Today’s post is focused on Summer Gardening

It’s that time of the year again, you are close to going on leave and for most Capetonians it means getting around to the DIY part of your year. You finally have time to paint the house, clean out the garage and get the garden ready before half of Transvaal and your family from Joburg fly down.

You, the partner and perhaps even the kids leave early on a Saturday morning to your local garden centre and spend the better part of your bonus on new shrubs, flowers and all the good stuff you need to green up your garden again. You get home, the rest of the weekend is spent planting up beds and making it all fresh and pretty.

You water as you see fit, but can’t help to notice that the plants aren’t doing well, you water some more, but they are struggling, the lawn is going brown and you are at your wits end again. Your water bill is so high you fear you will be single handedly be blamed for the water restrictions in the Western Cape.

Well, I have some sage advice, a tale as old as time, and if you read closely, you’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew. (Ok, I’m done with Disney, for now)

First of all, you, like many residents of the Western Cape have fallen into a trap, that you should garden when its warm, cause all the flowers in the nurseries are beautiful.

This mindset might have been adopted from Johannesburg or Pretoria, you see, they fall in the Summer rainfall or Savanna climate. This means that planting during the warm months isn’t an issue, because water is freely available in the Western Cape, a Mediterranean climate, we have a Winter rainfall season. So during summer, we have little to no water available for plants.

The climate alone is a good indicator of when one should install which parts of your garden. Let’s think about it, plants in this climate are adapted to establish roots and store as much water as possible during winter, so they can survive the hot and dry summers. Most Mediterranean plants will also flower and seed during the colder months, during the height of Summer, very few local species are in flower, because it’s simply too hot and flowers need energy, energy better spent at preservation than recreation.

I am not saying you should only plant an indigenous garden, other exotics are also adapt to our climate the advice in this section is simply put, plant you plants and especially trees during winter in the Cape. The colder temperatures and freely available water will ensure your garden is better adapted to the hot summer it will face, because the plants would have established their roots and grown enough.

Secondly, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to hold back on working in the garden at all during the summer, this gives you an opportunity to do all your “hard-scaping” this means paving, building works, gravel pathways etc. This means that you will have to plan your garden accordingly, and the best part about this phased approach is that it’s way easier on the pocket then a lump sum amount. As a design and installation company , we have often phased projects here in the Western Cape around water availability, especially during the height of the drought.

So why don’t we garden in the winter and enjoy the spoils of our labor in the summer? Well, it’s because we forgot how to garden properly. We see things on the TV, read a magazine from either another country or one that is based in another part of the country and want the instant gratification of a summer ready garden. The most important thing to remember is that gardens do not happen overnight, they are a vision, only realised through maintenance.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt throughout my career is that you can never rush nature. You want an instant hedge? Be prepared to pay a few grand for it. You want a small forest in your backyard, prepare to mortgage the house.

Or you can settle for smaller plants, all you have to do is plant them at the right time, take care of them and in time they will grow to their full size, rewarding you with their colour, foliage or fragrance.

So the take away from this article should be: Plan your garden according to the seasons, adapt your budget wisely and be patient with your outdoor space.

We hope the hints and tips in this blog will help you to to maximise your garden this Summer and help your garden to thrive.

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