Greening your life

There’s no doubt that gardens add value to our lives. They have been around in one form or another since the Dark Ages and are becoming increasingly important to the health and welfare of city dwellers.

A well tended garden can sell a home in an instant, so the time and resources spent on upgrading the garden will be well worth the effort. Having said that, it is not necessary to spend a fortune to make a garden attractive.

The most important part of successful gardening is in the planning. You need to spend some time analysing which parts of the garden get full sun, which parts are in the shade for most parts of the day and where there is semi-shade. You must remember that at some times of the day, structures and roofs cast shadows and walls can give off heat, which may not suit some plants. If there are existing trees, make sure that they are not the types that kill everything underneath their branches as you will suffer much heartsore when your precious groundcovers keep dying off.

Some plants thrive when grown alongside ‘companion’ plants. Roses, for instance, will benefit from close proximity to onions, garlic and chives, as well as tomatoes and parsley. Geraniums will also attract pests away from roses, while nasturtiums are good for attracting certain pests away from vegetables such as cabbages, melons, beans, radishes, tomatoes and apple trees.

If you don’t have dogs that need access to grass, a lawn is not essential. There are many beautiful gardens that have no lawn at all. Trees, perennial shrubs and groundcovers blend easily with paving and pebble decoration, with expanses of decking for the alfresco lifestyle.

If watering is a hassle, opt for a selection of succulents and aloes. The latter are spectacular in autumn and winter, when their brilliant scarlet flowers brighten the landscape. Aloes are also excellent accent plants, as are variations of strelitzia and banana trees, cycads and palm trees. Drift wood is being used more frequently these days, along with stone wall backdrops and large rocks to convey the more natural aspect of contemporary gardens.

While waterfeatures and Koi ponds may be good for the spirit, they are nevertheless seen as an extravagance in light of the drive for water and energy conservation. Evaporation and the constant need for maintenance can detract from the overall therapeutic effects that they have.

Irrigation, on the other hand, can be a cost-effective solution to keeping the garden looking healthy and in tip-top condition, if controlled correctly. These days, liquid fertilizers can also be added to the irrigation system, reducing the amount of time spent toiling in the garden.

There are some handy sources of garden supplies that can be found on the Internet and it is worthwhile doing some research before hopping into the car and rushing off to the local nursery. Sites such a www.gardengoods.co.za even offer a delivery service and seeds, bulbs, fertilizers and gardening accessories can be ordered online and delivered to your local post office, which helps to reduce your carbon footprint, while giving you more time to enjoy your garden, at the same time.

Article by: Bev Hermanson - DESIGN> MAGAZINE