When it comes to garden solutions, there’s no substitute for hands-on experience. So we asked the experts to share their solutions to Handyman readers’ outdoor problems.
1. Bare patches in the lawn
PROBLEM: ‘I spilled fertiliser and killed a patch of grass. So I reseeded, but nothing happened. When I laid turf over it, the turf died. What can I do?’
SOLUTION: It’s contaminated soil you’re up against, and this is a problem that’s easy to remedy. Turn the soil over, then dig deep and flip over clumps of soil. This buries the most contaminated top layer far down where the contaminants will dissipate before new roots grow. Flood the area with water for at least 15 minutes to drive the contaminants deeper, then you’re ready for seed or turf.
2. Heavy potted plants
PROBLEM: ‘I move pots about so I always have flowers in bloom on my deck, but some are too heavy. Can I lighten them?’
SOLUTION: Use foam packing peanuts instead. They are around $7 for 100g, from stores like Officeworks. Fill the pot one-third to one-half full with packing peanuts and cover with landscape fabric, then top up the pot with a good-quality potting mix. While this planting method lessens the weight of the pot, it will need more frequent watering due to the reduced amount of soil. Cover the mix with bark mulch to help retain moisture.
3. Rotten post in the fence
PROBLEM: ‘One of my fence posts is rotting away and needs replacing, but I’m really not sure how to get the concrete footing out of the ground.’
SOLUTION: It’s not complicated, but you’ll definitely work up a sweat. Dig a semicircular hole the same depth as the concrete around one side of the footing. Make the hole large enough so you can get a good swing at the concrete with a sledgehammer. When you’ve knocked off half the concrete, you and a helper should be able to lift the post out of the hole.
TIP: The post may break off while it’s being lifted. If it does, tie a rope around the footing to lift it out.