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What to do in garden after big wet

Posted: 11am 31 May 2022

Gardens and lawns are feeling just as water-logged as we are and it’s showing with yellowing leaves, fungal issues and other signs of distress.

Redcliffe Garden Centre’s Sondra Grainger has some tips on what to do to help your garden and lawn recover.

“We all know that the garden normally looks fresh after a good burst of rain. It smells good and plants generally thrive because rain delivers nitrogen – a key component in chlorophyll – the greening ingredient,” Sondra explains.

“Rain drops capture dust in the air currents and propels it into the soil, and leaves are washed clean, helping them to “breathe”.

“However, when rain causes flooding many of these benefits are literally washed away. Too much water causes the leeching of nutrients from the soil, leaving plants starving and the soil deficient.

“Pollutants from floodwater can cause disease and rot, and carry chemicals and harmful bacteria.”

Sondra says the problems gardeners are likely to face depend on their soil type.

“Sandy soil will drain quickly, while clay can take weeks to dry out,” she says.

“Either way it’s essential to get ‘life’ back into your soil to replace nutrients and microbiology. Products such as Go Go Juice, Troforte and even Seasol all help microbial activity. Improve drainage by aerating heavy soils to allow oxygen to re-enter.

“Don’t forget your pot plants – fertilise or re-pot in fresh, high-quality mix as they too will be nutrient-deficient. Remove any damaged stems to give room for regrowth.”

Plants under pressure

Sondra says gardeners need to look for plants showing signs of distress such as the yellowing of leaves, losing leaves and black spots because fungal disease is more prevalent in wet, humid conditions.

“There are an array of fungicides and root rot products available from your local nursery,” she says.

If you have noticed fungi or mushrooms in your lawn or garden, don’t panic.

“This is a sign that your soil is alive with microbes and organisms – many will flourish after heavy rains. That’s just nature doing its thing,” Sondra says.

Jobs to do this week, or at the weekend

  • Check what sort of soil you’ve got. If you’ve got really sandy soil, all you need to do is add compost and some nutrients to it because obviously it would have drained really well.
  • If you’ve got a heavy or clay-based soil, you need to aerate it. Get out there with your spiky shoes or a pitch fork to help return some oxygen to the soil.
  • Once you’ve done that and your soil’s starting to dry out, you need to get microbial activity back into the soil. Add products such as Troforte or Go Go Juice – something that’s full of microbes.
  • If plants are dropping leaves, have yellowing leaves or black spot, you have fungal issues. Trim off sick-looking branches to remove disease but also encourage new growth.
  • Take these leaves or small branches to your local nursery in a zip-lock bag and get advice on how best to treat the problem plant.
  • Pruning will also help the air circulate around and through the plant and enable it to naturally recover from the big wet.

“With the humidity the way it’s been, anything that’s been tightly packed in and people have noticed there’s been more fungal activity around and more disease as well, little pests – caterpillars, grasshoppers all of those have been really prevalent this season,” Sondra says.

“The cooling of the temperature will actually help rid us of a lot of those little critters. Just doing a little bit of maintenance at this time of year and getting some food back into all those malnourished plants will certainly help.”

Plants most likely to need help

“Most native plants don’t like a lot of wet soil or ‘wet feet’, a lot of your beautiful little succulents – again their natural climate is to have dry and free-draining soil. Potted colour has also really struggled with rain hitting it and also just being too wet,” Sondra says.

“A lot of people have lost things like geraniums, lavendars – plants that really hate wet feet. You may need to even replace them, if they look that bad. Now’s a good time to plant anyway.”

What to do with your lawn

“People will also see the same problems with lawns – the yellowing of leaves, patches that are dying off,” Sondra says.

“Aerate and get your microbial activity happening again. Use Troforte, Go Go Juice and even Seasol.

“People have also had problems with petrols, oils, various other contaminants coming through, so it is important to have a look at your environment and what’s come through. There’s been raw sewage all sorts of things that can cause problems in the garden.

“Always wear a mask, gloves, glasses and anything that looks like a contaminant – wrap it up and bin it appropriately.”

For more ideas, visit the Redcliffe Garden Centre website

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