Autumn signals the start of cooler weather and is the ideal time to get your garden ready for spring, even as we pray
for some rain during the drought.
Gardens will bounce back after the first good soaking from rain and so gardeners need to be prepared, says Nick Stodel, MD of Stodels Nurseries.
“After this long, dry season Capetonians need to be ready for the autumn rains when they arrive. It is the ideal time to get plants and seedlings into the garden.
He says plants thrive when they have time to settle and develop their roots during the colder winter months so that they can flourish when spring arrives.
Here are some quick tips on what to do in your garden this autumn.”
Add water wise plants to your garden now so that they can benefit from the rainfall to get established.
Sow or plant winter and spring flowering seedlings such as African daisies, sweet peas, snapdragons and pansies for beautiful colour.
Make your garden work for you by planting winter veggies such as broccoli, cabbage carrots, spinach and onions.
Add slow releasing fertiliser to soil to enhance its quality during the winter months.
While chemical fertilisers work for feeding the plant directly, organic fertilisers work by enriching the soil. Mulch, manure and compost are all organic fertilisers that slowly release nutrients during autumn and winter.
Most lawns have suffered in the heat and many have turned brown but not all is lost. Your grass is most likely just dormant and will start sprouting green shoots again when the rain falls. You can give it a helping hand though by cutting the blades short and feeding with a potassium-rich fertiliser to strengthen it before the winter months.
It is also time to prune evergreen hedges, summer-flowering shrubs and overgrown climbers and deadhead your roses to encourage a last autumn flush.
Mix plenty of water-absorbing granules into the soil of container plants. The granules will swell up and absorb the rainwater for use by the plants when water is scarce.
If you are replacing lawn with paving, make sure it is designed with a slope which leads run-off water into garden beds
Build water retaining dams around slightly thirsty plants like roses, camellias and azaleas.
Most Capetonians have already introduced various water-saving devices and are doing all they can to save water.
It is a good idea ahead of the winter rainfall to make sure your gutters and pipes are debris free and install rainwater collection tanks.
Not only will it eliminate the problems of dealing with a soggy, flooded garden after each rainstorm but you’ll have water you can redirect to your pool or to use when the rain dries up.