When we first moved into our doer-upper home we tackled much more outside than we did inside. We’ve ripped out what little garden there was to start with, built a new front and back fence (including a retaining wall), put in 3 vege gardens, planted multiple trees and created two large new “flower” gardens.
It’s often easier to get these things done during the warmer months, but your garden will thank you for making the most of the winter months to put in new trees and plant, before the hot days hit us again.
When dreaming about our backyard landscape, I found planning and starting a “structured” garden the easiest. Basically – find your mid point, choose the plants you want and mirror them throughout the garden bed.
A less structured, textured garden was a little harder for me to get my head around starting. I knew what I wanted it to look like in the long term, but getting this one started was a little more tricky for a gardening rookie like me.
When we moved into our home the section had absolutely no garden, accept for a selection of granny-ish shrubs along the front of the property (which provided NO privacy from the road).
Starting with a blank canvas is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you can do whatever you like, working with plants and spaces exactly how you want to create your dream space. But on the other, there is nothing to anchor your ideas to – no established trees or garden, making the possibilities endless!
Our garden is still in its infancy, but two years on I can finally start to see it take shape, and I have many more plans and dreams for the space now that we have started on the landscaping journey.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about establishing and building gardens so far:
What are the goals of your garden? Sustainability, bees, entertaining, teaching your kids about nature, growing your own produce, for picking, views from windows…
Have a clear purpose in mind for your overall section, as well as what each area will serve as, as you lay out your ideas.
Think “big picture”
Try not to start before you have an idea of the overall use of your property. It took me a year to get a fully formed picture in my head, and even now I waiver on some bits. (My husband is not so pleased when I ask him to move trees and plants for the second or third time because I’ve changed my mind. It’s also not great for the establishment and health of the plants either.)
Know the sun
Certain plants and trees thrive in certain environments. Get a clear picture of the patterns of the sun for your property – sunrise, all day sun, afternoon sun (which is much more fierce than the morning sun) and the differences for these during summer and winter (this is equally important for planning inside renovations too). Make sure you plan and plant accordingly.
What kind of garden do you have time for? We all have busy lives, and once a garden gets into full swing the weeding, trimming, pruning and watering time can be overwhelming. How much is actually going to be garden, and how much will be lower maintenance hedging, shrubs and trees?
*Photos from Luciano Giubbilei‘s portfolio