Want to get your garden looking great? Pretend you’re selling the house

A friend who recently sold her house was frustrated that it had taken her imminent departure to finally get the place looking like she’d always wanted it to look. The deadline of an open house had forced an edit of every room, with the unlovely and unwanted tossed, replaced where necessary with something better (albeit straight from the stylists).

Her take-home message? Pretend you are selling your house every five years so you get to enjoy it at its best. The same goes for gardens. Stuff accumulates and every now and then a major cleanout is called for. Perfect timing then that here is a long weekend, dedicated to ideas of renewal and rejuvenation, and with weather ideal for tweaking the garden.

Easter is a great time to repot your plants and get your garden looking sellable.Credit: iStock

Start with those black plastic pots from the nursery that can’t go in the recycling bin. A new program through garden centres is aiming to improve the nursery industry’s environmental credentials by recycling black plastic plant pots. Check www.pp5.com.au to find the nearest collection centre to you.

Next, assess the ornamental pots: are there too many little ones, do they look good together, are they all pulling their visual weight? Put the excess up on your favoured reuse site: Freecycle; Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace.

Refresh the pots that are left with a visit to the local garden centre. Annuals that will bloom through winter and are available now, some already in flower include violas and pansies, lobelia and primula, poppy and polyanthus.

Take a hard look at the garden too. Small gardens have no room for plants that underperform. Out go the sickly plants or those that just don’t look good enough for long enough. This goes for indoor plants too. No need to limp that begonia along or try to appreciate the weird shape of that fig or monstera. Instead, make a nursery’s day and buy a new one.

If your monstera is looking limp inside, it’s a good time to get a new one.Credit: iStock

Don’t be tempted to plant unwanted indoor plants outdoors. Many indoor plants cope with the low light conditions inside because they are rainforest trees, which is what they will become once planted outdoors. Fiddle-leaf fig, philodendron, rubber plant and monstera will all easily take over your backyard if allowed.

For cohesion in the garden, fill the gaps created by your judicious editing by repeating more of what works well, including combinations of plants as well as individuals. Plants that can easily be divided now include agapanthus, clivea, mondo, liriope, lomandra and dianella. Cuttings of pelargonium, plectranthus, fuchsia, salvia, justicia, camellia and hydrangea can also be taken now.

If diversity is more important to you than cohesion, now is the time to go to town (or to a garden centre or plant fair such as Collectors’ Plant Fair, April 15-16). Almost everything you plant in early autumn, from garlic to sweet peas, citrus to banksia, will benefit from the still-warm soil and the mild days, allowing the plant to get established before winter.

Prolong the warmth of the soil with a good layer of mulch. Keep mulch between 2-7 cm deep, bearing in mind that chunkier mixes let more water in, but don’t break down as fast; while smaller pieces are faster to add organic matter to the soil, but need to be replaced more often.

Choose to suit your needs. With the unwanted and unloved gone, the pots replanted, garden beds mulched, the garden will look good enough to sell.

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