Tips to make your garden a summer oasis

Tips to make your garden a summer oasis

The biggest part of most gardens is the lawn,you know the story – when you’ve had the time to mow it’s been wet, and when it has been dry you’ve been busy.

The good news is if you do mow it after work in the cooler part of the day it won’t go through as much stress. Just because it is long doesn’t mean you have to slash it.

A longer lawn that’s mowed to be uniform looks fantastic, it’s more inviting and it’s easier than pushing the mower on a lower setting.

The longer the leaf on the grass the more traffic it can handle and that means it can stand up to backyard cricket.

Now is not the time to be buying big bags of smelly fertiliser for the garden, unless you want to stay inside with the windows closed. If the garden needs a feed, think about a liquid fertiliser or a synthetic, slow-release fertiliser that doesn’t smell.

I have noticed my paths are dirty, even slippery, from all the rain, so a pressure wash will ensure safety and will give them brighter look.

Tips to make your garden a summer oasis

While you’re cleaning, wash your outdoor furniture. Spiderwebs are everywhere. If your furniture is wooden, sanding the timber lightly and giving it an oil is a quick and easy job.

Some new mulch will brighten the garden beds. I like to use composted bark fines. If you don’t want to spend the money, rake and move your existing mulch around. It will come up like new because mulch exposed to the sun fades.

Now is also a good time to remove all the Ds in the garden – dead, diseased and damaged.

I just removed all the dead flowers from my gardenias and they are transformed – from shrubs where dead flowers were all you could see to beautiful foliage and some new flowers blooming.

Diseased plants that have made the garden look messy should be removed or cut back. Plants don’t repair – they grow out of a problem if you manage it. So I like to remove the diseased foliage so the plant looks neat and tidy, and with dead plants remove and replace with fresh mulch.

It’s not too late to plant some colour in the garden. Nurseries and hardware stores have potted colour plants for a few dollars. By positioning them well around your entrance and around your outdoor entertaining area you can make a big impact for not a lot of money.

Most importantly, enjoy your garden over summer. I showed someone a photo of my lawn and they said, “make sure you enjoy it as much as you enjoy looking at it”, and I will.

Story by Jason Hodges; Story source:

Making gardens fun again

Making gardens fun again

Somewhere between reality home makeover shows and worrying about resale value in five, seven or 10 years down the track, something has happened in many Australian backyards. Despite all the paving, blue fescue, mondo grass, hedges and trendy edible gardens, we’ve managed to make many of our backyards incredibly boring for kids.

It’s no wonder, really, that kids are spending more time in front of the box, or a wide range of other screens.

It seems like everything has just gotten so, so safe, and so, so boring. It was a relief to discover this week when I asked friends and far and wide how they had made their backyards fun, that one replied they had rigged up a treehouse and attached a makeshift flying fox to it. Score 10 points for the kids!

“Play should have an element of risk, it should be challenging,” says Hamish Henry, whose company Peppertown specialises in selling kids’ play equipment.  “You’ve got to build that, you can’t be too precious about your children, you’ve got to give them the opportunity to have the odd fall and take the risk.”

Not so much risk they end up seriously injured of course – it’s still sensible to provide soft landings such as sand and bark chips, (there are specialist mulches for play areas) underneath things like tree houses and flying foxes.

But perhaps there is hope – Henry says flying foxes are a big seller for his business, and parents are realising kids need open play spaces where there is active play involved. Think a tree house, or fort style set up, rather than a boxed-in ground-level cubby.

“It could be a raised deck with scramble nets going onto it and cross beams going over the top,” says Henry.

“The opportunity to get it around trees or into trees is important, or to put it into areas where you make children climb and use it as an experiential piece of play.

“What you want is you want to challenge the child, you want to say ‘here it is, go for it’ but also you want the children to play on it.”

“People buy ‘cubby houses’ and give them to the children [but] often they end up as a … pool shed, or another shed in the backyard.”

Matt Leacy, founder of Landart Landscapes, and a host on Channel Nine’s The Garden Gurus, is a big fan of trampolines in the garden – with a twist.

“Trampolines are a must as kids love them and they’re great for encouraging outdoor play.”

Making gardens fun again

Leacy has a rather nice way of saying  “but they are a bit ugly”. As he puts it: “Unfortunately they take up a lot of visual space in the garden”.

“Burying them can make them safer and more discreet – but it’s not as simple as just sticking it in the ground,” he says.

Leacy recommends excavating and putting in retaining walls and drainage to bury a trampoline for the long term.

“It does have a price tag but when you way up the possibility of having a trampoline in your garden for 10 years, then cost is worth it,” he says.

Retaining walls can be made from a number of materials including cement or brick. There are also kits on the market that include retaining walls and a trampoline mat.

Story by Carolyn Boyd, story source:

Natural therapy

Natural therapy

Native plants bring colour and wildlife to banish winter woes.

Winter’s big chill doesn’t mean the garden has to be drab and lifeless. Some of our fabulous natives work their magic at this time of year. They also work their magic on nectar-eating birds that flock to their flowers, so you’ll be bringing life into your garden.

Planting bird-attracting plants makes a positive contribution to the environment. A single garden might seem only a small part of the overall environment, but it can affect the neighbourhood. The birds, animals and insects it attracts find their way into other gardens. Read more

Autumn The Time To Plant

Autumn: The Time To Plant

Autumn is often considered the most important season for enthusiastic gardeners.

The cooling weather is the ideal time to plant. Your plant’s roots grow deep giving stability and health and setting them up for a wonderful spring.

Your local gardening centre can offer advice on what plants are suitable for your area for planting in Autumn

A Garden Focal Point

A Garden Focal Point

Great gardens add value to your property.

A good idea when designing your garden is to add a focal point or feature. This can be a water feature, shaded sitting area, artwork or artefact.

These days there are many options available over the internet, in garden centres and even salvaging something unique from the tip.

Contemporary sculptures, large pots, collections of pots, screens and the use of metal are some ideas.