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Get ready to bloom

Before you revel in spring and summer warmth, there's preparatory garden work to be done.

There is a buzz in Melbourne gardens. Magnolias are blooming, heralding the end of winter and the beginning of spring. With above-average rainfall there is much to celebrate this spring and, to get the most out of your garden, now is the time to do final garden preparation.

Deciduous plants and trees will be showing bud swell and if you want to do last-minute pruning, now is the perfect time. Young trees should have lower branches removed if you want to encourage vertical growth. This also lets more light reach your shrubs. Look for branches that pose a threat to children's eyes. Retain lower branches if you want to slow vertical growth or create a privacy screen. Fertilise now in preparation for new growth. Dynamic Lifter is a great option and is best used before you mulch. Feed native plants with a specific native plant food.

Mulching will help keep weeds at bay and importantly will retain soil moisture in the hotter weather. Avoid large bark chips and recycled wood mulches that can draw nitrogen from the soil as they break down, causing plants to yellow.

Identify gaps in your planting. Some plants can be divided to fill spaces but it is worth investing in more plants to fill gaps, as this will reduce weeds and also help to keep soil and mulch cooler in summer. Full garden beds not only look better, they are better able to cope with summer heat. Planting gaps now will help plants settle in through spring before summer approaches. Identify areas that need shade and plant trees for summer canopy.

Drip-line irrigation can leak, causing wasted water. Test your irrigation and repair any breaks or leaking joins. You should not need to water your garden at all at the moment; monitor spring weather before increasing your irrigation cycle. Remember, you can water under stage-two guidelines.

Excitingly, the state government has announced the removal of entry fees to the Australian Garden at Cranbourne.

Get inspired about native plants and take the children to see the wildflowers bloom through spring.

Read full article at The Age >