Indigenous landscaping & garden design
in Johannesburg & Pretoria, South Africa

Top 10 garden problems & solutions

  • Top 10 garden problems & solutions

    A list of the most common garden problems we see in Gauteng

    We've visited many gardens in Gauteng over the years and have had the opportunity to see a number of problems that homeowners face. In most cases the problems are not unique, and might have simple solutions, whilst in other cases - such as a tree breaking a boundary wall - there may be costly expenses involved to remove the problem tree and repair the wall.

    In this article I want to cover some of the common problems we encounter and how they can be solved. Please keep in mind that we've had to use our discretion as to how to define the problems, because in some cases the problem might simply be a symptom of a larger issue. A fungus attacking your plants, for example, might be a symptom of a garden that is being over-watered, whilst a patchy lawn might indicate that you have rubble under the ground. To this end I've tried to be as logical as possible in my approach to the list, and as always would welcome your feedback on the items you feel might need further explanation, or other problems you think should be included.

    Herewith are 10 common gardening problems we encounter, and their solutions:

    1) Trees breaking walls or lifting paving

    This Searsia lancea, planted too close to a boundary wall, has already had to be cut in half, and is lifting the paving

    Arguably the most common problem we find in gardens is poor tree selection and placement, resulting in damaged boundary walls, the lifting of paving, or tree roots that interfere with house foundations. Unfortunately, it is all too tempting to place a young tree close to a boundary wall, either because the homeowner or estate wants screening right up against the boundary wall, or because the bed doesn't have enough space. From experience we know how difficult it can be for a homeowner to plant a tree even one meter away from a wall, often because they don't want to take up too much lawn space. Unfortunately though - depending on the species - some trees can eventually become problems, and can end up doing damage.

    Trees such as this exotic Ceiba speciosa (Silk floss tree), whilst beautiful, can easily lift paving and crack boundary walls

    If you have a tree that is starting to affect a boundary wall, be proactive and remove it, or transplant it if it is still young. For new trees take into account the full-grown height and width of the tree and plant it accordingly. For small trees we recommend a distance of at least 1.5 - 3 meters from the boundary wall, whilst larger trees should be planted at least 4-7 meters away from walls and foundations. For further reading visit our "Trees breaking walls" and Top 10 trees articles.

    2) Poor drainage & flooding

    One of the most common problems homeowners face - usually at the start of the rainy season - is that of poor drainage. Drainage problems usually only become evident when there is a heavy downpour, and a combination of factors can result in flooding in various parts of your home. Your neighbour's run-off water, for example - which by law you have to accept - can result in a torrent of water flooding through your property. Lawn also has a poor infiltration rate, and can easily flood, so a large lawn area -depending on its gradient - could direct water right up to your house. Even beds that have become rock hard due to inadequate use of groundcovers, or constant digging of the soil, can become problem areas. And we have had one instance where a client's home was flooding because the estate installed a speed hump on the main road, which inadvertently diverted run-off water into the client's garden and up to their house (see our African Birdlife article "Go with the flow").

    Although flooding is a stressful event and can be damaging to a property, there are many actions you can take to resolve it. Below are some of the options:

    Contouring & dry riverbeds
    A dry riverbed can be used to channel drainage water through the garden and out of the property. Adding rocks, pebbles, and water-loving plants helps to make it a feature of the garden

    Adding contours or dry riverbeds to your garden is a great way to direct water away from the house. It is simple to do - albeit labour intensive - and involves understanding where the water is coming from (e.g. gutters, your driveway, your neighbour), where you want to direct it (your next neighbour, outlets to the street), and then raising or lowering the ground to direct it accordingly. A dry riverbed can also look beautiful even when it is not raining, by adding rocks, pebbles and gravel, and water loving plants to add to the aesthetic appeal. Contours and dry riverbeds are usually more efficient than drains at moving water, because they can handle a large volume, and because they do not get clogged as easily with debris - something that is almost always present with the first heavy rains. Additionally, a well-designed dry riverbed can help to slow the water down, making it easier for the water to infiltrate your soil, and reducing the volume that flows into your neighbour's property or onto the street.

    Drains & PVC pipes
    A grid and PVC piping helps move rainwater away from this patio area

    Whilst contouring might be the ideal way to move water through a garden, it is not always practical, as some gardens might be too small or too flat to allow for contouring. In these cases, drains are usually the preferred option, and can be added along the sides of the house, a patio, driveway, or in the middle of the lawn or garden beds where water collects. The drain then feeds into one or more PVC pipes - usually 110mm in size - which take water away from the home and out of the property. The drain should be covered by a grid, or by gravel and a geotextile material to prevent it from becoming clogged.

    Drainage systems can be also be used against retaining walls where water might collect, to prevent damage to the wall. In these cases, a perforated pipe is added at the base of the wall, and the space behind the wall backfilled with gravel and covered by a geotextile material. This prevents the build-up of water against the wall as it filters down into the perforated pipe and is discharged elsewhere in the garden.

    Replacing lawn with bedding plants

    Rainwater from the neighbour was a major problem in this garden. By changing the lawn to a forested seating area, the rainwater soaked into the beds and the drainage problem was resolved

    Removing lawn and adding groundcovers to your garden is another efficient way of reducing run-off and potential flooding in your home. Lawns in general are compacted spaces, and have low water infiltration rates. By changing your lawn to a garden bed, you can increase the infiltration rate of your soil, and thereby reduce water runoff. We often get feedback from client's whose lawn we have replaced with bedding plants, who tell us their drainage problems have disappeared. If you do opt for this option, remember that the goal is to avoid bare patches and cover your ground with as many bedding plants as possible.

    3) Dead or sparse lawn in shady areas

    Lawn in shaded areas of the garden - one of the most common garden problems

    I have always tried to promote the idea of lawn-free gardens, gardens which increase the biodiversity of an area and lower your maintenance costs. But lawns have their place, and many people could not conceive of a garden without some lawn to walk on, lie on, for their pets to run around on, or to play sport on with their kids. Lawn, however, is likely to be your highest maintenance plant, and there are a number of lawn problems we frequently encounter. One of these is lawn that is struggling in the shade. Usually these lawns are Kikuyu, a sun-loving species which slowly dies off in shaded areas. To solve this problem homeowners sometimes resort to cutting back their trees to let more light in, but this is usually a temporary solution, and if not done correctly can harm the tree. A better alternative is to use LM or 'Berea' lawn in the spaces where Kikuyu is struggling. This is an indigenous species that is better suited to semi-shade areas, and once established knits well together with Kikuyu.

    A once struggling Kikuyu lawn (foreground), has been replaced in the shade (background) with LM lawn. As can be seen from this photo the two species knit well together

    LM, however, only works in semi-shaded areas (rarely in dense shade), and does not take heavy traffic very well. Other ‘shade-lawn’ species may have limited lifespans, and homeowners who try them often end up having to repeat the seeding or planting process every year or two. If, after trying LM, you still find your lawn struggling, it's best then to let go of your lawn and rather extend your beds, using shade loving groundcovers. Some of our favourite gardens are those with no lawn at all, shaded hideaways where homeowners have been creative in providing access without the need for sun-loving lawns. Converting your lawn into an indigenous bed is rewarding and liberating, and allows you to include a greater diversity of plants in your garden.

    4) Overwatering

    Overwatering compromises your plants and your garden. Here a Buddleja saligna (False Olive) is being over watered by an irrigation system, resulting in yellowing of the leaves

    One of the most damaging problems we see in gardens is overwatering. Unfortunately, some homeowners feel the need to put down so much water in their gardens - often because they have a borehole - that they end up compromising their plants and their gardens. We've even met homeowners who were watering their gardens twice a day, every day, which is a waste of water and damaging to most plants. You really can kill your garden with too much kindness!

    Overwatering a garden results in a range of problems, including increased risk of fungus and disease, leaching of nutrients from the soil, spongy lawns, and shallow root systems of trees. Often, if a tree falls over during the rainy season, it’s because its root system was not deep enough, a symptom that it had been overwatered for many years by an irrigation system. Many tree species also go dormant in the winter months, and require much less water, or no water at all. Understanding the water requirements of the various plants in your garden is important, and will help you manage the amount of water you put down. More importantly though, changing your garden into a locally indigenous space will mean you will require much less water, as the plants will be adapted to your climate and conditions.

    5) Alien invasives in the garden

    An alien invasive Syringa (Melia azedarach) growing amongst the indigenous species on this verge

    The definition of a weed is a plant that is growing where it is not wanted. This, of course, is a fairly broad and open-ended definition, and doesn't define which plants might be weeds and which are not. Some people might view a particular species as a weed, whilst others view that same species as part of the garden. A homeowner trying to maintain a healthy Kikuyu lawn, for example, might view Cynodon as a weed, whilst a homeowner trying to maintain a healthy indigenous grassland might view Kikuyu as the weed, and Cynodon as part of the ecology.

    For our purposes we are trying to enhance biodiversity, so to keep things simple let's focus on alien invasive species growing in your garden, as these are certainly unwanted plants, and this is one of the most common problems we see.

    An exotic Celtis sinensis seedling has taken root in this indigenous garden - almost certainly dispersed by a bird

    Gauteng unfortunately is full of alien invasives, and most of them spread easily, outcompeting native species and compromising our ecology. Most propagate by fruit/seed, which is usually dispersed by birds or animals, wind or water, or sometimes unwittingly by garden maintenance teams as they move around. Identifying alien invasives when they are young is key, but many can be difficult to identify, especially for the untrained eye, so calling a professional or using one of the smartphone identification apps can be helpful.

    Removing alien invasives when they are young will prevent them from producing fruit/seed of their own, or becoming so large that they smother surrounding indigenous vegetation. Removing young specimens will also save you money, as it can be costly to remove them later once they have grown. Additionally, some species - such as Bugweed - can be toxic or cause skin irritations, so catching them early can help you avoid health problems with such species.

    Common species to look out for are Privets, exotic Celtis sp., Syringas, Jacarandas, Bugweed, Lantana, and Pompom weed. All of these are invasive and can compromise locally indigenous habitats, and although established trees such as Jacarandas need not be removed, homeowners should nevertheless be proactive in removing young specimens.

    If you are unsure what alien invasives might be growing on your property, contact us for a consultation - preferably with your gardener present - and we can assist you in identifying and removing them.

    6) Rubble in the garden

    Rubble lifted from just below the lawn of a small garden in Midrand

    Rubble is a problem we frequently encounter in gardens, and is usually not apparent to homeowners until they dig up their soil in preparation for gardening. In small townhouse complexes rubble under the lawn is sometimes the result of building contractors taking shortcuts, by dumping it in the garden instead of removing it from the property. Lawn is then planted over the rubble, and once the contractor leaves no one is any the wiser. Unfortunately, rubble in the garden limits the growth space for your larger plants, resulting in plants struggling in a particular area or continually dying off. We’ve encountered homes where a homeowner tries to plant trees but finds that the young trees keep dying. Only when we dig below the ground do we find that the garden is full of rubble, and the trees were trying to root through this. Fortunately, there are building contractors who follow best practice in this regard - protecting the topsoil and removing rubble - and many estates now enforce rules regarding rubble and topsoil. If you think you have rubble under your lawn, and are wanting to change it into a garden bed, you’ll need to remove it before you can reap the benefits of a lush and healthy garden. For more info read our rubble in the garden article here.

    7) Faulty or inefficient irrigation system

    Poor quality cabling can cause numerous problems in irrigation systems

    As indigenous landscapers we prefer to not install irrigation for our gardens, and rather rely on rainwater or manual watering of individual plants if required. But irrigation is useful in certain circumstances, such as newly installed gardens, for lush lawns or thirsty exotics such as roses or azaleas, or for food gardens with herbs and vegetables. And since a faulty or inefficient irrigation system is one of the most common problems we see, I think it's worth having on this list. Many homeowners have spent good money on installing and maintaining an irrigation system, not to mention the borehole to feed the system, so having an efficient system is important.

    In most cases a faulty or inefficient irrigation system can be traced back to poor design or poor installation. Irrigation is a competitive and unregulated industry, meaning anyone with a basic knowledge of water and pipes can install it for you. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in poor quality installations, without proper planning or design, or using poor quality materials. Common problems with installations include shallowly trenched pipes - which is the most labour-intensive part of the installation, cheap cabling, and lack of head-to-head design, resulting in overwatering or underwatering of certain areas. Poor trenching in particular is a major cause of leaking pipes, and one can hardly blame a gardener for puncturing a pipe that hasn't been trenched properly. As a general rule - and unless there are extenuating circumstances such as rock or house foundations - pipes should be trenched 400mm below the surface, and pop-ups fitted by means of swing-joints or flexible pipe. For cabling a minimum of 1mm GP wire should be used, and cables placed in a protective conduit. Finally, all systems should employ head-to-head design principles to ensure even precipitation over an area, unless there is a narrow bed, in which case an alternative sprinkling design - such as strip nozzles - can be used. An irrigation system can be an efficient way of watering your garden, but it's important that it's installed correctly. For more information read our irrigation system problems and solutions article here.

    8) Garden pests and diseases

    Pests such as the Amaryllis Lily Borer (left) and Aloe scale (right) can be major problems in Gauteng gardens

    As indigenous landscapers, we find very few pests and diseases attack our client's plants, and insects that do eat the plants usually form part of the natural life cycle of the plant. The garden Acraea butterfly (and its larvae) is a good example. Its host plant is the Kiggelaria africana (Wild Peach), which the butterfly lays its eggs on. When the eggs hatch an eruption of black caterpillars appears on the leaves, slowly eating away at the leaves until they can strip the tree bare. But this is a natural process for this tree, and it soon bounces back with a healthy, fresh set of leaves. The caterpillars in turn are food for cuckoos, which enhances the birdlife in your garden, and caterpillars that don’t get eaten soon pupate and turn into butterflies again. These are therefore not pests, but rather insects that form a natural part of the food chain and the life cycle of our indigenous plants.

    But there are some insects we encounter which do not seem to have locally occurring natural predators, and for these insects intervention is sometimes required. The Amaryllis lily borer (Brithys crini) is an example. The moth of this species lays its eggs on some of our most prized plants, specifically clivias, crinums, and agapanthus, where the larvae then hatch and bore into the leaves. Left unchecked the larvae bore further down the leaf and into the bulb, where they damage the bulb and may kill the plant. A large infestation of this species is a serious problem in a garden, and can cause havoc on a group of clivias. Because the larvae do not appear to have any locally occurring predators - at least here in South Africa - they have become a major problem in gardens around the country. To resolve this many homeowners resort to pesticides, but a better alternative is manual intervention, where you take the place of a predator and manually remove the infected leaves and kill the larvae. This is a time-consuming (not to mention squeamish) process, but if homeowners and their gardeners are proactive it solves the problem and avoids you having to put down pesticides, which can compromise the wildlife you do want. Alternatively, there are some gardeners who leave the borer alone, preferring to let nature take its course, and they subsequently find that not all their plants get damaged or destroyed. If you are such a gardener please leave us a comment in the comments section below, so that both us and other gardeners can learn from your experiences.

    Another regular problem we encounter is aloe scale, a white scale insect that has proliferated throughout Gauteng and turns the leaves of your aloes white. These insects are sap-suckers, and if left unattended will eventually kill the aloe. There are multiple interventions to them, including cleaning the scale off with a soapy liquid and soft brush, using a high-pressure hose, or spraying the leaves with an oil - either a cooking oil or an organic product available from your local nursery - which suffocates the insects, allowing the plant to eventually recover.

    9) Bare soil

    I'm sure a few homeowners are wondering why bare soil/ground might be a problem in their garden, afterall, there are plenty of gardens with bare soil! But bare soil is a problem for a number of reasons, and is not the norm in our naturally occurring grasslands, bushveld and forests. As Frits van Oudtshoorn points out in his wonderful book, "Veld Management, Principles and Practices": Mother nature does not like to be naked.

    Think about this in terms of your own garden. If you dig up a garden bed, for example, but leave the soil bare, what happens? After a while the first few weeds start taking root, and within a few months to a year it is likely your bare soil will be covered with plants again, albeit with plants you may not want. This is one of the reasons some homeowners feel the need to constantly dig their soil, because otherwise it looks 'messy'. But digging the soil only perpetuates the problem of bare soil, resulting in degradation of the soil - damage to healthy microbes and fungi, a lower water infiltration rate - which results in soil erosion and drainage problems, and dust around the home.

    Bare soil such as this has developed a hard crust, resulting in water run-off, drainage problems, soil erosion, and dust around the home

    Instead of digging bare soil, cover your beds with low growing groundcovers, or pioneer grasses (if you're developing a grassland), which will cover the soil and help protect it. This is known as a 'living' mulch, or a crop cover in agriculture. In between your planting you can then use an organic mulch whilst you wait for your plants to grow (read our mulch article here). Covering your soil with plants will increase your soil's water infiltration rate, reducing soil erosion and drainage problems, and protecting your home from dust. Additionally, dead plant matter can be left in the beds to slowly decompose and enrich the soil.

    10) Dogs destroying the garden

    Dogs can cause havoc in a small garden, digging up plants and damaging the lawn. Part intervention and part compromise is usually required

    I have left this problem for last, specifically because it is one of the most difficult to solve. Dogs are not only our pets, they're family, and allowing them to roam freely in the garden allows them to dissipate all of that excited energy they have within them. Unfortunately, especially in small shady gardens - dogs can cause havoc to lawns and our plants, either digging holes or pulling the plants out. Sometimes dogs will pull out plants that you have planted yourself (as opposed to plants planted by someone else), which might be a sign that they are competing with the plant for your attention! (Perhaps a dog expert can answer this?)

    A small garden that has been dug up by your dogs can become a problem in the rainy season, especially if your dogs bring half of that soil into the house. We have managed to solve these problems somewhat by planting hardy, unpalatable plants, such as Dietes, or placing dump rock in the garden - which is usually not aesthetically pleasing. Spiny plants, or foul-smelling plants are not as successful, and dogs can get quite creative in getting around these. Other interventions - though more expensive - are electric pet cables, which issue sound alarms or small shocks to your dog, thereby teaching them to stay out of the beds. But these are restrictive measures, especially in a small garden, and at the end of the day the garden should be there for everyone, including your pets. If you have a solution to this problem please let us know in the comments section below, as I'm sure many dog owners would love some practical advice!

    Other garden problems we encounter

    Below is a list of other problems we encounter, some of which might overlap with those listed above

    Lack of a mowing edge

    Lack of a mowing edge (left) can make it difficult for your gardener to maintain the 'line' between your lawn and your beds. Adding a mowing edge, such as precast cobbles (right), solves this problem

    One of the goals of a gardener or garden maintenance team is to keep your garden looking neat, and one of the ways to do this is to ensure that there is a neatly clipped line between your lawn and your beds. Unfortunately, this can be difficult for gardeners, as they often have to use a spade to keep the edge of the lawn straight, which results in the lawn slowly being chipped away at until your beds have increased in size. Lawn, by definition, is an artificially manipulated plant, and if you have not defined its boundaries then you might always struggle with this problem. Instead of blaming your gardener for increasing the size of your beds, make his or her life easier by edging the beds with an edging material. Some of the options here include rocks, wood, or a cobble edging - preferably cemented into place. There are also commercial products on the market (made from steel) which are specifically designed for this purpose. Using one of these solves this problem immediately, allowing everyone involved in the upkeep of your garden to know where the lawn ends and where the beds begin.

    Inadequate lawn care

    Apart from mowing, weeding and watering, lawns require seasonal maintenance to prevent them from falling into disrepair

    Lawn, as we have mentioned, is likely to be your highest maintenance plant, and limiting it in your garden can save you maintenance and watering costs. But if you do have lawn in your garden, then it is important that you look after it seasonally to ensure it remains healthy. Kikuyu is the most common lawn used on the highveld, and we frequently encounter gardens where it has not been maintained or adequately cared for. Apart from regular mowing, watering and weeding, a healthy lawn requires additional maintenance which may include, scarification and hollow tining, top dressing, and fertilising.

    Lawn in difficult to reach places

    Lawn in this area can be changed to an indigenous bed, which will reduce maintenance time and costs

    We frequently encounter gardens where lawn, for one reason or another, is being kept in difficult to reach places. Sometimes this can be between a bed and the boundary wall, which requires the gardener to somehow get the lawnmower or weedeater into this area in order to maintain it.

    Lawn behind this rose bed adds an unnecessary maintenance headache

    Some homeowners leave the lawn because they cannot think of anything else to use, when in reality a garden bed with low-growing groundcovers would be more appropriate. Think about all the spaces where you have lawn in your garden, and consider whether a garden bed might be a better option.

    'Messy' plants

    One frequent complaint we receive from homeowners is that certain plants in their gardens are too 'messy', dropping too many leaves, fruit, or flowers onto their paving or into their pool. It's true that some plants are more problematic than others, and generally one needs to live with this problem or remove the plant. Often the plant in question is an evergreen tree, and some of our most beautiful evergreen trees drop a large number of leaves all year round. To keep things in context, it's not the tree's fault, but rather its selection and placement, so if it isn't doing any damage then the ideal scenario is to leave it and work the additional maintenance into your schedule. Otherwise, trimming the tree back can help, so long as it is done professionally to ensure the tree maintains its natural shape.

    Rock in the garden

    Gardens such as this are challenging and require some creativity. Indigenous grasses and hardy succulents can help turn a barren and rocky space into a beautiful garden

    Having a garden that contains natural rock can be a benefit to the homeowner, by providing a unique 'rocky outcrop' habitat that other homeowners try to artificially replicate. Additionally, there are many indigenous plant species that one can use in such a scenario, provided there is a bit of soil to work with. Unfortunately though, some of the gardens we see have so much rock that it leaves the homeowner perplexed as to what to do in order to create a beautiful garden. In these cases, one generally has to be creative in solving the problem, either by building artificial planting spaces, or decking over the area and making use of potted plants. Sometimes one might be able to jack-hammer part of the rock away, provided it is practical to do so and is not going to compromise a boundary wall or foundation. If you live on a rocky ridge you might be able to create a grassland or succulent garden, and often this can result in a unique and rewarding layout.

    Poisonous plants

    Once in a while we are consulted by homeowners who are concerned that they may have poisonous plants in their gardens, which are affecting their children or their pets. These cases are few and far between, but it can be a concern - especially if your little ones are constantly 'taste-testing' your garden. In most cases we find that the problem plant(s) are exotics, and some species are notoriously problematic. Many exotics, like Melia azedarach (Syringa) and Solanum mauritianum (Bugweed), have proliferated throughout Gauteng, and regularly pop up in gardens, often dispersed there by birds. If you are concerned that your pets or children may be negatively affected by plants in your garden, consult first with an expert to catalogue the species you have, and once you have this list you can then make an informed decision as to which plants may need to be removed.

    Hail damage

    Hail damage to your plants can be a painful experience to go through, especially if you have worked so hard to get your garden looking picture perfect. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about this problem, but the good news is that plants are resilient, and most will recover quickly from hail damage, sending out a fresh set of leaves. Our advice is to accept hail damage as part of nature, and remember not to throw away all those fallen leaves - as mentioned already they act as a perfect mulch to rejuvenate your garden.

    25 comments on “Top 10 garden problems & solutions”

    1. Very interesting article! This is our first year in Gauteng, having been in the Garden Route where kikuyu grows all year round if there is sufficient water. We froze to death here last winter, and our lawn didn't do much better, going completely brown, full of weeds and dormant. The previous owner had obviously not cared for the the garden. We dug it up and replaced with new kikuyu in Spring, and are keen to keep the grass as well as possible over winter. We only had about three frost days last winter, and local people said it was a mild winter! I believe we can water once every 2 weeks? Can I fertilise over winter?

      1. Hi Kelly

        Thanks for visiting our site and apologies for the delay in responding.

        It's best to reduce the watering in winter and allow the Kikuyu to go dormant to allow for stronger growth in spring. Although it doesn't look so great, accept it as a cycle of nature and save water.

        We prefer not to water an established lawn during the winter months.

        I recommend you arrange for scarification, fertiliser and lawn dressing application at the end of August and your lawn will bounce back by the end of September.


    2. Hi
      I would like your thoughts on the garden services I currently employ. I live in Durban. I can't afford full services so agreed to lawn maintenance only. But I've noticed that only a weed eater is used, followed by a leaf blower. All the leaves and clippings are removed. So my lawn seems to be receding even as we enter our rainy season. My soil is good. Surely this is a detrimental practice?

      So I'm thinking of going back to a personal gardener with whom I can work to weed and trim and move stuff about. I don't care about neat edges and as I only have shrubs around the edges of the lawn, does it matter if the lawn encroaches. Maybe if I get that LM lawn it will at least keep short. I like a bit of a wild looking garden as long is the weeds are under control.
      Best regards.

      1. Hi Barbara

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Your garden service should be caring for your garden according to your prescribed requirements so it may be easier to manage your own maintenance to avoid further frustrations.

        Consider changing your lawn to a low-maintenance option. LM lawn is easier to manage as it doesn't require mowing as frequently as Kikuyu lawn. If Buffalo grass (Stenotaphrum secondatum) is available in your area that may be an even better solution as it can remain unmowed for extended periods and retains a neat edge well.


    3. I am so happy I found your blog and I absolutely love your information about top 14 garden problems solutions and the tips you have shared are awesome. I liked and it is wonderful to know about so many things that are useful for all of us! Thanks a lot for this amazing blog!!

    4. Great post! I agree that there are many indigenous plant species that one can use in such a scenario, provided there is sufficient soil in the area to work with.

    5. I have a plot at the back of the garden which would make an excellent allotment, however the pot is covered in horse tail and we have tried to weed it but it still returns. I have tried to use weed killer but the horse tail still comes back.

      Can you give me any tips please I am getting desperate.

      1. Hi Elspeth

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        It can take a few seasons to control horsetail weed on a plot.

        There are no chemicals suitable for killing it, so the best method to clear it off your land is physically digging it up. Ensure that all the roots are extracted as it is a rhizome and will continue growing if any roots remain in the soil.

        To avoid further spread of the weed, practice no-dig gardening.


    6. Plants that are large or are newly planted will also require more water as they will need plenty of moisture and nutrients to establish themselves and grow. Plants with shallow root systems such as vegetables or most perennials will also need more frequent watering because they don’t have the reservoirs of water storage, nor the deep roots through which they can obtain water from deep within the soil.

    7. I have fungi growing along the buried roots of a silver birch tree. Please can you tell me how to get rid of them. Its killed an area of my lawn.

      1. Hi Gwen

        Thanks or visiting our site.

        It may be best to get someone out to have a look at the fungi before trying to get rid of them as fungi are beneficial to the environment. They play a vital role of breaking down dead plant or animal material.


    8. Having returned from holiday I am devastated to find my garden completely dried up help what do I do cut back all the dead plants shrubs then water or water see what survives then cut back???

      1. Hi Jeannie

        Thanks for visiting our site, and sorry for the state of your garden.

        I would recommend giving it a little TLC with some deep-watering and perhaps some of the plants will recover - nature truly is amazing. Remove the obvious casualties, but wait for a few weeks to see what recovers before cutting back severely.

        You should also consider installing an automated irrigation system so you won't have to face this scenario again.


      1. Hi Sheila

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        I'm not sure about this. Perhaps take a cutting to your nearest nursery who will be able to advise you on a suitable course of action to get rid of this.


    9. I have lost two shrubs this winter. Both were approximately 50 years old. First the camellia died now the eleagnus which is the next shrub along, is dying. Both were under a cupressus tree which is far too large for a small garden. Is it likely to be disease or lack of water that has killed them after such a long time of growing successfully?

      1. Hi Nean

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        It sounds like your shrubs are competing with the cupressus tree for nutrients and water and sadly, you've lost a beautiful shrub. This is a natural process in an established garden like yours. It may still be possible to save your other shrub if it is possible to transplant it. Otherwise, accept the loss as an opportunity to bring in a new element to refresh the space.


    10. When an old leaking pond was femo ed unbeknown to me the builders filled it with rocks paving slabs and sand I have manged to remove the the rocks and the slabs. The area is very damp. Can I leave the sand insitu and mix with compost. Wll this improve drainage or will it damage plants and wildlife

      1. Hi Cecilia

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        I find that the sand used to fill in ponds is usually lacking in nutrients and requires a lot of additives to make it a suitable growing medium. Although it involves a lot more work to remove it and replace with a quality soil, you're likely to reduce the risks of harm to your plants and wildlife.


      1. Hi Ria

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        It sounds like you have clover (Trifolium sp.) in your lawn and the herbicide you've tried is not effective for that.

        We prefer not to use herbicides and rather go through the process of manually removing weeds. It is time-consuming, but a very effective method with the least impact on the environment.

        The key to keeping weeds under control is to remove them before they flower and seed as they will spread rapidly. Mowing a lawn with weeds worsens the situation as the mower spreads the weed over a larger area. Also avoid sharing implements with other gardens as the seeds may be transferred from another garden.


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  • Testimonials

    • Steven Green, GreenstoneSteven Green, Greenstone

      I was truly blown away by the service, in my experience there are very few companies now days that do as they say, not only was the job completed earlier than estimated but little things such as sourcing paint for the walling and replacing broken walkway steps from the original manufacturer were sourced and delivered within a few hours. I was expecting to have to do it myself. I can definitely recommend this company to anyone for all landscaping requirements, by far the best service provider I have dealt with in a very long time. Thank you Ryan and Glenice it was a pleasure working with you!

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    • Andrew & Melanie, WoodmeadAndrew & Melanie, Woodmead

      We have done extensive renovating and building in the past and I can honestly say that Grounded Landscaping provided us with by far the most professional and knowledgeable service yet. It’s easily apparent that Ryan and Glenice are passionate about what they do and this translates into a beautiful and considered final product. We love our garden renovation and the fire pit. The team working with Ryan was courteous, polite and hardworking. Ryan was on site all the time (unheard of with most jobs) and was always obliging and happy to help and give advice. This is a wonderful group of people who we couldn’t recommend more highly.

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    • Vida Opperman, EdenburgVida Opperman, Edenburg

      Ryan, Glenice and team turned my messy overgrown hell scape into a grasslands oasis. Thank you for giving a bit of nature in the middle of Sandton...

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    • Janice Walker, FairlandJanice Walker, Fairland

      Working with Grounded Landscaping was just a wonderful experience all round. My beautiful indigenous garden is just over a year old and gives me daily joy. Ditching the lawn was the best decision I ever made! Grounded Landscaping still provides support, as and when I need it. Glenice is the consummate professional with oodles of knowledge and experience. I thoroughly recommend this company

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    • Derek Tedder, SandownDerek Tedder, Sandown

      I was very lucky to come across Grounded landscaping; it was an absolute pleasure to deal with people where the client comes first! From the first discussion to the finishing off, the service was great and nothing was too much. The knowledge and suggestions were first class and the results speak for themselves, very happy ????

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    • Julia Blitz, MooikloofJulia Blitz, Mooikloof

      It is no surprise that this is an award winning company. It has been an absolute pleasure doing business with them as well as watching them work on my garden landscaping and planting. This is a professional team that works together, is passionate about the work that they do, and understands indigenous ecology at a deep systems level. I look forward to watching my new bushveld garden establish itself - the birds and butterflies are already appreciating it!
      I highly recommend this company and look forward to their maintenance visits over the forthcoming years.

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    • Eric & Amelia Kleijn, ParktownEric & Amelia Kleijn, Parktown

      We would like to place on record our sincere thanks and gratitude for the outstanding service we received from Grounded Landscaping. The enthusiasm displayed by all your staff was a delight. It was so refreshing to work with knowledgeable people who clearly love what they do; and more importantly, are very good at what they do.

      We have no hesitation in recommending Grounded Landscaping. They genuinely care about their work and take great pride in it. And it shows! May they grow from strength to strength!

      All good wishes,

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    • Kathy & Peter Strehler, Wilro ParkKathy & Peter Strehler, Wilro Park

      Once again thanks so much for all your hard work last week on our garden makeover. Your layout, plant selection and advice are appreciated and especially thanks for just being the special person you are. We are thrilled with the result and can’t wait to watch everything grow up and grow tall and lush.

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    • Natalie Skoutellas, BedfordviewNatalie Skoutellas, Bedfordview

      From the moment I contacted Grounded Landscaping I received professional yet personal service from Glenice. Upon our first meeting I knew I could trust Glenice to give me the look & feel I wanted & I was right. Glenice goes the extra mile to make sure you’re happy. When she saw I had small kids eager to play outside, she pushed her team to work faster. We ended up needing extra work done like piping, drainage & irrigation & yet the job was completed before the time she initially quoted us on.
      Thank you guys so much. You’re an amazing team. My garden looks awesome.

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    • Gordon & Sue Morrison, The Bush House, Madikwe Game ReserveGordon & Sue Morrison, The Bush House, Madikwe Game Reserve

      Glenice, Ryan and the team from Grounded Landscaping have been an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish. Bearing in mind we are in the middle of a game reserve and so far away from Johannesburg, the planning and execution has been exemplary. In the seven days they were with us Glenice and Ryan were completely hands on, always available and totally involved with this large project. Everyone on the team was completely professional and friendly and it was a wonderful way for our staff and ourselves to learn so much with this hands on approach. Nothing was too much trouble and it was a project that had a “feel good“ effect. Our guests have been delighted with the result and we are doubly thrilled that due to this project we are saving 22 500 litres of water a week. Sincere thanks.

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    • Mike & Irina, BryanstonMike & Irina, Bryanston

      We found Grounded Landscaping on the internet and we were really satisfied with service provided from the initial planning consultation, through to site work and after sale services. The whole team was professional, hard working and extremely reliable. Ryan Ebedes kept us informed of the progress and any difficulties were dealt with ensuring minimum delay to the project. The whole project was implemented in an efficient way, with outstanding quality, stuck to the budget and schedule outlined from the beginning. As we were away from home, the after sale services provided by the team were really appreciated. We can definitely recommend your services in future to our friends and wish you much success with the business!

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    • Kamanie Moodley, MidrandKamanie Moodley, Midrand

      From day one..from the initial meeting with Glenice, to the design stage and finally the installation; the entire process was hassle free and smooth sailing. It's exactly what I wanted - a hands on person who took charge at every stage to ensure her team were on track and keeping to design needs.

      Glenice was on site the entire time, keeping to deadlines; and always on time which is so unusual in this line of work. Her hands on approach and eagle's eye for attention to detail gave me alot of confidence. I have learnt so much from Glenice, in terms of what works for a garden and she has challenged my thinking on a few topics. I love her passion for indigenous planting as well as creating a space that attracts wildlife. I put in my first sisal nesting log last week; and waiting patiently now for barbets to occupy the nest. Thanks to Glenice for that! Next is the bee hotel!

      Ryan, her husband helped us with advice on the irrigation system so we have more efficient watering.
      They are a perfect team, listening attentively to the client's needs and patiently giving advise.

      Phase 1 of my garden is done. Now I can't wait for Phase 2 to begin!

      I highly recommend Grounded Landscaping to transform your garden into a haven. God knows, we all need something to revive our spirits during this Lockdown.

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    • Candi Smith, LonehillCandi Smith, Lonehill

      It has been an honour to meet Glenice, Ryan and the Grounded Landscaping team who have completely transformed my garden into the most joyful and serene space with beauty and interest around every corner. Glenice has an inspirational passion and knowledge for gardens, wildlife and the environment and working with Ryan and the team, provided a very professional end to service from the garden design and installation of plants, hard landscaping, lights, veggie garden and a water feature. Glenice and Ryan share their vast knowledge and experience to educate people on the plants, animals and insects that share and enjoy the garden, with interesting and relevant advice on how to care for it. This was more than a project; it has been a fascinating and exciting experience. I highly recommend Grounded Landscaping to anyone looking to transform their home and environment.

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    • Christelle Dunn, Highlands NorthChristelle Dunn, Highlands North

      Glenice really listened to our specific needs for the garden. We wanted a simple, low-maintenance garden with indigenous plants and a French look. Glenice delivered on all our requirements! She carefully considered all aspects of the garden and gave us regular feedback during the installation process. She also left us with a maintenance plan. Very professional service!

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    • Barbara Devine, BlairgowrieBarbara Devine, Blairgowrie

      I found Grounded Landscaping through Google and liked what they were offering. I called, and they were very professional and efficient. Ryan came to quote and sent the design within 24 hours and the I received the quote within a week. I thought the price quoted was very reasonable. The work on the garden commenced as per agreed date and I am very happy with the final garden. Ryan kept me updated daily and the work carried out was professional and efficient, whilst being friendly and helpful. Once the garden was completed, Ryan and Glenice came to take me through the care of the plants and presented me with a book on indigenous plants which was a really nice touch. The small things make all the difference. A thoroughly enjoyable experience and I am very happy with the outcome and would definitely recommend Grounded Landscaping.

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    • Charmaine Lack, WendywoodCharmaine Lack, Wendywood

      Glenice, Ryan and the team are absolutely superb! They are professional, efficient and always provide excellent service! My garden is now a safe haven because of them! Thank you so much Glenice, Ryan and the team!

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    • Keith Coyne, Property ConsultantKeith Coyne, Property Consultant

      I think this should be used as a show garden to other residents with practical use of space by planting mainly indigenous species that will not get too big for the space and the limited use of exotic species intermixed with good herbs and veggies.

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    • Leila Akahloun, AthollLeila Akahloun, Atholl

      Ryan and Glenice are experts at indigenous gardens. They provide designs and costings up front and are great thought partners on garden design. They manage a highly professional crew and they were quick , cost effective and efficient. I highly recommend their services. Top notch professionals!

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    • Alex Dohm, FerndaleAlex Dohm, Ferndale

      Thank you to Ryan and his team for our garden makeover! From the word go, Ryan was professional, punctual and so easy to work with. He always made sure to take our ideas and requests on board while adding his knowledge, creativity and experience to ensure a superb end result. Our questions were always answered promptly and advice was always just an email away. Ryan constantly supervised his team during the project and delivered exactly what was promised. We would highly recommend Grounded Landscaping.

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    • Kimon & Shernon Triantafillou, BedfordviewKimon & Shernon Triantafillou, Bedfordview

      The entire process from initial consultation through to installation and post sales was excellent! Very professional and would highly recommend Grounded Landscaping.

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    • Penny Allen, BroadacresPenny Allen, Broadacres

      Having had Glenice create a garden from scratch for my daughter to helping me with my garden on several occasions I cannot speak highly enough of her and her team. Glenice has a real understanding and love for the work she does and it SHOWS !! She has taught me a lot which adds to the overall appreciation of one’s unique space and opens one’s eyes to little aspects of nature that previously were not in one’s awareness. We need more of her in our world. She is an asset to nature.

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    • Carel Robinson, RandburgCarel Robinson, Randburg

      Excellent client service. Glenice is focused to deliver a complete service to her clients. Attention to small details was done to the T.

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    • Lindy-Ann & John CunhaLindy-Ann & John Cunha

      For anyone looking to redo their garden and entertainment area, I can’t recommend Grounded Landscaping enough. They are an award-winning Johannesburg based landscaping company, headed up by Glenice Ebedes. They specialise in indigenous gardens, and focus on quality and attention to detail.

      Glenice and her partner Ryan make the most amazing team. They are so kind and gentle but fiercely professional too. They are uber efficient and super talented. Last year we briefed Glenice to design a beautiful but low maintenance garden for us, and right off the bat, we were impressed.

      I have never had a garden before and my green thumb is more a consequence of painting than gardening, so I really didn’t know where to start. Our designs were presented as professional layout renderings with full descriptions and explanations for the flowers chosen and trees selected. So much thought went into what plants would go where and why.

      Fast forward 6 months and our little Eden has really begun to take hold and flourish. I am so very proud of our beautiful garden and spend as much time in it as humanly possible. It has been perfectly designed as low maintenance as requested and as Glenice put it so perfectly, “this garden has been created for the birds, bees and butterflies” and I couldn’t be happier.

      *excerpt from

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  • About us

    Grounded Landscaping is an award-winning landscaping company specialising in indigenous, wildlife-friendly gardens. We are based in the Cradle of Humankind, a world heritage site and part of the grassland biome of Southern Africa. We service most areas of Gauteng, including Johannesburg, Centurion and Pretoria.
    © Copyright 2024 Grounded Landscaping, Gauteng, South Africa, cc 2011/012073/23
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