Gardening australia – fact sheet: good garden design
Presenter: John Patrick, 22/06/2013
John talks about three basic steps of garden design with a designer
“People often ask me how to go about designing a home garden,” says John. “Well, what seems as if it might be quite complex is actually relatively simple – as long as you follow some basic principles of garden design.”
John’s with designer Kate Seddon in Glen Iris in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne at one of her recently-created gardens. It’s on an L-shaped block and John says the results are very striking and reflect the owners’ quite specific requirements.
Kate explains their needs: “Here we’ve got two professionals who are approaching retirement age. They’ve decided to move out of the leafy outer suburbs where they had a quite expansive bushland garden. They wanted to replicate some of that bushland, so the garden was very much designed around that.”
John says the order of the design process is vital – and the first step in the process is the site.
Site “I always find it really useful to photograph a site,” says John, “because it’s amazing how much you don’t notice. You can also, using photographs, just draw over the top of them to get an idea of how your garden might look as you build it.”
“I find that very useful as well,” says Kate. “The photos and that first impression that you get are key in terms of looking in the site itself, looking at what’s beyond the boundaries, looking at the street and at what other people are doing. They help to balance the elements of what you want to achieve within the garden with the broader landscape.”
“Even in this small space, we’ve got lots of different areas. There’s a deck that faces east for having breakfast. There’s a lovely shaded bench where you can look back up the garden and the water feature. There’s also a north-facing upper deck where they do a bit of entertaining – it’s well enclosed by a screen,” explains Kate.
Sitting on the bench Kate has ‘borrowed’ the landscape from the neighbours. “With a lower fence, you really need to take into account that there is a landscape beyond. That allows you to feel that the space is much bigger than actually the confines of the site,”
The next step is choosing the right materials, says John. These build on and enhance a garden’s overall character. He’s impressed that Kate has used a low diversity of paving materials.
“Particularly with the stone, we wanted it to look as natural as possible,” says Kate, “so we’ve chosen Castlemaine slate in a block form that you can then use as a flat paver set into matching pebbles. The colour tones are also reflected in the tile work on the outside of the house.”
Plants John says plants should be the very last step in the design process – which might seem strange if you’re new to garden design.
He says Kate’s obviously worked hard to establish the right plants in the right ecological conditions. At the sunny end of the garden she’s planted Woolly Bush (Adenanthos sericeus) and sun-loving plants – santolinas (cotton lavenders), for example. In the lower, shadier areas of the garden she’s introduced correa species and native violets (Viola hederacea).
“We want to have plant success, so we want to choose the right plant for the right place, she says.
John believes planting in numbers is also a key and says sometimes putting plants in twos can look contrived, but threes, fives and sevens are the way to go. “I do tend to plant in odd numbers,” Kate agrees. “Once you get past about nine, you don’t notice it anymore, but I also try to plant in non-grid fashion to give a more natural feel.”
John finishes, “You can see and feel the fundamental staples of good design throughout this garden. It shows that by using a few basic principles, it can be a fairly straightforward process to achieve a functional and beautiful garden.”
Information contained in this fact sheet is a summary of material included in the program. If further information is required, please contact your local nursery or garden centre.
Copyright Restrictions: This fact sheet is for private and domestic information purposes only. It may not be copied, reproduced, sold or used for any other purpose without the express permission of the ABC.