Once a home enters renovation central, attention is inevitably drawn to the aesthetic and ecological potential of the back yard, at which point some helpful hints apply.
An eco-friendly garden uses a wide range of plants such as trees, screening shrubs, low shrubs, groundcover, grasses, climbers, perennials and bulbs. With the help of a landscaping expert, these can be used in harmony to maximise ecological harmonies of the garden.
Many sustainable gardens will also contain areas for growing your own fruit and vegetables – a satisfying and conscience-appeasing way of reducing your ecological footprint! Fertile soil with good drainage, regular watering and moderate amounts of sunlight are prerequisites for a veggie patch or fruit plot. Raised veggie patches make for easy maintenance and a pleasing visual effect.
The two key elements to landscaping are hardscaping – which refers to the immovable parts of the garden such as decks, water features, terraces and so on – and softscaping, which refers to the plants, trees and grasses used in the garden. Before embarking on your project, consider the best way to integrate these two elements to maximise appropriate areas of light and shade, as well as enhancing the privacy and visual pleasure of your garden.
Australian native plants such as Banksia, Grevillea and many more make good sense in a water sensitive environment. For more information on appropriate plants, their aesthetic qualities, maintenance requirements and appropriate uses, websites such as www.australian-natives.com.au are a useful starting point.
Lawn, that much loved staple of the traditional Australian yard, generally requires high levels of water, fertilisers and energy to maintain its appearance. Consider replacing lawn with a mix of groundcover and permeable surfaces such as gravel. If you can’t bring yourself to lose your square of green, you could replace more high maintenance grass species with drought tolerant native grasses.
Before any landscaping project, it’s also worth giving some thought to who will be using the garden – for example will there be children playing there frequently or is this a space for entertaining adults?
Also consider how much maintenance you’re prepared to undertake, and the potential outlay of your project. Re-landscaping your property can entail substantial costs, so a good guideline to utilise is to ensure you spend no more than ten per cent of the total value of your home on the garden.
If you’re working with a professional landscaper, ensure you sight their qualifications and references.