When we bought our suburban property a few years ago we wanted a yard, but I don’t think we quite knew exactly what we wanted to do with that yard. Neither of us had shown much interest in the past with gardening, however, we both loved going on walks in bushland.
After moving in, we planted out a couple of empty garden beds at the front of the house, as well as pulling up some of the pavers down the side of the house and creating a new garden bed. All the plants that we used were purchased from a local indigenous nursery. It was my intention to plant out the garden with indigenous plants to attract more local wildlife. However, there wasn’t much planning involved – just picking what I fancied at the nursery. We also put in one raised bed out the back to plant some vegetables.
We were soon hooked on gardening and our enthusiasm grew. We have had many failures, but at the same time we have learnt from those. Soon we were planning on slowly replacing our front lawn with native Australian plants and our back lawn with a mostly edible garden.
I decided to attend a garden design workshop at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne a couple of years ago, which was taken by Jill Burness and John Arnott. It really helped put our plans in order. The main things I learnt were that you should determine the functions that you want your garden to provide. Ours was to provide us with food, to attract the local wildlife and for aesthetics.
I also started to look at the areas that we wanted to plant out with native plants and looked at the plants that would suit those areas. I made a note of the soil type, the size of the area, the height of the vegetation that we wanted and the amount of sunlight the area received. Drought tolerant plants were a high priority! I then looked at books like Grow What Where and Wrigley and Fagg’s Australian Native Plants. I drew up some diagrams to project how it could end up looking (see examples below). I haven’t kept completely to those plans, but I have stopped buying plants from the nursery just because I like them!
My husband has also planned out most of the backyard; with a goal of adding more raised vegetable gardens and the addition of some dwarf fruit trees. A small greenhouse is hopefully also on the cards!
Of course, things don’t always go to plan, but if the goals are still attained then surely it can’t be that bad!