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Gardening: How to maintain your garden and help it thrive

Gardening: How to maintain your garden and help it thrive


Maintaining and caring for your home landscape is essential to ensure it remains a vibrant and inviting extension of your living space. The following are some key maintenance and seasonal care tips to keep your garden flourishing.


Regular watering of your plants, shrubs and trees is important, especially during dry spells or high temperatures. Watering frequency will depend on variables such as plant species, prevailing weather, soil type and the size of the plant.

Aim to water your plants early in the morning, ideally before 10am. This gives the foliage time to dry during the day, thus mitigating disease risk. Evening watering can also be feasible, but it is essential to modulate the water volume to avert diseases from lingering dampness.

Employing a gentle spray attachment for your hose is advisable, as it allows you to regulate the water flow and direction. Constant monitoring of soil moisture levels is crucial. A simple test, involving digging an inch deep near the base of the plant, can provide guidance: if the soil is dry, water; if moist, wait for a while to avoid over-watering and potential root rot.


Stay vigilant for weeds as they compete with your plants for nutrients and water. Use practical removal methods like hand-pulling or employing specialised weeding tools.

Additionally, mulching can be a beneficial practice in controlling weed growth, preserving soil moisture and minimising soil temperature fluctuations.

Regular pruning of plants will stimulate healthy growth.Regular pruning of plants will stimulate healthy growth.


Organic mulch, such as coco fibre, can be applied around your plants to retain soil moisture, suppress weed growth and reduce water evaporation.

Ensure the mulch layer is a few inches thick but not piled against the plant stems, which can lead to rot. Over time, the mulch will decompose, enhancing the soil structure and nutrients, so it is essential to replenish the mulch layer usually once or twice a year.

Pruning and trimming

Regular pruning and trimming of your plants are vital to maintain their shape and stimulate healthy growth. Investing in quality tools such as bypass pruners for small branches, loppers for thicker ones, and pruning saws for larger branches is worthwhile. Pruning should be a mindful process.

Begin by removing any dead, damaged or diseased branches. Then, address overgrown or crossing branches, and thin out dense foliage to enhance airflow and light penetration. It is important to step back periodically to assess the overall shape and appearance of the plant.

Use proper pruning techniques, making cuts just above a leaf node or bud at a 45-degree angle to avoid leaving stubs that can invite diseases. Dispose of pruned materials appropriately: composting healthy materials and discarding diseased or infested ones. Avoid over-pruning to prevent stressing the plant.


Plants require a regular supply of essential nutrients, best provided through fertilisers.

Different plants have distinct fertilising needs, so follow the instructions on the fertiliser packaging for application rates, timing and method.

Both organic or chemical fertilisers can be effective, but organic options offer additional benefits like improving soil structure and enhancing long-term soil health.

Spread the fertiliser evenly around the plant, avoiding contact with leaves or stems to prevent burning, and water lightly afterwards. Monitor your plants’ health; if you observe signs of nutrient deficiencies or excessive growth, adjust your fertilising routine accordingly. It is always safer to under- than over-fertilise.

Pest control

Monitoring your plants for signs of pests or diseases is crucial. Identify the specific culprits and apply suitable organic or chemical treatments. Indications of damage may encompass leaf holes, chewed foliage, discoloured patches or visible insects. Traps, particularly sticky tapes, are effective for airborne pests. Organic controls like neem oil and insecticidal soap sprays can be used to tackle common pests like aphids, mites and whiteflies.

Use chemical pesticides as a last resort, and opt for low-toxicity and selective types to minimise harm to beneficial insects and the environment. Always adhere strictly to the instructions on the pesticide label and ensure its secure storage.

Regular checks and general maintenance

An essential aspect of successful gardening is continuous observation and vigilance. Regularly inspecting your plants can help catch potential issues early before they escalate into significant problems. Alongside this, regular garden clean-ups and good hygiene practices contribute to maintaining a healthy landscape. Removing fallen leaves and debris prevents the breeding of pests and diseases, while rotating crops can prevent the accumulation of plant-specific pathogens.

If you are unsure about any specific gardening tasks or techniques, seek professional advice. With a bit of time, patience and the right knowledge, you can maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape throughout the year.

Dr Sarah Baharudin is a senior lecturer at the Dept of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia.

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