Tips for new gardens

This page has information on how to start a new garden in the Northern Territory (NT). 

Soil and mulch

New gardens often have little topsoil. You should add organic matter before planting to give your plants enough nutrients. 

Organic matter should be added regularly as it breaks down quickly in the tropics. Mix well-rotted organic matter into the soil and water well before mulching.  

A layer of mulch on top can reduce water evaporation and help organic matter build up. 

Do not spread mulch too thick or it can smother small plants and stop water from soaking in. 

Keep mulch away from tree trunks to stop them from rotting. 

Rock mulch stops evaporation but does not add organic matter to the soil.


Save water and time by putting plants with similar water needs together. 

For example, you could place all your native plants in one garden bed, and water-hungry plants like flowers and fruit in another. 

Be careful not to overcrowd your plants. Find out how big your plants will grow and make sure you give each one enough room to thrive. 

Water and sprinklers

Too much watering can wash away topsoil and fertiliser, waterlog plants and add to your costs. 

You can save by watering less for a longer time, and watering at night when there is less evaporation. 

You should choose a sprinkler system with a timer and a small wetting pattern so that water goes where it is needed. Sprinklers with large wetting patterns are better suited to established gardens.

Last updated: 26 February 2016

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