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Ground Rules

Saturdays 7.30am | TV ONE

Fact sheet 2004 - Ep 8

Introducing Art into the garden

Dan showed us ways to introduce art into the garden, by making a sculpture. The materials Dan used were:

  • Rocks, of different colours.
  • Galvanised reinforcing mesh
  • Some galvanised lacing wire
  • quickcrete
  • pair of pliers 
  • shovel

Making the sculpture:

1.  Use pliers (or get it pre-rolled at your local steel works) to roll the mesh lengthways, to form a long cylinder and leave an overlap of about 100mm.
2.  Use lacing wire to tie the mesh together along the overlap.
3.  Prepare the base by digging 3 holes 500mm round and 800mm deep into stable ground.  The holes are deep because these are such tall heavy structures and you don't want them to fall over.
4.  Fill the holes with 200mm quick-setting concrete and compact it.
5.  Place the mesh cylinder into a hole, leaving 1800mm sticking up above ground level.
6.  Fill the holes up with quick-setting concrete to create a slight mound, about 50mm above ground level and this is also so rain will run-off and the mesh won't get corroded around its base.

Make sure the quick-setting concrete is compacted (rammed) so it is stronger

7. Now add water to the quick crete and in just a few minutes it will set.
8. Load the stones into the cylinders using buckets.
9. As you go, use a stick to adjust the outermost stones, so you can't see any chips or cracks.

Dan then made a mini sculpture.  In this case Dan decided to tie in the sculpture with the vibrant red of the house, simply by painting the occasional rock using same coloured paint.

1. To build the framework of this mini sized stone sculpture, He used a lighter mesh rather than steel,mesh.
2. He placed painted rocks throughout.

The basics of tree planting

This week Richard showed us the basics of tree planting in loam and clay.

Selecting a tree: 

Look for a smallish tree in a biggish bag-that'll give you a good chance of avoiding a rootbound tree. Don't be fooled into thinking you're getting better value getting a big tree in a little bag.

Before planting: 

  • A newly planted tree needs only minimal pruning - only dead, diseased or injured branches.  Also take out crossed branches to create good form and structure. 
  • Some cautionary warnings:  Size Matters. Trees need room to develop root systems underground and branches above ground. Check the final height AND width of the tree before planting.
  • Also avoid planting under power or telephone lines or too close to buildings.  
  • And before you choose a tree to plant, make sure you know what soil and light conditions it prefers there's no use planting this olive tree in swampy conditions. And the soil type will dictate HOW you plant the tree.

Planting in Loam:

  • You MUST know before planting if you have clay soil. That will dictate how you plant it-in the soil, or raised out of the soil. 
  • If it's loam then follow the old adage - dig the hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the tree. That allows for good drainage.
  • A slow release tree fertiliser (MUST be slow release or it will burn the plant) right at the bottom of the hole, will give the tree a store of food to draw from while it gets established.   '24 Plus' is a good one - that should be placed into and around the hole where the tree is to be planted. 
  • Adding Saturaid at this stage can be a good long-term thing to do-especially in dry areas.  Saturaid is not so much a water retainer as a product which ensures an even distribution of water to the roots.
  • At the same time as you put the tree in the hole put the stake in-that way you'll avoid damaging the roots. 
  • Backfill with the same soil the tree has already been in if possible to avoid shock. Mix in some compost to make it more friable.  
  • Mound the soil up under the tree roots so that the roots can be spread gently without breaking them. Work your fingers around under the root ball to ensure there are no air pockets under the plant that could fill with water later, or could expose the roots to air and dry them out.

CRITICAL to NOTE The top of the root ball should not be buried because that can cause collar rot around the tree trunk. Note carefully where the potting mix in the bag comes to-and don't bury it any deeper than that.

  • But fill the hole to the point where the root ball is slightly higher than the surface because once the tree is heeled in it will compact the soil. 
  • Water thoroughly before filling the hole, to get rid of any small air pockets, then fill.

Planting into clay:

  • Make the hole as big and wide as the previous one, adding GYPSUM which will in time help to change the composition of the clay to a more friable soil. 
  • Then bring in more soil or compost mix to add to mound it up. Plant the tree so that at least half the root ball is above ground. It's critical to mulch these plantings carefully because the roots will dry out. Or an alternative is to build a raised frame around the tree and fill that with soil mix.


To hold trees steady until the new anchorage has developed, only a shortish stake is needed - about one third of the height of the trunk. A simple tie at the top of the stake will reduce the most excessive swaying that would tear new roots out of the soil. A healthy tree should produce sufficient new roots in one growing season to hold the tree upright. If it's in a windy place, put a stake each side. Bury about a third of the stake below ground and two thirds above.

There are commercial ties available-TREE LOCK- which are useful. And a soft fabric tie which will rot away.  Don't tie with wire -and stockings are just about as bad. It's very easy to forget them and ties become grown into the stem and act as garrottes ringbarking the tree.  


A forest tree provides its own mulch with several inches of leaves on the ground. This can be imitated by mulching the planted area with 3-4 inches of wood chips, bark, straw, pine needles or shredded leaves. Don't use plastic beneath the mulch; water or air can't get through it.
Newly planted trees suffer when they compete with grass for water, air and nutrients. So keep the area around the trunk grass free for at least a year. If you mulch around the trees, instead of planting grass, you also prevent possible trunk damage from lawn mowers.   Keep the mulch a few inches away from the tree trunk.   

Top 5 ornamental grasses

1. Chondropetalum tectorum 'Thatching Reed'
For sculptural beauty, the thatching reed's long deep green stems are marked with brown bands and finished with attractive flower spikes.

2. Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Black Dragon' 
The unique purple-black foliage of Black Mondo Grass makes an awesome ground cover or edging plant for a modern garden.

3. Lomandra confertifolia 
Lomandra confertifolia is an Australian native grass-like plant with dense bright lime green foliage, and is perfect for mass planting.

4. Carex testacea
The bronze foliage of our native Carex Testacea glows intensely when planted in full sun, it tolerates dry, windy and coastal conditions.

5. Anemanthele lessoniana Gossamer Grass
The feathery heads of the Gossamer Grass move beautifully in the breeze, it can withstand fairy dry conditions and tolerates part shade."

Thanks to:
Joy Plants
Jericho Road, R.D.2 Pukekhoe
Tel: 09 238 9129
Beautiful Backyard: Dale Harvey

This week's Beautiful Backyard was the home of Dale Harvey

Plants seen in Dale's garden were:

Calendula Marigold, Hyacinthus orientalis  'King of the Blues', Impatiens walleriana  Busy Lizzie, Cyclamen pseudibericum 'Roseum',

Visit Dale's ebsite at:

Top 5 Silver foliage plants

1. Brunnera 'Jack Frost' 
The frosty silver leaves of Brunnera Jack Frost are topped with tiny blue flowers in spring, its fully hardy.

2. Convolvulus cneorum 
This useful ground cover, Convolvus cneorum thrives in dry and exposed sites with silver foliage an pretty white, pink-tinged flowers in summer.

3. Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' 
The ever popular silver spear is a must have. Its arching, silvery, sword-like leaves create a dramatic feature in the garden.

4. Santolina 'Shades of Jade' 
A twist on an old favourite, Santolina 'shades of Jade' has fresh green foliage that turns silver with age.

Pimelea prostrata 'Quick Silver'
For a dense mat of silvery-grey foliage, 'Quick Silver' makes an excellent ground cover for coastal areas.

Thanks to:
Joy Plants
Jericho Road, R.D.2 Pukekhoe
Tel: 09 238 9129

Shoppers' guide to ergonomic hand tools

This week Richard showed us the following ergonomic hand tools:

Peta First-grip garden hand tools     
Prices range from $30 available from Gardening Aids 09 444 9493 or website:

Silky Pocket Boy folding pruning saw   
Priced from $50 available from Williams & Kettle, Veg-Gro Supplies and Fruitfed Supplies. Or call 09 838 1080 for stockists. Website:

Garden Rocker      
Mail order only. Priced $60 plus p&p call 09 442 5007 or website:

Wolf Garten push/pull hoe     
Priced from $33 available from Gardening Aids 09 444 9493 or or call 0800 267 264 for stockists.

The Trovel       
Priced from $32.95 available from Lincourts in Palmerston North call (06) 354 2823 fax: (06) 354 2825 for stockists or mailorder.

Plant Doctor

This week the Plant Doctor was dealing with Sick House Plants

Most indoor plant failures are caused by over-watering. It's really important to read indoor plant labels carefully and follow the watering advice.  

Lynda showed us a rhoeo which had been over watered, and suffered from a condition called stem rot. If your plant's leaves have begun yellowing from the outside of the plant inward, and the leaves are limp and mushy, it's suffering from stem rot.  It has lost the ability to pass nutrients to its leaves.


To correct stem rot, find out the correct watering practices for your affected plant. (For rhoeos this means allowing the plant to dry out completely between waterings), remove any dead leaves, spray the plant with a fungicide, and lightly fertilize.

Lynda also showed you a begonia in bad shape. 

Low-light conditions and soil that has dried out caused the begonia to get the disease powdery mildew.

Indoor begonias like to be well ventilated, in bright but indirect light and need to be kept moist at all times.


This disease is easily treated by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth. If powdery mildew re-occurs, spray the plant with a fungicide, (like Greenguard) and place the plant in a sunny location or under artificial light.

Lynda then treated a wedding palm has a bad infestation of Mealy Bugs.

  • Mealy Bugs are not only an outdoor problem, indoors they can be a problem on palms, dracaenas and yukkas.
  • Mealy Bugs are flat, oval-shaped insects, are 3-4 mm long and are covered with a white powdery wax secretion.  They look like white patches on the leaves and stem.
  • Crawlers emerge in spring.
  • Mealy Bugs suck the sap of plants like aphids and may cause wilting and distortion of leaves.  
  • They also excrete honeydew on which a black sooty mould may grow. 


  • The key to controlling mealy bug is to inspect houseplant foliage regularly and control the nymphs before the adults become concealed.
  • On houseplants, you can use a cotton bud that's been dipped in pure alcohol to dislodge mealy bugs
  • The undersides of houseplant leaves can be wiped with a weak mixture of spraying oil (like Conqueror Oil), to control nymphs.
  • For chemical solutions, you can use a contact insecticide in spring, when crawlers are settling on leaves.  You need to thoroughly cover the undersides of leaves.
  • For established infestations like on this palm, you'll need to use a systemic insecticide like Confidor aerosol.
  • Badly infected plants should be discarded.