Maintenance On Your Rock Garden.

By: Rick Skuw


If you have made a rock garden or a raised bed by following the basic rules, then routine maintenance should be a simple job. It will not require as much skill as required in your pruning of fruit trees nor the heavy work demanded in your vegetable plot. You should not be troubled by weeds for quite some time and your plants should thrive in your well drained, gritty conditions that you have supplied for them. But regular maintenance is not something you can pay no heed to. Leave a shrub border untended for a season and no great harm should result, but leave a rock garden for just a year and it could be ruined.

Treat rock garden care as a routine once-a-week job during the growing season, in the same way as you may treat house plant and lawn maintenance. Weed control will be the main task. Keep your garden free from dead plants and debris, and water only when needed. Dead-head spent flowers where practical, especially if the variety of plant can become a nuisance by self seeding. Label plants which die down for part of the year.

Autumn is the major overhaul time of the year. All fallen leaves must be removed and your stems of rampant plants require to be cut back. Do not leave this job for the spring. Cover winter sensitive plants. In spring renew the grit mulch, feed, remove winter protection, firm plants which have become lifted by frost and look for slug damage.

All this advise might have arrived too late for you - the rockery may already have been over-run by weeds and it is covered with straggly rampant alpines because of past neglect. There is not an easy answer. You will be required to start again. Take away the soil from the affected area, replace it with new planting mixture after which you can replant.

Weeding Your Garden:
Weeding your garden is one of them most tedious of all maintenance jobs, and prevention is a great deal easier than cure. Start at construction time, make sure that the planting site is free from all perennial weeds and that all weed roots have been removed from the topsoil used for creating the planting mixture. As described below, a mulch of grit on rockery and raised bed gardens or bark on peat gardens will help to prevent weeds.

It really is unfortunate that however careful you have been at the construction stage, weeds will still emerge and they must be tackled promptly as dwarf plants such as alpines can easily be swamped by them. You have a variety of sources of these weeds, and it is possible to reduce the task of weeding if you take preventive measures. Firstly, weeds are often brought in with the plants that you purchase, always check carefully and pull out stems and roots of any weeds which are growing on the soil surface of your pot.

Next, perennials can creep in from surrounding land so try to create some form of weed-proof barrier if this is likely. Finally, weed seeds are often blown in to your site - do not forget that this includes the seed from close by rock garden plants which effortlessly produce self-sown seedlings. Dead-heading and weed control in surrounding land will reduce this problem.

Hoeing will not be practical where a grit mulch is used. Pulling out weeds by hand is the usual technique to tackle the problem, you might need to trowel if the roots are firmly anchored. However, not all self-sewn alpines are weeds, you will only want to pull out seedlings which are growing where they aren’t wanted. Perennial weeds are a tricky problem when the roots are too deep and widespread to get removed. The answer here is to paint the leaves very carefully with glyphsate - never spray weed killers and never use lawn-type ones.

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An extraordinary quantity of my time is spent in my garden, but as I am getting older and things are becoming harder to do. I have decided to make use of a company called Tree Surgeon. Up to now they have given me all the help and advice that I have asked for. I still do a bit of pottering around my own garden.

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