November 2011 - Garden rambles offer plenty of inspiration

Every keen gardener at this time of year should try and make the time to go on one of the many garden rambles being held around the Waikato.  I think it is very inspiring to visit other peoples gardens and see new and interesting plant combinations and landscape layouts.  This gets us all motivated to go home and try something new in our very own garden.

I am very fortunate with my job as a landscaper because I get to see many different properties every day - from big farm sections through to tiny townhouses with only enough room for a small patio and garden area if you're lucky.  

If you are not a very knowledgable gardener and are unsure of what sort of garden style or plants you would like in your garden, then I would definitely encourage you to get out on  a garden ramble.  Garden rambles can at least show you which plants are performing particularly well in your area and give you ideas in helping you decide on your final style.

As a landscaper I frequently get asked by property owners to come and help them sort out a garden that just doesn't look right, or the garden is just an ongoing problem as far as maintenance goes.  So today i wanted to pass on some tips that may just help you with the layout and upkeep of your garden.



Try and use only one or maximum two types in a garden.  I find where people often get into trouble is where they have an assortment of groundcover, some more rampant than others, and so very quickly their outwardly growing perimeters cross and grow into each other turning the once beautiful individual groundcover into a real mess of mixed foliage and flowers.


This gives many Waikato gardeners grief.  If the site is exposed to the westerly then you need to make sure you select plants that will cope with this. Natives are generally good options and also camellias, bay trees and conifers.


Many properties in new subdivisions have particularly poor drainage because the topsoil was ripped out by the property developers at the time of creating the sections. Plant losses can be very high if you select  plants that need good drainage. If your soil is very poor draining then stay away from most Australian / South African plants -boronias, grevilleas, eriostomens, kangaroo paws,etc 


Try and select plants that compliment the overall look of the house. If the house has many vertical windows and doors then select topiary plants that are of a similar style. A mistake I often see is that people plant topiary in front of windows and forget that plants will generally continue to grow and before long half the view out the window is being blocked by the topiary.


Tred with a little bit of caution if you are being tempted by a new plant release at your local plant shop. I would definitely buy one plant and see how it goes before rushing out to buy bigger numbers.  Many new releases are very good but there is a small number of duds also. The plant may have had a great track record overseas however how it performs in our country may be quite different.  Many variegated plants with yellow/green markings can be a bit suspect to leaf sunburn. Our extra high levels of U.V from the sun in N.Z. causes burning in many plants that have yellow tonings in the leaf markings.


Many gardens that I get  asked to help fix-up because they don't look quite right have too many varieties in the garden. Each variety of plants may individually look great but when they are all put in together they look like a bag of licorice all-sorts. Generally speaking, use less varieties of plants and have the courage to put in bigger numbers of each. The impact will be more impressive if you can keep this in mind when choosing your plants.


Certainly try and select plants that need little chemical spray and minimal trimming.There are so many great performing plants available these days that require virtually no chemical maintenance so these are good ones for the person wanting as little maintenance as possible. Society around the world is generally wanting most things to be as chemical free as possible and there is no difference with plants. Virtually all of my clients request that I select plants for them that need no or very little chemical spraying and minimal trimming to keep in good shape/form.

So next time you are about to design yourself a new garden or give a makeover to an established garden, try and think about these seven points and you will make your overall garden maintenance easier and visually the garden will have more style and impact.



Rukuhia Homestead Landscaping



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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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