20 Common gardening problems
1. Camellia bud drop
“If camellias don’t get enough moisture in the summer, you get bud drop, ” said Garry Hedley, from Pioneer Gardens Nursery. Ensure the plants are kept in check with good watering through the next summer, he recommended.
2. Invasive grass
Colleen Sheehan, owner of Weeding Women, said gardeners needed to be diligent with couch grass invading garden beds. “You need to dig it out of the garden beds with a sharp spade, ” she said. “If it is really bad we suggest they get in a professional poison contractor to treat with fusillade (herbicide).”
3. Black spot
Murray McFeggan, from Roworth’s Nursery, said black spot on roses was caused by not enough sunlight and from dampness. “To treat black spot, pluck the diseased leaves off and rake the leaves up, as the dead leaves spread disease, ” he said. “There are also sprays available but check with your rose specialist.” Mr McFeggan said roses needed a good half day of sun, so it was also important to plant in the right location.
Contagious: Black spot on rose leaves.
4. Spongy lawn
Lawn expert Nick Bell said thick and spongy turf was usually caused by inefficient mowing and readily available soluble fertiliser that encouraged rapid leaf growth at the expensive of healthy roots. Mr Bell said the solution was to have the lawn mowed at a height of 20mm. “Reduce the height of cut gradually one setting at a time to avoid removing more than one third of the vertical height of the grass on each cut, ” he said.
5. Tree trunk rot
Neil Thompson, from Arborwest Tree Farm, said planting a tree too deep could cause rotting on the lower part of the trunk, so extra care needed to be taken at planting time to prevent this. “You need to measure twice to make sure you have the right depth before planting, ” he said.
6. Lawn that doesn’t hold water
“Restore the surface of the lawn to facilitate uniform mowing and increase the organic content of the soil to increase its water-holding capacity with an application of top-dressing material that includes fully matured compost, zeolite and bentonite clay, ” Mr Bell said.
“Snail pellets are very effective at keeping down numbers and protecting plants, ” Kath Bafile, from Better Pets and Gardens, said. Another option is to catch the snails when they come out at night. “Drop them into a bucket of salt water before putting them into the bin, ” she said.
8. Painful pets
If pets are destroying your garden, Ms Bafile suggested first investigating what it was that made the spot so enticing, as knowing why they did it would help solve the problem. She said pet-repellent gels such as Get Off My Garden (available from pet and gardening retailers) would help repel furry friends from specific areas. “Both cats and dogs find the strong perfume offensive and it also masks any residual odour of previous urine or droppings in the area, ’ she said.
9. Leaf curl
“Leaf curl is a fungus that produces distinctive reddish blisters, which spread and cause affected leaves to curl and look distorted, thickened and swollen, ” said Caroline Mazza, from Wandilla Garden and Gift Centre. This commonly occurs on peach and nectarine trees. She suggested spraying the entire tree with copper oxychloride after the leaves had dropped in autumn and again in early spring, just before bud burst.
Spray: Peach leaf curl can be avoided. Picture: yates.com.au
To prevent a messy, overgrown garden, Ms Sheehan recommended noting regular maintenance on the calendar. “It is like getting your hair coloured or your legs waxed — it has to be done regularly to be properly maintained, ” she said.
11. Insects and fungal disease
To promote strong, healthy turf Mr Bell recommended an application of organic-based granular fertiliser. “The correct ratio of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and trace elements for turf plus a blend of rock dusts will stimulate microbial activity, ” he said.
12. Poor soil
As many home gardeners would attest, soil was the biggest problem in Perth, said Aaron East, of Aaron East Landscaping. “Removing the sand and bringing in organic matter is 100 times more important than mulching, ” he said. “Good soil will feed the plants and hold moisture.”
13. Struggling natives
Ross Hooper, from Zanthorrea Nursery, said many people thought they didn’t need to improve the soil when growing natives. “While native plants are tough and drought hardy, you will get much better results from your plants if you improve the soil as this will help to hold water and nutrients around the root system, ” he said. “Also, it is good to remember that a lot of native plants are sensitive to phosphorus so always use a quality native fertiliser.”
Helping hand: Improving soil will let natives, like the Hakea Burrendong Beauty, thrive.
14. Fruit fly
Ms Mazza suggested using Cera Trap at least 45 days before fruit ripening to protect cumquats, lemons, grapefruit, oranges and mandarins. “Cera Trap is a 100 per cent organic system that is easy to use and contains a unique protein based liquid that is designed to attract the fruit flies, ” she said.
Cera Trap. Picture: guildfordgardencentre.com.au
15. Lace bugs
Lace bugs attacking your azaleas? Mr Hedley advised treating with Confidor spray.
16. Sun burn
Mr East said it was important to think about the summer and winter sun when considering plant placement. “People often put trees on a westerly wall but they will get hammered by the Perth summer, ” he said. “Be cautious, even if the plant tag says full sun.”
17. Incorrect fertiliser application
Eco-Growth’s Dan Sutton said over-use of chemical fertilisers was a key garden concern. “If the instructions say half a handful per square metre, (gardeners) get to the end of the lawn with plenty left in the bag, then throw the rest on for good measure, ” he said. “Excess fertiliser is bad for the environment and bad for the garden, causing nutrient lock-up and unbalanced plant growth.”
18. Damage from coastal locations
“Many European plants aren’t suitable for an exposed coastal garden and can suffer from the dry winds throughout WA’s spring and summer, ” said Bunnings national greenlife buyer David Hardie. He recommended choosing varieties that were specifically selected for WA’s tough coastal conditions, such as grevilleas and rosemary.
Hardy: Grevillea can handle coastal conditions.
19. Nutrient deficiency in citrus
According to Samantha Turner, from Garden Elegance, when the leaves of a citrus tree between the veins were yellow it often meant a nutrient deficiency. She suggested gardeners buy a pH testing kit to test the soil. “Once you get the results of the pH test you can then ask about applying the correct product, ” she said.
Need a no-fail solution for pesky weeds? “A weed hook is a fantastic option for weeding around other plants, ” Ms Bafilesaid. Glyphosate sprayed on to the leaves was also a good option.
© The West Australian
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