Landscaping and garden designs

by Ann van Engelen

As with all projects, there are guidelines that are recommended when it comes to landscaping or designing your garden. These can be applied by any gardener and will help develop a more successful, satisfying design.

Hiring a landscape designer is one way of achieving your dream garden. Other options include getting advice for your local nursery, talking to friends or people at the local gardening club and embarking on the project yourself.

When creating a space, enclosing an area is important if you want to develop a sense of refuge and feeling one with nature. Planting a row of trees such as Ficus benjamina or reducing established overgrown trees by half, creates a sense of privacy and space for designing the garden you desire. The best gardens, no matter what size they are, modulate a feeling of enclosure and openness at the same time.

The ‘regulating line’ concept is the idea that a building edge, a doorway or a distinctive landscape feature such as a prominent tree, existing pool or property boundary generates an imaginary line.

That helps connect and organise a design by projecting the lines of a building or walkway with those lines resulting in an orderly cohesive, even after being softened with planting. People often identify and manipulate regulating lines to create an interesting and sleek garden. When laying out patios, lawns or raised beds in a vegetable garden a rectangular proportion always looks good and can be worked around. Another idea relating to scale and sculpting of space is to ‘go big’. If deciding on making a pool longer or shorter, or a pergola higher or lower, the answer is almost always the bigger. An arbour with three-metre high posts wreathed in climbing roses or wisteria and surrounded by clusters of pots makes a beautiful piece for years to come without overstepping on the sense of space.

Successful planting in a newly developed or redesigned established garden is the crowning touch of a home. Remember to plant big to small.

Start with trees, shrubs, perennials, and then ground cover.

If you are setting a big tree, it may require machinery and damage a newly planted flower bed so be strong and resist the temptation to plant anything before placing any larger trees. If designing a cottage garden, you can have a rich array of plants and if you want to use 30 of one variety instead of the three or five people typically plant, do so. For success in any garden, the most important factor is ground preparation. It said that it is better to plant a 50-cent plant in a $5 hole, than a $5 plant in a 50-cent hole. No matter how brilliant a plan, if the plants are not well planted in a properly prepared space, the results will likely be poor.

A well-dug and amended hole will help any plant flourish and thus help create the garden of your dreams.