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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

5 Easy Steps To Growing The Best Hedge

The other day, as we walked through her garden, a client asked me how get her newly-planted hedge nice and thick. I realised that this is one of those questions that are too seldom asked, and some of the answers are actually counter intuitive. Here are 5 easy steps to choosing and growing a great hedge:

A mature Duranta hedge with large gaps underneath - too late to fix easily
  1. Feed me. The first step as always, is to make sure that your soil is healthy. If in any doubt, add plenty of rich organic compost. Don't skimp on this part (actually that's number 3's point).
  2. Choose the right plant. Ask your local nursery for advice, or better still hire a garden coach who can give you a more complete picture after having looked at your garden. Do research. Look at the suggestions given in books, and look at what plants are making great hedges in your area.
  3. Don't skimp. That's good advice when addressing any soil problems, as well as working out how many plants you're going to need. Trust the experts advice about how close to plant. Too close, and the plants are competing for space in the soil, too far apart and you'll have a very sparse hedge with a lot of gaps.
  4. A pruning lapse leaves bigger gaps. Don't be fooled into leaving your hedge to grow to the height you want it before cutting it back. Start pruning it back in the first month or two, and repeat a light pruning every few months during the growing season. It may take longer to reach the height you're wanting, but with regular pruning, the plants send out more lateral branches, and will fill the gaps in-between much better. The last thing you want is to have a fully grown hedge with big gaps at the bottom, that you can do nothing about.
  5. Feed regularly. Add compost at least once a year, and mulch to retain moisture especially during dry months.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Nothing is Certain, but Death of Plants, and Taxes

Taxes. A swear word in most people's vocabulary.

Nobody likes paying them, but we all enjoy the benefits of public libraries, smooth roads and waste removal.

I had an epiphany the other day - that having a beautiful garden requires the same investment as paying taxes. You only notice the problem, when its too late, and the infrastructure isn't there.

The insight came to me when I visited a garden recently, where I had been called in to consult (a few years ago), during the preparation stage of this garden.

At the time, my client was more concerned with the final product than with what went into getting it there (and trying to get there as economically as possible).

They rashly ignored my insistence that they pay more attention to the preparation of the soil. I suggested that they should almost spend a larger portion of their budget on remedial work for the soil, than on the plants. It fell on deaf ears - or perhaps I didn't articulate it well enough.

Either way, two years later, the result is a problem that is far more difficult to address. The plants are pale and sparse, and the grass is patchy and full of weeds.

My suggestion if you're still in the early stages - pay your garden taxes now. You'll reap the rewards later (literally). If your soil is in overdraft, its not too late to start making regular payments now.
Start by topdressing your lawn with a thin layer of good, rich compost, add copious amounts of compost to flower beds, and mulch wherever possible. It may take a while, but the fruit will be so much richer.

Home Made Pest Control Solution(s)

I'm really not a big fan of pesticides or chemicals. Actually, that's putting it mildly...I hate pesticides. They are almost always ...