Making Your Garden "Easy Care"

The most frequently asked question I get from my landscape clients is: "Can you design me a low maintenance garden, that will look great all year round,and need minimal maintenance?".

I say yes, its pretty easy in fact, if you follow a few basic principles.

  • If you like flowering perennials, then select varieties that need minimal maintenance to keep them in flower.
  • Select perennials that have a very long flowering season, as these types are better value than ones that only flower for a few weeks of the year.
  • Choose shrubs that virtually need no spraying for pests and diseases to keep them looking great. You definitely don't want shrubs that are a continuous battle with every pest under the sun.
  • Pick plants that you know will suit our Waikato climate and conditions, ones that feel comfortable and at home in the area you are going to plant them. A lot of conifers do very poorly in the Waikato because we are too warm and humid at certain times of the year. This humidity brings on fungus, which in turn,  leads to browning of the foliage which is so often seen with conifers in our region. 
  • Likewise, be very careful if choosing the type of tropical plants we so often see in gardening magazines featuring Auckland gardens. Our winter night time temperature can be considerably colder than our northern cousins. This is because of the warming influence of the sea. I find this can be easily overcome by putting a covered area over the patio or planting taller trees that will grow and form a natural umbrella, to protect some of the more tender plant selections.
  • Plants that have been bred to perform are an obvious choice nowadays. There are some outstanding plants that are very good and exceptionally reliable.
  • Pick plants that will suit the soil type you have in your garden. I have recently been landscaping at a few Auckland properties and the awful clay soils make gardening in some areas quite a challenge, even though the climatic conditions are very good for a lot of plants. If your garden is very wet with poor draining, then stay away from most Australian and South African plants. They will turn their toes up and die very quickly if their roots are continually wet and damp. Keep these plants for your beach property.

Some Plants that I personally find quite reliable in Waikato gardens:

Flowercarpet Roses
Star Jasmine
Lomandra Tanika and Nyalla
Gardenia Fragrant Star and Radicans
Mexican Orange Blossom
Loropetalum Burgandy
Alstoemeria Princess Series
Camellias assorted
Portwine Magnolia
Michelias - assorted
Raphiolepis Appleblossom
Callestomen Littlejohn
Hydrangeas - assorted
Citrus Trees - assorted.
Rosemary varieties
Magnolia Little Gem

I appreciate that the weather is very wet and cold at the moment, typical for June/July. When the weather allows you, get outside and deal to any weeds with a bit of spray. This way you will at least start off the spring months with a nice clean garden. Remember one years seeding is nine years weeding and I think this particular saying is very true. Follow this cleanup by adding a good bed of mulch to all your gardens. It pays wonders by keeping your garden maintenance to a minimum.

The plants in your garden will certainly thank you for it, by looking healthier and more vigorous.

Happy Gardening

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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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