On your knees – and in the garden
It’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new in a bid to make your personal oasis a dream come true
CELEBRATE New Year in your garden this weekend. It’s the time to embark on a plan to replant tired areas, install new focal points, acknowledge the latest trends and redesign your garden. In the US, it is estimated that a landscaped garden with established trees can increase the price of a property by up to 50 percent of its value.
What advice would a landscape designer give you to improve your garden this weekend? Consider these tips and ideas for your garden in 2012:
Vistas are paths of vision which interest the eye and contribute to an interesting garden. A grand vista can be created down a trellised walkway. A simple vista from the patio is created when your eye is drawn to a particularly enjoyable corner across the lawn.
Focal points such as ponds, waterfalls, statues or an interesting plant will create vistas. But be warned, too many focal points (such as too many statues in the garden) can be disturbing to the eye.
If your garden is affected by saltladen wind, choose plants with small leaves that filter the wind and avoid shrubs with large tropical leaves. If your patio or border faces west, choose heat-resistant, water-wise plants such as pelargoniums and desert roses ( Echeveria). Don’t waste time and money growing plants that are unsuited to a spot in the garden – there are so many others which are suitable.
Do you want to make a border seem further away or closer to you? Think about colour before you plant. Red, orange and yellow are bold colours which make a border appear closer to the house, while blue, white and pink are soft colours which make beds disappear into the distance.
The beds of a well-designed garden should make use of a section of a geometric shape (circle, square, triangle or rectangle). For example, the sweeping curves of an informal garden should always be part of a true circle. If your flower bed has waves of fussy little curves which resemble the edge of a doily, smooth them out.
Water is the key to attracting birds, butterflies, dragonflies and frogs into your garden. Design a natural pond with sloping edges for wading birds, or sink a shallow bowl of water in a protected border. If you are looking for a focal point, make sure to choose a non-splash, waterwise fountain or bubbler.
Can you see your entire garden in one sweep? The best gardens, like the best homes, are screened off into different “rooms”. Create excitement by developing different rooms in your garden, each with a different theme and atmosphere.
Plant for a purpose. Plant a deciduous tree to the north-west of your house so that your home is warm in winter and cool in summer. If you like birds, plant shrubs with berries or flowers filled with nectar.
If you have a telephone pole outside your property, plant a conifer or small tree to obscure the ugly view. Erect a trellis covered in climbers to obscure a rain tank, and paint the interior side of a whitewashed perimeter wall green, so that it provides a relaxing, calm backdrop to the garden.
Identify the listed invasive alien species lurking in your garden, and remove them. Go to www.invasives.org.za to see images of listed invader plants.
Do you plant one species of each plant throughout the garden? Gardens filled with masses of different colours can look spotty. Plant drifts of one species or one colour for impact.
Shrubs or perennials of the same variety look far more artistic when planted in an informal border in uneven numbers (one, three, five, seven) rather than in even numbers.
In a formal garden, place a pair of containers filled with a single plant
on either side of a gate or front door.
Would you wear an orange tie with a pink shirt?
Planting orange marigolds next to pink petunias or placing a sunloving, water-wise aloe next to a shade-loving, waterholic camellia will never achieve relaxed harmony in the garden. Design plants with similar water needs together in zones, and place plants in drifts of complementary colours.
Is your garden a symphony in beige? Contrast creates excitement. Red petunias look stunning on a green backdrop, while yellow marigolds will come alive beside lime green foliage. The gardens around Mcdonalds fast food outlets use red and yellow flowers to attract attention, while the gardens around Engen are landscaped in blue, red and white to emphasise the brand.
Grouping containers with flair and imagination will contribute to the attractiveness of the garden. Twenty small containers never look as good as a group of one, three or five large containers. A classic combination for a group of three containers includes one tall narrow pot, one medium pot and one wide, low container.
Yellow arums need to be dry in winter and hydrangeas need to be watered once a week in summer. Ignore the basic needs of your plants and the consequences will be dire.
Gardening is a relaxing hobby, but even low-maintenance gardens require tender loving care.
Your garden will reflect the time that you spend on it.
FOCUS: A large chicken is the focal point of a formal herb garden in a farm garden.
COLOUR CONTRAST: Yellow marigolds and red amaranthus make a spectacular statement in a garden border.
BORDER LINE: A simple pathway divides a vegetable garden with a border filled with summer flowers.
COLOUR COMBO: Blue irises make an eye-catching corner beside white daisies.