Garden design and planning

All great gardening projects start with a plan.

Before you begin digging up your patch take a moment to survey your available area and make a list of your requirements. Do you want to grow veggies and flowers? Are you after a lovely lawn? What sort of soil is already in your garden?

For inspiration on creating your new green area look at garden magazines and websites, borrow books from your local library, have a look at plants that are thriving in your neighbourhood and research indigenous plants that are suitable in your local area.

Let us give you some suggestions for ways to start cultivating in your space, no matter what size.

Low maintenance herbs

Herbs are great for beginners as they are easy to cultivate and will give you home cooked meals with a major flavour boost.

Herbs grow well indoors or outdoors but make sure they have access to 4-6 hours of sun each day. If you are growing your herbs in pots make sure they have adequate drainage as 25 cm diameter pots (and smaller) have difficulty holding moisture during warmer days.

Water your herbs as necessary by regularly checking that the soil is moist. If the soil is dry to touch, it is time to water. If you are just starting out we recommend basil, rosemary, chives, dill, garlic and mint.

Pot plants

Potted plants can be a great feature for any size yard and can really transform a small space into a functional and good looking garden.

Pots give you the opportunity to incorporate many types of plants including herbs, vegetables, fruit and trees and everything in between. Check with your local nursery on plant root requirements and “pot” away.

Be sure to match your pot size with your plant size to ensure it meets the root depth requirements.

Raised veggie garden

If you have at least four to five hours of sun for your plants to thrive, a no-dig garden bed could be just what you are looking for.

Raised garden beds require less bending, planting, weeding, harvesting and watering and are perfect for renters who can take them when they move or great if you have poor soils.

Here's a few things to remember when planning a no-dig garden:

  • choose a sunny spot sheltered from the wind if possible
  • border your garden in just about anything to create a border as long as its not copper, chrome and arsenate-treated - be aware recycled timber may carry chemicals that can leach into your soil
  • replace mulch, manure and compost every quarter - this aids the soil in retaining moisture and means less watering
  • water your veggies for longer periods less often rather than a daily light sprinkling.

There are hundreds of vegetables you can choose from to grow in your garden. For more info on what to plant in your area visit the Sustainable Gardening Australia website.

Help your garden thrive with our Plant Selector

Need help deciding if you should plant watermelons or wattle? Use our plant selector to help you decide what will grow best in your patch.

Vertical gardening

Planting a vertical garden is an interesting way of livening up a drab and dreary wall or space.

A vertical garden can help you screen unsightly areas, cool your outdoor space and provide a relaxing atmosphere that will absorb odours and noise.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind when thinking about growing a vertical garden:

  •  If you are making a base to mount on a wall, ensure the wall is strong enough to cope with the additional weight of soil and plants. If in doubt, seek expert advice about the wall.
  • Leave your base in a horizontal position for a few weeks to give the roots time to take hold. Having the wall upright too soon can cause unnecessary plant or soil loss.
  • A drip system on the top layer is often to irrigate the entire wall below as water seeps through the layers.

Using alternative water such as a rainwater tank will make your garden truly sustainable.

Planting trees

Take the time to research what type of tree is best suited to your garden and needs.

Most often people head off to the tree section of their local garden centre and choose the best looking and fastest growing one.

If you don’t have time to ask for advice from your garden centre, start by considering whether you are looking for an evergreen, a fruit bearer or a flowering variety?

Other things to consider:

  • Do you need to fill a small or large area?
  • Will it be used for shade, privacy, a windbreaker or to attract wildlife?
  • Do you want a particular colour?

Most importantly, when considering the most appropriate tree for your house, give some serious thought to the following:

  • the distance between your neighbour’s property and where you plan to place the tree
  • the potential effect of overhanging branches or large root systems on any essential service assets, structures, pathways or foundations
  • the height, width and shape your space can comfortably cater.

To find out about the location of underground services contact Dial Before You Dig.

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