Terra Australis Landscapes

Gardening facts and fiction

Garden planning basics: a reason to not actually do anything

Lazing on the couch

The idea of designing your own garden may seem daunting. But broken down bit by bit the task becomes more accessible. When caught sitting inside on a winter's day, instead of out working in the garden, one can always respond, 'I'm planning what to do next. Can't put the cart before the horse!' Here are some tips...

There are a range of factors that need to be taken into consideration with the initial and ongoing design of a garden. Some factors can be changed but some, such as aspect or rainfall, are generally set.


Watering the garden

Watering the garden

During the naughties, drought was very much upon us. And as business and politicians know, there's nothing like a population running scared. Threat, threat, threat — Armageddon, just how big business likes it. Political expedience abounded and for that union of greed on one hand and stupidity on the other, we now have a 35 year, $1million per day — biggest in the southern hemisphere — desalination plant. Which may even get turned on one day! Sorry, my mistake, it's called being ‘on standby’. Just the type of job we'd all like!

‘155 litres a day’. was the catch cry, and a great campaign it was too. We all pitched in, short showers, dirty cars were the norm, as was bucketing grey water to the garden. However, all that aside, hand watering of gardens was banned. What? Why would anyone ban hand watering? In 20+ years, I'm yet to come across any automated system that comes within a sniff of hand watering for efficiency, accuracy, on the spot monitoring and lack of waste water. Mmmm, politics again.

So how could something so easy be turned into something so complex and what should we be doing to drought proof our gardens? Well.......


Is mulch a pile of dung?

A pile of mulch

The summer heat is just about upon us – not to mention on our gardens. If I was on the telly now as a gardening presenter – and I think that would be a great job – I'd be telling you how important it is to mulch this and mulch that, promoting as many of the mulches that the gardening superstore sponsors can sell you. 'It will save water,' I'd say. 'It can reduce your weeds, make your kids behave etc, etc, etc.'

But if you mulch, mulch and mulch again, will you end up with the Botanic Gardens in your backyard? Is mulching the be-all and end-all of solving your garden's problems?



What does a garden mean?

Paving design

Ha! Extra work on the weekends, mowing, weeding, spending your generally unavailable time, all that effort...

It’s true. Gardens, for many, are time consuming and take plenty of work to keep tidy. But there’s the catch – we do work in our gardens (or someone else does) because we prefer them when they are tidy.

We sit back and get a feeling of appreciation when they’ve been brought under control, after they’ve been mowed, edges trimmed, paths cleared and growth pruned.

Work put in equals the satisfaction we get out. But hold on, how can we enjoy something that we don’t like? And is that all that gardens mean? A pot on a balcony or a cactus on a windowsill is not a garden, but still contains the essence of gardening.