How to

Spruce up the garden for the entertaining season

As winter comes to an end, we start thinking about the long, warm summer evenings when we’ll be dining al fresco, entertaining friends on the deck or verandah and taking full advantage of our outdoor way of life.

This makes August the month to smarten up the garden and clear away the debris of winter. Start by tidying up the remaining fallen leaves, and cleaning moss and algae from paths and woodwork. Finish winter pruning and, when the worst of the cold is over, trim frost damage. Make sure all the gutters and drains are free of leaves. De-mould and paint outdoor furniture and shout yourself to a new, super-large outdoor shade umbrella.

Then check the pots and containers that decorate decks, courtyards and patios. Begin by removing any dead plants. Trim tatty leaves and prune untidy sections back to healthy growth. Check to see if plants need re-potting. How do you know? Well, if they do, when you water your plants you’ll have trouble getting the water into the mix because it’s so full of roots. Often, too, you’ll see the roots growing out of the holes (or hole) in the base of the pot.

If the plants have been in the one container for more than about three years, they’re sure to appreciate some new mix. Potting mix breaks down over time, which is why it’s important to refresh it on a regular basis. Sometimes the plants will need a larger pot, but often it’s a matter of taking the plant out of its existing pot, gently removing some of the outer mix, then packing fresh mix into the base and down the sides. Always use a quality potting mix such as Yates Professional – it’s a premium formulation with added soil wetters and water-storing crystals.

All of your potted plants will appreciate a feed with a long-lasting fertiliser such as Garden Gold or Yates Acticote.

The way to really cheer up your outdoors is by potting up some brand new containers with attractive plants. Yates has two new colours in its popular Tuscan pot range – olive and the re-vamped terracotta – which have been chosen after consultation with international colour-trend experts. They’ll team beautifully with modern architectural plants such as coloured-leaf cordylines, bromeliads, New Zealand flax and agaves.

If you’re more of a traditionalist you can fill your pots with flowering plants such as geraniums, Californian poppies, nasturtiums or marigolds. Even better, pot up some fragrant murraya, gardenias, star jasmine or lavender to perfume the air on a summer evening.

The fastest-growing trend in the garden is producing your own potted edibles. What about a mini orchard filled with potted citrus, olives or dwarf peaches under-planted with strawberries? Or some herbs? Parsley, marjoram, chives and thyme are good choices for pots and, as soon as the night air is warm and you’re sure frosts are over for the year, you can plant basil.


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