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Garden Care And Maintenance – Tips On How To Get Value For Money - by Jonathan Yaakobi

Whether you hire a professional gardener to maintain your garden, or care for it yourself, the same question arises. On what exactly, are you spending your money or your time? If you’re spending money on a gardener, it’s a matter of time is money. The more time the gardener has to spend, the more money you have to pay out. If on the other hand it is your time at stake, it’s a question of how effectively you are using the most precious and irreplaceable resource at your disposal.

Garden care and maintenance is in fact an issue that ought to be considered at the design stage of the gardening process. There is little value in a design that will involve you in maintenance costs that you will not be able to keep up with. Therefore, your ability or willingness to deal with the plants is as important a consideration as their design or cultural suitability. Here then are some points worth examining.

Trees

Some trees, like palms or cypresses, require virtually no pruning at least for shaping purposes, as they naturally possess a strong, clear shape. Others, like elms and oaks, invariably need some intervention, while many fast-growing species, such as Tipuana or Peltophorum, need the constant supervision of a gardener whose expertise should approximate that of a tree surgeon.

The extent that a particular tree produces litter is an often overlooked factor. A species may be chosen because of its showy flowers, or edible fruit, only for these to end up being a real pest. Examples include the mess made by dates, Ficus berries, or the sticky flowers that fall from Jacaranda trees. Deciduous trees are often rejected out of hand on these grounds, yet their leaf drop is seasonal and usually of brief duration.

Shrubs and bushes

A clear decision has to be made whether the landscaping shrubs are to provide a loose, informal screen, or to be grown as a sheared hedge. While the growing of shrubs is rarely maintenance-free, maintaining a neatly trimmed hedge is altogether another matter in terms of time and money. If you do it yourself, will it be a labor of love, or a chore. If the latter is the case, what results are likely to ensue?


Climbing plants

Climbers are often thought of as easy plants to grow, because they just “do their own thing.” This though is where the biggest errors are made, because of the all the different kinds of plants, they can be the most difficult to handle. Take Thunbergia grandiflora for example; it may cover a wall or fence very rapidly, sporting spectacular lilac flowers in the process, but then it just becomes an untidy, unmanageable tangle.

Bougainvillea though has to be the best case of an “expensive” plant to maintain. It combines rampant, thorny growth, with constant litter and mess. A customer of mine was shocked when I pointed out to her recently, that over half of the fee she pays me, simply goes on me sweeping and cleaning the fallen Bougainvillea bracts. “Do you think that is money well spent?” I asked.



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Jonathan Ya'akobi

Your Personal Gardening Coach
 



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