with Lee Mullen
Christmas holidays are a good time to do some basic maintenance around your garden to make life a little easier throughout the year. With a little work most gardens, especially natives, will only need to be watered twice a week.
Cut evaporation — use mulch
I live in a nice street where people enjoy their garden. A number of us have just mulched our gardens, which helps to reduce weeding and to keep moisture in the ground. The type of mulch I have used most is Eucalyptus which breaks down nicely and gives your soil slightly acidic. This of course is good for your Azaleas and Camellias and the like.
Some folks like to use pine mulch, but it can be expensive and difficult to obtain, as well as being more prone to attracting white ants. Good mulch also helps to give some good texture and humus to the soil as it is worked in to the ground over the years before a new batch is put on.
Another important feature of using good mulch is that it keeps the soil temperature down. This is very important for plants that have surface roots such as Azaleas. A hot day can mean that your prize Azalea becomes stressed and can even perish because the soil temperature is too high.
The last thing I want to mention on mulch is that, good quality mulch looks good and provides a nice contrast to your plants. When you put it on, it should not be any thicker than 6 centimetres and it is best to thoroughly water your garden before putting mulch on and then water again. If you have done the job properly you should not have to water more than twice a week, and if you have a native garden you may be able to keep watering to once a week.
If you have lots of pot plants it is wise to plant them up using a little peat moss to give the soil a little more water holding power. You can also mix in water granules to hold water as well. If you live in a high rise apartment and you are going away for the holidays it is good to place all of your pot plants together and if necessary cover them with shade cloth. You can also sit pot plants into saucers and use a wick from your pot plant to slowly soak up the water.
Combined with good mulch it is ideal that you have a good reticulation system, which, if done well, can save you lots of money and reduce water waste. With pot plants, a good drip system is both a time and water saver and it makes sure your water goes where you need it most.
With gardens you can do a good reticulation system off the mains. Your local reticulation experts will gladly help you design what you need.
Again if this system is done well it will allow you to run it off a timer. This means, if you are away for a few days holidays, you have your watering needs in hand.