Spring is in the air and there are a few tasks to be done in the garden to ensure your garden puts on a show in the summer months. September and October are busy months in the garden, so here are some quick spring garden tips from the team at Cape Contours to ensure you are doing everything you should be.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to add compost to your garden so that your plants, which are entering their active growing season, take up plenty of minerals and nutrients from the soil. A good 75mm layer of quality compost around all your shrubs, perennials and annuals will suffice. You don’t need to dig it into the soil, as the natural process that breaks down the vegetative matter will draw it down into the soil such as earthworms, watering and small roots growing just under the surface. Obtain good quality, weed-free compost from a reputable source otherwise you may have lots of weeds and thorns by summer. Buying in bulk makes it more cost effective as you are usually charged for transport, so go with the full load and then share the cost with neighbours who also need it.
TOPDRESSING & FEEDING
Topdressing and feeding of the lawn can be done now for all Kikuyu, Buffalo and Cynodon lawns in the Cape region. Top dressing can be bought in bulk and allow for a 5-10 mm layer across the lawn area to be gently raked in. Your lawn could also do with feeding now with a lawn fertiliser like superphosphate. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember to water your lawn immediately after feeding and regularly nourish every 6 weeks from now into summer. Now is also a good time to plant new buffalo lawn sod or plugs in areas that have become bare during winter. Spraying the lawn for weeds with a lawn cleaner herbicide is also recommended during September to ensure you have a thorn-free lawn by summer.
Keeping an eye on insects and bugs is also important to do this month. It is that time of year when you will notice incidence of lawn caterpillar which can be determined by placing a black plastic bin bag on the lawn overnight. This should draw the caterpillars to the surface which will be visible on the lawn when you remove the bag in the morning. Alternatively you can make a mix of approximately 5 tablespoons of dish washing detergent (ammonia based) and pour it over the area that you suspect is infested. The caterpillars should show themselves within 10 seconds and if they lots, visit your nearest nursery that will be able to recommend a suitable insecticide. Watch out for tip wilter beetles on your ornamental plants too at this time of year. You can simply pick them off and squash them if they are present. Snails should be kept an eye on as they start becoming very active and will need to be controlled. Use snail bait or the beer method of pouring a little beer into a margarine tub and collecting them once they have drowned in it. Sad and gross but effective!
WATERING & MULCHING
Your irrigation system or watering cycle can start to be increased once the warmer days increase, towards the end of spring and into the hot summer. Do ensure though that you give your garden water when it is dry for long periods as even new growth needs more regular watering in the warmer weather. Mulching now will help to keep the roots of your plants cool in the baking summer months as well as helping to retain moisture in the soil for longer. Recommended mulches include compost, wood chips or fine bark. Apply a 30-50mm layer without digging it into the soil.
Remember to sow any summer annuals from seed such as Arctotis and Ursinia and summer bulbs which are now available in the nurseries such as Eucomis, Zantedeschia, Nerines. Bulbs that are flowering now include Watsonias, Ornithogalum, Babiana, Ixia and Sparaxis. Other plants making a big splash this month are Clivias, Jasmines, Prunus (Japanese maples), Roses, Brunfelsia (Yesterday-Today & Tomorrow), Dietes bicolour, Snowflake, Magnolias, Sweetpeas, Dierama pendula, Azaleas, Wisteria, Scilla natalensis.