.  Challen has been blown away by how supportive both Alex, and his partner Greg, and Gary have been, especially when COVID-19 crunched up the 2020 timeline for the monitoring phase to go live.  This support has seen the Jim’s Mowing franchisors going the extra mile, in the 2021 iteration, Gary stars in the videos going out to the local franchisees to invite them along to the workshop.

Alex also notes: “I can see benefit to our businesses, and we’ll work with our guys to help them realise it, but I can also see the bigger picture of leaving the land better than we find it.  Right now, both goals inspire me.”

Gathering together key people who can offer environmental training has been the first major step.  The next step is seeing that training realised by the Jim’s Mowing franchisees.  Effectively they form a bridge, connecting the trainers to private land owners.  Project Yard 1.0 will be successful when Jim’s Mowing franchisees are able to share environmentally important information with their customers and encourage their customers to make positive changes in their yards.


The first Project Yard 1.0 workshop from right, facing; Charmaine – Uru Whakaaro, Challen – The Sisters Consultancy, Greg – Auckland franchisor, and Ryohei – franchisee for Te Atatu South.

The first Project Yard 1.0 workshop from right, facing; Charmaine – Uru Whakaaro, Challen – The Sisters Consultancy, Greg – Auckland franchisor, and Ryohei – franchisee for Te Atatu South.

What’s Next for Project Yard 1.0?

Project Yard 1.0 is at an exciting phase.  After the 1 May workshop, the project is gearing up to commence the monitoring phase.  In this phase, the project needs between 2 and 4 Jim’s Mowing franchisees to engage, and the project connects them into a photo diary based on iNaturalist. Between them they need to visit 20 yards over a 3-month period, uncovering pests, talking about waste management, and presenting opportunities for native planting. It is a given that Jim’s Mowing Green Bay franchisee, Stefan Meier as a partner to the project, is inspired to participate in the monitoring.

As he says: “I’m really keen to see how the knowledge I gain will make a difference for my customers and for the Auckland region”.

The Project Yard 1.0 team will then take these results back to Auckland Council as evidence of the potential that is available to make a difference for the wider environment in Auckland. From there the vision is to facilitate a much more encompassing Project Yard 2.0 with ongoing funding and a wider reach.  So, watch this space, as the Project Yard 1.0 team hope to bring this opportunity to other areas.


Need help?

The Jim’s Mowing team can help you with your gardening & garden waste 0800 454 654 or book online.

How to use a leaf blower like a PRO

Autumn has come and gone, which means many trees have now shed their leaves. While the leaves on the ground can be a different look (and sometimes fun to jump on, if you see a particularly crunchy-looking one!), many may wish to scoop them into a garden bed or dispose of the dead leaves. Dried leaves can be placed into a green bin, or added to your compost bin.

One way to clear leaves is to use a leaf blower. But leaf blowers aren’t just made for blowing leaves (despite what the name might suggest), these machines can also be used to dry wet surfaces and moving grass clippings. They’re pretty versatile pieces of equipment, which is why it can be handy to know how to use them!

There is more to leaf blowing than buying a machine, bringing it home, and turning it on. It’s important to consider safety precautions that need to happen, the time of day to use the leaf blower, and how to do so efficiently – just to name a few!

The internet has many video resources showing how to use a leaf blower – in fact, we have one ourselves – which could be helpful if you wish to learn the basics, check out our video below. If you would like additional help to keep your garden looking tidy, the team at Jim’s Mowing provide complete Lawn Mowing and Garden Maintenance services throughout New Zealand.

In this article, we take a look at some additional tips and tricks regarding how to use a leaf blower, including how to efficiently move debris!

Using a leaf blower

Which blower to choose?

Before you begin on the job, you’ll need to pick out a blower. There are many different varieties of leaf blower on the market from smaller models through to large, powerful machines. There are Stihl leaf blowers, Ryobi leaf blowers, Husqvarna leaf blowers, plus blowers from many other brands. When it comes to choosing the best leaf blower for your needs, things to consider include how large the jobs you wish to tackle are, and how often you’re looking to use the machine. Be sure to do research into different brands and models, to find the type that is best for you!

Choose an appropriate time

While not everyone has the same work or sleeping schedule, choosing a time of day when most people are awake (and not trying to put their kids to sleep!) is a must when using a leaf blower at your residential property. Being woken up by a leaf blower isn’t the most peaceful way to start the day, so try to start work at a suitable time. If you want to take an extra step of consideration, think about knocking on your neighbours’ doors and asking them what times suit best for loud garden and housework.

Use safety gear

It is important to ensure you are equipped with proper protection when using a leaf blower. Before beginning the job, be sure to put on protective eyewear, filled-in shoes, gloves, ear protective equipment, and covered clothing. Make sure no loose clothing ties or strands of hair are flying about, and keep an eye out for where others are around you when doing the job. Ensuring you use these machines safely is imperative, so be sure you are stocked up on safety gear and protection before you begin!

Don’t rush in and start blowing the debris

While it can be exciting to get started, it’s best to not rush into it before thinking about the how. If you approach the item you wish to clear with too much force, you could find it blowing back and then having a bigger mess to have to clean up! What you want to do is start a bit further back, making sure to work around the debris you wish to move, and blow it into the spot you wish to move it to.

Decide where you want the debris to be moved to 

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s good to think about where you want your product to be moved to before you begin the process of clearing it. Are you looking to blow your leaves into a garden bed, or are you trying to make a pile so that it can be cleared more efficiently? Decide this before the job has started to avoid confusion (and the blowing of leaves back and forth in indecision!). Leaves can be a great addition to a compost bin, so don’t feel like they all need to end up in the garbage!

Don’t try to clear wet garden debris

Trying to clear wet debris just doesn’t work very well, so don’t think you’ll be popping outside to clear leaves away right after a rainstorm has passed! Wet and damp garden debris doesn’t much like to be blown around, making the task a lot harder (and more frustrating) for you. Wait until the debris has dried before attempting to clear it and it should easily be shifted.

We hope this article has been useful in showing some tips and tricks regarding how to use a leaf blower. Leaf blowers can make a great addition to your garden machinery, but it’s important to be informed (and well-protected) before you begin! If you would like to find out more about these machines and their uses, there are many great resources available on the web (and in books) explaining the process in more details. Good luck with your clearing!

Top 10 Basic Gardening Tools for Beginners

If you’re interested in getting started with gardening, you might also be wondering what type of tools you should purchase to help you with the process. While you can technically start your gardening journey with just some soil and a plant, gardening tools can help make the process simpler and quicker.

There are lots of basic gardening tools out there. Today, we take a look at 10 tools for gardening that we think are great for beginners.

Gardening gloves

Gloves can help protect your hands against dirt and sharp branches while you garden. Depending on the task, gardening without good-quality gloves can sometimes lead to hard-to-remove dirt under the fingernails, or scratches from branches. A good pair of gloves make a great addition to a beginner’s gardening equipment.


Pots are a great gardening tool as they allow for plants to be transportable. They are ideal for those living in apartments who don’t have access to a garden, or people who move around more and wish to take their plants with them on each move. Pots come in many sizes, from tiny varieties for desktop succulents through to large kinds for trees or transportable veggie patches. There are plastic pots, terracotta pots, ceramic pots, and they are made in a variety of colours to match the aesthetic you are after (or you can paint your own).

Pruning shears 

Also known as secateurs, these gardening tools are used for pruning branches. They can be very sharp, so be sure to mind your fingers are out of the way when sculpting your plants. This tool is designed for cutting smaller branches, and when you purchase a pair, the maximum cutting thickness it can handle should be listed, so you can know if it’s suitable for your jobs or not.


Ideal for those with large, leave-dropping trees in their yards, the rake helps you to gather leaves together in the one spot. It can also be used to remove the cut grass from the top of your lawn, and metal rakes can be used to loosen soil for planting. Rakes can be a made in a variety of different materials, however the head is often either plastic, steel, or bamboo.

Garden trowel 

The garden trowel is a great tool for those looking to start a balcony flower box or a herb garden. These tools are great for digging holes for small plants to be placed in, due to their tapered head. Simply use the trowel to remove the dirt, place the plant or seed in the hole and cover it back up with the dirt that was removed.


If you’re building a larger garden or needing to move mulch about, the wheelbarrow can help make tasks a lot easier. Wheelbarrows come in a variety of different sizes, with varying load capabilities, so you can choose one that suits your needs.

Plant ties/gardening rope and gardening stakes 

If you’re growing long, thin plants (such as tomatoes), then plant ties and gardening stakes can help assist the plants to grow tall and straight. Pop the support in the ground next to the plant you wish to assist, and then attach the plant to it using plant ties or gardening rope. Be sure to be gentle and not to tie it too tight, so as not to damage the plant.


This probably isn’t something you’ll have use for if you’re starting a balcony on your garden, but if you’re looking to plant trees or build a veggie patch, a shovel can be a highly useful gardening tool. Shoves can be used to dig up plants, or to remove and move large scoops of dirt.


For those with large gardens, a hose can help ensure plants are watered easily. There are many attachments that can be placed on the end of a hose to make the task of watering even simpler, still. Just be sure you’re aware of any water restrictions currently in place in your area, and follow them accordingly.

Watering can  

A watering can is well-suited for those with smaller gardens. When filled, it allows a gardener to transport water to their plants and water several at a time before refilling (and it sure saves running back and forth with a small cup, trying to do the same!). Watering cans come in a variety of different sizes and are generally made from either metal or plastic.

So, there you have it, ten basic gardening tools that we think are great for beginners! There are many additional tools out there that can also help the process, but you don’t need a lot to get started. If you’d like to begin the fulfilling hobby of gardening, start small and build your plant and tool collection as you go along!

6 Easy to Grow Food-Producing Plants

Many people love the idea of having a veggie patch in their yard, but the idea of getting started can seem daunting. While some fruits, vegetables and seeds can be tricky to grow for the inexperienced gardener, there are many out there that are relatively simple. We’ve outlined some below to get you started on your food-growing journey.


This fruit-masquerading-as-a-vegetable is amongst the easiest food plants to grow. Tomato plants grow well in places with a lot of sun, and will grow tall, meaning they will require some support to remain upright. This can be achieved by planting sticks in the ground next to the plant and tying the stems to the sticks with thin strips of cloth.


Another salad favourite, lettuce is also easy to grow. Lettuce can be planted all year round and there are many different varieties out there to choose from. This plant grows quickly and can be ready in a matter of weeks after planting. Don’t forget to water them though! Due to their shallow roots, lettuce need to be watered often to keep their soil moist.


Sunflowers make for a gorgeous, bright edition to any garden. Their seeds can be sprinkled on a salad or added to a smoothie, and are a great source of zinc and complex b vitamins. As their name suggests, these flowers love the sun and will turn themselves towards it to absorb as much as possible. Sunflowers can be planted year round, growing up to 3.5 metres tall.


Chives are great if you don’t have a lot of space, as they can be grown in pots. They are a member of the onion family, and can be added to a variety of dishes from salads to soups. Chives are hardy against frost, and can be grown in full sun or part shade. They are one of the easiest herbs to grow, and don’t require a lot of water to thrive. These plants have a tendency to self-harvest, but this can be stopped by cutting the flowers off (which can then be added to salads!).


Zucchini plants are another easy-to-grow option for those looking to start a veggie garden. Both the vegetables and flowers can be eaten, and in tropical and subtropical climates it can be planted year-round. These plants like to sprawl out, so make sure plenty of room is given to them when planting. They can also be sensitive to frost, so if you live in a cooler climate it’s best to sow them in the spring and summer months.


Another easy-to-grow herb is basil. Basil can be grown either in the ground or in a pot, and enjoys full sun. The simplest way to grow basil is from seedlings, and the plant can grow up to 50cm tall. It is important to pick your basil often as this lengthens the time before the plant will go to seed (and also means you get to eat your basil regularly!). There are many culinary uses for basil leaves: add them to a pizza with fresh tomato, or use them to make your own homemade pesto.

There are many options when it comes to easy-to-grow, edible plants, and you don’t need to be an experienced gardener to get started. Put in a little bit of work now and you could be reaping the rewards and eating your own homegrown food in no time.

Need help?

Contact your local Jim’s Mowing and Gardening guru! Call us now on 0800 454 654 or book online.

How to look after your garden while you’re away

Whether it’s a few days up the coast or a few weeks overseas, it can be important to consider what will happen to your garden while you’re away on holiday. If you have lots of plants, flowers and veggies growing, one of the most important points to consider is how to ensure they are given enough water in your absence.

Below we have a couple of tips you can adopt to help ensure your garden is taken care of while you’re off relaxing on holiday!


Mulch can be a great way of keeping water around your plants, and mulching before you leave on a short trip is one method of keeping plants healthy while you’re away. Mulch can also help to protect plants against invasive weeds, and boost the health of the soil over time. There are many different types of mulch that you can choose from. Some people choose to use leaves or wood from cut-back trees, while others may prefer grass clippings. Different varieties of mulch can also be purchased from your local nursery.

Mow the lawn

Before you leave, make sure your lawn is mown to ensure you don’t come back to a jungle! This is particularly important to remember for the summer months, when lawns can grow rapidly in a short period of time. Mowing the lawn and then spreading the clippings across the freshly-mowed turf can also help protect the grass while you’re away by giving it a helping hand to retain water. It might be tempting to cut the lawn short in an attempt to keep it manageable for longer, however, this can cause unnecessary stress to the grass and provide less protection against imposing weeds, so it’s best to keep it cut to a normal length.

Invest in a sprinkler timer

A sprinkler system with a timer can be a great way to ensure your garden gets a thorough watering while you’re away. Many timer systems allow for you to choose the day of the week you wish to water on, and the time and length of watering. This can be a great option for those who have plants that won’t be able to go without water for an extended amount of time. Be sure to check to make sure there are no water restrictions in place before implementing this plan, as sprinklers are often a no-no in states experiencing drought conditions.

Ask a friend, family member or neighbour to lend a helping hand

If you have someone close-by who is willing to help out with your garden while you’re away, then this can make things a lot easier. They might be happy to pop around each day (or as arranged) and give your garden ‘a watering’ and some love. You may even be able to set it up with somebody to take care of each other’s gardens, while each of you are on holiday, that way you will both know your garden is being cared for. it can also be a nice gesture to bring them back something small from your trip, to let them know you appreciate the help!

Ensuring your garden is taken care of while you’re on holiday doesn’t need to be stressful. Make sure everything is organised and sorted before you go, and you should be able to say “bon voyage” without a worry in your mind!

Need help?

Of course, don’t forget to contact your local Jim’s Mowing and Gardening guru! Call us now on 0800 454 654 or book online.

4 Plants That Can Grow In Poor Soil

Everybody knows that plants grow their best in fertile soil, packed with nutrients. But what happens if your garden’s soil is less than optimal? Poor soil can mean many things. Sometimes it can refer to soil with heavy amounts of clay, while other times it can refer to sandy or chalky soil. Regardless of the reason for poor soil, the outcome is generally the same: many plants struggle to grow in it.

While you could choose to grow plants in pots, or add potting mix and manure to a section of ground, there are some plants that are able to handle poor soil for those who would rather get straight into gardening. Below we’ve listed four plants that can grow well in poor soil, to help get you started on your gardening journey.


This popular salad fruit is notorious for being able to grow just about anywhere. Tomato plants make a great option for those wishing to start growing fruits and veggies in an area where soil is poor, due to their hardy nature. While hardy, they tend to have a little bit of trouble staying upright, so gently tying them to a stick or pole can be helpful in guiding them to do so.


Zucchinis are another food that stems from a hardy plant. If you’re a fan of this member of the squash family, then you’ll be pleased to hear that, like tomatoes, they can grow in most soil types. Zucchinis are a great plant to grow in a garden as the fruits are packed with vitamins. Just be sure to give them plenty of room, as zucchini plants have a tendency to sprawl out as they grow.

Aloe Vera

Like many succulents, aloe vera is great at thriving in poor soil. This plant requires very little water, making it a good choice for areas often affected by drought. Aloe vera plants will often produce “pups” or “offsets”, meaning you may find a few little aloe plants springing up next to your original. These can be left alone or replanted elsewhere. The extract from the leaves of aloe vera is also a popular remedy to help soothe sunburn.


The lavender plant can grow in many poor soil types, and produces beautiful flowers on long stems. While the most common flower colour for this plant is a light purple or “lavender” colour, there are other variations available, including those with pink, blue or white blooms. Lavender flowers generally have a strong fragrance and can often help to attract bees into a garden.

This list only covers a handful of the many plants that can be grown in poor soil. While having less than optimal soil can be frustrating for the avid gardener, there are still many options available for those wishing to grow plants. Over time, it may be best to add more nutrients to the soil through compost, manure and potting mix, but in the meantime, it could be worth growing some hardy plants to satisfy the green thumb!

Of course, don’t forget to contact your local Jim’s Mowing and Gardening guru! Give us a call now on 0800 454 654 or book online.

Three Hypoallergenic Flowers That Bloom in Spring

Spring has arrived and with it comes a myriad of gorgeous flowers. For those with allergies, it can mean a lot of sniffling and sneezing when around certain flowers and pollen, but not all flowers are created equal when it comes to their sneeze-inducing properties. Some flowers are more hypoallergenic than others, making them a generally better alternative for people who have allergies.

In this article we take a look at three hypoallergenic flowers that bloom during the spring. Some of these plants need to be planted in other seasons, meaning it may be preparing for next spring before you’re enjoying their beautiful blooms.


Daffodils-hypoallergenic-flowers-jims-mowing-nzThese bright yellow, distinct flowers are a hypoallergenic option for those looking to add a colourful pop to their garden during the late winter and early spring months. While daffodils still contain pollen, they tend to create less pollen than most flowers found blooming in spring gardens. But while they may be alright for those looking for a hypoallergenic flower option, they are toxic to cats and dogs, so are best grown in areas away from pets. Daffodils grow from bulbs, and should be planted in the autumn either in patio pot or window box. These flowers like to grow in areas of the garden that experience full-sun or partial shade.


Hydrangeas are a pollen-free, hypoallergenic flower that come in a variety of colours including whites, blues, pinks and purples. They grow as a shrub and flower during the spring and summer months. Hydrangeas are hardy plants, making them a good option for beginner gardeners. Plant hydrangeas during autumn or spring, and make sure they are watered well during the warmer months. Some more-experienced gardeners may wish to attempt to change the colour of their hydrangea flowers, which can be tried by changing the PH of the soil for some varieties of the established plant. Hydrangeas are another plant that can be toxic to pets, so be sure to keep them in an area where curious paws and mouths can’t access them.


Roses are a flower that has become intrinsically linked with love and affection, but they can also be a good option for those looking for a hypoallergenic flower to grow in the garden. These flowers offer a wide range of colours and varieties to choose from, and their low-pollen amounts mean they can be kinder on the noses of those with a pollen sensitivity. You can also choose whether you wish to grow a variety of the flower with a mild, medium or strong scent. Roses love direct sunlight, so it’s best to plant them in a spot that receives plenty of full sun each day. The best time to plant roses is during winter, and while some varieties of rose only flower in the spring, other types will flower year-round. Rose bushes are also non-toxic to pets, making them a good option for yard with curious furry friends (just be careful of the thorns!).

There are many varieties of flowers available for those looking for a hypoallergenic alternative for their spring blooms. The three flowers on this list are just the tip of the iceberg of options, so if you’re someone with sensitive sinuses, never fear! There are plenty of gorgeous hypoallergenic flowers out there that can be enjoyed by everyone!

Need help?

If you need help pruning your garden, contact Jim’s Mowing on 0800 454 654 or book online.

Cat-Friendly Plants

Cats can make fantastic pets! They’re generally pretty low maintenance, yet still provide a soft, sweet little soul to come home to. However, they do have a bit of a tendency to be curious! Whether it’s jumping onto places they shouldn’t, chewing on things they shouldn’t, or climbing up the flyscreens, cats can be mischievous things. If that’s not a good enough reason to create a haven for your pet.

Due to this tendency to explore, if you have cats in your household, it can be good to ensure the plants you keep are cat safe plants. In this article, we take a look at a range of different cat-friendly plants, so you can relax, knowing even the most exploratory taste-testing kitty will be safe. Keep reading to learn a little bit about some non-toxic plants for cats!

Areca Palm


This popular houseplant is great for those looking for an indoor palm that is safe for kitties. These trees like to be placed bright, indirect light and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Areca Palms need a little bit of care and maintenance in order to be their best and as such, are more-suited to gardeners with a bit of experience.

Sword Fern


These cute little plants have a real lush, rainforest vibe about them. Sword Ferns are non-toxic to cats and can make great little additions to a room or outdoor garden. These ferns are adaptable and can be grown in a variety of conditions, although they prefer semi-shady spots. They don’t require a lot of water once established, making them great for those who can be a bit forgetful from time to time!

Spider Plant


Spider Plants have long, thin, green leaves that grow in a bunch and have white features on them. These cat-friendly plants – also sometimes referred to as Hens and Chickens – are hardy, making them a great choice for beginner gardeners looking for cat safe indoor plants. Spider Plants like to be placed in a spot that receives bright, indirect light. They can handle a little bit of neglect, making them a good houseplant choice for busy people!

Staghorn Fern


The Staghorn Fern is a cat-friendly plant for those looking for something a little different. These plants are air plants, meaning they grow without the need for soil. They can often be found mounted onto trees or the sides of houses, and offer an interesting way to break up the monotony of an outside wall. These plants like filtered light, and should be placed in a spot where they are away from strong winds. Staghorn Ferns don’t require a lot of water, making them an interesting hardy choice.

Need help?

If you need help pruning your garden, contact Jim’s Mowing on 0800 454 654 or book online.

Tips on pruning plants

Important Tips on Pruning Plants

To keep your plants in shape, regular pruning is required whether your plants are grown inside or outside. Be careful though, over-pruning can be hazardous so it’s extremely important to know which plants to prune, when to prune and how. It is best to prune fruiting and flowering plants whilst they are not in bloom, however other plants such as shrubs and trees which blossom in the spring time, require the old buds to be pruned in order to blossom new ones. Some plants need pruning all year round, so it can be a little perplexing at first, just keep in mind that the worst case scenario is that your plant or plants may generate a reduced amount of fruits and flowers.

Pruning Tools

Pruning can feel like a daunting task if you are a beginner gardener. To make the process easier, make sure that you possess the correct equipment. Here is a list of basic tools that will aid any gardener in making their garden look its best.

  • Loppers – long handles with short sturdy blades – used for pruning thick branches that are hard to reach
  • Saw – needed for thick branches (6 inches+)
  • Shears – appear to be heavy duty scissors – useful for trimming branches and leaves that are not so thick
  • Hand Pruners – short thick blades – helpful for cutting thinner branches and stems (up to 1 inch)

It is more practical to have all these basic tools on hand prior to commencing pruning and the better the quality the better the job they will do and the longer they will last. It is imperative to ensure all tools are cleaned properly after each use as some soil can be full of plant diseases and you really don’t want to transfer them onto other plants.


Flowering Trees, Shrubs and Vines

These three very different plant categories need pruning at all different times throughout the year.

 Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Flowering trees and shrubs normally blossom should be pruned mid-autumn as they bloom in spring. They can be pruned earlier if they have grown predominantly large but beware, you do not want to lose too many blooms in the process.


Clematis blooms on its own timetable, but generally it is best to prune them back after they have completed blossoming. This will ensure that they have room to continue growing for the next bloom. To guarantee a long life, vines need appropriate pruning, so it’s vital to pay close attention to the state of the Clematis.

Need help?

If you need help pruning your garden, contact Jim’s Mowing on 0800 454 654 or book online.

Identifying different lawn diseases

Proper treatment begins with the correct diagnosis.

To the untrained eye, lawn diseases like dollar spots, brown patches, and Pythium may look the same. Indeed, these and other diseases may share a few features which makes it doubly difficult to ascertain the specific disease which plagues your lawn.

The failure to correctly identify your lawn’s disease can aggravate the problem when you end up using the wrong treatment. So how do you distinguish one condition from the other?


Anthracnose is caused by the pathogen known as Colletotrichum graminocola. A lawn that has been infected by this disease will have yellowish grass with red lesions. Upon close visual inspection, you may notice black fruiting bodies on the leaves.

Turf species like Festuca, Lollum, Poa and Cynodon sp. are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

The disease typically attacks lawns when the temperature goes beyond 25°C, usually between spring and autumn. The combination of high humidity and hot summer temperature in temperate climate zones as well as ample moisture can also lead to the disease.

Brown Patch

The combination of high temperature and high humidity, especially during late spring and summer, can lead to brown patches which typically affect bent grasses and fine fescues. However, warm season grasses can also be affected by this fungal disease.

If the lawn is mown closely, you may notice a greyish or purplish smoke ring around the perimeter of the affected areas on the lawn, especially in the morning when there are still dew drops. As the day advances, the colour of the smoke ring becomes tan.

If the lawn is mowed higher, it may appear thinner and in great need of moisture. In some cases, the centre of the ring may seem unaffected by the disease while the area encircling it may exhibit signs of damage and discolouration.

Dollar Spot

Dollar spot is another fungal disease that is characterised by the small spots, usually around 25 to 65mm in diameter, found close to one another. These spots appear to be sunken on the lawn and will have a brown colour.

Upon close inspection, these spots look paler and the infection usually covers the width of each leaf blade. In coarser turf species, the spots are diffused and affect just a part of the leaf blades. Affected leaf blades may also feel greasy or slimy to the touch.

The fungal disease, caused by Sclerotinia homeocarpa, can attack a diverse array of turf species. However, the most vulnerable species are the Zoysia, Cynodon, Kikuyu, and Agrostis.

The turf can become vulnerable to the disease when the soil’s pH level is less than seven, if there is poor drainage, humidity exceeds 90 percent for over nine hours, the daily minimum temperature is above the 17 to 20°C range, and the daily maximum temperature range is over 28°C.



Fusarium is a fungal disease that is caused by Microdochium nivale and typically attacks lawns when the temperature is around 16°C and when there is low humidity.

A lawn infected by the disease will have circular patches in areas that have been water-soaked. Each patch is usually no bigger than 5cm but can go as large as 20cm. Initially, the patches will have a brownish hue which will later become light grey.


Helmo, also known as Helminthosporium, is a lawn disease that may be caused by different species of fungi, including Bipolaris, Curvulari, Dreschslera, and Exserohilum.

The disease requires a temperature range of 3°C and 30°C, high humidity, and ample moisture in order to thrive and survive.

Among the symptoms exhibited by the affected lawn include small dark patches, patches of dead grass about 10cm in diameter. Usually, the affected grass blades will turn yellow first before dying.


This disease is caused by Sclerotinia homeocarpa and can affect both warm and cool grasses. However, Lolium and Agrostis are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Pythium affects different parts of the grass. When the leaf blades are affected, the condition is called grease spot or cottony blight. On the other hand, if the affected parts of the plant are the root and crown, the disease is called Pythium crown or root rot.

The disease is characterised by small greasy spots on the affected parts. When these spots dry out, their colour will become yellowish to reddish.

Lawns can become vulnerable to the disease when the minimum daily temperature is above 17 to 20°C, the daily maximum temperature is above 28°C, and when the humidity is above 90 percent.