All Things Bright and Beautiful

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Having a garden to be proud of isn't a part-time job and those who wish to have a blooming masterpiece by the time summer comes calling, need to start planning during the winter months. However, it is not only the colder months when a garden needs to be maintained.

We asked Damon Johnson from Terra Firma Landscapers for some tips on how to get the best out of a garden and he's offered the following advice. Pruning is a very important part of any serious gardener’s schedule and if done correctly, will boost tired, sad-looking plants by redirecting nutrients and aiding new growth.

Shaping of lollipops or standards and shrubs like the potato bush (Solanum rantonetti), orange jasmine (Murraya exotica) and brush cherry (Syzygium paniculatum) will give the garden a manicured, well-maintained look. They are not, however, the only plants that will benefit from a 'haircut'.


Neat shrubs

Lavenders can also be shaped. If you have a hedge of lavender and are considering trimming, always hedge it at an angle that tapers from bottom to top. Trim wider at the bottom and narrower at the top of the hedge to ensure that the lower levels obtain sun. If the hedge is cut straight, the bottom becomes sparse while the top remains full of foliage and the hedge becomes unsightly.

Roses should be pruned as close to 19 July as possible. Johnson says that doing so virtually guarantees that the roses will bloom at the start of October. However, he warns that if it is still very cold, pruning should be delayed for a few weeks as frost could kill off new buds.

It is also advisable to only move plants once they have stopped flowering. "As a rule of thumb, I move winter flowering plants in summer and summer flowering plants in winter. Succulents and aloes generally flower in winter so transplant these in summer while most other plants flower in summer and should be moved in winter. Roses too are best moved in winter after pruning."

Those who are planning on planting a veggie garden featuring summer vegetables can start planting now. Summer crops include beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, pumpkin, runner beans and sweet potato. It is important to remember to rotate your crop by planting vegetables in different sections of the vegetable garden every year as each plant consumes different nutrients from the soil.

We live in a hot climate and for that reason, it is important to take care of lawns all year round. "Cut your lawns slightly longer to protect the roots from the heat and wind in summer. However, don't let it get too long otherwise when it is cut again, the roots will be exposed and will get burnt by the sun. When mowing the lawn make sure to mow in different directions every alternate mow. This will prevent ridges in the lawn and will help to create a thicker, well matted ‘carpet’. In compacted areas, spike the lawn with a spiked roller to allow water to get to the roots. Lawn seed can be sown at this time of year. If gardeners use LAN on the lawn it must be watered in well to avoid the fertiliser burning the lawn and its roots. Rather apply less of the product more regularly instead of a heavy application less frequently. Feeding your lawn every 6 weeks will keep it well fed."

Lawn weed treatments should be used, but it is recommended that the treatment be delayed and left for cooler days if possible. If not, then water after weeding to cool off the lawn’s newly exposed areas.

When it comes to watering the garden, Johnson recommends watering either in the morning or later on when temperatures have dropped. Avoid watering in the heat of the day when the sun is at its hottest as much of the water evaporates and is therefore wasted.

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