Shape up your garden for summer

If you plan to sell your house in summer, you’ll want your garden to look its best. Here are some easy steps to help your alfresco space thrive.

Flowers and shrubs

Agapanthus are stalwarts of the summer garden with stunning blooms that suit mass planting, borders and pots. Compact varieties of bougainvillea are perfect for adding vibrant colour to the summer garden and are great in both beds and containers. They need little extra watering and respond well to regular feeding.

Cosmos is another tough summer survivor that enjoys a hot position in the garden and survives on minimal watering. The jewel-coloured daisy-like flowers attract bees and beneficial insects to the garden and are great for cut flowers as well.

Fruit trees

Start control for fruit fly in summer stonefruit early in the season using a spray such as organically certified Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control. It’s derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria and can be applied to the lower trunk or foliage. Don’t forget to remove any fallen fruit to deter fruit fly infestations.

To promote flowering and delicious juicy fruit, mulch strawberries and other berries with sugar cane or pea straw to keep roots cool during summer and ensure a steady supply of water and feed using soluble fertiliser.

Control sap-sucking bronze orange bugs on edible citrus with a citrus spray. Simply apply to both sides of stems and foliage to maximise contact of the bugs. Wear glasses, a long-sleeved shirt and gloves when spraying for this bug, as the liquid they squirt can burn eyes and skin.

Don’t forget to deep water citrus trees each week to maintain adequate soil moisture as the fruit is setting for next year’s winter crop.

Vegetables and herbs

Growing tomatoes? Sow further crops to extend the fruiting season well into autumn. Any tall seedlings are fine to plant in a deep hole, leaving the top 20-25 centimetres out of the soil. Enrich the soil first with plant food, which improves soil structure and provides gentle slow-release nutrients to the tomatoes as they grow.

If potted veggies get too hot and start wilting, move them into the shade. Lettuce, rocket, parsley, mint, basil and silverbeet will all tolerate part shade and a spot with sun in the morning and afternoon cover is perfect.

Holiday gardens

If potted plants, flowers and gardens are being left while you take a summer holiday, here are some tips to help them survive:

• Keep flowers blooming and fruit and veggies healthy by applying mulch on top of pots and garden beds to reduce moisture loss from the soil.

• If someone is minding your garden, group potted plants together so watering is easier for them. Move more delicate plants to a shaded position where they can still benefit from natural rainfall.

• Place saucers under tender potted plants such as hydrangeas to catch excess water for them to draw on during hot days.

• Spray plants and seedlings with a drought shield to help reduce water loss from the leaves and increase their chance of survival.

• An application of a soil wetter around the root zone in garden beds will help get water where it’s needed by breaking down the waxy water repellent layer that can develop on soil surfaces.

• Spread some plant food and a five-centimetre layer of organic mulch on garden beds and around trees to provide a slow release of nutrients and help reduce moisture loss while you’re away.

• Set up a watering system or soaker hose on a tap timer to apply water to your garden at regular intervals.

• Group indoor plants together in a well-lit bath or the laundry sink, water them well and place a wet towel under the base of pots to maintain moisture.

• Mow the lawn before you leave, but don’t be tempted to mow it too low. Longer lawns dry out less and stay greener during summer.

Article supplied by Angie Thomas from Yates