Three good gardening tips

by Peter Shaw of Ocean Road Landscaping

Gardening tips to keep your garden looking great.

It was a great summer. We took our usual break and like most people along the coast, drifted to the beach with the children.  While we were all enjoying an almost unbroken series of great beach days, looking back with Autumn’s hindsight, they came at a price.  Below are three gardening tips sure to help boost some life into your garden

We had very little decent rain during those summer months. Throw a couple of really scorching days on top of that and everything became incredibly dry incredibly fast – lawns quickly went off and we lost established plants four to five years old.

Playing the forensic detective, you could see that we suffered the most losses where there was no shade or respite from the late afternoon sun. But anyone with a garden along the coast expects this sort of thing – the odd loss now and then. They also appreciate that the kinder Autumn days are perfect to get on with some garden repairs…

Gardening tips 1- Irrigation

Firstly, lets talk about watering, or more specifically, irrigation systems. I do tend to go on about this, and that’s because it’s basic housekeeping. Plants need water so we all should get out there every year to take a good look around. In other words, just because you have an irrigation system doesn’t mean it’s doing it’s job, effortlessly and dependably delivering water just where it’s needed. I’m sure it did when it was first set up, but time goes by and stuff happens.

So here’s your checklist. Confirm that the controller has power (is it plugged in and switched on or is it powered by a fresh back-up battery). Then run it manually and walk around the garden with your eyes and ears open. You’re looking to see that it’s working and that there are no holes where there shouldn’t be. You could even get yourself an irrigation repair kit – a low-cost handful of useful bits and pieces – from specialty irrigation stores. Not only does a kit make fast fixes straightforward, you can also relax when you’re out working with a spade knowing that if you cut through the piping it’s not a problem. With your watering sorted, let’s move on to suggestion number two.

Gardening tips 2- Fill gaps with new plants

Plants do die – they do most summers – and while it can be disappointing it’s also an opportunity to move on and refresh the garden. First step is to prepare the soil for planting before you head out to get your plants. Dig it over, add some organic material and water the area a couple of times before planting day. If you do this, your soil flora (the micro world below the surface which helps grow healthy plants) will have a chance to recover in time to welcome the new additions.

Now do a quick mental (or actual) sketch of the beds with the gaps and think about what to add in. My tip is to be restrained. Plant groups of the same plant – threes for a small gap, but do try odd numbers to avoid a bitsy looking landscape. If you’re swayed by everything on offer at the garden centre you’ll only come home with the equivalent of a mixed bag of lollies and your garden will look like it.

Gardening tips 3- Sculpture/ Planter Pot

Finally, one of the quickest ways to give the garden a mini Autumnal lift is to plant out a seriously good looking planter-pot. Pick a big one (it’s a strange rule of nature that pots shrink in size between the pot shop and home, so be generous), and give it prime position on the back deck or near the door. Then fill it with a few permanent plants – succulents are brilliant – and add in some seasonal colour to spill over the rim. A pot like this looks good and it’s easy to keep looking that way because it is a garden in miniature.

So there you go – check your watering system, fill any gaps with new plants and have a bit of fun making a living flower display in a mega-pot.

Happy Gardening.

*Peter Shaw, together with his team at Ocean Road Landscaping, creates beautiful, environmentally friendly gardens on the Great Ocean Road, Surf Coast, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula. web: phone: 1300 61 62 63  or  5263 3133 or complete our Contact Us page