Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Caring for a damaged garden

When a bout of harsh and stormy weather comes in, the impact can be particularly troubling for hard-working gardeners.

However, there is plenty of action the green-fingered enthusiast can take in order to bring things back under control. Indeed, it becomes more important than ever to take care of a green space.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, professional gardener and writer Liz Dobbs outlined a range of tips for individuals in this position.

For instance, any rain-damaged or faded flowers are best off being deadheaded. This will encourage more new flowers to form and will make the plant look so much better straight away. Indeed, plants such as catmint and hardy geraniums will come up with whole new foliage if they are entirely shorn of all growths – and the same can be achieved with alchemilla mollis.

This is also known as Lady's Mantle and is an herbaceous perennial that originally comes from southern Europe. It is typically used as an ornamental plant.

After a battering from the weather, weeds can really start to thrive in an individual's green space. It is essential that these unwanted growths are cut back before they have a chance to set seed.

Indeed, this particular piece of advice is generally worth bearing in mind throughout the summer, as the hotter conditions really gives weeds the opportunity to sprout in unused patches of soil.

One way to avoid this is through the maintenance of a very dense and grassy lawn. This makes is much more difficult for weeds to capture the relevant space and nutrients they require – to say nothing of the extensive, lush colour it will give your garden!

Needless to say, conventional weed killers can be highly effective, but you will have to wait for several weeks in order for the weeds to have fully sprouted before committing to use.

Maintaining a protection policy can also help to keep your green space safe against unfavourable climate conditions. Polythene or tarpaulin are very well suited to this purpose, provided the covers are sufficiently weighed-down.

In terms of the soil around more delicate plants, mulching can be a positive course of action. As well as providing an essential layer of protection, it will also help the plants to survive longer by allowing them to better retain valuable nutrients.

When faced with extensive periods of rain, pots can very quickly become saturated with water. However, this issue is easily resolved by unblocking the drainage holes with a cane or similar implement.

Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society across the pond in the UK, underlined the fact that this can be a particular issue for shrubs.

He explained that if they are kept in pots for several years, they can become very vulnerable, adding that this is especially the case for those that have not been repotted at least once a year.

"The roots completely fill the pot, leaving very little air space. If the compost gets waterlogged you can save the plant if you act quickly – remove it from the pot, cut off the dead roots and repot in fresh compost. A foliar feed will help too," Mr Barter commented.

Another issue can be presented by brown leaves. Mr Barter said this is when the full impact of root damage makes itself visible above ground.

"Brown leaves can point to any underlying root weakness in the plant, from one that has been planted too deeply to older plants where the roots have become congested," the expert commented, adding: "Brown leaf season occurs most years, usually due to dry, windy or hot weather, but this year it is heavy rain that has done the damage."