For those of us with access to a garden, lockdown in winter is a great opportunity to tackle overdue tasks and tend your patch. As you can’t head out to the nurseries for ideas, we asked Horticulturists Narelle Happ from A Garden for Life and Mark De Wolf from Landmark Gardens for their tips on how to keep your garden beautiful and productive over winter.
Clean the soil. Spend some time removing any building rubble and broken bricks lingering in your garden beds. Mark says this is a common sight in local gardens and it can affect the PH levels of your soil.
The need to weed. Now is a great time to get on top of your weeding before the warmer weather hits and the weeds really take off. Mark recommends hand weeding, but first make sure you are targeting weeds and not native ground covers. For example, Commelina, Basket Grass and Dichondra Repens are often mistaken for weeds but are handy ground covers and will benefit the soil.
Dichondra repens : image Harry Rose
Renovate your compost. Decomposition slows down over winter and conditions inside compost bins and worm farms can become very dry. This is bad news for worms and can attract pests such as cockroaches. Keep the bins warm and moist with a winter blanket. A hessian sack, a layer of newspaper or old fabric laid on top of the food scraps will do the trick. Or consider moving them to catch some winter sun – if that is possible in your space.
The Power of Mulch. Don’t underestimate the power of mulch. Not only does it keep the soil moist, it also improves soil structure, nutrient levels and represses weeds. Narelle suggests to, “use a fine chip Cypress or Euky mulch to a depth of 100mm. Ensure all mulch is kept 50mm from the stem or trunk / stem of plants to prevent collar rot”.
Correa reflexa : image JJ Harrison
Plan Ahead . If you think your garden is looking a bit drab, now is the time to plan some additions for next winter. There are lots of native plants suitable for Sydney’s Eastern suburbs that are flowering now that you might like to incorporate in future. For example; Acacia terminalis, Acacia sophorae, Correa reflexa, Correa alba, Banksia ericifolia and Leptospermum laevigatum to name a few. Check out Habitat Stepping Stones for more suitable plant ideas.
Acacia sophorae : image Murray Henwood University of Sydney (eBot)
For more help with weed identification check out these two useful resources. Happy gardening!