Spring gardening tips

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Its officially spring next week, and some timely spring treatment for lawns, shrubs and flowers will set up the garden for summer.

Fertilise spring flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs. Flowering plants should get 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 and shrubs and trees 2:3:2 (or their organic alternatives). Roses that were pruned in July or early this month will be sprouting, and they respond almost immediately to an application of Vigorosa fertilizer. Water well after fertilising.

Watering can be increased to at least twice a week as temperatures rise. The roots and microbes love to get fresh oxygenated water.

Start mulching the beds so that they don’t dry out as quickly and the roots are kept cool. Pine needles, peanut shells, bark chips, pebbles, thatched grass are good materials.

 

Give the lawns some TLC

Lawns will respond quickly to some tender loving care. If they are thatchy, rake out all the dead grass and then cut the lawn with the lawnmower on its lowest setting.

Compacted ground can be spiked with a garden fork. Apply lawn fertiliser and water in well.

Cool season grasses that are longer and finer, such as Evergreen or Shade Master, don’t need any spring treatment except for 5:1:5 fertiliser at the end of August.  Neither they nor LM grass should be top dressed because soil on the crown kills off the lawn.

Top dressing is necessary only if you need to level the lawn or fill in hollows. If cool season lawns are patchy, loosen the soil, sow in new seed and water.

If your lawn has stayed reasonably green over winter and is not too thick just fertilise and water well. It will soon become a green carpet again.

 

Add fragrance

 Incorporate fragrant plants into your garden for year-round fragrance. Plants that expel their fragrance like Murraya exotica, star jasmine, gardenias can be positioned close to your living area where you can enjoy the fragrance, especially in the evening.

Aromatic plants, like lavender, rosemary, lemon verbena and scented geraniums, need to be touched to release their fragrance. They can be used as borders, along paths, in containers, or next to benches where you can easily brush against them or rub the leaves with your fingers.

Plant powerfully fragrant roses in front of those that don’t have perfume. On hot days they will perfume the whole bed and are easy to lean over and smell.

Don’t ignore the more delicate scent of bedding plants that also add colour, like alyssum, petunias, stocks, and violets.

 

Go waterwise

Whether we have plenty of rain or not, one of the most environmentally friendly things we can do is to reduce the amount of water used in the garden.

That doesn’t mean sacrificing colour and it doesn’t mean turfing out all non-indigenous plants.  Water wise gardening is about giving plants the correct amount of water according to their needs and making sure that the water reaches their roots.

Aerate the soil so that it can absorb more water by working in compost and other organic materials.

Plants that can survive arid conditions are obviously the most water wise. During the course of this season see how to incorporate these when replacing plants that have come to the end of their lifespan.

Indigenous plant to consider are aloes, mesembryanthemums, and succulents like Senecio, Crassula, and Cotyledons, and flowers like gazanias, pelargoniums and kingfisher daisies. On the non-indigenous side there is a choice between coreopsis, celosia, marigolds, petunias, sunflowers, salvia, vincas, and verbena.

 

TEXT: Alice Coetzee. 

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