With the turn of the year and holidays for some, it’s a time for assessing the past and contemplating the year ahead. Perhaps you’ve decided that this is the year to focus on the home front, and get into the garden. What’s your gardening resolution?
Tidy Up. Perhaps you’ve let things go and just need to catch up with basic maintenance. Pruning and weeds are likely to be on your list, especially if the summer is wet. If it’s all gotten out of hand, you might consider bringing in a garden maintenance service to get the job done before it gets any worse. If you really don’t have the time or physical ability to maintain the garden in its current state, think about modifying your garden design e.g. replacing roses with other shrubs (that don’t need pruning) or alter your practices (e.g. better mulching to reduce weeding and watering). Considering the heat, there’s usually enough to do in January keeping just the lawns mowed, hedges trimmed, weeds controlled and rubbish collected.
Unless there’s significant rainfall this month, you will also be concerned with keeping water up to your most valued plants.
If we get drenching rains, on the other hand, constantly full pot saucers can cause water logging and rotting of potted plants as well as provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Empty these or remove them completely while the rain lasts. Check the garden for other receptacles that could harbour mosquitoes too.
If it does rain, the pressure may be off watering gardens for a while, but don’t forget about your potted plants. They will dry out quickly in hot or windy weather and require regular watering. Don’t be fooled into thinking a light shower of rain will do the job for you, because very little, if any, will reach the potting mix of a well-foliaged plant. Of course pots under eaves or a patio roof will still need watering by hand all the time.
If there’s been good rainfall (or you can water adequately), apply a complete fertiliser to the general garden. In some cases a fertiliser formulated for certain plants may be more appropriate e.g. low-phosphorus for grevilleas and banksias (native plant formulation) or high nitrogen for lawns. With growth stimulated by summer rainfall and warmth, demand for nutrients will be high and deficiencies are likely especially if heavy rainfall has leached minerals from the soil.
If you haven’t mulched in a while, top up garden beds to suppress germinating weeds. With the warm weather, weeds will be growing vigorously, especially if some good rain falls. With the ground soft, however, it will be easier to manually remove localised weed infestations. Whether hand weeding or spraying, get to work before they set seed. Unfortunately, it’s too late to do anything about bindii, except extract the prickles from the soles of your feet. Learn to recognise the foliage and be on the lookout next winter/early spring and attack the developing plants then.
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