Garden Practices and Tips


Garden Practices and Gardening Techniques


Good garden practices in your garden can make a difference to your gardening outcomes. I have had a lot of experience around building, designing and maintaining gardens. Good garden practices don’t just appear, they need to be worked on and understood.

Many people read books, browse the internet or even study around the issues involved with their garden and using good practices. I wanted to share a few tips on how to make things easier in your garden pursuits. It is important to think of a garden as a fluid, ever changing environment. This environment cannot be fought or tamed.  You can learn to understand the principles of nature and then work with them. This will help you to improve your garden practices.


Garden Practices – Work with what you have

A lot of people fail to understand the garden philosophy or mentality; preferring to have a stagnant image or canvas.  Of course people with this mind set will be quickly disenchanted by their outdoors spaces and will soon find themselves withdrawing or treating their garden as a burden. A garden can be a blessing or a curse. For example, trying to have large rolling green lawns when water is scarce, or days in summer are reaching 40 degrees is not very manageable.

The Southern Highlands area is a beautiful European like climate, though unfortunately, our climate varies dramatically. In parts of Europe where the large lush lawns and green empires are maintained have more regular rain fall and generally cooler temperatures. We can over come some of these factors using irrigation and clever tree placement for shade.  It is important to not try and defy reality though, so following good garden practices can really help. We must remain focused on our environment and what is possible. Following good garden practices will ensure we are having successes and gaining peace of mind in what we are creating.

It is all too common as development happens that our landscapes are being stripped bare and our large trees removed. Concrete jungles are being the norm, which is quite natural in higher density living. We must try to negate the pitfalls of these life choices. Can we continue to blindly over extend our resources and degrade our productive areas of land?

Planting some areas of our gardens with native plants or plants that will attract our native wildlife is very important for our ecology and our long term sustainability. Little actions in our gardens can lead others to undertake better garden practices which can have a large ripple effect in whole communities.


Garden Practices – Environmental Issues

Using large trees carefully positioned also helps to minimise our energy consumption and improve our quality of life.  Large deciduous trees(in proper scale with your space) are a great way to cool down your house and lessen the evaporation or water usage. A well positioned deciduous shade tree on the north western side of you residence will shade you from the hottest parts of the day. Yet in winter, will still maintain your light and warmth for comfortable thermal efficiency.

In garden areas, it is important to use good quality mulches at a reasonable depth. Many plants do not like radical fluctuations in soil temperature at the root level. Plants will also benefit from the mulch breaking down into the soil and can encourage good bacteria and soil organisms and microbial activity. Using a good mulch for the plants you have chosen can not only cut down water consumption and plant stress, but can also help to regulate and condition your soil while helping to maintain a good ph balance. Keeping your mulch topped up is one of those simple garden practices that can make a big difference to watering requirements and growing conditions for your plants.

If you plant citrus plants requiring a higher ph value (alkaline soil) and you choose fresh pine mulch, this can be very counterproductive and harmful for growing conditions. Many pine mulches can not only reduce ph levels because of its acidity, but can also require a fair amount of nitrogen to break down. Some trees naturally have quite high resin content which can also inhibit plant growth. This is where using the correct mulches to help achieve your objective is important. Some people apply garden practices in celever ways; for example putting a thin layer of lawn clippings around citrus can help to feed the citrus trees (don’t apply it too thick). Lawn clipping are often high in PH and can improve the soil condition for citrus plants.


Garden Practices – Mulching

On vegetable gardens, often it is a good idea to use an enriching mulch such as lucerne hay mulch. Putting a layer of newspaper down below the lucerne hay can also be beneficial in attracting worms, good bacteria and suppressing weeds. When opting for this method, an important garden practice is to make sure the layers are kept moist.

Another example of good garden practices may be to use a mulch such as pebble, gravel or stones for a succulent garden or for mulching plants in planters or pots. Pebble can help water penetration and can help keep the soil cool. Pebble are a finite resource and should not be used carelessly, though can be a good way to reduce maintenance.


Garden Practices – Garden Edging

A very important element of garden structure and dividing lawn areas is garden edging.  Sometimes more expensive options to install lead to the best, most sustainable options in the long run.  Using good garden practices we may select brick or solid timber edging in a small backyard which can reduce mowing and maintenance effort and time. Having a nicely installed brick edge can look great, but will also create an easy care edge to mow or whipper snip/brushcut up to. This is a prime example of utilising good garden practices. Another sound technique is using a pathway that acts as a dividing edge. For example a beautifully constructed crazy paving stone pathway can be a real feature but also offer low maintenance garden edging or divide.


Garden Practices – Watering

Lets discuss good garden practices around watering and watering habits. Watering most plants deeply via a drip method will encourage better, deeper root development. This can help to make plants more resilient and less susceptible to drought or heat.

Some people tend to leave a sprinkler or drip hose running slowly on a treasured shrub or tree for a good 15 – 30mins. This will ensure that the water can slowly enter the soil deep and go deeper.  Though, if using a method such as this, where the hose may be left unattended, it is a good idea to use manual tap timers.  Try not to waste water, or forget to leaving a hose on. Trees and large shrubs generally respond well too deep watering methods. Of course some plants differ in root structure or in growth habits and requirements.

When watering some plants, such as vegetables, deep watering will not always pay off.  Many edible food plants are used seasonally and can tend to be more shallow rooted. In this case good mulch cover and appropriate regular watering is best. You would not drip water a new seedling, likewise you would generally not drip water plants in pots. Drip systems when installed correctly can allow greater efficiency when watering.

Setting irrigation up correctly is a must. We need to understand the water requirements of our site. Some plants are used to absorb moisture or minimise damp areas. Some plants are planted to handle hot dry and harsh conditions. Preferably we would plant out a garden in harmony with our soil and light/sun patterns. So we try to plant water loving plants together in a moist area of the garden. And we would try to plant drought tolerant plants together or beneath a heavy water consuming tree for example. We can group plants together with similar fertilizer and PH requirements.


Using sound permaculture practices can also make plant species more forgiving to a range of ph environments with less dependent on chemical fertilizers. Here are some garden practices around Permaculture at  Permaculture Australia. Also check out this link on the  Gardening Australia Website on Permaculture  if you would like to read more.




I hope some of these ideas and good garden practices can be considered the next time you are working in your garden. If you would like to ask questions or would like to discuss things in greater detail you could  Get in Contact.



  1. There are some great concepts in this post. I have really enjoyed reading many of your posts.
    Thanks for the great information, please keep it coming 🙂

  2. Great post! Really like the advice about using newspaper for the vegetable garden. Looking forward to more posts & gardening tips.

  3. Francine

    Fantastic site, with such helpful information based on a commitment to leaving a soft footprint on our vulnerable land.

  4. My brother suggested I would possibly like this blog.
    He was totally right. This post actually made my day. Thank you!

  5. Particularly insightful, I look forward to visiting again.