Time for a garden refresh – Designing

by | 9:06 am


After 14 years of getting my garden well established after we built our house, I decided it was time for a bit of a rethink and refresh. The bones of my garden were sound; all the trees had grown to create a summer shade, winter sun experience. Fruit trees give us abundant harvests all year round and layers of bushes and vegies fill up the spaces underneath.

However, the edges were constantly being blurred by the birds pushing mulch and twigs into the gravel and pebbles as well as constant leaf fall. There were lots of pots and rocks marking the edges, creating lovely homes for snails and slugs. I also yearned for more garden area to plant out.

Putting the lessons from studying landscape design into practice, I wanted to create a space that was more of a food forest and incorporate permaculture principles into my garden. I also needed to make it neat enough to plant and harvest easily and to push my cart around without bumping into rocks, pots and bushes constantly. We are also avid outdoor eaters and entertainers, so we needed a more welcoming space for BBQ events and a firepit to gather around and chat.

First, I assessed the existing garden and site. We think we know our own spaces, but discovered a lot more about how much shade and sun each section receives, how the quality of the soil changes in different parts of the garden and how effective the drip irrigation system really is, as well as how many rocks were hidden under foliage and covered by earth. I tested the soil for pH levels in different parts of the garden. This would help me to plan how to improve my soil as well as what may do better when I plan my plantings. (pH kits are sold in most nurseries and big box stores)

I also looked up and found that our trees needed assessing and a helping hand to shape and let them grow better. Bring on the arborist….another weekend later, all the pruning and shaping produced a large amount of tree branches and cut foliage to clear, before I could measure out and think about extra planting space and my all-important designing.

Greenhouse autumn planting

There is a 6-8 week lead time for growing plants and veges, so I started by cleaning out the greenhouse and reviewing the seeds I had as well as potting soil and compost for growing seedlings. Discovery time! All the spiders fled before my broom and vinegar spray. Newly cleaned and filled pots were lovingly planted with seeds – lettuces, coriander, beetroot, pumpkin, zucchini, eggplants, tatsoi and Bokchoi, peas and beans and capsicum, tomatoes and chillies.

Now to dream. I experimented with drawing my ideas and one by one they were superseded! When I was happy with the dimensions and layout I showed it to my DH (darling hubby) and a couple of friends. All gave great feedback which I incorporated in the design and the thumbs up.

As they say in the landscape designing world, expect the unexpected !

Look for Part 2 – Time for a Garden Refresh –  Building.