11 impressed hints, suggestions and hacks that may increase your gardening success

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All garden soils, even those with a lot of organic matter, have problems with water repellency at different times of the year (especially after dry periods). Make applying a wetting agent to the ground a regular part of your gardening plan – ideally twice a year. For treating small areas, you can use liquid forms (these are mixed in a watering can) or, for a larger garden, it is easier to apply a granular wetting agent. These are applied by hand like fertilizer.

Start right

You will never grow a blooming garden on poor soil. When faced with this, spend a few weeks digging through plenty of compost and cow dung before plants get into the soil. If your soil is pitiful – hard and rocky, for example – build it instead of digging it up. Install raised beds (over 30 cm high) and fill them with a high-quality plant mix. Guaranteed success!

Roger recommends raised beds as an option to overcome poor soil problems. Source: Getty Images

Shady solutions

Success under trees

Landscaping under trees is a huge challenge. It’s not so much a shade problem – there are a lot of plants that grow in the shade – but more of a problem with hard, root-filled soil that makes it impossible to dig normal planting holes. Try out the trick of this cheat.

  1. Gather a collection of black plastic pots (15-20 cm in diameter) and cut off the bottom with sharp secateurs or scissors.
  2. Dig shallow planting holes under the tree, set up the pots, and plant right into them.
  3. Finally, spread a layer of soil over the area, followed by a layer of mulch so that the pots are completely hidden.

Shady ground

In areas that are without sun for most of the year, such as the south side of a house, don’t struggle with growing lawn – it will never thrive. Instead, loosen the soil and plant a shade-loving ground cover such as dichondra, native violet, vinca or ivy (caution: some pruning required). If you’re looking for something bigger, try mass planting Liriope (also known as a lily lawn) and enjoy its pretty panicles of purple flowers in the fall. Alternatively, you can go for a tough landscaping solution and install a walkway of stepping stones surrounded by a bed of decorative pebbles.

Liriope, also known as lily lawn and monkey grass, is a grass-like perennial with tufts of belt lips, arched, glossy, dark green leaves. Source: Getty Images

Propagation tips

Seed shortcuts

Instead of using plastic trays for growing seeds, try egg cartons filled with seed growing mix. With their separate cells, they are not only perfectly shaped, but also biodegradable. For watering, either spray lightly from above or place the cardboard in a shallow bowl of water and let moisture absorb from below. When the seedlings are ready, you can cut out the individual sections and plant them directly in the ground. For large seeds, you can also use old cardboard toilet paper rolls by stacking them tightly together in a tray or pot, filling them with mixture, and planting one seed per roll.

An eco-friendly solution: if you are growing seedlings in egg cartons, you can break off the biodegradable cup and plant them in the ground. Source: Getty Images

Totally rooted

If you notice cuttings, try some homemade alternatives to using rooting hormone products. Dissolve a teaspoon of Vegemite in a glass of water and place the cuttings in it overnight (Vegemite contains vitamins that help with root formation). Alternatively, you can dip the end of the cuttings in pure honey right before potting.

Resounding success

Many shrub cuttings can be made to stand out by placing them in a glass of shallow water. Put them in a sheltered spot for a few weeks until you see roots, then pot them in potting soil to grow on. This method works not only for soft-stemmed plants like impatiens, but also for many woody shrubs like abutilons, gardenias and others.

Pest patrol

Snails and snails

There are many native alternatives to chemical slug bait. Protect susceptible plants by sprinkling a border of coffee grounds or crushed eggshells around them. You can also use a plastic bowl filled with flat beer – it will attract the snails, fall in and drown before they can get to your plants. To keep these pests away from potted plants, wrap some copper wire around the outside as a deterrent.

Roger has some useful tips for getting rid of garden snails. Source: Getty Images

Sloppy people

Many of the caterpillars that attack garden plants are the larvae of night moths. If your potted plants are being chewed, try placing a few mothballs (or camphor balls) on the surface of the potting soil. This will keep the moths from laying their eggs.

Home brewing for roses

To help control back blotch disease in roses while discouraging aphids, here is a homemade rose spray that is easy to make.

  1. Mix 3 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 1/2 tablespoons of PestOil and 4.5 liters of water.
  2. Shake well, fill into a spray bottle and spray the leaves weekly from spring onwards.