Tract Landscape Architects' top tips for garden design.
Top tips for designing and planning your new garden from Berwick Waters' landscape architects, Tract.
Engage a landscape contractor to do the hard work like retaining walls, unit paving and placing of heavy rocks. The professional finish is worth the investment. Two or three days of their time could save you weeks, so that you can get on with the fun part of planting out the garden. Ask to see photographs of work they have previously completed and don’t be afraid to ask for ideas.
Set up the structure of your garden first. Establish hard edges, retaining walls, drainage, irrigation and other hard elements before importing soil and other soft landscape elements.
Keep it simple - it will look better and be easier to maintain. Use a limited palette of hard materials and planting.
Try to have at least one feature tree in the front and back yard. Deciduous trees can be good, as these provide shade in summer but drop their leaves in winter to allow sunlight to penetrate. Check with your local nursery for small and upright deciduous varieties for tight spaces.
For visual cohesion try to use elements of your house design within the garden. If you have used rendered masonry or stone in the front façade of your house, use this again in front retaining walls or the letterbox. Try to avoid introducing more materials than you need to.
Use a mix of local indigenous species and exotics that are robust and dry-tolerant. Observe what is established and growing well in other local gardens. These are the species that are likely to do well at Berwick Waters.
As with all plant selection, check the mature height and width before planting and ensure that there is sufficient space for the plants to reach maturity.
Think about structure and layering in your planting design, but keep it simple.
An automatic irrigation system is a great investment and a time saver. Systems can be installed easily and are relatively inexpensive. Using a smart drip irrigation system is a great way to get your garden through the hotter months and will typically be more water wise than hand or manual watering. If the system can be connected to a rain water tank or recycled water, that’s even better.
Top up your mulch well before the start of summer. It keeps the moisture in the ground, stabilises the soil and protects the root zone of plants and trees from the summer heat.
Install a compost bin or a worm farm - or both! These are a great way to minimise your household green waste and create free compost and fertiliser for your garden.
Plant a grafted lemon tree. It is always great to have lemons on hand. By selecting a grafted variety, you can have lemons available for most of the year.
Put in a bit TLC each week. It doesn’t take much time to look after a well-designed small garden, if you do a few minutes of gardening each week.
Most gardens don’t happen overnight.
Despite what we see on garden renovation programs on television, most gardens develop and evolve over time and they can take a bit of work, but it is worth it. It usually takes several years for trees to provide the benefit of shade and amenity. Be patient.
Put in a productive garden and a couple of fruit trees.
Even in a small garden there is usually space for a small vegetable or herb garden and a couple of dwarf or espaliered fruit trees. Lemons and limes are fantastic and there is nothing quite like having your own fresh herbs to add to your cooking. There are many fruit trees, vegetables and herbs that can be grown in pots or planters.