Tips for a luscious garden for novice green thumbs
Starting a garden from the bare earth can be a daunting experience.
It’s even more knee trembling if you are a novice and walk into a large nursery and cast a glazed eye over the hundreds of different products that are hurled at the apprentice gardener.
So for all you beginner gardeners, here is a condensed version of what you need to know before embarking on your first gardening challenge.
This can be as simple as you want or a full-blown scaled drawing.
Ask your builder for the site plan, it will be to scale and you can mark out where you want the garden beds, lawn, clothes line, chook pen, swing, sandpit, shade trees, vegie garden, barbecue, etc. Simply get an A3 drawing pad and start marking out the spaces.
Mark out NSEW points so you understand where the sun travels across the sky.
Don’t think about the garden as an added-on afterthought — it should complement the design of the house and provide different spaces for different times of the
year. A garden needs to have beauty, longevity and provide a peaceful respite from the daily grind.
TIP: Remember the garden should be seen as the most valuable room in your house, particularly if you have children and pets. It can be the most efficient air-conditioner to your house.
Gardening is all about the soil. So, the first and most important purchase you will get is a soil pH testing kit. They’re about $20 and worth their weight in gold.
You want the pH of the soil to be about 6.5-7, with added compost or soil conditioner and clay if you are in coastal sands or gypsum in the hills or clay soil.
Manure and other organic material will always improve the physical make-up of the soil and feed beneficial soil microbes.
The best product to mix in with the existing soil is aged compost.
TIP: It is essential to use a wetting agent to get new plants established. You can use either granular or liquid wetting agents or both. Remember you pay for what you get — it’s better to get a good quality product that actually works and does what it says.
Plan your garden first before venturing out into the nurseries.
Spend as much time as possible researching plants before you purchase them — think of your garden as a long-term investment for your whole family.
I cannot stress enough how important trees are to put into your garden. We are experiencing warmer, longer summers and a tree will make the world of difference to the temperature in and around your house.
TIP: Remember all plants will need to be planted out with compost or soil conditioner, wetting agent, manure and slow release fertiliser, even natives. They are coming out of a nursery that is watered and fertilised so putting them straight into the soil without any preparation may be fatal.
Frangipanis are a great plant for your first garden.