Spring has inspired me to get my not so green thumb out and share some top tips on planting in dry and sandy conditions from my expert friends at Bondi Ecogardens
Living on the coast has many benefits – gorgeous sea breezes, summers spent splashing around in your extended ocean backyard, and that happy permanent holiday feeling you get from the smell of the ocean. However, for those with a green thumb, the double whammy of sandy soils and harsh sunlight can make planting a lush, inspiring garden very challenging.
We moved into our Bondi semi just over three years ago and since then I’ve managed to kill pretty much everything in our tiny, sun-soaked back yard (I even managed to over-water a small cactus…thankfully my daughter has reached the age of two in pretty good health so far).
Before the remainder of my plants wilt and die this summer, I decided to catch up with the gardening experts at Ecogardens in Bondi to discover their top tips for planting in sandy soils and harsh sunlight so that I can finally enjoy the little patch of green that I’ve been dreaming of.
Suffering with sandy soils?
According to the team at Ecogardens, Australian Natives such as the Westringia (a type of shrub), Lomandra (a spiky herb) and the Blueberry Ash (a large shrub or tree that can grow up to 15m high) are very well suited to sandy soils.
They also recommend planting Indian Hawthorn, Yucca and Agave (in fact pretty much all succulents love the conditions that we have here in Bondi). To help these hardy plants to thrive in their sandy beds, Ecogardens recommend using plenty of organic matter and soil improvers such as compost. You should also layer the garden beds with regular applications of mulch such as pea straw, and introduce a seaweed based liquid fertiliser (such as Seasol) as this will hep with drought resistance and overall health.
Permanently parched by full sun?
When it comes to planting in full sun, it seems that succulents come up trumps again, but you can also try the following plants:
- Indian Hawthorn (an evergreen shrub with pretty flowers),
- Murraya (a flowering plant from the citrus family) and
- The very stylish edging favourite, Japanese Box
If you have a big space to fill, you can introduce some native Xanthorrhea grass trees (there are over 30 different species to choose from, including the eye-catching ‘Black Boy’) or try one of these lovelies:
- Flowering Magnolia Little Gem tree (which will add some delightful white flowers to your garden)
- Magnolia Teddy Bear (an evergreen tree, dense in appearance that grows up to 4m)
- Blueberry Ash (a large shrub or tree which can grow up to 15m and has gorgeous pink flowers and berries)
Ecogardens also recommend adding seaweed based fertiliser to help with drought resistance in conjunction with more nourishing fertiliser such as Blood & Bone at each change of season. A good layer of mulch will help to keep the roots cool in the warmer weather, and they advocate using the best quality potting or soil mix you can as these will have the best water holding capacity and superior nourishment for the plants.
More often than not, it seems to be over-watering that leads to plant deaths in my garden. I learnt that I should be undertaking ‘deep watering’ (feeding water deep into the roots through the use of a drip line or irrigation system) once or twice a week to encourage the roots to grow deeper into the soil. Apparently using the correct mulch and seaweed fertilisers/ tonics will also be of assistance as this will protect the soil from drying out.
When it comes to succulents, a deep soak into the soil once a week should be enough.
Loving low maintenance
If you’re looking to plant a low maintenance garden (me, me, me!!), Ecogardens recommend introducing the following to your space:
- For trees or larger plants: Magnolia Little Gem or Blueberry Ash
- Smaller shrubs: Murraya or Japanese Box
- For a splash of colour: Dipladena or flowering Agave
I was also told that I could choose between classic Geraniums (which have a long flowering season) or seasonal potted Petunias, Pansies and Marigolds to brighten up sunny areas in the garden (although I may need to keep a bit more of an eye on them than the Dipladena or Agave, which may rule them out for me!).
Ecogardens is located at 2/28 Curlewis Street, Bondi Beach (you can follow their lovely Instagram feed via @ecogardensbondi).
I can’t wait to get a bit more life and colour in this little postage stamp garden of mine!
Tracey @ What’s New Bondi xx