September seems to always mark the point where people get interested in the garden again. Harness this energy and do a little garden
re-vamp while the moment lasts!
The days are becoming longer, the soil is warming up and hopefully there will be more rain. “I don’t know where to start” is the most common statement I hear when doing garden consultations. Always start in one area only, do it well and then move on to the next area. I always advise people to do the area they will use the most. This will give you the inspiration to carry on the work once you have allowed the money tree to recover.
Always keep in mind your garden will evolve, your kids will grow older and not need the sandpit and swing set, your trees will grow and give shade to an area that was previously sunny or you may do additions on the house and loose part of the garden. You may even have adult children who have no intentions of ever leaving home and want to build a second entertainment area for them up against the back fence. I find that a verandah at the front and another at the back provides parents with a buffer zone (the house) that they can peacefully enjoy the garden.
Remember a garden is a place that should provide you with a sense of peace and relaxation. It should remove you from the trials of a busy day and take you to another place. If you have a small space, then select plants carefully as it may become over-crowded and too busy. Use repeating plant patterns to create flow and continuity. It is not the hard landscaping (paving, walls, pots) that will create harmony; it is the green material that surrounds it. Changes in height will give a sense of more space. You can do this either with plants eg. Trees as a background to shrubs or walls and paving.
Bigger spaces are often harder to deal with as too many options can be confusing. Before you trot off to the nursery think very carefully about the practical component of the garden. How much time will you have to maintain the garden, where do you want shade to fall, how many trees can grow well in the space provided. When selecting trees remember to plant them according to their mature height and spread, and that they will need equal room above and below the ground.
Think of planting in tiers, trees, shrubs and ground covers to add interest all year round. The use of grasses adds a contrasting texture to the landscape against soft leafy green foliage. Always plant them in clumps, not singularly as they look a bit lost. Go to a nursery in your area as they can offer valuable advise on what grows well in that particular soil type. They have trained horticulturalists who can offer many alternatives for the one area. Play with plants in the nursery and see what goes well together.
It’s very exciting to have a new garden project and liven up a dull area with plants that give a ‘wow’ factor. It’s a bit like playing with Lego, some bits will fit together perfectly and others that just don’t work. Be brave, break all the colour rules and experiment with new plants you have never used before!
Get gardening and get dirty!