DIY gardening tips for homeowners

How does your garden grow?

Get more hands-on with your garden until the professionals can return
Get more hands-on with your garden until the professionals can return. - Photo: Courtesy Vigoro Nursery

Once lush and well-tended gardens in Cayman have succumbed to overgrown foliage, brown lawns and weeds, with landscaping companies locked down due to coronavirus, and barely any rainfall recorded for months.

But no reason to despair, as long as homeowners aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty in the most literal sense.

Vigoro Nursery has been inundated with emails from clients asking for advice, so the nursery experts decided to put together some pointers to help people ‘weather the storm’ until the professionals can get back to work.

Dry grass, irrigation issues and bugs are not uncommon right now. When it comes to brown grass, it could just be an ‘isolated’ (no pun intended in this time of social distancing) patch due to the dry season; these areas appear during dry times. For example, the spots may get a bit more sun exposure or be closer to the edge of the driveway.

“We usually run irrigation at its minimal settings on most properties because of cost, so in the dry season, localised dry spots can appear,” advised Vigoro. “Either way, stick your finger into the ground. If its dry, you simply need to water the area.”

If the grass lifts up, however, odds are good that you’ve got grubs. You need chemicals to get rid of them, but until garden services can once again take care of your landscape, try this home recipe:

To combat grubs, pour this blend into the affected areas:
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 quart of warm water
• 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap

If the grass doesn’t lift, and the soil feels moist but the grass blades appear chewed, it could be worms. Depending on the stage of infestation, try this hack:
Mix two tablespoons of liquid soap per gallon of water and spray heavily, as this can draw caterpillars up to the lawn surface; then rake and destroy. Water the area well and the grass should grow back.

Other issues
Worms munching bougainvillea all over the island: If your bougainvillea don’t look great, check the leaves. If they are obviously chewed, the same mix mentioned above for worms in the grass may help.

Lawn weeds: There is only one solution – good old-fashioned hand-pulling. It’s great exercise and there’s not much else to do right now anyway, so get out there and pull them. The process is quite therapeutic as well; just remember to get the root out, too, otherwise your efforts will prove a waste of time.

Plants growing wild: If you have any type of pruner, haul it out and trim, remembering how your gardeners did it. Again, it is great therapy and exercise, and it may save you some money, as the professionals won’t have to spend countless extra hours to get your garden back in shape when they return.

Dry palm fronds: Dried-out bottom fronds are normal, as any palm’s lower limbs die as the tree grows and produces new ones. If you see dry palm fronds in the top of the head, that’s a different story; but if it’s the lower ones, just trim them off – only when they are almost completely brown, though.

Bugs, pests and more: Black mould is trouble – you won’t get it off. The same soap mix mentioned earlier (liquid soap and water) may help, or you can trim the affected leaves if it’s minimal. For regular mealy bugs or other pests, again, try the soap or trim the leaves if the spread is minimal.

No matter what, keep in mind that we are presently in the peak of the dry season, so remember the key to any garden right now is to keep it watered.

Want to feel inspired about your garden? Take a look at these images from some of Vigoro’s projects for ideas of how you can transform your outdoor surroundings. For more information about gardening or landscaping, visit

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