7 Times you can get nature to do your yard work

7 Times you can get nature to do your yard work
Gardening is a chore for some people and an absolute pleasure for others, but whichever way you swing it's always good to enlist a bit of help here and there. Try these handy tips from nature to save time and effort, whilst treading lightly on your piece of paradise.
1. Grasscycling

If you're still wasting time and energy catching grass clippings when you mow, here's a hint. Instead of using the catcher, leave the clippings on the lawn where they’ll quickly break down and add nutrients to growing grass. Called "grasscycling," this simple practice takes care of mowing and fertilising in one fell swoop - that’s a win-win!


2. Plant once, enjoy indefinitely 

Some flowers grow like weeds, self-seeding to grow again year upon year while you sit back and watch. Keep your dead-heading to a minimum and let nature do its thing. Below, some of our favourites.

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
Californian poppy (Eschscholtzia)
Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale)
Viola (baby pansies)
Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)
Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

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3. Embrace multitasking plants

From human healing to nourishment, insect attraction to banishment, these flowers are more than just a pretty face.

Lacy Phacelia (Purple Tansy)
Ladybirds and bees love the nectar-heavy Purple Tansy, one of the top beneficial insect attracting flowers you can have in your garden. It's also a good self-seeder.

French Marigold
Their bright yellow and orange colours attract bees and their strong scent keeps away the bugs we don't want, such as slugs and leafhoppers. Another good self-seeder.

Calendula's gorgeous flowers not only help repel detrimental bugs, the petals are edible and have antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. Calendula self-seeds super well.

Fast-growing borage is a bee's best friend. The leaves and pretty flowers are edible with a cucumber-like flavour and though it's an annual, it's a fantastic self-seeder. Borage also leaves beneficial trace elements in your soil when it's planted.

Lavender is a great companion plant in the vegetable garden. Lavender's heavily scented flowers will attract bees and other pollinators while helping to repel mosquitoes, moths, and fleas while you're gardening. Try placing lavender in a vase in fly-prone areas of the home or drying the flower heads to make pot pourri and sleep-inducing lavender pillows.

Sweet and peppery nasturtium leaves and flowers are edible, a beautiful addition to salads. Nasturtium also helps repel white fly while keeping other bugs off your vegetables by acting like a 'trap crop', sacrificing itself to save your produce. What a little hero! Needs no help with self-seeding.


4. Let them eat bugs!

Rather than reaching for toxic chemicals to keep pests at bay, enlist nature’s warriors in the battle against bugs: birds.

Attract birds to your garden and not only will you have the delight of watching them thrive, but they will also clean your plants of bugs for the most natural pest control you could hope for!

One of the best insect-eaters in New Zealand is the Silvereye. The cutest little garden visitor, Silvereye will make a meal of scale insects, caterpillars, aphids and mealybugs. To encourage Silvereye to your place, the simplest thing you can do is to provide their twice-daily bath. A bird bath needn't be fancy, but try to position it so that cats don't have an easy target.

If you want to ramp up the food supply, Silvereye are partial to raisin or apricot loaf, pieces of apple tied from a string so they can dangle while they feed (a great way to use up half-eaten fruit from the kids' lunch boxes), or try making lard blocks with some chopped-up sultanas and dried apricots. A bird feeder is a great garden investment.

Got bigger pests than bugs?


5. The lazy gardener's weed mat 

Thinking of putting in a raised garden bed? If you aren’t in a hurry, let nature prep the spot for you. Just cover the section of grass you want to be removed with several layers of newspaper, cover the paper with soil or mulch, water well, and then leave the paper in place for a few weeks. The paper will smother the grass and slowly break down into mulch. This method also makes a great weed mat for hard-to-reach spots that can get out of control.

Note: Plain, black and white newsprint is your best non-toxic option for this task.

6. Treat them to coffee

Love a morning coffee? So do your roses! Just let the used coffee grounds dry out, and then sprinkle them around rosebushes, using up to a cup per bush. The high nitrogen content of the grounds acidifies the soil, providing a great environment for roses to thrive.

Not a rose fan? Toss your coffee grounds into the compost and let the worms go to work.


7. Rain, man

In many parts of the country, water - or the lack of it - has become a concern. During times of drought, there may be restrictions placed on watering your garden, and water costs can be restrictive too! Why not take advantage of nature’s generosity by installing a rainwater system? Divert a downpipe to catch the rain when it's plentiful and use it to water the garden on dry days.


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