Are you happy with the design and layout of your plot? Sometimes we get so caught up in the time-consuming process of propagating and caring for plants that we need to take a moment to stand back and think about the bigger picture. An effective layout not only looks attractive but also means that space is better utilised, increasing its overall productivity. Who wouldn’t want that, no matter how small or big your garden is?
You can spend thousands consulting with a landscape designer to help you with this task…or you can do what I did and DIY. A professional might be able to help if you’re time poor or really stuck, but only you know your vision for the garden! It doesn’t matter if it takes some time to get there, or you make a few mistakes along the way. Gardening is about the journey, not the final destination. I’ve often been asked when the garden is going to be finished. The reality is that it never will be. Our garden is constantly evolving through the seasons. It’s not picture perfect either. I allow plants to self-seed freely, so our garden has a relaxed rather than formal look.
Don’t forget that everyone’s garden looks different because it is shaped by the tastes of the individual gardener. It’s fine for your garden to evolve organically, as ours did. I never intended to create such a large garden but as my interest in gardening grew, so did our plot. Sometimes I do envy people with small gardens. As I once read in a NZ Gardener magazine, large gardens are lovely but they are a lot of work and ours is a testament to this. Even if your plot is small, don’t despair as it can still be pretty and productive. You’ll also probably feel more in control of it!
How did our garden come together? I read the NZ Gardener’s Homegrown series book on garden design, which gave me some ideas. As I spent more and more time outdoors, my vision for the garden crystallised. In order to create the garden of my dreams, I had to get remove a lot of kikuyu, which was hard work. Our lawn mowing man helped us dig up our front lawn with his rotary hoe. I was also lucky that we hosted an American couple who made easy work of removing the kikuyu in between the garden beds when they wwoofed with us two years ago. Spraying the area with Yates Zero Weedkiller beforehand helped.
I eventually sat down with some graph paper to sketch a plan for the different beds, where I was going to plant fruit trees and the position of the standard roses I wanted to add to the garden to frame the pathways (the picture is of the David Austin rose “Alnwick”, which has just started flowering). The next step is to purchase some paving tiles from Bunnings to create a little walkway around the garden, but they can be quite expensive and somehow the garden budget ends up being spent on seeds and plants before I can get around to doing this!
When planning the design and layout of your garden, here are some things to bear in mind:
· Raised beds look attractive and are easier on the back, but they can be expensive to fill with soil and tend to dry out faster than the ground
· Crop rotation is a good idea to keep the soil healthy
· Root and fruiting crops need full sun in order to do well
· An Arch or pergola can provide a focal point for the garden
· A bare wall or old fence can look stunning when planted with grapes, passionfruit or a climbing rose. You can also espalier fruit trees such as pears and apples
· Flowers help bring bees into the garden, which aids pollination so don’t be frightened to grow some in amongst your veggies
· Borders can be formal (eg hedges) or edible (eg herbs, a row of silverbeet or spinach, blueberry and Feijoa bushes etc)
· If you’re short on space, dwarf fruit trees are ideal for growing in containers or the ground. They look stunning when planted in a row