Managing Your Garden - Knowing What to do and taking Control

by Jo-Anne Hilliar

Managing Your Garden with STIHL

Regular maintenance keeps your garden at its full potential and keeps you aware of your garden's progress.





  • Water when evaporation is minimal such as in the late afternoon, 3 times a week or every second day depending on rainfall.
  • Move sprinklers approximately every 30 minutes. Beware of water being wasted on useless areas such as walls or paving.
  • Make use of time and water saving irrigation systems.



  • Compost every 12 weeks – 60dm bag of compost per 8m².
  • Spread evenly over surface of soil, ensuring coverage under low-height groundcovers.
  • Turn lightly with a fork.
  • Water thoroughly afterwards.
  • Fertiliser – use a reputable organic granular fertiliser in between compost applications to assist in healthy plant growth.
  • Pruning
  • Can be done at various times of the year – winter is a good time.
  • Cutting back indigenous plants encourages bushing.
  • Remove deadwood and untidy branches.
  • Trim back groundcovers to discourage invasiveness.
  • All year upliftment of middle storey planting i.e. shrubs will ensure good understorey coverage.


A suggested monthly maintenance programme includes:

  • Removal of weeds
  • Turning of soil
  • Propagate groundcovers in empty spaces
  • Check on shrub progression
  • Tidy edges
  • Remove dead leaves
  • Clean birdbaths
  • Cut back overgrown shrubs
  • Apply insecticides / pesticides – only if necessary
  • Make your own compost – use dead plant material and grass trimmings.

A garden is an ever-changing, dynamic environment and because it is alive consider the following activities:

Officially spring starts in September; gardens are suddenly filled with blossoms and bulbs. Along with the new life in the garden there is a marked increase in the insect life in the garden. It is important to look out for pest damage to plants and take steps to deter them. Use organic methods where possible as insects are a part of the cycle of the garden. Keeping plants healthy and well fed will increase their resistance.

Plant any new shrubs and trees as well as fill up gaps where plants might have died in the winter. Increase watering, to prolong the display of delicate spring blossoms.

Frost damaged shrubs can be cut back and tidied. Groundcovers can be propagated now, take cuttings or split them where possible and fill up beds that look sparse. Feeding is extremely important now, use organic fertilizers and well-rotted compost for the best results.

Lawns should be spiked to aerate them and fed with a recommended fertilizer. Keep the bed soil aerated by turning the soil regularly. Towards the middle of summer you may need to lightly prune trees and shrubs to reshape them. Once rains begin and you have been composting, weeds will begin to appear. If your beds are fully planted with groundcovers, this will help to stifle the weeds before they make an appearance. Regular maintenance in these months will pay dividends in years to come as well as help to keep the garden manageable.

Use some fallen leaves as mulch in beds to keep the soil warm and discourage the growth of weeds. Start to decrease the frequency of feeding plants. Cut back faded perennials and start to plan your spring garden. If you do not get early frost then you can prune back shrubs that have finished flowering. In April and May you can plant your winter and spring flowering bulbs.

Keep shrubs and trees tidy by cutting back dead wood but take care not to cut next summers' buds.

The goal of any serious gardener is to have an overall pleasing garden that looks good for as long as possible throughout the year.  Achieving this amazing feat is not just luck but hard work and cannot be done without care. This comes from an accumulation of knowledge learned more often than not through trial and error.
Written by Jo-Anne Hilliar Landscape Design Consultants Tel: 031 266 4650

Jo-Anne Hilliar Jo-Anne Hilliar

Jo-Anne Hilliar
Landscape Design Consultant
Tel.: 046 624 1429
E-mail: Send e-mail