Let’s get back to basics for a moment. Many backyard gardeners may fall into the trap of overthinking and hyper-analysing their garden, and good garden basics can get lost in the fog.
Here are five basic tips to help you get the best out of your backyard, without throwing yourself down the garden maintenance rabbit hole.
1) Flush Out The Muck
A bi-yearly cleanout of your garden’s irrigation system will have your plants getting the best quality water they can. Over the course of a year, and through the changing of seasons, debris and waste material will build up in the line, and can even start wearing the hose lining off, exacerbating the problem.
To clean out your irrigation system it’s as simple as unscrewing the spray or drip outlets, thoroughly flushing the line out, and cleaning the filter. Keeping your system fresh will not only benefit your plants, but you’ll also get a longer life out of your system.
2) Max Mulch
Mulch is the often unsung hero of the backyard. A generous spread of mulch over soil has multiple benefits. The covering will help in preventing new weed growth, as it is difficult for it to break through to the surface. It also keeps the moisture in the soil, getting your watering efforts to last for longer and to be more effective. It’s also a terrific insulator, keeping your plants cool in summer and warm in winter.
Using organic mulches, like sugarcane and lucerne, will have the added benefit of adding core nutrients to your soil as they break down.
3) A Regular Shave
Mowing shouldn’t be a chore that you tackle when you’ve lost one of your kids in the grass. Again. For the best looking patch you can muster, you ideally want to be mowing often and quite high. The rule of thumb is to never cut more than 1/3rd of the grass’s height off at a time, but even better, aim to take just the tip of the blade off – this will result in a healthy, dense and good looking lawn.
Mowing regularly means you can do away with the catcher bin. Taking off only a small amount will mean the clippings can be comfortably redispersed as mulch, without the worry of suffocating the grass that’s alive. Checking that your blades are sharp is important, as the best lawns will result from clean mower cuts rather than from dull blades that just shred the turf back.
4) Snip It Back
Just as is the case with the lawn, best practice with all actively growing plants is to trim them back regularly. You may think that your current system of doing the annual massacre of your yard is fine, but in reality it can raise issues.
Firstly, cutting a plant back that far can mean that you aren’t left with any leafy foliage, and may result in issues resulting from exposure for the bare branches and trunk. Secondly, disposing of that much organic waste can be a real hassle, as your 120L or 240L green bin isn’t exactly designed to handle the load.
Using shears for small leafed plants is fine, but for larger leaves try using secateurs, as shears may cut large leaves in half and result in a browned-off, sick looking plant.
5) Be Ruthless on Weeds
The bane of a gardener’s existence, dealing with weeds, particularly during growing season, can drive the best of us up the wall. And the only way to deal with them is to do so quickly and savagely, before they have time to spread.
Weeds will have trouble cropping up in areas that are already covered up, so by putting down mulch, or by planting a groundcover type plant, you are cutting down your chances of an outbreak substantially.
Gardening doesn’t have to be rocket science, no matter how much some might want it to be. By keeping some basic rules in mind, your garden will be healthy and happy all year round.