A messy garden can mean all sorts of trouble: mess and fungus can harm your plants or pets, trash pileup can mean breeding grounds for pests, and, more than anything, your garden should be a place that makes you feel peaceful, which is much harder to do when things have gone a bit out of hand. With that in mind, here are some tips for how to keep your garden clean and tidy, healthy, and happy to be in.
Firstly, try to arrange your garden in a logical way. Take an afternoon to look at your garden regularly, noting which areas get the most regular hours of sunlight and which are the ones that end up shaded most of the day; which parts remain neat and tidy and which get flying trash and dead leaf build up.
Then, on a piece of paper, try to plot out a top-down view of your garden, like you would any other room in your house, and try to plan more efficiently how you can keep it more tidy. For example, if one end of your garden gets more sunlight than the other side, make sure that the sunny side gets watered more frequently than the shaded side, and that the shaded side does not end up with a buildup of water, which can encourage plant diseases and fungal growth.
If one side of your garden is tilted higher than the other, try to take into consideration how water and rubbish might end up gathering primarily at the lower end, which might require more maintenance than the other end. Once you have an idea of how your garden is to be laid out, you can then start taking steps to improve it gradually, in ways that include selecting appropriate vegetation and planning your watering and cleaning days accordingly.
2. Keep On Top Of It
As you go about your garden, make sure to take care of problems as they happen, rather than letting them resolve themselves. If trees or bushes have injured or diseases branches, consider pruning them early, since these weak spots can become areas for worse parasites or infections to infect your plant, and from that point travel to other plants.
3. Use Natural Insecticides
If you are wary of using pesticides to get rid of parasites and harmful insects, for fear of hurting beneficial insects, pollinators, or birds, there are ways of using local, more natural insecticides that have minimal harm to the earth or eco-system around you.
Diatomaceous earth, for example, is readily available at most hardware stores, and can be lightly sprinkled on or around plants that are suffering from parasitic insects, with the earth itself not being dangerous to anything but the insects themselves.
Diluted garlic or hot pepper water, misted onto plant leaves, can be a powerful deterrent to larger pests and vermin, especially around your leafy greens and vegetable gardens, and a carefully applied mixture of neem oil and dish soap – use as directed by the bottle – can be a good deterrent for harmful insects.
All of these methods preserve the health and beauty of your garden without creating lasting harm, which is what we all truly desire.
4. Keep A Compost Bin
During the fall especially, leaf litter can pile up. As leaves shed and fall, they can rot and become hiding spots for snakes or biting insects, which is no good if you have pets or children.
For this reason, consider making a small investment and creating a compost bin for your garden waste, including leaves, rotting vegetables, or even weeds that you’ve pulled out of your garden beds.
Once composted fully, this leaf litter and garden waste can then be repurposed to make your garden even more beautiful than before, by being used as a manure!
Different compounds take different periods of time to decompose fully, so make sure that the manure is ready to be used before you start spreading it, and consider introducing a small colony of worms to your compost bin. Worms in your garden are a wonderful addition anyway, as they make the ground healthy and happy, and also rejoin the circle of life by being a food source to your local birds.
5. Plant With A Plan
When planting your gardens plants, plan accordingly with each one’s needs.
Some plants, like mint, are highly competitive, and should best be kept in pots, so that their greedy roots do not take all the nutrients from other plants. Other plants might need different soil acidity, or more nutrients than other plants.
Planning and placing your plants with ample space and room to grow so that they do not compete with each other is better for the long term, since healthy plants do not spread diseases to one another, and promote a healthier, more beautiful garden on the long term.
All in all, the key to a beautiful, clean, tidy and peaceful garden is to plan ahead and stick to it. Having a small map for future plans is always helpful, but if you’d like a more spontaneous gardening style, simply make sure that you are thinking ahead for the long-term benefits.
Having things like a compost bin, methods for getting rid of insects without harming the earth your plants feed on, and knowing which plants you’d like to plant and where, are all good preparatory steps to making sure the garden cleans itself, and that your job in the garden is less strenuous and more constructive.