This winter has felt like one of South Africa’s coldest yet. It is not only we who have felt the ravaging cold, however. When you take a look outside your window, you may be dismayed to find that your garden is looking a little worse for wear, having been subjected to months of cold, wind and in some parts of the country – icy rain or frost. But not despair, as there are many ways to fix your garden, some of which you will find in this brief article, along with some information about how the use of a ride on mower can accelerate your efforts.
Why is winter so harsh on your plants?
Many plants do not stand the test of harsh weather conditions, especially if they are not indigenous to the region in which you reside. In many areas of South Africa, winter is a dry affair, which means that rainfall can be minimal. A lack of water, as most people know, may cause wilting and even death in many plant species. Further, cold temperatures can freeze the cells in a plant, which not only causes damage, but also ends up interrupting the pathways through which nutrients and water usually flow to ensure a plant’s health.
People who live in regions like the Western Cape that experience more rainfall during the winter months may also find their gardens in disarray. Following heavy rainfall, excessive soaking can take place. When the ground can no longer absorb any water, it becomes saturated, and a layer of water will build atop the soil and run off in different directions. This can destroy many species of plants and crops. Scientists argue that waterlogged soil will push out oxygen, meaning that the plants may no longer have enough in their root systems to survive.
How to proceed in the case of a waterlogged garden
Should your garden be receiving too much rain, there are a few techniques you can put into play in order to try and solve the dilemma. There is no quick-fix, but these tips may certainly help you on your way:
Avoid the mud
Mud is the unfortunate and messy aftermath of excessive rain. What was once hilarious fun as a child may have become a nightmare as a garden-owner. If your garden is muddy, avoid walking across it. This is because doing so will spread more mud in the process as well as add to soil compaction. Instead, think about putting mulch down, especially between rows of plants. Another viable option is to place boards or other materials down in the garden to use as a walkway as you go about your gardening while the mud is in the process of drying up.
Fight off soil compaction
At this point you may be wondering exactly what soil compaction means. This condition occurs when soil particles are squeezed together which results in pore space between them being significantly reduced. This leads to the soil losing good rates of drainage and water filtration. To combat this issue, garden experts recommend applying groundcovers or mulch to the soil in attempt to reduce the compaction.
Alternatively, you could use a wooden dowel or metal rod to make holes in the soil in order to aerate it and essentially, begin the process of restoring its vitality.
Turn off the irrigation system
Naturally, it makes sense to stop watering your garden during this time, and even beforehand when you find that rain has been forecasted in the next few days.
Tend to your plants
Excessive rainfall and generally wet weather leads to an increase in slug and snail activity. These critters will feed on both healthy and decaying plants. It is recommended that you catch and relocate slugs and snails, as laying down pesticides can cause environmental issues as well as potentially compromise the quality of your healthy plants.
The matter of mulch
We have already mentioned mulch a few times, but do not fear if the word confounds you. Mulch is one of the handiest matters used to bring gardens back to life, and in particular, lawns! Mulch is effective in retaining moisture in soil, keeping soil cool, preventing frost damage during winter as well as suppressing weeds. Organic mulches are great at improving the soil’s nutrient-retaining capacity as well as promoting drainage and soil structure.
Mulch is utilised by being spread or laid atop the soil’s surface as covering technique, and is usually made out of one of more of the following:
Straw and hay
These materials make for popular mulches, especially for vegetable gardens. This is because they keep the soil as well as any soil-borne diseases from splashing up and coming into contact with the lower plant leaves that could cause infection. Further, this prevents paths generally less muddy. Straw and hay decomposes rather slowly, and for this reason is likely to last in place for the entire growing season. Spiders and other insects that keep plant-eating pests at bay also enjoy making this material their home.
Shredded or chipped bark
Best used around trees, non-populated garden beds and shrubs (any area where you won’t be doing too much digging), bark is another great material for mulch. They last longer than other, more fine organic mulches. But at the same time, they are more difficult to clean up should you suddenly wish to plant in the soil around the trees and shrubs that has been covered by the bark.
Perhaps considered as nature’s favourite brand of mulch, shredded leaves can be used anywhere in the garden. Using shredded leaves as mulch will attract earthworms to your soil, which is great as they serve to aerate the soil’s structure and promote plant growth. Shredded leaves will decompose and blend into the soil over some time.
Surprisingly, newspaper being used as mulch has risen in popularity over the last few years. This may be due to the fact that more papers have switched to using organic dyes. Layered sheets of newspaper, laid over the surface of the soil, are highly effective at retaining moisture as well as suppressing weeds and regulating soil temperatures.
This type of mulch works excellently in the more remote areas of your garden, particularly in spaces you wish to suppress weeds. Due to the high water content in grass clippings, they will decompose very fast. In the process, they can become rather smelly and slimy – so use this type of mulch with discretion.
The organic mulch listed above will compose and need to be replaced eventually. However, in the process, your soil’s organic content as well as its structure will be significantly improved. Bear in mind that the woodier and dryer the mulch you use is, the longer it will take to decompose. At the same time, it will also give fewer nutrients to the soil.
You can also use synthetic mulch, such as stone or gravel, landscape fabric and even black plastic. They, like organic mulches, also for a good job when it comes to blocking weeds and holding moisture. Although they do not add nutrients to the soil, they do not decompose quickly and therefore will not need frequent replacing. Regardless of whether you choose to utilise organic or synthetic mulch, know that it is one great method of healing your garden.
Sorting out your lawn with a ride on mower
Now that you know how to breathe life back into your winter-damaged lawn and garden with the use of mulch, it is time to address lawns that have become overgrown and untidy during the winter months. Tackling your lawn with a push-mower can be an exhausting and backbreaking task, especially if you live on a large property and are responsible for your own gardening. Using a ride on mower is the perfect solution to this problem.
Ride on mowers are powered by a gas engine that allows both the wheels and blades of the ride on mower to move. While the driver sits atop the comfortable seat of the ride on mower, they are only tasked with the easy job of controlling the operation with levers and a wheel to maintain direction. You can describe a ride on mower as a small tractor that has been combined with a rotary mower. A ride on mower, like any other vehicle, also has pedals that are used to accelerate and break.
There are various advantages to owning and operating riding mowers that certainly come into play when facing the task of cleaning up your neglected lawn after a savage winter, such as:
Ride on mowers are time-saving
It takes hours in order to mow your lawn with a stand-behind-mower, since you can only operate it at one speed – walking speed. When it comes to riding mowers, you need not walk at all. In fact, you can find the perfect speed and sit back and relax as you mow your lawn with your ride on mower.
Ride on mowers do not depend on your health
Most people can agree that when it comes to flu season, many of us face a few weeks of being unwell. It is highly unlikely that you will have an enjoyable time mowing your lawn with a push-mower, if you are able to get yourself out of pyjamas and let alone out of your bed in order to do so. With a ride on mower, however, you need only throw on some warm clothes and get some fresh air as you drive it around your lawn – with no physical exertion required on your behalf.
Ride on mowers are easy to start
Unlike most stand-behind-mowers, a ride on mower is equipped with a key start ignition. This replaces the traditional pull cord that requires a considerable amount of force to get a push-mower and other garden tools started. Many people are unable to succeed when it comes to pull-cords, either due to back injuries or low upper-body strength. Using a ride on mower will eliminate these issues and result in a no-fuss starting procedure when you decide to tackle your tangled garden.
Purchasing a riding mower from BS Power
We at BS Power stock a wide variety of mowers from which you can choose your favourite ride on mower. We not only stock riding mowers suitable for home-garden use, but also those for heavier, commercial use. All of our products have undergone rigorous testing and quality checks in order to ensure that when you purchase your very own ride on mower to tame your winter-ruined garden, you will be fully satisfied. Do not hesitate to hop onto our website and peruse our wide selection of ride on mowers and other garden tools to help your plight!