Homes

Help in the garden

When it comes to garden chores, sometimes it’s better to send in the experts.

The Partner will lend his services (or I’ll help him – it’s hard to determine which is which) but it often ends in tears because neither of us wants to do as we’re told. We come to blows over pruning the ornamental trees and any hard landscaping project is a nightmare.

I always have in my head exactly how it should look, but can’t communicate that vision to The Partner.

Meanwhile he’s inclined to ask the opinion of anyone who walks in the door if the courtyard wall should be donkey brown or burnt orange, when I’ve already decided I want it purple.

At the end of every day we soothe our battered egos with a bottle of wine or two and come up with another plan for the next one.

The truth is, though, that we do have a bit of help in the garden – not because of the fighting, but because neither of us has as much time as we need to maintain a picture-perfect property. We probably each spend about 15 hours a week at it, but that still leaves a fair amount to be done.

If you have a large garden and you can afford a bit of help, don’t let guilt stand in your way. Even four hours a month, which might cost you around $80, will make a substantial difference.

Put an ad on the supermarket noticeboard, ask friends, check around at the local nurseries, or advertise in the community newspaper. But don’t imagine you’ll find one person who can do everything. It doesn’t often happen. Rather than pay one person to do something well and other things badly, find the right person for each job. It doesn’t cost any more and you get a better result.

Even the most devoted gardeners can struggle to keep things in order without some assistance.

For example, if we’re embarking on a hard landscaping project, we get a clever chap on a small digger to pull out whatever needs to go and either cart it away, buryit or burn it. People are often cautious about hiring diggers, but a good operator can do about 10 times as much as a bloke with a scythe and a chainsaw, and dispose of the mess for much less.

When our garage was trashed by a falling tree, the digger man removed the tree, cut it up, demolished the garage and got rid of the whole mess within a couple of hours. I never knew where he’d put it until years later when I suggested he could dig a hole in the lawn for a swimming pool.

“You can’t put it there,” he said. “That’s where I buried the garage.” A really experienced, creative digger driver is a thing of absolute beauty.

Our second line of defence is a large bloke with serious muscles and an extraordinary work ethic to do the hard stuff, such as clearing gorse or cutting out tobacco weed.

It saves time and strained backs, and leaves us with enough energy to replant the area when he’s finished.

If you have a hard, boring job to be done it might only take two or three hours, because your large bloke will be totally focused and won’t be distracted by a sudden need to water the vegetable garden or whip up to the nursery for a bag

of compost.

And then there’s the weeding – some gardeners like to do it. I am not one of them, so every month or so we have a young woman in to weed.

An experienced digger operator is a beautiful addition.

Note:

If you’re getting someone to weed your garden, make sure he or she is experienced. A friend who purports to be a gardener tried to insist I dispose of my prized Brugmansia Virgo.

“That bloody tobacco weed over there will seed all over your garden,” he warned me. Our weeder has a diploma in horticulture and I never have the slightest doubt she knows more about plants than I do.

We tend to alternate the muscle man and the weeder, so for our $80 a month we can always see a significant difference. And, as The Partner points out, we save a bit on those conciliatory bottles of wine.

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