Gardening / Clues to a woo-hoo new garden

2014: Shrubs laid out in the Melba garden ready for planting.

2014: Shrubs laid out in the Melba garden ready for planting.

IN establishing a new garden, the “grow” of plants is often underestimated and, like trees, shrubs and perennial plants need plenty of space.

Ground preparation is vital, but soil can be improved quite easily and every bit of extra effort will pay dividends.

If soil is heavily compacted, usually on new home sites with builder’s trucks, it may pay to get a landscaper with a Bobcat to break up the surface.

If there’s no access for a bobcat, a mini version is a Dingo, which is just over a metre wide and the operator stands on the rear of the machine.

Rotary hoes are an alternative, although I’m not a fan because the flat tines dig only about 100mm deep and, below that, tend to pack the soil, especially if it’s clay. This can actually slow root growth.

2015: Plants growing well, 12 months after planting.

2015: Plants growing well, 12 months after planting.

Apply Multicrop liquid “Ground Breaker”, which penetrates deep into the soil breaking up any clay. Gypsum is an alternative but, unlike the liquid ground breaker, it doesn’t penetrate deeper nor spread out sideways. The addition of any organic material, manures, leaves etcetera, will all help.

Next, draw a simple plan divided into one-metre squares. Then do the research on the spread of the plants. Before planting, it’s a good idea to place the plants on the ground and get an idea of how it will all look.

Illustrated here is a garden I prepared for a client in Melba. It was planted at the end of 2013 to early 2014 and all plants were watered in with Maxicrop Seaweed Plant Nutrient, to specifically promote root growth. Drip irrigation was installed at planting time.

Twelve months later, in 2015, the plants are leaping out of the ground, being fed regularly with Neutrog Seamungus, a certified organic combination of seaweed and chook poo.

As the photo shows, after less than three years, there is now a well-established garden. This would not have happened without the householder diligently preparing the ground and feeding the plants on a regular basis.

2016: The well-established garden.

2016: The well-established garden.

IT’S a good time to keep an eye on stone-fruit blossoms. Once the flower buds show any sign of pink, spray with organic Bordeaux or Kocide to prevent brown rot in fruit. However don’t spray once the flowers have opened or the bees will be killed, which will affect vital pollination.

On the subject of fruit trees, all stone fruits, ie apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines only require one variety of tree to produce fruit. Whereas apples and pears require two different varieties of trees to produce fruit, ie two apples or two pears that flower at exactly the same time for the bees to carry out cross pollination.

Anyone with a small amount of space could consider two varieties of fruit grafted on the one tree but, of course, if one of the duo dies then there’s no cross pollinator.

In addition, the two varieties will often grow at a different rate resulting in a lop-sided tree. Unless the gardener is familiar with pruning, the different growth rates can present, albeit minor, difficulties.

And, incidentally, dwarf fruit trees do not have dwarf fruit, it is only the trunk of the tree that is small.


  • Aphids will arrive en masse any day now on everything from new leaves on maples to veggies. Use Yates certified organic Natures Way (Natrasoap) Veggie and Herb Spray.
  • Keep whipper snippers well away from the stems and trunks of all shrubs and trees. They are real killers for ring-barking plants.

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