New Zealand Gardening 101 – A Guide to Not Ruining Your Landlord’s Lawn

Spring is well on its way here in the Southern hemisphere which means the days are getting longer and all of Christchurch is in bloom.

The owners of the house we’re renting (or at least their parents who live nearby) were clearly skilled gardeners who took a lot of time and effort to plant trees, shrubs, and bulbs across the property. As the new tenants, it’s fallen on us to keep said shrubs, trees, and bulbs alive.

No pressure.

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Practice Makes Perfect

I decided to start with a trial run and bought a few plants from Oderings, a local garden center. The salesperson suggested a peace lily and three succulents, as they were among the hardest plants to kill. I’m happy to report that these new additions are doing well, my confidence is up, and I’m amazed by how much cozier our house feels with a little greenery.

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Weeds Suck

I am a lazy person at heart so a few months ago I hopped on the local neighborhood Facebook page looking for someone to do a one-off winter cleanup, thereby avoiding a massive job come spring when the weeds would start growing at an alarming rate. The person I hired ended up flaking, leaving us back to square one.

After months of dragging my feet, I finally accepted that there was no way around it. I’d have to get my hands dirty and tackle the increasingly hard to ignore weed monster taking over the lawn. I could only hope to minimize the casualties (sincerest apologies to the bulbs I inadvertently “rehomed”).

This past weekend I dusted off the gumboots and hit the garden, rake in hand. I spent hours in the garden weeding and probably only managed to clear out space roughly 3 meters by 2 meters, about 1/6 of the garden, not including the grass bits. The hardest bit was knowing which plants were meant to be there and which were weeds.

I’m really hesitant to use chemical products so I’ll be doing some research on natural weed killers. Let me know if you’ve got any suggestions in the comments below!

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The New Zealand Garden Bible

Since I made the decision to plant a proper veggie garden this year I’ve been studying the Yates Garden Guide, the bible for all things horticultural in New Zealand. Most people do their planting around Labour Weekend, which is next week, so I’m in a bit of a hurry to buy a raised planter and any bits and bobs I may need.

Christchurch has a pretty mild climate and can get frosts in early spring, so I’ve been researching what’s suited to thrive in the local weather conditions and capable of surviving my bad track record for unintentional plant murder. My veggie wish list includes tomatoes, french beans, lettuce, and cucumber. If I’m feeling adventurous, I may even attempt strawberries. #livingontheedge

If you live further North or somewhere that gets a ton of rain like the West Coast, I’d recommend reading up on what grows well in your climate.

What are you growing in your kiwi garden this year?

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