If you are into gardening, you have maybe faced some challenges in maintaining every corner without any help. Being a good caretaker for your garden can be quite demanding, but after adopting a few useful habits, it only gets more enjoyable with each day. Keep reading to find out how to become better in taking care of your open-air space, be it as a hobby or a profession.
MOWING THE LAWN
As every garden normally counts with some grass, it’s a good thing to know how to maintain it properly, so it doesn’t overgrow nor burn from the sun. Mowing frequency varies a lot throughout the year, depending on the season.
How frequently you should mow
In spring weather is very unpredictable and your mowing schedule may be disrupted due to rain and even snow sometimes. Mow only when the sun is shining – never cut wet lawn!
In the summer months is advisable to mow every 1-2 weeks as the extensive rain and sunshine promote grass growth. Don’t procrastinate too much as you can end up unable to recognize your garden after it has become a jungle. If you do end up in that situation, gradually reduce the height of cutting. In the worst case scenario – an overgrown garden- you may even need a scythe. An exception is to be made for freshly seeded grass as it needs at least 4-6 weeks from planting to be fully established.
When the colder weather comes again, you can increase the time between mows. Try to stick to a schedule of mowing every 2 – 5 weeks, depending on the growth rate of the grass.
Make sure the blades of your mower are sharp so that you can get a clean cut and minimize the damage to the lawn. To keep the mower in top shape, clean it thoroughly and dry to prevent rust from appearing. Also, it’s a good idea to sharpen the blades at least twice a season – intense mowing means faster wearing out of the blades.
When mowing, you will unavoidably do it in some pattern – in spirals or rows. To avoid uneven growth where your mower may each time hit the same obstacle at a specific angle, try and mix things up by cutting the lawn in different directions each time. When doing so, keep in mind your speed – going too fast may not allow clear-cut and being too slow may result in cutting more than the desired height in one place.
Lastly, to ensure you are not cutting too much (especially risky during the summer heat as the low-cut grass can easily burn) do not cut more than one-third of total grass blade length at a single cutting. It’s best to keep your lawn’s height at about 2.5-3 inches.
Having a hedge in the garden usually means that you will have to spend additional time caring for it and it takes a little practice to know what to cut from where to maintain the form.
Keep in mind your hedge type
As with all other gardening activities, the best results are achieved using the proper tools and techniques. Also, the approach depends on the type of hedge and the look you are going after. For example, established hedges require trimming to keep them dense and compact and formal hedges require more frequent trimming than informal hedges.
Your tools and approach
The size of the hedge also matters – hand-held shears may be suitable for smaller plants, but the job will be easier if you choose an electric trimmer for larger hedges. However, regardless of what type of tool you choose, always make sure to keep it well sharpened and lubricated. Be aware that electric tools speed up the debris of the cut and they can fall into your eyes or scratch you, so use protective goggles and gloves.
To achieve best results, research the best practices for the particular plant you are trimming. It’s always better to cut layer by layer, slowly getting the shape as it minimizes the chance of mistakes. Also, before you proceed to cut, envision the form you are looking to achieve, carefully measure and place stakes to guide you.
For maintaining formal hedges it’s best to trim them 1-3 times during summer. To avoid sparse areas, be done with this by August. Of course, if the hedge is overgrowing on streets or pavement, it should be trimmed when it’s obstructing the way.
Flowering and informal hedges should only be trimmed or pruned only once at the correct time of year (depends on the species), as otherwise, flowers may not form the next year. Pruning your hedges in summer means they’ll hold crisp and trim, not just for the rest of the growing season, but throughout winter as well.
WEEDING AND PRUNING
When and what to remove
Taking the weeds out is a big part of maintaining a good-looking garden with healthy plants.
Weeding consists of removing any valueless plants that grow around the lawn or other plants.
Weeds should be removed regularly as they can drain from the nutritive and water of the surrounding plants and can even suffocate them. When you notice weeds growing, remove them in time so that you don’t have to deal with overgrowth and thick, stubborn stems. Good idea is to do most of the weeding after it has rained and the soil is softer, making the extraction of unwanted plants easier.
Let mulch to the job
If you are not already using mulch, consider giving it a try ASAP – you will be surprised at the good results. A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil, usually of organic nature. While you can resort to permanent solutions (like plastic sheeting), it’s best to use organic mulches made from bark chips or, even better – compost or manure, as they will eventually decompose and act as a fertilizer. The usage of mulch can dramatically increase the quality of the soil as it retains moisture, regulates temperature and suppresses the growth of weeds.
Beside its enriching properties, mulch can also contribute to your garden’s overall look, and it makes the sometimes muddy and not-so-good looking spaces around plants appear more put together. You can use different types of mulch to create different looks and also fertilize specific areas.
Pruning made right
As far as trees and bushes go, pruning is a must-do to keep them healthy, boost productivity and prolong the life of the plants. The procedure should be done annually, during the cold months or in early spring. Regular removal of branches, buds or roots is beneficial to the overall health of the trees and bushes as it gets rid of the deadwood, deceased or ill branches and increases the ability of the plant to bear healthy fruits. Pruning during autumn should be avoided as this is the time of year when fungi spores are abundant.
Keep in mind that different plants require different types of pruning and some have specific techniques (e.g. roses, grapevines, fruit trees). Different pruning techniques may be deployed on herbaceous plants than those used on perennial woody plants. For example, apple trees should be pruned immediately after flowering in early spring while for other temperate plants you can do this during the dormant winter period. Hedges, as discussed above, are usually (but not exclusively) maintained by hedge trimming, rather than by pruning.
Last, but not least we should shed some light on the best watering techniques. Keeping your plants hydrated is a vital part of maintaining a garden. Just like houseplants, outdoor ones, including trees, need water to function. Different species require different amounts of water and because of that, it is advisable to plant in groups that need similar care.
When trying to grow your plants, it’s good to do some research on the various needs a particular tree or bush needs – how much water does it need, what kind of soil is best to be used, does it need a specific mix of fertilizers, etc.
Quality over quantity
Best practices say that it’s better to water less frequently, but thoroughly than more often with less water. Except in scorching hot summers, two to three watering sessions a week should be sufficient. Remember that some plants are more susceptive to heat than others – low-cut grass can burn easily if not watered while Aloe Vera is happy to get some sun. Good idea is to make yourself aware of any underground water supplies that may be flowing beneath your garden. It will allow you to know where to water more and where less to avoid flooding or moisture scarcity.
The When and How
Also, because fluid needs a few moments to soak in, water repeatedly in parts, otherwise the water may overflow the bed of plant and go to waste or wash out the soil.
To promote even root growth, try and distribute the water evenly and use a nozzle with a moderate flow to avoid damaging delicate flowers and leaves or flooding the bed.
A widely known, yet often bypassed advice is to water only either early in the morning or later in the evening. This way you will prevent the moisture from evaporating quickly, defeating the purpose of watering. Also, water on the leaves under direct sun acts as a magnifying glass frying up the spot on the plant. To keep your plant from overdrying, avoid watering or even sprinkling them during the hottest hours of the day.
The same goes for water in cold weather – the compacted soil will not be able to absorb the water, and any moisture left in it may freeze and damage the roots.
If you follow these basic rules and make them into a habit, it’s guaranteed that you will have a healthy, good-looking and well looked-after garden. If you are unsure of some technique or tool, it’s always better to seek advice and research beforehand than to jump right into the unknown as plants don’t regrow overnight and you may have to wait until the next year to make the desired changes. Keep up the good work and enjoy caring for your garden!