Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rebuilding the Rockery

About 2 years ago after I’d finished building the sleepout the rockery at the entrance to the garden was looking a real mess. It had already been falling apart slowly over the years since I first built it, but when I ran underground cabling to the sleepout, which went under the rockery, it fell apart even more. So I decided to get stuck in and fix it.
(See my post about how I originally created this area of the garden here).

I started with the rockery on the right hand side. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to fall apart again so easily so I used a good amount of concrete plaster to make it nice and strong, something I didn't do so well last time.

Once I got the right hand rockery finished off I filled it with garden mix ready to plant out.

Before I fixed the one on the left I decided to fix up the paving between the rockery and the steps going down to the sleep out. I’d been wanting to do this for some time and had in mind a way of tying it in with the overall design.

I filled the main area of the path with concrete and exposed the aggregate on the surface to create a non-slip finish. Into the concrete I set 3 slabs of blue stone rock. I was really pleased with how this little piece of path turned out. In the mean time I was getting a bit impatient and decided to plant out the right hand rockery. As you can see, I decided to go for a tropical theme.

This all took place around the same time I transplanted a medium sized Bangalow palm in the small garden next to the lower steps (see my post about that here)

So, it was now time to focus on the left hand rockery. By now the job had taken several months as I was just fitting it in around other tasks. I only worked on it when I had extra time and was in a patient mood.

Once I got all the stones in place and the pointing between them was done it was time to fill it with garden mix and to think about what I was going to plant.

In keeping with the tropical theme, I had another bungalow palm which I had temporarily put in a large pot. I also had a few Clivias growing in various places around my garden which I decided to transplant. Using these would save me spending any more money. Clivias are very easy to divide up and produce a wonderful display of colour in the spring. They grow really well, even in the shade.

So finally, after several months I got it to a point where it’s all repaired and planted out and it’s now quite pleasant walking through this area...

The tropical theme seems to be working pretty well through this part of the garden now...

Shame about the weeds growing between the pavers, which is an ongoing issue as I prefer not to spray them.

Eventually I’d like to replace the pavers with solid concrete the same way as I exposed the aggregate on the little path at the bottom. But that probably won’t happen any time soon. In the mean time I'll probably just keep using the weed eater to control them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Garden Mix, Potting Mix & Soil Rejuvenation

A visit to the local landscape supplies yard has become like an annual pilgrimage for me at this time of year. Spring has finally arrived and when the sun finally comes out I’m usually always itching to get outside and get a few jobs done.

I often buy compost in 40litre bags to supplement my home-made efforts which costs about $5 a bag, but buying in bulk is much better value especially if you’ve got a few bigger jobs in mind to do. So in case you’re wondering why I have to buy it when I talk so much about making my own, the point is, I find my efforts at making compost are still not producing as much as I need for those bigger jobs.

So I got a half metre each of compost and garden mix which cost $114. They both look much the same because the garden mix has a certain amount of compost already in it, but you can plant directly into it. The compost on the other hand, is a much stronger mix and shouldn’t be planted into directly, but it’s great for rejuvenating the soil.

In addition to the 2 trailer loads of ‘soil’ I stopped in at Bunnings and got an 8kg bag of coarse pumice ($14) which can be added to the garden mix to make it more suitable for potting. The pumice helps to improve drainage and it also helps to aerate the soil.

While I was about it I couldn’t resist this bright pink Azalea which reminded me of one I had some time ago but which died on me. This was in an 8cm pot and cost about $9. So this was my first little potting job using this new mix.

I’ve got a few other jobs planned too, but more about that later.


From an economics point of view the photo below shows 4 x 40litre bags of compost next to my bulk compost which cost $57 — half of the $114 I paid in total. The bags cost $5 each so if you can imagine a pile 2.8 times this size, that would cost the equivalent of $57 the same as what I paid for the bulk mix. Based on this estimate the bulk mix works out about half the price or a little bit more. 

This isn’t as good a value as I recall from 20 odd years ago but it still works out cheaper than the bagged stuff and well worth buying it this way if you’ve got a few bigger jobs to do. 

A 40 litre bag of potting mix costs between $10-20/bag depending on the quality, so buying it by the bag can be expensive, especially if you need several bags. That’s why I buy a load of bulk mix every year.