designing your new garden

designing your new garden

Let’s say you’re in the process of designing your new garden, and you’ve managed to get all the not-so-exciting but essential preparation work done. In other words, you’ve taken a deep breath, pulled out the weedy trees and shrubs, and you now have a clear space to work with. This is the moment when it all starts to get very interesting. This is when you start to design your new garden…   

Some people already have an idea of what they want, and how that might end up as a new landscape wrapped around their home. Others have no idea and they’ll be looking for inspiration, here is where we help. Whether you have some ideas or not, there are lots of places to go and get good ideas or at least fine tune your existing ones. The Australian Garden at Cranbourne is one of the best – especially inspiring for coastal gardeners – as is the Geelong Botanic Gardens. Open Gardens in your area are also great because they are examples of what works under your growing conditions. When you are out and about, be systematic in your information gathering. Take photos of what interests you; note down plant names if they’re labelled. Pay attention to materials: what’s been used as the paving; where there are retaining walls, what are they made of; are the decking timbers narrow or wide; where there’s a change in levels, how is this sorted?

professional garden designer

See something you like? Then look at it closely at the design to see why it works. Here the tall grasses screen the neighbouring roof; the carefully placed boulders draw the eye and give the steel-edged gravel path a reason to meander.

Engaging a professional garden designer is a smart move at this early stage. Even if you just want some support for your ideas, having a professional coming in will help you see with fresh eyes what your site needs and help show you how to achieve it. The trick is to work with someone who is not only a good designer – if you see a garden you like, find out who designed it – but also a good listener. You want someone who hears what you’re trying to achieve and responds to that, rather than just imposing themselves and their style on your site.

Good ideas for designing your new garden

Good ideas for designing your new garden isn’t just about making pretty vistas in the garden. You should also be thinking of practicalities. How will cars come and go? Are you keen to provide easy access to the home for young and old? Where will people gather and spend time outside? Think in terms of domestic chores like where best to store firewood, and how to screen the bins while keeping them accessible. Do you need racks for surfboards, fencing and shelter for pets, a spot for the clothesline? If you’ll be growing food plants, is there a sunny space near a water source?

Bushfire is always something to consider as part of a balanced design. Creating some open, defendable, spaces around the house is a good start and this can be achieved by planning the position of new garden beds so that vegetation is pulled back from buildings. The areas that are left clear can be grassed over or landscaped as a hard surface in a permeable gravel. Keep in mind that it’s a challenge to find a balance between an aesthetically pleasing garden and a defendable garden – but it’s do-able.

This front garden has had a radical re-think and make-over. Where once there was lawn to mow and garden beds around the edges, now sun loving, drought tolerant flowering beds fill the space with colour while the paved surface is a mix of concrete stepping stones set into permeable gravel.

When pulling together your design ideas in designing your new garden, always remember that less is more. Don’t be tempted to over-complicate things by including every single thing that you’ve always wanted in the garden. Instead, narrow it down to a handful of items that really do matter, things that will have a big impact.

And finally, my top favourite additions to a design happily can be achieved without much effort or spending. Clear a space and place a fire pit in the middle. Add some lighting to your garden. Create a new meandering path through the existing garden beds. Maybe reshape the lawn or consider removing it altogether and replacing it with Australian native species, or even vegetables.

*Peter Shaw, together with his team at Ocean Road Landscaping, creates beautiful, environmentally friendly gardens on the Great Ocean Road, Surf Coast, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula. web: http://www.orl.com.au email: info@orl.com.au phone: 1300 61 62 63  or  5263 3133