Plant for success
For your plants to thrive, here are six things to bear in mind so you can select varieties to suit your conditions.
1. Soil type
It’s either clay, sandy or loam. Clay soils are rich in minerals but don’t drain well, while sandy soils have fewer minerals because excellent drainage means minerals flow out of the soil with the water. Loamy soils are just right. Digging in organic matter improves drainage in clay soils and helps retain minerals in sandy soils. Organic matter is your garden’s saviour!
Full sun, full shade, part shade, dappled – they’re all features of your garden somewhere. Watch how the sun settles on your garden during the seasons.
Tropical, sub- tropical, temperate or cool. You know where you are, so plant accordingly. TIP Your local nursery stocks plants suitable for your climate.
This can be erratic, and you should consider times when restrictions limit your hose-watering regimen.
5. pH level
Soil acidity or alkalinity can affect your plants’ ability to take up minerals from the soil.
The sun gets very low and thin in winter, and high and hot in summer. This especially affects lawns, which can struggle in shade.
Common reasons plants don’t thrive – and simple solutions
Problem: Your garden is north-facing, but shade cast by a tree or building gives it a southern aspect.
Solution: Add shade-loving plants.
Problem: Certain garden corners are microclimates at odds with your overall patch, such as mass plantings that lift humidity.
Solution: Mass plant only in areas with good air flow.
Problem Plants on one side of a path thrive while those on the other side fail as they’re under eaves and don’t get the same rain.
Solution: Hand-water plants under eaves.
Problem: Tradies have tipped leftover lime from cement mix into your garden, changing the soil pH levels.
Solution: Get a soil pH tester from your local nursery, then add sulphur if the alkalinity is too high.
Problem You’ve mixed thirsty plants with abstinent ones.
Solution Put like-minded plants together.
Go from barren to beautiful
A tall-growing magnolia ‘teddy bear’ draws you deeper into the garden, especially as the velvety brown underside of the leaves reflects the colour of your mulch.
When parts of your garden don’t get the same light as the rest, rethink and reconfigure – a clear path line helps, then line with rounded, shade-loving plants of varied heights to create year-round interest.
Light up shady spots in your garden with strobilanthes’ silvery leaves, which hold up soft lilac flower spikes in spring and also introduce their gorgeously purple neighbours – the long- lasting african daisies (osteospermum ’3d’).
Your garden is full of microclimates, often caused by shade. Here, a tree threw shade until a trim let in some sun. Follow suit with these plantings.
- Sun – daisies, grasses and hardenbergia.
- Full shade – ferns and hellebores.
- Part-shade – Chinese fringe flower and lamium.
You may also like