4 ways to make the most of your winter garden
Spring may be a wonderful time for your garden to grow, with many plants and flowers blossoming during the spring months. But that doesn’t mean that your garden has to die over winter. So, if you want to enjoy the beautiful sight, smells and tastes of your garden year-round, here are a few items and tasks you can perform during the winter months.
Protect your garden and get yourself ready for spring
If you haven’t been already, there are a few ways you can protect your plants in the colder weather. Adding a layer of mulch around 5cm thick around your plants will help protect them from the cold, conserve moisture, and also add valuable nitrogen back to the soil in winter. It can also help prevent weed growth. Having a frost cloth on hand is also a great idea to protect those frost sensitive plants.
As you’ll be working less in the garden, winter is also the perfect time to check on your tool cupboard and see what condition everything is in. Some tools might need a bit of TLC, sharpening, cleaning, or oiling. Or, you might find that some of your tools are a bit beyond repair, and need replacing instead. If you prepare these during winter when you’re less likely to need to use them, it means you’ll be ready and raring to go come spring.
While you’re at the hardware store, consider visiting the garden centre as well! Start thinking about what you want to plant for winter, what crops you may want to grow and harvest, what you need to do early to prepare for spring, along with flowers you would like to pick. Applying liquid fertiliser to your gardens once a month will ensure your soil will be in prime position to support growth when it is time to get your garden ready.
Plant and grow your own fresh produce
Despite the colder weather, there are plenty of plants and crops that grow during the winter months. For root crops, dig over garden beds. You can also dig in compost before planting to replenish nutrients used by previous crops.
Then it’s time to plant your winter produce, like broad beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, celery, garlic, kale, mizuna, onions, peas, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, and coriander. If you’re sowing winter seeds in warmer parts of New Zealand, use sheltered areas of your garden to sow broccoli, broad beans, cabbage, cauliflower, and peas. Lettuce seeds can be sown too, if you choose hardy winter varieties.
If frosts are a concern, plant crops into containers that you can move around to catch the midday sun and keep a cloche or growing tunnel handy.
Grow fruit in winter and prepare fruit for spring
Winter is a great time to harvest fruits like grapefruit, lemons, kiwifruit, mandarins, tamarillos, and oranges. It’s also the best time for planting new season deciduous fruit trees. Select the healthiest specimens from your garden centre with straight stems and stake newly planted fruit trees. Most deciduous fruit trees can be pruned during this time, except peaches, plums, and nectarines. Prune grapes and kiwifruit vines, and prune autumn cropping raspberries back to ground level to get them ready for their own fruiting season.
You might find that your fruit trees suffer from leaf curl during winter, in the buds of infected trees. If this is the case, a copper-based spray is the most effective way of controlling leaf curl. Winter clean-up sprays are recommended; use a copper fungicide and oil just after pruning until bud burst in spring at 10–14-day intervals.
Oddly enough, strawberries can also be planted in winter. Research shows that planting strawberries in New Zealand’s winter temperatures will produce a higher yield in summer. The delicate flowers can’t handle frost so maybe leave them until the final weeks of the season during August.
It’s also important to maintain vigilant weed control in winter. Weeds compete for valuable nutrients, and with less growth during winter, it’s important your trees get as many nutrients to themselves as they can.
Get ready to enjoy flowers for the spring months
Winter is an optimal time to plant calendula, nemesia, pansies, polyanthus, poppy, snapdragon, stock, viola. It’s also the best time to plant new season roses as planting stress is reduced as the plants lie dormant. Garden centres will have the best range available now, as the plants are dormant planting stress is reduced.
To prepare your flowers, it’s time to prune your roses, shrubs and any perennials that are looking untidy, or have finished flowering for the season. You can also fertilise garden beds ready for new season’s planting by adding compost, deadhead any plants that have finished flower for the season to encourage new foliage and flowers, bring frost tender patio plants into a sheltered position, and keep on top of weeding as mentioned above
Winter is a great time to step back and give your garden some TLC coming into spring. So, if you still have some winter gardening tasks that need doing, call our team of professional gardeners on 0800 454 654 or contact us online to get your garden in its best shape for winter and beyond.
With spring fast approaching, now is a good time to start thinking about lawn care. Spring signals the beginning of growing season for most lawns around New Zealand, with many receiving a lot less care over the dormant months of winter.
So, if your lawn is in need of a little TLC to prepare it for its biggest season of the year, here are our top tips for getting your lawn in its best shape moving into spring and then summer.
Lawn length and mowing intervals
In colder climates, your lawn may not have been mowed since late autumn. If this is the case and it is very long, don’t cut it very short when you do your first spring mow. Instead, gradually lower the height of your mower over the next two or three mows. This will prevent die-back and help stop weeds developing in the lawn.
Lawns in warmer climates will need to be mowed right through next winter, probably at longer intervals than the two weeks that is recommended.
Know when there’s too much or too little thatch
Everyone that has a lawn has most certainly had numerous opportunities to notice a kind of a dead grass between the greens part of it. Mulching when mowing is healthy for large lawns. A little bit of thatch is actually good as it mulches and fertilises the soil. It also helps retain the water and make the soil moist.
But if you notice that excess thatch prevails, then make sure it is removed as soon as possible because too much of thatch is a suitable base for bacteria and insects that destroy your grass.
For that reason, we can use mowers that mulch the clippings and leave them on the lawn. Some of the clippings will decompose, but those that will not decompose can be collected to make compost, or we can catch the grass. Using a catcher is recommended for finer turf lawns in cooler climates as there is usually far more clippings which if mulched leave an unsightly mess.
Once we hit spring, we recommend that a lawn then be mowed regularly during the growing season which is usually once every two weeks.
Save renovating or establishing new lawns until spring
New lawns are usually established in two ways – sowing with a mixture of grass seed; Kikuyu, Amenity Ryegrass or Couch in the North and Fescue / Brown top in the South.
You can also use instant turf or Ready Lawn. Instant turf is a preferred method of establishment as a good strike with grass seed can be difficult in certain New Zealand climates.
Fertiliser can be applied. A lawn with adequate nutrients will be greener, more able to resist disease and, if the fertiliser is applied in the correct rates more drought tolerant.
Spraying your lawn selectively for weeds and moss should also be considered. We recommend this be done after an application of fertiliser so that the all grasses in your lawn can be encouraged to fill the gaps left by weeds.
If you are considering selling your property you may consider that your garden, paths etc require what we describe as a ‘clean up’. First impressions from prospective buyers are important. A clean up usually only takes a day and can be concentrated on areas that either you or your consultant feel would enhance the appearance of the property.
Jim’s Mowing offers all of the above services as we are more than just mowing. Whether you need to prepare your lawn for spring, are looking for someone to help maintain your lawn during the growing season, or need to re-establish new lawns and areas, get in touch with our team on 0800 454 654 and we’ll be happy to help.
Roses are a stunning and hardy addition to your garden that can be planted as a colourful hedge, complementary pop of colour, or even on a feature such as an archway. So, if you want to make sure your roses look their best this year, winter is actually the best time to plant and maintain your roses to ensure a blossoming, gorgeous garden come spring. Planting, pruning, mulching, and spraying roses in New Zealand is all best done in winter, so check out these tips from our Mowing and Gardening experts on how you can care for your roses in winter.
Planting roses in winter
If you plant your rose bushes right, it will be a lot easier to keep them healthy, strong, and full of flowers. Roses like a lot of sunlight so choose a sunny spot; somewhere that gets at about 5 hours a day is best. Also try to pick a spot sheltered from strong winds.
Next, prepare your soil. Dig it through using a garden fork and remove any weeds. Add plenty of peat, compost, or any well-rotted organic material to give the soil a nutrient boost.
Now dig a hole big enough to hold the roots and create a small mound of soil (around 5cm high) in the centre of the hole. Carefully squeeze out your rose bush from its pot and place on top of the mound. Check that where the roots and stem meet is level with the top of the hole. If it isn’t you may need to adjust the size of your mound. Then spread out the roots around the mound.
Fill in the hole, firm the soil and water well.
Finally, add a layer of mulch around the rose bush to help prevent weeds from growing and to help retain water. Just make sure that mulch doesn’t touch the stem of the bush, as if it does it can cause it to rot.
What is the proper way to prune roses?
Roses should be pruned when they’re not in flower. This is generally around June or July, although in cooler regions, it may be more like August. Don’t be concerned if you still have a few roses flowering when it is time to prune. A few flowers are an acceptable sacrifice to ensure a good performance next year.
Choose a sunny dry day to prune, as wet weather can encourage the spread of disease. Always use sharp secateurs to get a clean cut. A clean cut prevents die back and bacterial disease from affecting roses.
TOP TIP: Dip secateurs in bleach or methylated spirits to reduce the chances of spreading disease.
To prune, first remove any dead or diseased growth and then clear the centre of the plant to allow air movement. Cut branches back by about half and make all cuts on an angle which slopes away from the bud.
HANDY HINT: Keep your garden bag handy to collect all the cuttings and debris that falls on the ground. You should dispose of this to stop the spread of disease rather than putting it into your compost bin (if you have one).
Watering and feeding roses in winter
Roses do not need watering or feeding in winter as they are dormant and not growing. But they do require plenty of water in summer. Consider installing an irrigation system to make sure your roses get the regular, deep watering they need.
When buds start to burst in early spring start feeding them approximately once a month with a balanced fertiliser specially blended for roses.
Roses do well with cool, moist, rich soils, and do not like competing with weeds for food and water, so continue to add a layer of mulch around the stem.
When to spray roses
To keep roses pest and disease-free many gardeners regularly spray them. Winter is a good time for spraying to catch any over-wintering insect eggs or fungal spores. A copper-based spray is a good general clean up spray to apply. Talk to a gardening expert for specific advice on different sprays available or alternative options for dealing with pests and disease.
HANDY HINT: There are lots of rose varieties available. Consider colour, planting location, and climate and scent when choosing your favourite.
If you’re looking at planting roses in winter, or want someone else to look after them for you, give one of our friendly team members a call on 0800 454 654 or enquire at Jim’s Mowing for advice on caring for your garden and lawn this winter.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
These 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!