One of the most important things to think about when it comes to landscaping your front yard is that the plants and features you choose suit both your lifestyle and the style of your house. For example, if your house is modern, with clean lines and structured shapes, a garden full of vintage roses and flowering perennials is more than likely going to look a bit odd. And roses and perennials need a lot of attention, so if you haven’t got much time to spare, they’re probably not the plants for you.
In the following we set out some basic principles for planning your garden so you’ll end up with something that not only looks good but fits in with your life.
1. Landscape for your climate
This is a crucial first step, as the climate you live in will determine the kind of plants you grow and the longevity of your garden. If you’re in a drought-prone area, think about hardy natives, succulents and flaxes, all of which can withstand long periods with little water. If you’re in a tropical zone, take advantage of the amazing selection of tropical plants available, including tropical fruits. In both cases, think about how much time you want to spend on the garden. If you simply want to plant and leave it, go for minimal and hardy, such as Yucca Palms, Agave or Bromeliads. Or, if you’re keen to spend some time curating your garden, more demanding but equally attractive plants include Ferns, Cycads and Kangaroo Paws, just to name a few.
2. Take a good, long look at your house
The best way to begin to work out what you want in your front yard is to stand back and have a good, long look at your house (and your neighbours’ houses) from the other side of the street. Ask yourself some questions, such as: What’s in your garden already? Do you like it? If not, what do you envision instead? What parts of your neighbours’ gardens do you like or not like? Are there other gardens that you’ve seen that you like, and that would suit your house?
Your answers to these questions will be the starting point for a list of desirables, starting with the basics, such as the materials you need and the plants you want to grow, and moving up to later additions, such as a water garden or birdbath. Also think about what plants and features would work well with the colour and texture of your house and garage.
3. Draw a plan and stick to it
Once you’ve decided on the ‘what’ and ‘where’, you need to work out the ‘how’, including your budget and deadline. Draw a plan of your proposed garden with a numbered list down the side of the steps you’re going to take to achieve it. You’ll need to think about where you’re going to source your plants, and potentially this will require some research to ensure they are of good quality but not too expensive. Note the price of the plants you want to purchase, and keep a tally of the total as you go. If your dreams are exceeding your budget, knock some of the more extravagant purchases off the list until a later date.
Part of this plan should incorporate the ‘when’; i.e. the time/days you are going to set aside to work on the garden. Try to stick to this as much as possible, as the best laid plans have a tendency to drag on forever, with the garden of your dreams never becoming a reality. Even consider having a working bee with friends and family, providing a slap up BBQ lunch as their reward for helping out.
Tweak as required!
Remember, nothing is set in stone, unless it is set in stone, like a large statue of Buddha. In which case, you really should think about where you want it from the start, as relocation could prove difficult. Similarly, paths are relatively permanent, so make sure you follow your plan closely in terms of placement. Otherwise, things can be changed, added to or removed as your garden starts to come together and your vision becomes a reality. You might even discover you have an inner gardener who was just waiting for the opportunity to emerge, and you’ll find yourself spending more time ‘tweaking’ than you planned.
Above all, you’ll have the satisfaction of creating something beautiful and functional that fits in with your house, the surrounding houses, and most importantly, with your lifestyle.
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