Its about garden design

Written by Peter Shaw

One of the things that still surprises me after years of making gardens, is how many people get themselves into trouble. And from what I can gather, most of them have ended up with issues in their garden simply because they did what they were told without thinking and didn’t do a garden design. They show me gardens that don’t suit their needs, don’t suit the location and don’t have future flexibility built in. That’s something I believe every garden design should cover. And it’s so easy to get right if you follow a few simple steps…

How will you use your garden?

Answer this simple question and you’ve pretty much got it sorted. Thinking about what you’ll be doing when you’re outside will help you make the list. Do you imagine yourself on a garden bench having a quiet moment and cup of tea, or it is more likely you’ll be hosting large groups around a table for BBQs? Are you someone who needs a three bay composting centre or is a worm-farm near the kitchen door more your style? If you’d like water in the garden, are you thinking about a fountain, fish pond or swimming pool? Spend a bit of time putting this list together – and be sure to involve everyone who’ll be using the garden. Once you’ve done this you can move onto the next step…

Balance and managing traffic

This may sounds a bit strange but garden designs that work have these two factors sorted. Let’s start with balance. Picture the classic backyard with its carpet of lawn and a narrow strip of planting running around the edges. This garden has the perfect balance for people who value lawn space and have no need to soften the boundaries. Another classic is the complete veggie patch take-over, where the entire garden is converted into food production complete with raised beds and pergolas to support fruiting vines.
Getting your garden design balance will be easy given you have your list to refer to. You’ll soon be able to work out how much space to devote to the outdoor living area, the lawn, car parking, the planted zones and whatever else is on the list.

As for traffic, make a note of how people already move around outside. There will probably already be a pattern in place thanks to the location of the exterior doors and any existing structures like the garage, shed and letter box. Whether you’re doing some loose sketches yourself, or preparing a brief for a garden design, imagine how you’d like to get around.

Flexibility and the future

Building a garden is a lot like building a house, which is why you pay for the service. But where a finished house pretty much stays the same, the garden doesn’t. It will grow and evolve. The trees you plant will be there for life, so choose thoughtfully and position them with their mature size in mind. It’s the same for much of the shrub and hedging plants. But where it can get interesting is when you stage your garden design with a view to the future. You may not be ready to put in a swimming pool or tennis court right now, but you can prepare by allocating an area for the future and filling it with shorter life-span planting or lawn.

The look

This is such a personal part of garden design. It’s all about what you want to see and experience when you arrive home. It’s about what you’d like others to see when they pass by or visit. It’s about what feels right to each person is so variable. Some people like a landscape to be tamed and controlled. At the other end of the scale there are those who want to feel they are in a wild space surrounded by nature. Some people like lots of flowers and colour, others prefer a predominance of green. Some like open skies and spaces instead of their neighbour’s forested landscape. Everyone’s different and so is their take on a garden.

The next step

Once you’ve worked your way through these steps you’re ready to go two ways: project manage the process yourself or brief a professional. You may have pulled together your own concept drawing and feel confident to project manage the various subcontractors involved. Or you may feel that you have a solid brief, ready to communicate to the right landscaper. Whichever tack to take, my last bit of advice would be to look for someone to work with who is listening to you. You want someone who you feel is on your side. Your future garden is important so be sure to find someone to work with who feels the same way.

Our team of 15 Landscape Architects, Landscape professionals and Horticulturists, can assist you when it comes to garden design to deliver a premium product.

If you would like a garden design or need a landscape contractor to implement your garden design then contact our office on 03 5263 3133 or use our Contact Us page