4 things you can do now to have your home and garden looking great in spring
We dropped into The Green Elf nursery this week and asked Leane Elford what home owners and renters can do now to have their property looking spectacular in spring. Here are the insights she shared with us.
There are four key steps people should be focusing on to have a great garden when the weather warms up in spring:
1. Pruning and decluttering
A lot of properties in Swan Hill have fruit trees, rose bushes or both. It’s important to prune now while plants are dormant during winter and they can be cut right back to promote new growth in spring. Pruning also helps to “declutter” big bushy plants and improves their presentation.
“Always prune to an outward-facing bud so your plant grows into a nice shape while fruit trees should be pruned to the shape of a vase. Always stick to a shape, which helps with the pest and disease side of things, and don’t forget to stick up a fruit-fly trap” says Leane.
"Once your garden has been pruned it’s important to remove ‘leaf litter’ including old leaves to prevent disease and reduce hiding spots for pests” she adds.
Frosts, a big factor in the Mallee, also need to be taken into account. Products such as Envy can be sprayed on to frost-tender plants to protect against frost and heat. Pruning should be put on hold for tropical plants such as bougainvillea and hibiscus until they start to shoot, which is why you won’t find these kinds of frost-tender plants at nurseries like The Green Elf before November. If in doubt about frosts and pruning, consult a nursery.
Tip – Now’s the time to move anything. Winter is the ideal time to review the layout of your garden and to move plants, whether they are dormant or evergreen, to new locations.
2. Spray programme
With pruning complete, it’s time to apply fungicides and insecticides to protect against disease and pests.
According to Leane “Blue stone fungicide, also known as Kocide, is fantastic. Our older customers refer to it as ‘blue powder’ or copper and it must be done before buds swell.”
Lime sulphur fungicide and insecticide should then be applied after the blue stone has been completed.
Drop into The Green Elf at 55 Nyah Road, Swan Hill, and talk to Matt and Leane if you are unsure about which plants shouldn't be pruned in July due to the risk of frost damage.
Plants are currently lying dormant and not growing because the ground is too cold but it’s still a good time to fertilise even if plants are not going to use it immediately.
“Fertilisation provides the ‘goodies’ and your plant will always benefit from fertilising” says Leane with eyes lit up. “If you have a spare weekend now, get your fertilising out of the way and it’ll kick in when the weather warms up.”
Fertiliser should be watered in and not left on top of the soil for risk of damaging root systems.
We end the process by adding mulch on top of the soil to retain moisture when summer arrives.
“Presentation-wise it looks lovely when you have pruned your roses and put a nice layer of mulch on top. Not only does it look neat and tidy but mulch is very important up here in our hot climate” states Leane.
Popular mulches include fragrant sugar cane, attractive pine bark and nitrogen-carrying lucerne hay which is great for the soil.
Yakkas are very popular because they are low maintenance and ideal for 'time poor' people.
Additional tips to prepare your property for sale
Here are some extra tips if you are thinking about selling or renting out your property in the coming months and want to improve the appearance of your home and garden:
- Seedlings range from ground covers to several feet tall but generally take 8-12 weeks to look their best which should be taken into consideration if you are listing your property and conducting open house inspections during spring.
- For an “instant splash” effect go for advanced seedlings (a seedling that has grown on) and potted colour. Potted colour is seasonal and The Green Elf offers different potted colour each season.
- Decorative pots make a nice visual feature and are an alternative to planting in the ground.
- Low maintenance gardens are trendy. Drought-tolerant plants such as natives are popular and don’t require much effort yet still look fantastic.
- Structured plants with big, broad leaves, such as yakkas and cordylines, are low maintenance, hardy and ideal for ‘time poor’ people.
- Tip – strip back (ie. pull off) any sharp leaves on a yakka that get in your way or are pointing at eye-level for kids, which in the process creates a nice cork-looking bark.
- The positioning of your plants is paramount to how they are going to survive and can be costly if not taken into consideration. Some plants need shade and morning sun only and should go on the East aspect of your house. Durable plants such as natives, yakkas and cordylines can be North-facing.
- Camellias are a beautiful addition to any garden while gardenias and daphnes look gorgeous and have a beautiful perfume.
- Native plants such as grevilleas, eremophilias and bottle brush are not only drought tolerant they flower and attract birds and bees that assist cross-pollination with other plants.