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Ground Rules

Saturdays 7.30am | TV ONE

Fact Sheet 2005 - Ep 10

Garden project with Richard Greenwood

This weeks project - Lighting

Throughout the show Richard demonstrated how to install a funky lighting sculpture using pvc piping and some designer flare, so you can enjoy your garden 24/7.


  • Cordyline terminalis 'Nigra'
  • Phormium 'Surfer'
  • Helictotrichon sempervirens
    Blue oat grass
  • Macrozamia communis

Milne's Plant Link LTD
0508 MILNES (0508 645 637)


Kings Plant Barn
St Lukes
Ph: 09 846 2141


Resene Acrylic - White Metal 


PVC Pipe and supplies 

LG Carder
134 Wellesley Street
Ph: 09 303 2219

Building and Garden Supplies 

PlaceMakers - Mt Wellington
80 Lunn Ave
Ph: 09 527 6054

Garden Lighting Supplies 

Lighting Pacific Limited
130 Felton Matthew Ave, Glen Innes
Ph: 0800 707270
Mob:027672 3120

Lighting Installation 

Five Electrical Ltd
Victor Buckle
Authorised Hunza Installer
Ph: 021 VICTOR (021 842 867)


Ph: 09 358 2717

The Basics with Lynda Hallinan

This week's topic - Weeding

Weeds are any plants that you don't want in your garden. It is a good idea to get rid of weeds because if you leave them they will compete with your preferred garden plants for food and space. And because weeds are often quite invasive they will win the space war if left to their own devices.


Weeds can be spread in many ways. Weed seeds can be carried by wind, rain, birds or animals. Or they can be lying dormant in your soil where the lack of light and water keeps them from germinating. If this is the case, when you dig your soil any weed seeds that have been lying dormant can be reactivated - ready to germinate and reappear as weeds the next year.

TIP: Never put ripe seed heads on the compost. They might germinate

TIP: There is a saying 'one year seeding and seven years weeding'.


Weeds with seeds:
Some weeds generate a lot of seeds - in some cases thousands - so they can produce a mass of weeds in your garden. The key is to cut the seed heads off or remove them before they go to seed. Dandelions and thistles are good examples of weeds that set hundreds of seeds and should have their heads taken off.

TIP: The secret of weeding is little and often

Perennial weeds
These plants often have underground root systems that keep them going during the winter. If you want to remove these you will need to make sure that you dig right down and take the whole root system out. Grasses are some of the worst weeds - even lawn grass can infiltrate garden beds and start seeding madly. Couch and kikuyu are the worst offenders and they will completely take over if given a chance.

TIP: Weeds with tap roots need to have all their roots removed to avoid them re-growing

TIP: Weeds with long roots are easier to remove if they have some growth attached

Lawn weeds
The lawn is another place in your garden where seeds can settle and germinate. Try to remove any lawn weeds as soon as you see them.

TIP: Lawn weeds will germinate in bare soil or bare patches in your lawn. A really healthy lawn with dense coverage will not allow weeds to germinate. You can achieve a healthy lawn by mowing high and keeping your lawn fertilized

TIP: Remove dandelions in the lawn by using a knife to dig down and around - making sure you don't break the root off


Oxalis is a bulb and it multiplies like a demon and if you try to pull it out or dig up the plants what tends to happen is that you break up all the little bulbs and make them divide up instead. There's a spray on the market called 'Death to Oxalis' that can be effective, or you can smother it in black polythene to try to weaken the bulbs.

Wandering jew is a real nuisance because it grows from tiny divisions, so ripping handfuls of it out doesn't really help - it just grows back. Plus it's really tough to kill, even by composting... quite often it just grows roots and takes over your compost bin. You either have to dig it all out and burn it or spray it with a chemical herbicide and leave it to die in situ.

There are a few ways to deal with weeds in your garden. You can:

  • Physically remove them by hand
  • Use tools to remove them
  • Use chemical sprays or a heat gun to kill them off
  • Change the environment so it is difficult for weeds to survive or take hold

If you have any garden at all you can't really avoid doing some weeding by hand - but there are some things you can do to make the job easier.

TIP: It is easier to remove weeds from damp soil. Either weed after rain or give your garden bed a light watering before weeding

TIP: If you are too busy to take out weeds that are going to seed then at least cut them off to reduce weed spread - until you have time to remove them properly

TIP: Start weeding in a different place each time  - not just favourite corners.

TIP: If you are short of time don't do one corner thoroughly and leave the rest - try to flit round the whole garden - targeting those weeds coming to seed

TIP: Lift the skirts of plants not just what you can see, and go through the centre of perennials and shrubs - weeds hide in such places

TIP: Step back  - you've often missed the biggest and most obvious weeds

TIP: A comfortable kneeler or kneepads can make the job less of a pain

TIP: Don't tug weeds - pull them gently

TIP: Younger weeds are easier to remove because they haven't developed root systems


It is hard to beat the standard garden hoe for weeding - but there are also others on the market that are worth considering.

TIP: Hoeing disturbs weeds before they get established

TIP: Hoeing has the added benefit of keeping the soil tilled

TIP: Hoeing saves time - and your back!

TIP: Try a short handled onion hoe when weeding barked beds.

TIP: A trowel should be narrow and strong to get out deep rooted weeds.  A Wolf narrow trowel is best.

TIP: Sometimes it is better to use a fork rather than a spade for weeding as a fork is less likely to cut into weeds with roots and snap them off

TIP: Surprisingly your common kitchen cutlery set is a useful prop for weeding - especially in small spaces


SPRAYS are an option for weed control but of course the biggest problem is that most of them are not selective - and you could end up killing plants you want to keep

TIP: Follow manufacturer's instructions when using chemical sprays and wear protective clothing

TIP: Only ever spray on a day when there is no wind

TIP: Spraying is a good option for paved areas where you want all weeds removed. You will have to repeat the spraying though

A BLOW TORCH is another option - if you don't want to use chemical sprays. The heat from the torch kills off the plant. Again you will have to repeat this method on a regular basis

There are a number of products on the market. Organic products are good for less established weeds. More robust weeds will probably need chemical treatment.

TIP: If you use organic weed killers make sure you follow the instructions - and use on hot dry days

A - Using organic mulch
Put a layer of mulch on the top of your soil to reduce light and discourage weed growth. Organic mulches are things like such as bark chips, straw, wood chips, newspaper or products you can buy from your local garden centre
TIP: Autumn and spring are good times to put mulch on your garden

TIP: Organic mulches will add nutrients to the soil too

TIP: Mulches will trap moisture so mulch onto damp soil

C - Using plants
Heavy planting is a very successful way of reducing the amount of space you provide for weeds to grow. Or you can use plants with big leaf coverage to shade the soil. This also inhibits weed growth

Groundcovers are the best way to reduce weeding... nature abhors a vacuum so if you don't fill it, the weeds will. With groundcovers: the trick isn't so much to avoid flat groundcovers as to get rid of weeds before you plant them, because they'll smother out new growth once they're established. It's worth spraying with herbicide before planting large areas of groundcover.

TIP: Close planting is an even better weed supressor than a deep mulch.

TIP: Create shade by planting trees. Weeds don't grow so well in shade

TIP: Avoid very flat groundcovers like spanish shawl and pratia and cammomile and thyme - they are a magnet for weeds. If want groundcover go for mounding plants like spreading grevilias and coprosmas

Check with you local garden centre if you need advice on what methods or products to use if you are trying to get rid of tough weeds like bamboos and agapanthus

Top 5 - Lighting Options

Lighting your garden for fantastic night-time effect need not lead to a budget blow-out. There are numerous options on the market that will keep your costs under control, and add a whole new dimension to your garden.

Power of the sun - Just Garden solar lighting

Easy, instant and cheap. At less than five dollars each, these solar-powered lights won't dent your landscaping budget, or your electricity bill.

Available from:
The Warehouse
On a string - Bamboo fairy lights

Try something different with your fairylights - forget snowflakes and rice-paper lanterns, these bamboo cylinders create a great effect, nestled in the struts of your umbrella.

Supplied by:
Freedom Furniture
Tel: 0800-373-3366

Classy with candles - Principessa chandelier

Give your garden some evening romance and glamour with a candle chandelier - either in simple white, or add some of your own brightly coloured candles.

Supplied by:
Freedom Furniture
(see above for contact details)

Night-time colour - Garden Jewels

Change the colour of your garden, with these 'garden jewels'. You can really play with shadows and mood, and give plants strong night-time emphasis, with a variety of colours available.

Supplied by:
Garden Jewels Co Ltd
PO Box 33-1061
Tel: 09-445-4142
Fax: 09-445-4143

All-in-one - Umbrella lighting

Or go all out with a sun umbrella including its own lighting system already installed!  Low-voltage lighting is set into the umbrella structure, with the wires squirreled away inside the pole!

Supplied by:
Three Palms Enterprises Ltd
4/23 Rawene Road
Tel: 09-418-3864
Fax: 09-418-3865

Beautiful Backyard with Ruud Kleinpaste

When Scott first bought this house eighteen years ago - he was neither a gardener nor a father. He was an independent young man with an urban lifestyle. The back section and bush setting in one of Auckland's inner most suburbs suited him down to the ground. It was conveniently located and relatively easy to maintain. 'Maintenance' meant tidying up the back courtyard when he had the time and largely ignoring the steep west facing scrub covered bank that fell away from the front of the house and its canopy of deciduous oak trees. So - for a long time Scott just lived here and loved it. Scott is now a father of 2.

The living areas in Scott's three-storied tree house looked out over the bank so it was inevitable that in time he would start to think about improving the outlook. He says 'for years I pondered what to do with the bank. Privet was everywhere and while the weeds and the scrappy undergrowth were a problem - they did give me privacy. I knew that any development would compromise that in the short term. I also knew that whatever I decided - there would be plenty of hard work ahead'.

Around this time a change of professional direction freed Scott up from having to go into work each day. The timing was perfect. The decision was made. He would clear the bank and make a start. He knew nothing about gardening but was ready for a project and was happy to learn as he went along.

Clearing the bank where Scott says 'the list of noxious weeds for this region was very well represented' was the first challenge. The second was tackling the gully at the bottom where others had left all manner of rubbish and objects over the years. Both these tasks were made easier by Scott's purchase of his beloved Derek - the little blue ute that changed everything. Scott says 'once I had Derek I could go and get stuff - and I could get rid of it too - the whole project became easier'.

While considering what to do with the bank Scott explored his neighbours' gardens for inspiration - finding the remnants of gravel pathways with scoria edging that he decided to replicate. With Derek for transport he was able to scour Auckland quarries and select the scoria he needed - adding the McCullum red chip on the path surfaces to get the desired effect.

Once he had some paths in place and enough undergrowth cleared to start planting Scott faced further challenges:

  • The size and cost of the planting project - he knew he would have to be innovative about sourcing plants
  • The hilly west facing site with a deciduous oak canopy - making it very shady but dry in winter
  • Scott's lack of gardening knowledge - he knew he would have to learn from others

With an open mind, enthusiasm and plenty of common sense Scott set about planting what he could afford - and anything else he could persuade others to give him.  Scott says 'when you have a big property like this you must not be shy to ask people if they have anything they don't need. It is economically challenging breaking in a garden of this size if you are buying plants at retail prices. This is like Steptoe's garden. People give me things - objects and plants - and I use them wherever I can. For example I recently got these two giant staghorn ferns from friends who were renovating a house. I just asked what they were going to do with them'.

Scott's planting philosophy has resulted in an eclectic and successful mix of natives and exotics. Clivias mix with ferns, Nikau palms with native grasses - the overall effect being one of a peaceful bush retreat in an urban setting. He even tried wildflowers at the start, buying them in bulk - a kilo of seeds at a time - and just scattered them around.  Scott says this was a great way of gaining an instant, easy and affordable coverage.

The hillside site has provided Scott with plenty of challenges - the slope does compound the dryness. While fresh mulch is very successful at suppressing weed growth it is also inclined to slip down the bank so he has tried to terrace where possible But there are benefits to a sloping garden too says Scott such as 'the enjoyment of working and weeding on it. You can always work above your body'. As a visitor viewing Scott's garden from the house you can witness plant right in action! Looking down on the foliage in this garden is perhaps the most dramatic perspective of all.

Now that Scott's garden is established he says maintaining it is not too much work. The oak leaves fall once a year and cover the ground. This helps with mulching the soil.  He counteracts the acidity created by the decomposing oak leaves by putting lime on the garden. He says if he puts this on before it rains the growth is almost visible. He tries to keep on top of any trimming required as he sees it and carries secateurs with him all the time so that he can trim things as he goes.

With all the hard work now done Scott says his greatest pleasure comes from watching the native bush regenerating and the birdlife it encourages. Scott says that over time 'there has been a huge increase in the amount of birdlife in the garden. In the past you would never see a wood pidgeon here. Then I started to see one about once a year. Now if two or three weeks go past and I don't see one I worry'.

While Scott started out not knowing much about gardening he has finished up knowing plenty. As he looks back on the trial and error and lessons learned he would like to tell others to:

  • Listen and learn from others. It takes a while to learn to listen. Initially I wasn't good at it but others have plenty to tell you that will save you time and energy
  • Take notes when people tell you things because when you hear it, it sounds compelling  - later when you try to recall it you cannot remember a thing
  • Find a way to source plants cheaply if you are tackling a project this size
  • Buy a ute!

As far as the future goes, Scott plans to continue to develop new areas down the bank - he is currently creating a bromeliad garden - and to sit back and watch his family enjoy the urban oasis he has created.

Plant Right with Lynda Hallinan

This week's topic - Trees

Tree selection
It's all about choosing the right tree for the right spot.

Consider the following:

  • Amount of space
  • Clearance from powerlines, fences, houses and drains
  • Climate
  • Tree functions you desire, eg shade, wind protection, screening, purely ornamental.
  • Exposure to sun and wind

Tip: When considering a certain species you fancy, drive around and see how they've matured in other people's gardens.

Tip: Many people believe that the roots don't extend beyond the edge of the tree canopy or drip line, but this is a myth. Their roots can extend way beyond that in their search for nutrients and water.

If you want to line a driveway with trees, for example, you need to remember that too vigorous a tree will eventually break and lift the concrete so choose something with an upright habit that won't grow too large. Sub-canopy natives, such as pittosporum and griselinia, are generally good choices for upright situations - they're not too big and easily trimmed. Palms are also good, though in the South Island they will need frost protection unless you choose our native nikaus (very slow-growing).

Tip: When planting trees along a driveways, put in a root barrier to about 600cm depth to protect the driveway. The roots will then grow along the barrier.

The single biggest mistake people make is choosing trees that grow too big so a small urban situation is a particular challenge. You have a combination of many of the problems mentioned: small space, close to paths, fences and the building.

We already have examples of robinias, "Little Gem" magnolias and Japanese maple. The latter is probably the safest choice here. Robinias' roots can sucker if they're disturbed and become a right menace.

  • Robinia pseudoacacia "Frisia" - These suckers can sucker, thus causing major headaches. Prevention is the key here. Don't damage the roots, for example by mowing over them. This, however, goes for all trees.
  • Magnolia grandiflora "Little Gem" - This is a dwarf variety of the glossy-leaved, evergreen grandiflora, growing to around 4m by 2.5m. It still has large white fragrant flowers but is a more compact shrub. The undersides of the leaves are reddish-brown.
  • Weeping maple (Acer.palmatum "Dissectum Tamukeyama") - A small cultivar of the Japanese maple that holds its burgundy colour through hot, humid summers, and resists scorching better than other cultivars. Cascading branches give it an umbrella-like form.

Other suggestions for small spaces:

  • Palms: Brilliant if you live in the North Island. They have fibrous root balls (or in the case of cabbage trees and nikaus, tap roots) rather than spreading roots, are very upright and extremely low maintenance.
  • China doll (Radermachera sinica): Upright (no spreading), lovely thing with bright green foliage and large white, scented, bell-shaped flowers. However, only a choice for Auckland and north.
  • Flowering cherry, kowhai, olearia, guava, feijoa, camellias.

Tip: Labels on trees can be misleading. Often they give the size it will be at 10 years, but they can keep getting bigger, so do your research.

As well as choice, how you maintain your trees is important to how they go in a small space. Balance is the key. If you keep your tree pruned from the first couple of years it won't outgrow its area. But it's important to start early. The rule of thumb when it comes to pruning is no more than a third. When you prune the canopy, the roots are affected - even a small amount of pruning will cause some die-back in the feeder roots but not to a dangerous level. But letting your tree go for several years then pruning severely can have severe consequences. Thus . . .

Tip: Start pruning early on and keep it up yearly - less will be needed, so there will be less impact on the tree's health.

Tip: Severe pruning can cause die-back and decay in the roots. This will interfere with the stability of the tree and you may find it blows over. Decay also allows entry of pathogens. It's best to leave such jobs to a professional.

Bad practices
People run lawnmowers into young tree trunks which damages them. The wound stays for the rest of its life and causes decay internally and hollow spaces, leading to instability. Also the tree won't be as healthy because the compartmentalised wound disrupts the flow of nutrients so the tree's 'fuel tank' is reduced.

Tip: When mowing close to trees, lift the height of the mower so the roots aren't damaged. Any such wounds become entry roots for pathogens. And cause suckering and sprouting.

People often plant trees too deep which reduces oxygen access. Put dirt no higher than the soil in the planting bag. In fact, it's a good idea to plant proud and mound up - stops water collecting around the trunk.

People often mound up lawn clippings around the base of trees and this can kill the tree and also cause a false rooting system to sprout. Species particularly susceptible to this are Queensland box, liquid ambers, oaks, natives . . . So push away from the stem. Lawn clippings can also create a build-up of heat which is unhealthy for the root system.

Incorrect pruning can cause ugly undesirable regrowth (it will try to replace its canopy and sprout from incorrectly cut wounds), plus the tree can be left less structurally strong - die-back in the root system will leave it out of balance with the canopy (and be susceptible to decay, as mentioned above).

Plant Doctor with Ruud Kleinpaste

This week's topic - Autumn Cleanup

Hygiene in your garden is just as important as elsewhere in your home. If your cat died under the kitchen table you wouldn't leave it there, and likewise you should clear dead material from your garden where bugs and disease can spend the winter months and reappear in spring.

In general, a good tidy up is more important than spraying to promote a healthy garden.

There are two competing philosophies at play here: obviously it is desirable to compost organic material from your garden, but when it harbours disease and pests it needs to be destroyed. Good composting would kill most pests and diseases but often compost heaps aren't constructed or managed properly and therefore don't work.

Prevention is better than cure. Prevention of infestations and disease will reduce the need for any form of controls.

Preventing insect problems

Autumn is a good time to tackle pests. It is the time when insect numbers are tapering off and thus it's easier to knock back the hangers on. And as leaves start to fall from some plants, pests such as scale and mites are more accessible to spray.


  • Check for infestations on fruit trees and shrubs, and prune off any infested branches. These should be destroyed. Since in most urban areas fires are prohibited by the council, you will need to put them in the green waste collection or take them to your local refuse station, where they will be composted.
  • Spray after pruning with a spraying oil such as Conqueror. Its effectiveness is increased with the addition of Maldison.


And of course insects that overwinter in leaves, such as thrips, can be removed by destroying the fallen leaves and debris.

  • Remove debris and weeds from under thrips hosts.
  • Destroy debris

Spider mites

Look for two-spotted spider mite and European red mite infestations. The former overwinters as mature females and can be found on old leaves. The latter overwinter as eggs on fruit tree branches.

  • Clear debris.
  • Prune infested branches.
  • Dislodge mites from plants with a heavy hosing.
  • Apply spraying oil or fatty acids 

Disease prevention

The general principle again is to remove fallen leaves and debris and burn them so spores don't overwinter under the host.

Tip: To reiterate, hygiene is the number one approach here - a good tidy-up is far more important than anything else - but you can also give a good, robust copper spray to guard against fungal and bacterial diseases.

Some diseases to consider:

Black spot on roses
This fungal problem is fairly common throughout New Zealand but occurs particularly in humid areas like Auckland. The continual defoliation weakens the plants and can kill them.


  • Decrease the humidity around plants as much as possible: space them well when planting, avoid planting smaller plants under roses, don't plant roses in sheltered areas with little air circulation, prune so the centre of the bush is not overgrown, don't water late in the day so leaves remain wet longer.
  • Destroy (as above) diseased fallen leaves.
  • After pruning spray with a good copper spray.

Leaf spots

A range of different leaf spots are caused by various fungi and affect many plants, for example chrysanthemums, dahlias, gerberas, grevilleas, irises and ivy. In all cases do the following:

  • Remove and destroy (as above) diseased leaves.
  • Spray with copper oxychloride.

Powdery mildew

This term applies to a group of fungi that affect various plants including many ornamentals. The spores generally require humidity to germinate but won't do so in rain. Once the fungus has developed, though, it will continue even when conditions dry out.

  • Gather up infected leaves to avoid spores spreading.
  • Spray with a product containing, for example, chlorothalonil or wettable sulphur.

Tip: Leaves affected by powdery mildew can be safely composted as it doesn't produce overwintering bodies in this part of the world, except in greenhouses.

Tip: The earlier you recognise a problem, the more options you will have for dealing with it.

Tip: Many insects are beneficial, such as slaters which hoover up dying wood and rotting material, and ladybirds, which eat aphids but overwinter in cracks in bark. Sometimes if we are too tidy we remove the goodies as well as the baddies. You could leave small piles of logs to encourage such insects but target susceptible plants for a thorough tidy-up underneath - particularly citrus, roses and evergreen shrubs like camellias and pieris and viburnums and bay which are full of thrips.