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Avoid uninvited problems, mistakes and other irritations in the garden

Garden maintenance requires observation: Malcolm Griffiths writes that poor pruning can have a long-term effect on growth, weaken plants and become a host for pests and disease in the future (Photograph submitted)

The garden is the finished product of a planning, purchasing, installing and reviewing exercise, and thereafter, there comes the next phase of maintaining the finished product to a high quality. A lot of hard work can quite quickly turn into a visual and physical disaster if not maintained on a regular basis.

Problems can arise with infestations of pests and diseases, poor weed control, bad pruning techniques, wind, salt spray and sufficient irrigation immediately after planting and during the growing season.

A good design concept gives new plantings the chance to mature naturally with unimpeded growth from neighbouring plants; it is advisable to check the root systems and top growth of a plant prior to purchase, especially when one gallon size plants have a large top growth.

In such cases, gently remove plant from pot and check the root system to determine it is not ‘strangling’ itself around the inside of the pot.

Strangled root systems make it difficult for a good root system to form and create an anchoring of the top growth during high winds.

Planting in large holes and back filling with good soil and firming well in followed by good watering gives the plant a good start in becoming established.

Always review the location of the garden and make plant selection based on the site exposure to wind and salt spray.

Pest and diseases can cause havoc if allowed to become established. For example, caterpillars can literally ‘munch’ their way through soft leafage – such as Pentas – in quick time, leaving a very unsightly appearance.

Insects will usually feed on new growth – which is soft and easily chewed – and can be found on foliage, stems and growing tip, on occasion, roots can also be the target, which can be an indicator when a plants top growth looks ‘wilted’ and distressed.

Common garden pests include but are not limited to, caterpillars, aphids (green fly) and leaf miners.

Disease damage is often the result of to wet a soil or sodden and damaged foliage, damaged stems caused by machine damage, wind damage and poor pruning leaving snags or not pruned at a node.

Diseases are found as lesions, pustules or halo type spots to foliage or stem leaving a mush of foliage, the mildews have an appearance of a white film on stems, leaf or flower.

Pests and diseases are mostly controlled by chemical sprays – often an unnecessary evil – and should only be applied as per the makers recommendations.

Remember, if all else fails, read the instructions – and certainly never applied during the heat of the day or when plant is in a stressed environment (dry soil conditions).

Keeping a weed free garden reduces the impact of pests and diseases, as weeds can be hosts to many of these causes, when they become established and go through the life cycle of subject before it starts to infect again.

Weeding not only arrests the hosting of pests and diseases, but it allows soil water to be used by the garden plants and thus ensure continued uninterrupted growth during the growing season.

Weeds by their very nature grow quickly and when found in abundance can take up a great deal of soil water.

A weed is a plant growing in the ‘wrong area’ which includes garden plants which have self-seeded – by wind, birds or animals – and upon being located have germinated and become established.

This is especially the case with plants known as invasive species, which often disperse their seed in situ and then germinate often forming dense seedling growth which should be removed before they mature; ephemerals are a perfect example of rapid reproduction of germination.

In car/cycle parking areas, avoid having tender plants in the zone of exhaust fumes as this will cause damage to foliage.

Avoid placing a parking bay next to the flower bed especially with the doors of the car lining up with the edge of the plant bed, as this invariably will create a problem with passengers exiting the car and walking along the edge of the plant bed to get to their destination.

Garden maintenance requires a great deal of observation to ascertain the tasks required to keep on top of the many problems that if left unattended can, in a short period of time, negate all the previous hard work.

A garden should be maintained based on an as and when required approach, mowing a parched dry lawn in the heat of the summer is really a waste of time and effort, as well as not being good for the lawn!

• Malcolm D. Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in Britain. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, the Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society

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Published July 01, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated July 01, 2024 at 7:31 am)

Avoid uninvited problems, mistakes and other irritations in the garden

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