Chris Williams’ Top Hanging Basket Tips

Let us explore an often forgotten aspect of the landscape which can add interest, and a different dimension to the garden. A summer garden is often enhanced by the sight of beautiful hanging baskets providing colour at different heights in the garden.

Hanging baskets, assist you to utilise all your available space. With hanging baskets you can brighten up a sunny wall, or with the right choice of plants, even add colour to those tricky shady areas. And remember that when choosing which hanging baskets to buy, size IS everything! The bigger the basket, the bigger the spread and height of the display
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Always use a good quality weed free compost as plants grown in a small area need the best possible start.
Choose the right plants for baskets; not all plants are suitable. Make sure that you select long flowering varieties and plants with scent.

Plant up your baskets in Sring and early Summer to allow the plants to establish before putting your baskets outside
Use non ionic wetting agents to assist with lowering the water requirements.

Side planting is essential to grow an avalanche of colour. Any basket under 38cm makes this difficult. Dont be tempted by cheaper, smaller baskets – they’ll dry out a lot quicker

Use coir matting or moss to seal the basket and to give it a natural look.

To have interesting baskets all year round, it’s essential to have two sets so that you dont have to wait for your summer baskets to finish flowering before planting up your winter

The removal of all the first flowers, as well as pinching shoot tips, will enable the plant to put all of its efforts into growing stronger roots and in turn, will lead to a lot of flowers throughout the long season.

Water regularly throughout the season, being particularly vigilant in hot weather.

Regular maintenance is essential to grow a stunning basket to last the season. Deadheading and trimming when the plants start to look straggly will encourage healthy growth and new flowers.

Use indigenous succulents for a more maintenance friendly dramatic display

Sit back on the patio and enjoy!

Managing water and drainage

Predicting how water moves around and how it can be directed out of harms way or for storage is the basis for drainage design according to Garden Encyclopedia.  It is imperative that in all landscaped surfaces drainage be taken into account.

Surface drainage is normally by far the most effective and cheapest method of diverting water. It is imperative that water off hard surfaces be channelled onto surfaces on soil so the water can be absorbed. 

Collection of water is first prize and can either be stored in containers or dams. This can then be recycled onto the landscape and take pressure off the municipal system. Dams and wetlands can beautify the environment and provide beautiful eco systems in your garden.

As water becomes increasingly scarce; recycling both water in the garden and domestic waste sources becomes imperative. Domestic waste water should not be used on vegetables 

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Drought Gardening 

The fun about gardening is the continual changes that occur in the garden….some more challenging than others! Gardening with limited water can be very challenging, but can also be a worthwhile opportunity to plan ahead and not end up with the same challenges again next year.

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Lawn

Limit cutting of your lawn unless really necessary. Do not remove more than 30% of the total leaf blade in any one cut. Make sure your mower is sharp so that the plant does not loose additional moisture through “chewed” edges. If you are able to water give deep soaking rather than frequent short waterings. 

General garden care

Mulch mulch mulch. The more mulch the more moisture retention. Don’t be tempted to prune back.  Nature has a way of dealing with the drought in the most effective way possible. Once there is sufficient water then prune the dead stuff off. Remember that pruning encourages new growth which is not what you need. The exception to this is if you have transplanted some existing plants then prune back excessively to prevent excess moisture loss through the wilting leaves.

Now is a great time to plant water wise plants to replace those that are too high maintenance or requiring too much water. Plan new features and repair any irrigation leaks so that you are prepared for when  things normalize. 

We have a special stress spray for plants to help them cope during these times and assist them to look their best.  For this and any other gardening requirements please don’t hesitate to contact Catscapes landscapes to create the garden of your dreams. 

Work With Weather

There is no better time than now to start planting your garden with beautiful, low maintenance water wise plants. Don’t fight the weather, but work with it to let Catscapes landscapes create the garden of your dreams. From water wise planting to rain harvesting we have the solutions to meet your specific requirements.

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Lawn is always a thirsty component of any garden. Some grass types are more drought tolerant however all require large quantities of water to look attractive. Try and keep the size of lawn as small as positive and think of eliminating it in small yards in exchange for beautiful ground covers.

Mulch, mulch, mulch. The value of mulch in these conditions cannot be overemphasized during this period. It retains water,maintains the weed population and can be aesthetically pleasing.

Use water wise plants. There are beautiful species available which will enhance and compliment your garden. Let Catscapes landscapes create the garden of your dreams.

Rose Pruning Time

As July draws to an end, excitement in the garden starts to build! The shortest days and longest night of winter are gone and slowly we start to creep toward warmer weather again. Roses pruned now will provide a beautiful show in early summer when colours and perfumes are richest.

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Where to begin? With thick sticks and thin ones, old ones and new ones, what to cut and what to leave? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think! If you have a very big bush bushy plant first cut off the tops to about hip height so that it is easier to see what is going on. (remember that the same rules apply for rose pruning of standards but the bush only starts at the top of the main stem). Next it’s time to take a closer look at the stems you have left – here is a quick checklist on what to remove (right down at the base)

  • Anything dead or diseased
  • Anything thinner than a pencil
  • Anything crossing another healthier stem.

By now you should be left with probably no more than five stems at the most, even one is fine. These remaining stems no need to be cut to the same height with a nice neat cut – each stem about 30cm long. Remove all leaves and little side shoots and clean away any dead leaves lying around the base that could be harbouring diseases.

Once everything is clean and neat you can spray with lime sulphur to kill off any pathogens. Give each plant a handful of rose fertilizer, mulch well with fresh mulch around the base and begin to water your roses regularly. Then it is time to sit back with a well deserved hot cup of tea and start dreaming of those prize-winning blooms that will be coming out of your garden in the not too distant future!
For all your garden renovations, clean-ups or new designs please call Chris on 083 225 7451 or visit our website – Catscapes Landscapes

Container Gardening

Growing plants in pots brings a whole new dimension to gardening, bringing interest to dull areas and adding colour and variety. A pair of beautiful pots can frame an entrance and make it feel welcoming. Containers secured to walls add a vertical element to the space.

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Well planted pots bring the garden onto the patio or into the courtyard. It is essential to keep the style of your pot in mind when selecting plants to fill it. Most plants can grow well in pots if the plants are well suited to that position in terms of light and water. Ensure that there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot to prevent it becoming waterlogged and always remember that container plants need a little more water than plants in the ground. Feed your pot plants regularly for growth and prune back to keep them nice and bushy.

If you have always wanted a vegetable garden but don’t have the space – why not try some herbs and vegetables in pots in your courtyard? As long as there is sufficient sun you could regularly be harvesting home grown vegetables from right outside your back door!

It is not always easy to achieve just the look you want and mistakes can be costly so please do not hesitate to call Chris of Catscapes Landscapes for friendly professional horticultural advice on 083 225 7451 or please visit our website www.catscapeslandscapes.co.za

Gardening for birds – a brief introduction

As gardening goes I think that there can be few greater pleasures in life than watching a variety of little feathered visitors enjoying one’s garden.

A well designed garden planted to provide little habitats and hideaways as well as plenty of berries, seeds and nectar for foods should ensure a wide variety of bird species coming to visit. Artificial feeding will also attract many birds, a simple seed bird feeder hung near a window will provide endless hours of entertainment from the sparrows, weavers, doves, finches and the like. There are also many types of bird tables available (or can be easily made at home) for seed or to put out fruit for the bulbuls, olive thrushes, barbets and the delightful mousebirds. Nectar feeders are available from garden centers if you don’t have any Cape honeysuckles or aloes in your garden. A suet feeder will be a real treat for hungry birds in the winter months.

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Always remember to include at least one bird bath, preferably one easily visible and another more tucked away for the shyer birds like robins. A small sloping rock placed in the corner of the bath will make a nice little “beach”. It’s always fun to watch all the preening and fussing as they dry off on the nearest tree!

When planting for birds remember that indigenous is key to attracting our indigenous birds. Try to plant things that will flower or fruit at different times of the year to attract many different birds. Keep a diary of the birds you see and when you see them, (many of them are not here all year). And of course, keep your bird book (or bird app) handy to identify all your new visitors!

For more information on making your garden into a bird and butterfly haven, updating what you have or a total redesign call Chris at Catscapes Landscapes for Friendly, Reliable, Efficient, Superior Horticulture. 083 225 7451

Basic landscape design tips for beginners

Let Catscapes landscapes bring the joy back into gardening by creating the garden of your dreams

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Idea 1

Make a list of needs and wants. Do your kids need a play space? Do you want to grow vegetables? Would your family gather on a patio? Do some very rough sketches of the yard with thoughts of where you want to place things; it’s a great organizing principle for landscape design for beginners.

Idea 2

Study the sun and wind patterns. You might want to place a patio on the west side of the house, but it will get lots of afternoon sun, which means dinnertime in August won’t be relaxing — just hot. And wind whistling around a corner will quickly extinguish a fire pit. Those are common mistakes in landscape design for beginners. Your design should take into account what the sun and wind do at different times of the day and year.

Idea 3

Live with it for a while. Coming to quick conclusions about your yard can lead to choices that don’t work in the long term.

Idea 4

Start small. Television shows are masters at revealing complete outdoor makeovers in just three days — but they have a crew of 60, which is not a situation enjoyed by landscape design for beginners. Part of creating a landscape is slowly developing a plan and enjoying the process. From your master plan, start with a small flowerbed. Go out and work on it for an hour or two when you have the time, and worry less about filing everything up right away.

Idea 5

Work around a focal point. Any good garden design has a focal point or series of focal points, and it’s an easy principle to put in place in landscape design for beginners. That may be a sculpture , or a stunning plant, a tree, or a series of shrubs.

Idea 6

Focus on scale and pacing. It’s the trickiest principle in landscape design for beginners, but scale and pacing give your yard a pulled-together look. There will be variations in size, shape, and colour, with tall plants against a building or in the back of a flowerbed, and paths that lead people through the space.

Idea 7

Be open to change. Unless you’re strongly devoted to something, be honest about what you like — and what may fall out of favor.

Remember: Patience is key to landscape design for beginners. If all of that bare space is too much to look at, and the kids and dogs are tracking in mud, rely on temporary solutions — annuals, fast-growing groundcovers that you don’t care about for the long term, even mulch — to cover an area while you’re figuring out what you want. Large landscaping features like trees can be hard to move; annuals can be taken out, and small perennials and shrubs can be transplanted if you realize they’re in the wrong spot.

Some text courtesy of Australian BHG

Let Catscapes landscapes create the garden of your dreams from lawn care to complete redesigns and from irrigation to water harvesting.

Growing a successful Vegetable garden in spite of the water challenges

Whether it is vegetable gardening or designing a beautiful new water wise garden to fill in the gaps of the lost plants during the water restrictions; let Catscapes landscapes create the gardens of your dreams.

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Across the various social media sites that I use, gardeners have been talking about the drought, what it means for their gardens and plants they will grow in the future. Many are wondering whether there is room for a vegetable garden in a drier future. Some are looking at ways to conserve water, and others are looking at vegetable varieties that have adapted to growing in hot and dry conditions.

Below are some suggestions for vegetable gardening in times of drought that I’ve gleaned from research and these conversations.

1. It Starts with the Soil

Well-amended soil is the foundation of a vegetable garden that will tolerate drought. Prepare your garden’s soil by adding lots of rich, organic compost that will help trap moisture and encourage deep root formation in plants.

All of this soil amending is for naught if you aren’t mulching to reduce evaporation and water runoff. A thick carpet of mulch will also keep down the weeds that compete with your vegetables for water and nutrients.

2. Plant Smarter to Beat the Heat

Plant your vegetable garden in a block style layout rather than in rows to create microclimates, shade and reduce water evaporation.

Layout your vegetable garden so that plants with similar water requirements are grouped together. For example, cucumbers, zucchini, and squash all have similar water needs. Focus on vegetables that produce abundant crops like tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants.

Edit the number of plants you grow to conserve water and space. One or two different tomato plant varieties can serve your needs. Unless you can’t live without them, avoid growing space and water hogs like broccoli and cauliflower.

3. The Three Sisters Garden Explained

Planting Techniques like the Three sisters garden is a companion planting method that the Native Americans have used for ages that you can employ in your own garden.

In the Three Sisters Garden mound, beans fix nitrogen into the soil, corn provides support for the beans to grow up, and the bristles on the squash stem protect the corn from the corn earworm while shading the soil all three plants grow in.

4. When Plants Need Water

If your vegetables are planted before the hot and dry days of summer arrive, they’ll have time to establish a root system that will allow them to survive the hotter days. Deep watering will train roots to grow deep into the ground. A drip irrigation system will deploy water where it is needed and potentially reduce your water consumption by as much as 50%. Soil amended as described above should be able to go between two and seven days between irrigation.

Knowing at what stage of development your vegetables will need water can also help you reduce the amount of water you use. Vining crops like cucumbers, assorted melons, summer and winter squash are frequently over watered

They require less water than many other vegetables, and watering is only critical during flowering and fruiting. The same goes for eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. In fact, this year has been great for tomato lovers because the heat and drought has led to some of the most flavourful tomatoes in recent years.

5. Choosing Vegetables for Drought Tolerance

Beans have the highest water requirement of all of the common garden vegetables. Root crops need a consistently moist soil during their life span. But you can still grow your favourite vegetables even if they aren’t exactly adapted to growing in a dry garden.

Varieties with short days to maturity are a viable option if you are conserving water in the garden. As are miniature varieties like the mini bell peppers and eggplants I grow because they need less water for fruit development than their larger counterparts.

Drought Tolerant Vegetable Suggestions

This is by no means a complete list of vegetables and herbs that will tolerate drought, but the list can serve as a place to start.

1. Low prickly pear cactus-edible fruits and leaf pads of O. humifusa
2. Rhubarb-once mature is drought resistant.
3. Swiss Chard
4. ‘Hopi Pink’ corn
5. Asparagus-once established
6. Jerusalem artichoke
7. Legumes: Chickpea, Tepary beans, Moth bean, Cowpea, ‘Jackson Wonder’ lima bean.
8. Green Striped Cushaw squash
9. ‘Iroquois’ cantaloupe
10. Okra
11. Peppers
12. Armenian cucumber
13. Sage
14. Oregano
15. Thyme
16. Lavender
17. Amaranth-green leafed varieties
18. Rosemary
19. ‘Pineapple’ tomato
20. Chiltepines-wild chiles

Some information supplied by Mr Brown Thumb

Whether a new irrigation system or a new garden; lawn care or garden redesign let Catscapes landscapes create the garden of your dreams.

Steps to creating an English Country Garden

How many sweet flowers grow….in an English country garden? 🎶🎶🎶

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Steps to Creating an English Country Garden

1. Choose Feature, Filler and Anchor Plants

You need feature plants that will create interest to your garden. Roses are the ideal feature plant. Hydrangeas could be considered filler plants including others such as hollyhocks, lavender and viburnum. Your anchor plants are those that create a backdrop to your canvass and are placed at the back of the beds due to their height. These are usually evergreens and other small trees.

2. Create Different Areas

The creation of “rooms” in the garden provides areas of interest. Create different areas of your garden so that you don’t view the whole of your garden at once. Instead you create different areas for added interest. The sizes of these areas will be in direct proportion to the size of the garden as a whole.

3. Grow Living Dividers

In order to divide each area from the other you need to plant hedges of some sort to form a division. A flowering plant like wegiela, boxwood, or any tall growing evergreen hedging should be planted to create living dividers. These should be encouraged to grow 6-8 feet high to create this effect.

4. Build a Fence

Fences, particularly picket fences, should be built to allow your space to be defined and to protect your garden. If built correctly, it will add to help creating the typical English country garden that you are making.

5. Add an Arbor

Arbors can help lead your visitors to your house, from the gate and up the path. If covered in climbing roses one evokes an element of romance. Arbors also define that feeling of entering a space.

6. Build a Gate

Gates not only keep out unwanted visitor, be that either the two-legged or the four-legged variety, but depending on what you choose will help create your cottage style. Many of you will opt for the white-washed gate to go with the white-washed picket fence. However, it doesn’t have to be just white. You could have a plain or painted iron fence, an unpainted wooden fence, or even a wrought-iron fence. It really remains up to the individual, and your choice of gate will further help to show your personality.

7. Plant your Pathways

Whether you choose a straight path or a curved path, this pathway should lead your visitors to your home from your gate. The pathway can be constructed from reclaimed stone or brick to shells or pebbles. It can be made from just about any material other than concrete. By allowing the plants to grow onto the pathway you are softening the edges and are one step closer to creating a wonderful English country garden.

No matter how big or small the area let Catscapes landscapes create the English Country garden of your dreams.

Some text courtesy of Country farm Lifestyles