Need to give your gar­den a lift be­fore the Christ­mas guests ar­rive? Try adding a pop of pot­ted colour.

Quick and easy ways to get your yard ready for en­ter­tain­ing

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - with Ma­ree Curran

IF YOU haven’t yet pre­pared the gar­den, out­door en­ter­tain­ing ar­eas and in­door plants for Christ­mas then you’d bet­ter get crack­ing. For a quick fix, start by re­mov­ing any weeds or, if that’s too big a job, cut them off at ground level and cover them up with news­pa­per and a layer of mulch. I know, it’s cheat­ing, but I think you’ll get away with it for a cou­ple of days.

Trim and tidy the plants, re­mov­ing any past their prime. If there are gaps that need fill­ing, choose some ap­pro­pri­ate plants and put them in. If you don’t have time to plant them prop­erly, try push­ing them down into the mulch and bring­ing the mulch up to cover the top of the pot. Or sit them on top of the mulch in a dec­o­ra­tive pot.

I like to fill short-term gaps with pot­ted colour. It’s in­ex­pen­sive, which means if the plants don’t sur­vive this rather rough treat­ment I don’t feel as though I’ve wasted a heap of money. I know that the more per­ma­nent plant­ings will fill the space in time, but the pot­ted colour will do the job beau­ti­fully in the mean­time.

Check your pot­ted plants. If they don’t look great, get rid of them. An ail­ing pot plant just looks sad and dreary, def­i­nitely not the mood we want to cre­ate dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

Top up the pot­ting mix in large pots, and add a layer of dec­o­ra­tive peb­ble or tea tree mulch, or plant a low-grow­ing ground cover on the top.

If you don’t have time to re­fresh your pot­ted plants, just hide them. Any­where. Just get them out of sight, and deal with them in the new year when the pres­sure is off.

Re­mem­ber, it’s false econ­omy to use any­thing other than the best pot­ting mix you can find.

Cheap pot­ting mix might look at­trac­tive in dol­lar terms but it is a com­plete waste of time and money. It doesn’t have the struc­ture, the wa­ter-hold­ing power or the nu­tri­ents a pre­mium mix has. This means plants will strug­gle from the mo­ment they go into it, and be­fore long you’ll need to re­pot them again.

By all means use a bag or two of cheap mix in the bot­tom of a huge pot, but then top up with the good stuff. Don’t ex­pect your plants to grow and thrive in any­thing less than pre­mium mix.

Lastly, if you need any nice last-minute Christ­mas gifts, head to your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre where you can chill out and do the last of the Christ­mas shop­ping. En­joy.

Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au

CHEAP POT­TING MIX MIGHT BE KIND TO YOUR BUD­GET BUT IT’ S NOT KIND TO YOUR PLANTS

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

Brighten up your gar­den with some pot­ted colour for the fes­tive en­ter­tain­ing pe­riod.

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