Maintenance Guidelines

Maintenance Guidelines

The Estate has positioned itself to use the local coastal vegetation as it’s landscaping theme. There are two primary reasons:
• The first being to enable the natural inhabitants of the Coastal Resort, like the Bushbuck, Common and Blue Duiker being the three most visible manifestations of this wildlife, to sustain themselves in the remnant patches of cover remaining after development.
• The second reason is to make the human habitat as attractive for humans as it is for the local wildlife. To this end Zimbali has achieved this goal in that landscapers and owners “complain” that their garden plants are browsed and in some case over browsed.

By using Bushbuck Fodder plants and other productive plant species used by all forms of wildlife including the human residents of the new western sections will contribute to the conservation efforts of the whole Resort.
On the new western precincts of the Estate there are less open space reservations as were present on the eastern side. With this in mind it is important that residents plant up their whole property not just the footprint area as was the case on the eastern side.
Again residents and their landscapers are encouraged to make use of the ZEMA professional environmental team to obtain the necessary advice as to which plants are best suited to the particular site conditions.
ZEMA also would like to encourage residents to use appropriate plants so that tall trees do not block the views of the ocean in 10 years from the planting date. Rather use the productive shrubs that will give the privacy that you need, the cover and shelter the wildlife need but plus not create more work and expense when pruning needs to be thought about.

Click here to download the Garden Maintenance Article.

This document is written in an attempt to remind owners and maintenance contractors of the need to enhance habitat value in your own gardens and those that contractors maintain on behalf of the owners.
On the original section of Zimbali the homes were built within the existing forest and many of the sea views were “blocked” by vegetation and ZEMA has a policy of opening port holes through the vegetation to allow for partial views of the ocean beyond.
There is a clear policy now for the trimming and pruning of tree and shrub branches touching buildings. The policy for opening “windows” for creating sea views is also in place.
Contractors and owners have generally adhered to the rules regarding pruning of vegetation around their houses and also pruning for views.
What ZEMA now would like to do is encourage owners to redirect the maintenance effort of their small gardens to a level that allows wildlife to have the best habitat that humans can provide without impinging unnecessarily on the human habitat.
Remember that if you buy at Zimbali you know before you sign your purchase agreement that this is a forest resort and that dense vegetation is part of what a forest is and that this vegetation gives you the privacy that you require and even demand from your other human neighbours.

Architects, Estate Agents and Landscape Contractors that work on the Estate need to know what the procedure is for opening sea views from forested sites and the types of plants that are suitable for the particular gardening requirements at Zimbali.

To this end ZEMA would like to ask that no raking of leaves be carried out on the planted sections of garden beds. It is not necessary to rake the soul out of the soil. The leaf “litter” is the compost that gets drawn into the soil by woodlice, earthworms and termites that then break down the leaves into the basic elements that are the nutrients that the plants need to grow. This vegetation in turn feeds and shelters the various animals on the Estate.
You really only have to sweep or rake the sealed surfaces like pathways, decks and driveways. The leaves swept up here should then be scattered on the surface of the soil under shrubs and trees on your property. The added leaf layer of mulch acts as blotting paper to prevent water runoff and the subsequent soil erosion. This is especially noticeable on the steeper sites at Zimbali.

In fact this layer of leaves is your natural compost heap. Instead of piling the leaves in a conventional heap, or worse still, placing the leaves into black plastic bags for removal to a municipal landfill site. This organic matter stays on your property and becomes nutrients for the plants and soil. ZEMA has a wood chipping operation on the Estate where suitable trimmings of branches are chipped and these chips along with leaves swept up along paths are returned to the verges within the Estate. Even the leaves blown by the motorised blowers are blown back into the undergrowth along the road verges. This natural composting process saves ZEMA many thousands of Rands annually because ZEMA does not have to purchase as much commercially produced pine bark based compost.

These wood chips along with soil berms on the steeper sites help with the stormwater control on the various private and public sites. The berms physically slow the water and the organic matter in the form of chips helps to loosen the soil and allow for a faster infiltration of runoff water into a sandy soils. This surface stormwater control system has been in operation throughout Zimbali from the very beginning. Only certain very steep sites have underground piped stormwater controls.

An invisible advantage to all this leaf litter and wood chippings is that the soil fungi that are essential for healthy forest plant growth are able to live and absorb, as well as release, nutrients into the soil thus making these nutrients more readily available to the plants via their roots. These chippings are a natural inoculum for the soil especially in new gardens that are being installed on the depauperate soils of the abandoned canefields. Finally with the added fungal activity there are more termites and other subsurface organisms that feed the localised and increasingly rare Giant Legless Lizard.

A combination of compost mixed with wood chippings from the site and granular fertiliser on the Berea Red soils of Zimbali is a must. Especially on the new gardens that are being installed. The recommended rate of application for the Zimbali soils is 50grams/m2 of 5:1:5 (28) or 2:3:2 (22). We would also recommend an application of Dolomitic Lime at 150grams/m2 on all new garden installations. For optimal plant growth it is recommended that fertiliser and compost be added twice a year in early spring around August and then in mid summer during December to gardens in high sunlight areas for the first 3 growing seasons after planting the rate here would be 30grams/m2 of 5:1:5 (28) or 2:3:2 (22). For lawn areas this application is done at the same frequency as above but for the life of the lawn.

During the winter months let the garden rest and no fertilising or excessive watering need be done at all.
It is not necessary to disturb the soil by digging it over if the leaves are left in place. The digging damages the surface roots of your plants and also weakens the plants.
Only dig the soil to remove weeds. Many of the so-called “weeds” in these natural plantings are actually local plants that are food plants for the various types of wildlife.

As far as the density of plants/m2 is concerned ZEMA requires that groundcovers be planted at 10 plants/ m2. On steeper slopes or embankments a density of 15 plants/m2 is recommended. Larger plants in 1 to 3 litre packets is also recommended over the use of rooted cuttings known as “plugs” the larger plants have more established root systems and more vegetative growth to establish more quickly and be more resilient to Bushbuck browsing.
Shrubs are planted at 1shrub/m2 as a minimum specification on any site.
Trees are planted when the space between buildings allows for the use of large trees.

Do not plant trees over services like sewer lines, water, telephone or electricity mains cables, stay away from soak pits and do not plant trees under the eaves of buildings.
Remember also to cater for future views out of the property its pointless planting a tree that will have to be pruned after five or ten years growth. Rather use a shrub in this position.

The numbers of plants to be used per unit area are only a guide and a minimum standard.