According to the National Garden Association in the US, more than 75% of Americans dig their gardens and indulge in garden maintenance as a hobby whether it is to grow vegetables and flowers, tend to trees or plant habitats to simply attract butterflies or hummingbirds.
Garden maintenance does not begin and end with 'planting' alone. In fact, the work begins from here as it is from the day that a garden is planted that it requires maintenance. Garden maintenance can be a far more pleasurable activity with just a few right essential tips and hunches.
Choosing the right plant
First and foremost, plants for a garden have to be chosen with some research and planning. Plants that grow easily in the local climatic conditions need be selected. The space required for the plant to grow and whether the mature size of the plant will fit in the space has to be considered. Some plants offer resistance to pests and insects. One common example is Prairfire crabapple which is resistant to both apple crab and fire blight. Choosing such resistant-free varieties reduces garden maintenance.
Varieties of well known plants could be a good option. Traditional favorites like Spirea, Spruce and Holly are available in compact forms to suit smaller garden in the name of Goldflame spirea, Dwarf spruce and Red sprite winterberry.
One has to be careful while placing plants. For instance, an area that should not be shaded must not have plants that grow over time. Shade has to be created wherever needed. Providing shades to western exposures is also a good idea. Taller shrubs can be grown in this direction. The size of the plant is also important. Plenty of room space need be given between large trees and shrubs. Again, large plants /trees should not be placed close to boundaries as these may become the bone of contention among neighbors.
Weeding the wrong plant
If planting the garden is half the battle won, weeding is the next major dreaded chore in garden maintenance. It is essential to identify the weeds before uprooting them. It would be wise to allow the weeds to grow approximately an inch before weeding them. Before removing the individual weeds from the soil, they have to be thoroughly watered so that they can be removed with the roots. Weeding the plants has to be done for a tleast fifteen minutes daily to stay ahead of the weed growth. If weeds are found in abundance, mulching technique can be employed. Deeper mulch can control the weed growth.
Mulching is an essential task for any garden/gardener. Mulching is an effective weed deterrent. A minimum of two inches of mulch needs to be applied to moist soil. The mulch has to be kept away from the actual stem. Moisten the mulch lightly to prevent it from blowing away.
Watering is one of the most crucial and trickiest aspects of gardening. Water too much and the garden plants drown; water too little and the plants wither. Plants have to be essentially kept watered for when a plant becomes dry it gets stressed and plants health gets affected.
Five signs that help to identify if the plant needs water or not
- The plant drops or is not in an upright position.
- Black spots are found in leaves and stems
- There is little or no growth
- Stems appear dried
- Soil is dry for more than half an inch below the surface.
Keeping the plants properly watered improves plant flavor, size and yields a rich harvest. Just as it is important to keep plants watered, it is absolutely necessary that plants are not over watered. There are some telltale signs that plants exhibit if they are over watered.
- Over watering tends to turn them yellow. Leaves also become dark and black in color. A mild dew fizzy substance can be seen in the plant.
- If suspicion arises that the plant is receiving much more water, then it is better to check if the drainage is adequate.
- Only the roots of the plants need to be watered.
- Instead of watering plants on a set schedule, it is better to water the plants according to their need.
- Plants and herbs can be plants in groups based on their watering needs. This way water can be generously poured in areas that require it without over watering the plants that like to remain dry.
Pruning and cutting
Spent flowers need to be removed from the plant. This is called dead heading. Flowers repeat their blossoms only when the old drying ones are removed. If they are allowed to remain in the plant, they will go to seed and stop producing flowers. Sometimes it would be best to remove the spent flower buds when dead heading. A fine pair of garden pruners can help with a clean cut.
There are some plants that have such crisp thin stems which can be dead headed using fingers. Such a type is called pinching. Coleus plants are examples of this category. When a plant's older leaves appear worn out, they should be pruned without delay. There is yet another type of plant which will grow gangly unable to support them. In order to encourage the plant to become stockier, 1/3 of the plant need to be cut. This will cause more stem to grow. After a month, another 1/3 of the plant needs to be cut once again.
Principles of garden maintenance
With knowledge of the right plants and techniques, garden maintenance can become an attractive and colorful leisure activity. For those who cannot afford leisure time, there are easy-care trees, shrubs and perennials that will grow on their own without much time or money being spent on them.
- It would be ideal to choose plants that are reliable, problem free and will not outgrow the space provided for them.
- Lawn size can be reduced.
- Mulching is necessary to reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture.
- Soil has to be well prepared before planting on them.
- An automatic system can be installed for water requirements.