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How to design the perfect Perth Garden!

How to design the perfect Perth Garden!
February 24, 2021 Luke Porter

When embarking on a new garden project, many people tell us they feel overwhelmed with choices and don’t know where to start. We hope this garden design guide will help! With Pinterest, DIY renovation shows, magazines and all manner of inspiring gardens everywhere, it can be inspiring and overwhelming at the same time. We would all love to be able create a beautiful space to enjoy the outdoors in our gorgeous sunny weather.

Designing a garden in Perth provides us with a few challenges also, particularly with respect to our climate and soils, so we will aim here to help work through handling this step by step. If you live anywhere from the Perth coast to the foothills you are likely living on sand and if you’re in the hills then you have clay and rocks to contend with. But! If you’re willing to take the time to understand your garden space, both its opportunities and challenges, you can design a fabulous garden for your home that will be thriving, and beautiful – we hope that this garden design guide will help you get there!

Designing a garden space in Perth

Where do you start when designing the perfect garden?

The first step to designing your garden space is to write up your wish list. This is the fun, inspiring part of the project and an easy way to get things started. Your wish list should include your must haves, would like to haves, and those on your dreamy wish list.

In Perth outdoor living is a common theme, so features such as firepit area, lawn, water feature, cubby, sandpit, bird attracting plants, screening plants, vegetable garden are often high on the list. The most important part is that these ideas can be organised into NEEDS and WANTS so you can prioritise them when you are looking at both the size of your garden, and your budget.

The next step is to work out what garden style you like – this can be confusing as there are so many beautiful gardens to look at on social media. Put together a mood board of pictures from magazines, google, pinterest, neighbouring gardens that you love, trying at this stage to put no limitations on it, and have a look at the end of this process to see what the most common themes are.

Organising your garden space

First things first, you need to measure and draw up your garden on paper (or on computer if you have the skills to do so). Drawing to scale will be helpful with planning your space, so either use graph paper or measure out one cm square for one metre of garden. If you have quite a small garden you might be able to make one metre two squares instead.

Mark on your plan any significant features that are staying and are likely to impact your design – such as fences, buildings and trees drainage and slopes in case you need new retaining, services, entry and exit points and so on. Neighbouring features may also be a consideration, such as large shady trees, tall buildings, views that you enjoy, borrowed gardens (those next door and beyond that can be used as a backdrop), and views to/from private spaces.

Move on to the functional side of the garden by marking on your plan where you would like to put the main functional zones and features, starting with the MUST HAVES – eg patio, retaining, play area, lawn, screen, shade etc. Add arrows to show where you need space to move between areas. It is important not to overfill your garden – keeping generous empty space between areas and features will keep your garden usable and relaxing to be in.

Next, mark on the plan areas that are exposed, hot, shady, windy, sheltered and so on. In Perth we have hot hot dry summers and mild winters, seasonal winds and poor soils. So when designing a garden space in Perth, these factors will be important in deciding what to put where. Use your notes as a guide you how you lay out your space on the plan – for example, if you have a corner that cops the afternoon sea breeze, perhaps plan in a screen, or tree to help shelter the area. If you have a beautiful view, make sure you keep that visible from your alfresco area, even frame it with a tree or feature either side. If you have a hot, paved area, perhaps consider a tree to the west of that to shelter it from the afternoon sun.
Following this step by step process of planning out the garden logically, takes away some of the daunting part of the decision making process for you and, will break down a larger space into several smaller ones.

Choosing your plants

Once you have completed your hardscaping plan, then you can start on your planting plan.

Firstly, decide what plants you prefer and look at what type of plants you should use in a Perth garden in particular. Do you prefer natives or ornamentals, low maintenance and hardy or do you like lots of flowers? This will reduce your list so that you can research what plants to include in your garden design.

Check your soil type as this will be important in choosing your plants. If you live near the coast in Perth, select plants that are equipped to deal with sandy alkaline soil, salty winds and hot sun. For properties in Perth’s older, tree lined suburbs, your soil may be more loamy, and your garden protected by large street trees – in this case you will have a wider choice of plans. For properties in the hills, you may need plants that can tolerate clay soils, cooler winters, and hotter easterly winds. A great place to start, is to go to your local nursery and discuss your soil type with their staff and see what plants will best suit your area. When you go to plant, it will be important to use high quality soil, and mulch to ensure the best long term health for your plants no matter what plants you choose.

Perth also has water restrictions, so low water use plants are ideal here in Perth. Succulents are popular and mix well with our native plants. They do need lots of sun to thrive, so ensure they are in a sunny spot.

While local native plants are well adapted to our Perth climate, there are also many ornamental plants that do well here in Perth. Plants with thicker leaves, such as Rhaphiolepis and viburnums do very well as they are well adapted to direct hot sunlight.

Take some time to look at flower and foliage colour also – a well designed garden will repeat colours that work together in a balanced way through the garden. To achieve this yourself, choose a colour palette that works together and select plants which contrast and blend with your colour theme. Don’t forget to research the time of year that the flowers are out too as this will give you colour all through the year. If you prefer a green theme, choosing plants with contrasting texture and shades in their leaves will achieve a beautiful interesting look to your garden also – for silvers to contrast with your green, plants such as Eremophila,

Helichrysum and Senecio look striking against a green lush backdrop, as do the lime greens of Lomandra.

Next, ensure you choose plants that physically fit the area that you have available. Check the size at full maturity and mark them out on your plan (which is to scale) to ensure you are not overcrowding them. When selecting trees, also do some research to select varieties with root systems that suit the space that you have. Many trees do not have invasive roots, but some do and can do damage to retaining walls and paving so it is important to choose wisely for longevity of your garden.

How to make a Planting Plan

The last step is to take all of the information above and draw your plants on paper to complete your garden plan. Position plants to suit the sun and shade that they will receive in the short term.

If you are planting trees, they may take some time to establish so remember that for the first few years, the plants around them will still receive a lot of sun and need to survive through that time.

Also plant them together according to their water needs – plants that require a lot of water should generally be placed in a different spot to plants that are adapted to low water.

Check their full grown size and space them accordingly on your top view plan, drawing plants as a circle to scale to match their mature size. To make things easier when you go to plant, colour code each species with a plant key so you can differentiate them on your planting plan easily.

Lastly mark out your zones on the plan so that you know which areas require more water or less water when it comes to reticulation, as well as what level of soil amendment will be needed. For example succulents will not require as much water as a shady tropical area.

How can Luke’s Landscaping work with you?

If you are in this crucial decision point and want to make the right decision, phone us to speak to one of our experienced designers here at Luke’s Landscaping Co. where all the different phases can be handled in the most professional and efficient manner. We live and breathe outdoor landscaping and external renovation works and we are more than happy to discuss the best path forward for you and your project.

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Author Avatar
Founder and Director | Having founded Luke’s Landscaping originally as a sole trader in 2008 with just a ute, a shovel and a whole lot of passion and determination, Luke’s Landscaping Co. is now a well-respected Perth landscaping company. Luke continues to work tirelessly to grow the company and his team to deliver excellence and the best experience for our customers. Luke’s passion lies in his commitment to growing the company, its people and the systems required to deliver the high standards that our customers deserve.