Bio-diversify Your Backyard

Welcome South Africa’s handy helpers to the garden and reap the rich rewards. Fall in love with your eco-friendly backyard that’s flying, swarming, and crawling with life! 

Local is the lekkerste: Growing indigenous plants means more habitat creation for our local wildlife, while also increasing our native plant species reduced by urbanisation and deforestation. SA’s critters and greens have a lekker advantage of being naturally adaptive to our environment, meaning less maintenance and more life in your garden!

Bring in biodiversity by

Planting for pollinators: Attract bees, butterflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting salvia, borage, lavender, and antirrhinum.

Companion planting: Get your edibles elated, your flowers flourishing and seeds spreading by adding pentas, echinacea, marigolds and sunflowers to the veggie patch. 

Organic pest-control: Naturally repel a variety of pests by planting basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites).

Helpful predators: Avoiding pesticides attract natural predators such as ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies and praying mantises who make quick work of mealybugs, aphids, scale, and more.

Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.

Wonderful water: Give your garden critters a drink with water features and birdbaths. Enjoy watching all your favourite friends come to visit. 

House wildlife: Install bird, bat, bee, and owl houses around your garden for fewer rodents, mozzies, and locusts. Become a beekeeper and harvest your own honey too! 

Indulge in indigenous: Clivias, vygies, African lily (Agapanthus spp.), crane flowers and salvias attract colourful indigenous flyers for your viewing pleasure. 

Evade the invasive: Remove invasive plant species from your garden. Aliens may overconsume water, negatively transform the land, and hinder our local biodiversity. 

The tree’s knees: Our local Wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) tree is a massive wildlife attractor and butterfly breeding gem that is also spring-blooming and suitable for container planting and small gardens.

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Arbor month:

Celebrate SA’s champion tree, the Spekboom. Portulacaria afra is an indigenous superstar that shines across our diverse SA climate. They tolerating high humidity, high rainfall or drought, heat, desert sun or well-lit indoor spaces. Spekkies help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting like a handy carbon sponge, thereby improving the quality of air we breathe. Trees can be planted in fire-prone areas as a perimeter hedge while also acting as excellent soil binders, preventing erosion on slopes and in windy areas. 

Plant these Spekkie varieties now in well-drained soil with a dash of organic fertiliser available from your Garden Centre. 

  • Tom Thumb: a small-leaved, compact variety that makes an excellent bonsai.
  • Longstockings: also small-leaved but with a distinctly vertical growth form.
  • Macrophylla: a giant-leaved variety, very sculptural in the garden or in pots. 
  • Also try: Limpopo (most common), Prostrata, Aurea, Foliis variegate, Medio-picta, Variegata, Tricolor, and Cork Bark.

Did you know? Spekboom provides 80% of an elephant’s diet and can live up to 200 years.

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September action plan

Maintenance

  • Plant new lawn grass seed or grass plugs now. Feed and water regularly and fix bare patches with top-dressing. 
  • Refresh, top-up or replace pebbles and gravel around the garden, especially between paving stones where dust and mud accumulate to spoil the effect.
grass
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Fired-up flowers

  • Plant striking Asylum in garden beds or hanging baskets in full to partial sun.
  • Plant also clivias, salvias, begonia ‘Dragon Wings’, verbenas, penstemons, camellias and azaleas for a splash of happy spring colour. 
  • Warm-season delights try planting dahlias and amaryllis can also be planted now. For summer bedding colour, include masses of petunias, dianthus and gazanias.
  • Perennials to plant with your spring collection include columbines (aquilegia), angel wings (Gaura), bearded iris, Limonium perezii (giant statice), Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ (cornflower) (there are other colours, like pink and white) and Viola odorata ‘The Czar’ (sweet violet). 
  • Sow bold with sunflower seeds, zinnias, portulacas and vincas to reap the rewards in a few weeks.

In the bloom prune zone: Mayflowers, banksiae roses, hibiscus and poinsettia are ready for a snip. Deadhead pansies and violas now too.

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Pesky pest alert

Watch out for these nasty guys that are as excited about spring as we are. Charge down to your nursery for eco-friendly pesticides that’ll make quick work of these pesky pests. 

  • Leaf gall on azaleas (small swellings or knobs on the leaves, stems, and flowers).
  • Thrips on gladioli (spottings on flowers and yellow speckled areas on leaves).
  • Citrus psylla on lemons (raised, pocket-like swelling on leaves). 
  • Impatient fungus (yellow-green discolouration of leaves, often curling downwards). 
  • Snails and slugs around newly planted seedlings
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Edible spring zingers

  • Plant strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, chillies, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, beetroot, spinach and chard.
  • Sow seeds of tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, beans, beetroot, eggplants, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, mealies, pumpkin, dwarf beans, runner beans, maize and sweetcorn.
  • Trees to plant are olives and almonds, yummy!
  • Herbs to plant include dill, chervil, origanum, borage mustard, watercress, caraway, coriander, mint, Pennyroyal, rosemary, fennel, basil, anise and summer savoury.
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Top tip: Visit your Garden Centre for organic fertilisers to help you get the most from your greens. Seed packets are the cheapest way to grow your own food and are widely available at nurseries and supermarkets.

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