Archive of: Landscaping and Outdoor Building
How Much Do You Expect to Pay for a Professional Gardener?
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Often when we first design and put in a garden the enthusiasm is there in bucket loads, but for some of us either it begins to wane over time, or we just don’t have enough hours in the day to maintain it. If you are finding that you can no longer keep up with your garden, it might be time to look at getting in some professional help to keep it in good shape for you. One of the most frequently heard questions that we are asked at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre is what will a professional gardener do and how much would you expect to pay.
Services Offered by Gardeners
Depending on what level of gardening you want, there are many different services offered by gardeners that can include designing, landscaping and maintaining the whole garden for you. This can also include installing retaining walls, pavers and water sprinkler systems. If you simply want a gardener to come in on a regular basis and maintain the existing garden with weeding and clearing away refuse, that service is also available. Getting clear about exactly what you are seeking beforehand and what work needs to be done, will give you an idea about what you are going to be asking for.
Cost of Gardeners
Depending on what work you need done, prices can vary around $30 per hour for basic, semi-skilled labourers to do mowing, weeding, clearing and mulching. For professional garden services that are hired on a contract basis, usually the cost can be anywhere from $60 to $80 per hour. Often if there is a specific job that needs doing such as removing trees or installing a retaining wall, this will often be quoted as a flat rate, on a job by job basis. Talk to the staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for information about local gardeners’ referrals or information relating to what you might expect to pay for particular jobs.
What to Look for When Hiring a Gardener
Remember that when you hire a gardener you are essentially inviting them to come into your personal space, so you will want to choose someone who is trustworthy. If a gardener turns up for a job late, without the required safety gear, lacking in tools or generally causing you to question their work ethics, it might be a good idea to look somewhere else. There are some pertinent questions you can ask while you are on the phone booking them to ascertain whether they are the appropriate person before you give them the address. What services do you provide? Do you have insurance? How long will the job take? Can you provide a written quote? Do you have any references?
Organic Gardening as a Business
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With what we understand today about many of the practices of mainstream farming, we are aware that there are often several chemicals used in the production and growing of many of the fruits and vegetables we buy. It is for this reason that a growing number of people are changing to choosing organic produce in an effort to reduce the amount of toxins that we absorb into our bodies. This means that even the smallest organic growers now have the opportunity to sell their produce, whether in large amounts, or simply at smaller markets, or to neighbours and friends.
Before you start, it is a good idea to put some thought into what produce you would like to grow. This will mean working out what is sustainable for the amount of land that you have, as well as the climate where the plants will be growing. You may also want to take into account the other local growers in your area. Investigate whether you can fill a niche that they are not fulfilling with their own produce. It is also important to factor in how much time you are prepared to put into your growing business. Some crops will require more from you, while others such as squash, sunflowers and corn will practically take care of themselves as long as you keep the weeds down.
How to Grow
Organic farming is all about reducing the amount of chemicals used in the soil, by using natural ways of keeping weeds down, reducing pests and cultivating crops. Choosing your growing method for organic produce means doing some research and working out how you want to go about doing it. There are different methods involved for keeping pests at bay. One such method involves growing specific companion plants that invite good pests in to eat the ones that will destroy your crops. Do as much research as possible to find out what will work for you, as well as how to go about achieving success. Different plants will need different nutrients so ensure that the crop you are growing is getting everything it needs for optimal health of the plant and the best yield possible.
Where to Sell
If you live in rural areas, the honesty box outside your house is still a popular choice for selling organic produce, as well as farmers’ markets. Many cities and suburban areas now have organic farmers’ markets on weekends, which provide a perfect opportunity to sell all your tasty, chemical free produce to happy customers who will keep coming back.
When to Plant
Research the plants that you are thinking of growing, and the season that you want to grow them in, to ensure that the conditions will be the best for them. The moon planting guide is an excellent resource for knowing what to plant and when, so pick up a chart and follow it as a guide for the best times of the year for particular produce. Don’t forget to talk with other organic farmers whom you will find are an invaluable source of information, and stop by the Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre to talk to us about what we know about organic gardening practices.
Design Your Own Garden With the Right Gardening Tools
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There was once a time when we did everything ourselves because that was the only way things would get done. Then, over time, as we got busy it became common place to always get a professional in to do work around our home that we need done. We believed that this was the only way to get the job done, but with some things this not always the case. If we have the right tools, we are able to do just as fantastic a job without the hefty price tag that accompanies getting someone else to do it and with the added joy of having done it ourselves.
Computer Garden Design Programs
The DIY movement has made it a lot easier for people to design and landscape their own gardens without needing to get a professional in to do the work. One tool that will be invaluable for the owner who wants a hands-on approach is a design program that you can use on your computer to plan your ideas and work out exactly what you want. It can take you through the whole process, step by step, allowing you to design and build your perfect garden.
Let’s face it, if you’ve got money to burn, there are a lot of different tools you can buy for working on your garden, and if you have space to keep all your gadgets safe and the money to purchase them, go ahead and do it. But often a lot of the things that are advertised are not needed, and will be more likely to be used once and left to collect dust in your shed. But before you go out and spend your cash buying the latest gadgets let’s have a look at some of the tools that you really need, starting with a wheelbarrow. A wheelbarrow will be invaluable for you in moving things around your garden, so make sure you have one of these.
Spade and Hoe
A spade is another tool that you cannot live without if designing and building your garden. It can be used not only to shovel dirt, but is great for churning up the garden beds and turning them over. A hoe is another important tool that will assist you with breaking up hard dirt and allowing air into the soil.
Without water, your garden will not survive, so ensure that you have a good long hose with an adjustable nozzle, to ensure that you can get water to those hard to reach places. Having some sort of hanging storage device for keeping your hosepipe in order, will help to keep it out of the sun when you are not using it, and also prevent it from getting tangled.
At Bacchus Marsh and Redgum Garden Centre, we know all about designing gardens, and what tools you will need, so if you have any questions about tools, plants or design ideas, stop by and have a chat with one of our experienced staff.
Aesthetic And Functional Benefits Of Using Natural Materials In Landscaping
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If you are looking to landscape your property and are considering what materials to use, choosing natural materials can be an aesthetically pleasing and functional way to approach landscaping. During recent years, permaculture principles have become an important part of gardening for people everywhere, and there are definitely advantages in going the natural way and saving you money, while providing a natural look for your garden.
Utilise the Existing Lay of the Land
Permaculture principles guide us to mimic nature when planning how we will utilise the land that we are landscaping. This means using what is there, and adding to it, rather than completely overhauling the land and starting from the beginning. There may be a gorgeous old tree that could become a feature of your property, adding colour and life to the landscape of your natural garden.
Using natural materials can really reduce costs. An example is with the use of water. A key element in natural landscaping is the addition of a water feature of some sort. Having water as an aspect of the landscape design mirrors the surrounding areas but often can be costly if using pumps; these can break down and need repair. One way to reduce costs by using natural materials in your water feature is through planting natural biofilters around your water feature, as an alternative to pumps. To do this you would have gravel beds with indigenous plants to self-cleanse the water to reduce algae. If you have trees that need to be cut down, these can be chipped to provide valuable cover for maintaining moisture in garden beds.
Attract More Flora and Fauna
Using natural materials in your landscaping attracts more flora and fauna to make your garden their home, which assists with maintaining the natural ecosystem. Native plants will attract more birds and bees to your garden, which serves an important function for pollinating all sorts of different plants, including your vegetables. As you will notice when you visit Bacchus Marsh and Redgum Garden Centre, the more natural your garden is, the more you will want to be there relaxing and enjoying it.
Humans are becoming more conscious of their impact upon the world they live in, with sustainability being an important part of decision making processes. Using natural materials in landscaping is a far reaching decision that allows for more sustainable practices beyond your own garden, and into the wider world.
Pros And Cons Of Maintaining Real Grass In Your Garden
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Have you ever looked at yards that have concrete throughout, or pebbles, instead of real grass and wondered why? Whether knowingly, or just as a fluke, these people have avoided the maintenance issues that come with real grass, but it is not for everyone.
For some of us, the opportunity to lie down and relax on our own piece of fresh, green, living grass makes the maintenance issues worth all the while. If you still haven’t made up your mind about which works best for you, read on for some of the pros and cons of maintaining real grass in your garden.
Maintaining Green Grass is Not Exactly a Green Choice
When you add up the environmental impact of maintaining a live lawn, the cost to the environment is actually a lot more than one might imagine. The amount of water that a hungry living lawn consumes, especially in dry weather, is huge. Lawns don’t stay green if they are not watered, so expect to be watering yours at least every few days, otherwise you might come home and find it dead.
On top of the cost of watering it, the amount of trimming, mowing and blowing that is done, often with fuel guzzling machinery really puts a dent in your personal carbon footprint. Additionally, if you choose to use chemicals to combat the dreaded bindis, clover or other ‘grass pests’, you will most likely be poisoning the groundwater for many years to come.
Conversely, Living Lawns Look and Feel Great
Have you ever spotted a lush piece of grass that inspires you to take off your shoes and walk on it? This is the upside of having a living lawn, which you will never be able to appreciate with the alternatives, such as fake grass or concrete. There are ways around the environmental impacts that we have already discussed. Firstly, instead of using tap water to water your lawn, you could use recycled or bore water, which is actually a clever way of utilising the grey water that you have.
In terms of fertilising and keeping your lawn looking its best, there are organic methods for combating lawn pests such as bindis and clover, although they will not work as effectively as the chemicals at the hardware store. If you are set on having a lovely living lawn to walk on, there are ways of making it lower maintenance, so do your research and if all else fails come and talk to one of our friendly team at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.
What Is the Ideal Soil for Gardening All Year Around?
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Knowing your soil is an important part of getting your garden right, from the word go. There are many different types of soil, each with their own qualities and attributes that make them perfect for some things but not others. Depending on where you live, and the climate that you experience during the changing seasons, the various soils can have a different affect on how plants grow. Some soils are smaller in particle size, which helps them to hold water, while others are larger and the water drains straight through. The best soil to use for gardening all around is a combination of soils.
Different Soil Types
Sandy soil drains rapidly because of its large particles so it cannot hold water very well, which means that your young seedlings would not get enough water. Silty soil holds water very well, which would be great for your plants but it does not drain well so using this for gardening could cause problems with too much moisture.
Clay soil drains well and is rich in plant food but it becomes too dry during the warmer months of the year. Peaty soil has high water content and is rich in organic matter, but again, it can become too dry during the warmer weather. Saline soil has a high salt content which can stop the plants from being able to take in water, and can cause leaf burn, especially on the younger leaves.
The Winner Is…
Loam soil is the ideal soil for gardening all year around because of its high nutrient content and its ability to drain easily. Gardeners love this soil because it has just the right combinations of elements to be perfect for growing plants. Loam soil is made up of a balance of silty soil, sandy soil and clay soil. It is high in calcium and pH, and holds water but also drains well.
Loam soil is of a darker colour and has a crumbly consistency. If you don’t have loam soil in your garden, you can condition the soil that you do have by adding nutrients, layering compost over the top or spraying the plants’ leaves with a compost spray. For more information about the ideal soil for your garden talk to us at Bacchus Marsh and Redgum Garden Centre next time you stop by.
Rising to the Challenge of Gardening in a Dry Climate
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Keeping a garden beautiful and thriving in our part of the world has always been a challenge. Even though we have devastating floods and periods of prolonged wet weather that periodically fill our reservoir systems, our droughts when they arrive are long and punishing. As a result, water conservation is always a priority.
Inexpensive Ways to have a Beautiful Garden in a Dry Climate
In times of extremely dry weather, preserving lawns and gardens are at the end of a long list of public water needs. Extended water restrictions mean that only drought-tolerant plants, or gardens established using water-saving principles, will survive. Rainwater tanks and grey-water recycling systems are excellent resources that conserve millions of litres of water nationally every year, but there are also other, less expensive ways to have a lovely garden in a dry climate.
We have a range of landscaping and other materials that will help water-wise gardeners plan and establish a backyard environment they can be proud of. From a variety of soils to decorative rocks and mulches, Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre has products and experienced staff to assist you to create a garden that will thrive in all conditions.
Green Lawns are High Maintenance – Keep them Small
Reducing the size of existing or planned lawn areas will give immediate results in terms of water conservation. An area of plants uses less water than the same area of lawn. We suggest replacing some lawn with hard surfaces like concrete or pavers, which can be made to look attractive with some imaginative use of coloured pebbles. Adding drought-tolerant plants will also provide additional colour.
Group Like Plants Together to Save Water
You will save water if you split your garden into watering zones, grouping plants with the same watering requirements together. This ensures that water is not wasted on drought-tolerant plants that have been located in the same beds as those needing regular watering.
Drip Watering for Efficiency and Water Savings
We also recommend the use of drip-watering systems. They are the most effective way to deliver moisture directly to the root systems and the least wasteful. Other systems throw water into the air where wind-drift can carry droplets away from the target area. Also, there is little or no wastage through run-off with drip-watering.
Mulch for Weed and Water Control
The effective use of mulch reduces evaporation and sees that the scarce and valuable water you put into your garden remains there to nurture your plants. The thicker the mulch the less water that is lost to evaporation. Mulch also reduces weed growth which is important as weeds also use water.
There are other methods that involve expensive equipment for large gardens, but for a small suburban space, these techniques are effective and go a long way to conserving our most precious resource.
Is Your Garden Bland? Increase The Interest Level With Natural Materials
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For centuries, gardens have been created to enhance the appearance of homes and buildings, large and small. From well-planned, formal and structured to rambling and free-spirited, gardens have been a very visual way of expressing creativity and providing a natural environment for us to enjoy.
Gardens Need More Than Plants to be Interesting
Regardless of the types of garden we all have, there is always room for improvement. An attractive garden isn’t just about what plants or shrubs we have planted, but about the overall appearance and the ambiance that it creates. To get the right look and feel for a particular area or climate, gardeners often include ponds, water features, seating areas and other interesting items such as pebbles and rocks.
In fact, the use of landscaping materials like rocks of various sizes, polished river pebbles and natural stone has given the modern garden an extra dimension. Careful placement of these pieces offer a contrast between their stark beauty and the soft and colourful effect of flowers and foliage.
Stones, Rocks and Pebbles Mirror the Natural Environment
Customers of Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre see our range of decorative rocks and many of them return with sketches of their gardens. They can choose from three sizes of Tuscan pebbles and granite, and a range of scoria, white pebbles, rainbow rock, river rock and lightweight rock. Our friendly staff are always on hand to offer advice on the best type of rocks for the designs they have sketched.
Japanese Gardens – Peaceful Perfection
While rocks and pebbles have always been a part of garden designs in most parts of the world, it was the Japanese who brought their appreciation of rocks and their placement to the Western world. A walk through a genuine Japanese garden is a path to tranquility. There are no excesses of colour or mixing of styles or anything that is out of place.
Every piece is placed carefully to complement its surroundings and every rock serves the purpose of creating a three-dimensional picture individual to each garden. Placement is vital and great care is taken, especially with large rocks, to give the impression that they have been naturally dispersed in a random fashion. The effect is one of balance and harmony.
The Best of Both Worlds Together in Harmony
Home gardeners have incorporated the best of these ideas into their creations, with waterfalls, pebble gardens, statues and ponds all featuring alongside our lovely native plants. The natives attract our beautiful birds and the local wildlife find the rocks, pebbles and other landscaping materials a great place to hide from predators.
If you want a space like this in your back yard, we have all the rocks, pebbles and natural materials you need.
Solve Watering Problems By Knowing Your Plants
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Getting just the right amount of water into their plants to keep them healthy and growing has always been a challenge for most gardeners. We have all been guilty at some time of over-watering and having a favourite plant die from drowning, or finding a wilting plant, remembering too late that it was some time since it received any water.
Is there a Secret to Successful Garden Watering?
So what is the secret? Well, there is no secret, but the answer is a frustrating one – it depends. Knowing how often to water your plants means that you must also know what type of plants you have, as the watering requirements will differ from one type to another. It also means that you need to know how well your soil retains moisture.
If you are new to gardening, our staff members at Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre are happy to recommend a range of mulches that will assist to keep the soil in your garden moist. We also have top soil, sandy loam, triple mix and mushroom compost and they will help you choose which is best for your particular needs.
Soil and Moisture Balance Only Half the Story
Getting the soil and moisture balance right, however, is only half the story. Mulches, for example, reduce evaporation especially in the summer months, so that the water used on the garden stays in the soil longer than it would without mulch. However, if regular watering is not done, the soil will still eventually dry up, with the obvious adverse effects on the plants.
A Regular Light Sprinkle or a Once-a-Week Deluge?
The number of times a week that watering should be done depends on the season, the location and the types of plants in the garden. Hardy plants native to the area may only need watering once a week. Also think about how long the watering takes. Are you only giving the garden a light sprinkle or a lengthy watering that penetrates the soil to a reasonable depth?
Most gardening experts recommend the latter for a couple of reasons. Doing a lengthy watering once a week uses less water than a light sprinkle three or four times and is much more effective. Installing an automatic trickle watering system when constructing a new garden is another way to make watering easy, and take out the guesswork.
Still Confused? A Pebble Garden and Succulents could be the Answer
We supply a range of pebbles to customers with small garden areas who like the modern look of pebble gardens filled with succulents. These require minimal watering and the pebbles act as a barrier to evaporation in the same way as mulch does. Whatever type of garden you decide to create, getting the right plants for the right location will solve the watering problems at the outset.
A Simple Solution To Garden Maintenance
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Many home owners these days are busy with work, family and other interests that make this the most time-poor generation in history. The days when gardening was a favourite pursuit for most people are long gone. Lazy weekends tending to garden beds have been replaced by frenetic activities such as driving children to and from sport, shopping and catching up with friends.
Too Busy to Garden? Let Someone Else Do It
This change in work/life balance, while being unwelcome for those affected, has seen a big demand for other people to do their household tasks, including gardening. Rather than sit back and watch their neat gardens and yards become a tangled mess, ultra-busy home-owners are hiring professional gardeners.
We have become aware of this trend over the past few years, as more and more professional gardeners are now regular customers of ours. They enjoy the convenience of pulling into our yard at the Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre on their way to a job, and loading up with the things they need.
Extra Time – Fun Weekends
For home owners, there are several advantages to handing over the care of their lawns and gardens to professionals. The most obvious one is the extra time they have to spend with family and friends, or enjoying other activities. They can look forward to the weekend with excitement, have fun doing something interesting and start the working week refreshed and relaxed.
Professional gardeners also know the types of plants that are suitable for the local areas where they work. They identify shrubs that are struggling, not because of lack of care, but because they are just unsuitable for the location. When they replace these with something that will thrive naturally, they are saving the owners time and money trying to keep plants alive that will always struggle.
Clean ups, Rubbish Removal and Re-landscaping
Landscaping features like bird baths, fountains, statues and rocks can become shabby over time, needing cleaning, painting or relocating to another spot in the garden. A professional gardener will remove anything that is beyond saving and dispose of it to local council requirements. Pruning shrubs, lopping tree branches and other infrequent tasks can also be negotiated with a professional.
Lawns Mowed – Pests Despatched
Professional gardeners do much more than just mow lawns. They also keep garden pests and plant diseases under control through regular inspections, cutting back infested areas, and dealing with major outbreaks. Because this is their livelihood, they know the best products to use while being careful of the environmental and health effects.
Home owners who have experienced the advantages of having a professional look after their yards tell us that they now enjoy their weekends. They still drop in to buy something new that has caught their eye, but they leave the item for the gardener to install or plant.