Gardening: Dealing with a damaged yard

Unhealthy, weak trees are hazardous and may need trimming or removal. If in doubt, consult an arborist.
Unhealthy, weak trees are hazardous and may need trimming or removal. If in doubt, consult an arborist. lisafx

WELL, it's nearly a month since Cyclone Debbie roared down the east coast, and still the clean-up continues.

I know that, for some, the devastation was total, and homes and livelihoods were lost or severely damaged. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to try to recover from such as a catastrophic event.

Most of us were thankfully spared the worst, but there is still a need for some horticultural first aid.

The wind damage was immediately obvious, with torn foliage and fallen branches. The effects of too much water can be a bit slower to become apparent, with the obvious exception of plants that are completely uprooted or washed away.

If you haven't already removed the wind damaged foliage, you could do that now.

Your plants will look better, and you will also minimise the risk of infection entering the damaged tissue. Make nice, clean cuts on an angle so that water runs off. Grassy plants can be cut back to the ground if necessary.

They will quickly produce lovely fresh, new leaves.

Check trees for branches that may have broken but not yet fallen. Remember that unhealthy, weak trees are hazardous, potentially causing injury and damage. If you are in doubt, consult an arborist - trimming or even complete removal may be required.

In the vegetable garden, it's probably best to just replace plants that are severely damaged, rather than try to resuscitate them. Young healthy seedlings grow quickly and are more disease resistant. Harvest what you can and plant some more.

Shade-loving plants growing underneath trees which were damaged may now cop an unwelcome blast from the hot sun. Keep an eye on them for signs of sunburn, or rig up some temporary shade for them until the trees are in full leaf again.

Once the trimming and tidying is complete, apply a seaweed tonic to the entire garden. This will help strengthen plants, encourage new growth, and help protect against bacterial and fungal infection.

The wet weather and waterlogged soil has created the ideal conditions for root and collar rot diseases in certain plants including avocados, azaleas, citrus, melaleucas and grass trees. Try to improve drainage by planting in raised beds, and adding organic matter and rock minerals to soil.

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Topics:  cyclone debbie gardening weekend magazine

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