A CHANGE OF SEASONS
23 Aug 2011
As autumn welcomes the cooler months, it's the best time of the year to get out into the garden and perform all those clean-up jobs around your entertaining areas
A change of seasons
As autumn welcomes the cooler months, it’s the best time of the year to get out into the garden and perform all those clean-up jobs around your entertaining areas
By Diane Norris
You can start planning ahead for those stunning spring flower displays and do the much-needed tidying up around your yard after the hot summer days.
Summer is without doubt the season when most activity in your outdoor rooms and spaces happens. Outdoor rooms, pool surrounds and entertaining areas have had a good workout during the warmer months and will be in need of maintenance. Barbecue splatters, food stains, leaves and general traffic grime will need to be attended to. Autumn is the perfect time to get stuck into it and replenish for the upcoming year.
For many years, various forms of segmental pavers have been used in outdoor rooms, patios and for pool surrounds. The surest way to guarantee good maintenance is by selecting the right product for the right application and have it installed correctly. Maintenance is vital. Leaf matter left for prolonged periods in time will stain pavers. Continual maintenance during the autumn months can help to prevent this. Frequent sweeping with a sturdy broom or employing a garden blower will help keep them shipshape during summer, but during autumn a good, regular going-over is key.
Pavers and pool surrounds can be made like new with high-pressure cleaners, as can driveways, roofs, brickwork and cement. High-pressure cleaners work by drawing water in and ejecting it out under presser through a lance. They connect to your water source (either mains or tank) and are driven by electricity. They operate with a trigger system and are highly effective in removing stains, grim, slime and dirt. One thing to keep in mind is that they do use a fair bit of water, around 300–450 litres per hour, so avoid using one when water restrictions apply (unless using captured water from rainwater tanks) or where a broom could do the job.
There are a few precautions to remember when cleaning pavers. Frequent cleaning does rejuvenate nicely but you must take care not to flush out and damage the joints between pavers. Too much pressure from cleaning will dislodge jointing sand or cement very easily. Unless the pavers have been sealed, the use of vacuum sweepers or water jets should be avoided until the joints have become naturally clogged and settled. This normally happens by three months after laying.
After all pavers are cleaned and dry, you might like to reseal them with a good quality non-slip sealer. Sealers come in many forms: matt finish, textured and even non-slip semi-gloss. There are paver-sealer specialists who are expert at these jobs; otherwise, seek the advice of a good hardware supplier. As always, carefully read the application instructions on the tin before undertaking such an exercise.
Another troublesome invader during the summertime can be weeds in cracks and joins of pavers. You can use the organic method, which is recommended and effective, by simply dousing the offensive weeds with boiling water straight from the kettle. It might take a few goes but it is safe, quick and works well. You can also buy butane-powered weed wands that burn the weeds. Glyphosate, a herbicide that you might know as Roundup, has been used extensively for weed eradication but it’s worth trying the boiling water or torching methods before reaching for the chemicals.
Deciduous trees are starting to defoliate, so you will be raking up leaves continuously as well as scooping them from your pool. Remember that you can mulch them quite easily using a petrol-powered mulcher or a mulching lawnmower, or by simply raking them and spreading them over your garden beds. Your secateurs and shears get a good workout, too, at this time of the year with all the pruning of dead wood, cutting back vines and getting rid of spent perennials and other plants. These, too, can be mulched.
Leaf build-up in your gutters can be addressed now, too. With high winds and leaf drop, this may be an ongoing task during the cooler months. But it is an essential one considering the ever-present bushfire threat. It’s suggested by the NSW Rural Fire Service that you create a safety zone around your home. This means having a protection zone 20 metres or more in radius from your house, where landscaping is designed to lessen the impact of fire.
Imagine a circle with your house in the centre. On the circumference, its best to build a solid wall or fence from stone, brick or non-flammable materials. Brush fencing is highly combustible and cannot be considered. This outer wall will slow an approaching fire, trap some of the flying embers or sparks and reduce the radiant heat.
Inside the perimeter structure is your garden. Trees and shrubs should be planted sparsely — not in clumps or stands. Make sure trees are not planted close to buildings — you don’t want the crown of the mature tree within two metres of your roof. It’s a good rule of thumb to plant trees at least five metres from the house and other buildings.
Put your vegie patch, lawn, pool, tennis court, pebble garden, patio or paved areas between your house and the garden. This will act as a clear space with nothing flammable close to your home. Also keep creepers on pergolas or verandas properly maintained.
Mulches of granite, gravel or pebbles on the fire-prone side of the house are the best choices as they will not ignite like organic mulches, but chunky pine chip is preferable to straw or leaf mulch.
No doubt, as you get stuck into the maintenance, you will find many more tasks that need attending to but what better time to replenish and rejuvenate than the temperate autumn months while the temperature is neither scorching hot or freezing cold?
Leaf matter left for prolonged periods of time will stain pavers. Continual maintenance during the autumn months can help to prevent this.
When looking for a mulcher choose one that suits your garden size. Large hardware and gardening stores have an enormous range, from small electric-powered models to the bigger, more robust types for larger gardens.