Learn something new with IOL: How to keep your garden in tip-top shape during lockdown

By Chris Dalzell Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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While we do our bit to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa with self-distancing and self-isolation, why not use this time to learn a new skill? IOL will help by publishing a how-to guide almost every day at noon.

Today we learn how to take care of our gardens while the country is on lockdown.

With the consistent rains we have had these past few weeks it is important to fertilise your garden. Fertilise flower beds with 3.2.1 and lawns a high nitrogen fertiliser of 5.1.5.

Many of the shrubs such as Tecoma capensis (Cape honeysuckle) and Plumbago auriculata would have finished flowering and are ready for a good haircut. Reduce the size of the shrubs to a third of their size.

Remove all dried and broken branches plus leaves and add some compost and fertiliser to the base of the shrub. Water well. These plants will push new growth before the dry winter season.

Lawns still have another six weeks to two months of active growth. Keep cutting the grass as long as possible, fertilise with 5.1.5 fertiliser and top dress with lawn dressing which you can buy at any garden centre.

With the recent rains and with rains predicted for the next few weeks, your lawns will have time to recover after the dry periods we have experienced recently.

Keep an eye out for alien plants that may have germinated in your garden. Seeds are either blown in by the winds or dispersed by birds, so it’s important to know what is an alien and to remove them before they become a problem.

The best way to remove aliens is physically and before they flower so seeds are not dispersed and become more of a problem.

Try to prevent creating open patches in your gardens because this is when aliens become a problem. Open patches are exposed to the sun and the first plants that appear are aliens. Try to cover those areas with indigenous plants, especially groundcovers.

When planting, it is important to select the right plants for the right areas: large shrubs in the back of the flower beds and lower groundcovers in the front. Mix up your planting because this creates a natural diverse landscape.

Select plants that will attract birds and butterflies.

I wrote an article in March 2015 with a list of plants that will attract butterflies. If you would like that list, please send an email to [email protected]

Watch for fungal problems on your plants, especially during these warm humid months. Best to prune those parts of the plant worst affected or spray with a fungicide such as Dithane M45. 

* Do you have a skill you can teach in a short video? Whatsapp us at 074 557 3535 or email [email protected]

The Independent on Saturday

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