Lawn and Garden Care



In addition to feeding, watering, mulching and weeding as already described, plants may require other forms of maintenance. Shrubs for example, may need regular pruning, depending on the species, and how you want them to look.
Climbers need to have stray stems regularly tied to the main supports or other stems. Stems that grow away from the wall will probably need to be cut off, in which case trim them off neatly back to a bud or a branch.
Although many perennials will support their flower stems without any extra staking or supports, some — like large-flowered peonies with heavy buds and full flowers — will flop onto other plants, especially during a spring shower, others may blow over in wind. Ideally, stakes or supports should be put in place when you are planting the border; the foliage will grow to cover the frame. Failing this, you will need to check regularly that susceptible plants are upright and insert supports wherever you can when necessary.
You will need to go through the border regularly, removing flowers as they fade. This will stimulate many species of plants to produce another crop of flowers, so keeping the border in bloom over as long a period as possible.
Perennials need to be lifted and divided every few years to keep them youthful. Work through the border in autumn, looking for plants that are beginning to die in the middle as their roots become congested.
In winter it may be necessary to protect tender shrubs or climbers from the weather. Draping hessian (burlap) over the plant will give temporary protection against frost, but for more prolonged periods, protect with straw first then cover with hessian. Many marginally hardy plants benefit from a bulky, dry, winter mulch of leaf mould, straw or dry fern closely packed over their roots.
Routine inspection of plants for attack by pests or diseases, will allow you to deal with a problem before it becomes serious. Learn how to identify the various signs so that you can identify what the cause is.

Diseases

Fungal diseases affect the leaves of many plants, and often they are difficult to control. Where possible grow varieties that have a disease resistance, and always spray or remove affected leaves at the first sign of trouble.
Most root diseases are a minor inconvenience that occur from time to time, but club-root is a serious problem that will restrict the types of plants that you can grow successfully.



Insects

Sap-sucking insects are particularly unpleasant pests because they transmit virus diseases by injecting infected sap from one plant into another. They also cause distorted growth if they attack developing buds, and generally weaken the plants that they feed on. Always deal with aphids promptly.
Leaf-eating pests can soon devastate a plant. If the culprits are caterpillars you will easily identify, the cause, but many leaf-eaters move on, so tracking them down may call for a little deduction. Again, regular inspection is the best preventative action to take.
Root pests often go unnoticed until the plants collapse, but many of them can be controlled successfully if you are vigilant.

OTHER FACTORS

Some problems that at first appear to be caused by pests or diseases have physiological causes (like wind chill or sun scorch). Others are caused by accidents with weed killers, or even by nutritional deficiencies in the soil