The Guide - Outdoors

Landscaping and some great guiding information


Green thumbs. Some people are born with them, and others have to work a little harder at it. Regardless of your levels of natural gardening ability, a little bit of green guidance goes a long way.

There’s no doubt that a thoughtfully designed garden can transform the look and feel of any home. And this is especially true with new homes, where the risk of it looking as though it’s just landed on a bar block is higher. A lovely garden can make your new house look as though it really belongs there.


Read on for some great direction on the time-honoured art of growing gorgeous gardens.

Needs and wants

Here are our old friends the ‘Needs’ and the ‘Wants’. It’s a good idea to make a list for your garden early on. Do you have kids? Are they younger or older? Will they need a play space? Do you want a vegie patch? A patio?

Draw a rough sketch of your garden spaces and what might go where - it’s handy to start visualising things to see what will and won’t work. These early sketches are all about getting ideas onto paper - just rough things out with basic circles and shapes, it’s fun and will help you communicate your ideas to your family.

Weather watch

It’s time to take a closer look at the weather patterns and how they hit your new home. Look at the sun and wind, find the sheltered areas the sun traps and place patios and al fresco areas accordingly. You’ll be able to use this information at the nursery when you’re choosing plants for different areas. Some plants need full sun, and others love shade and moisture. Do some learning and then create your garden around the elements, to have it work better for you.

Honour time

Before planting out every area, try and live with your new garden for a while. Even if your new home is being built on a bare block, have a wander around and observe the way the sun hits it, and where. You’ll start to get a ‘feel’ for it, and can then imagine how your garden could be and how your outdoor areas will relate to the final home itself.

Start small

Reality check - those tv miracle makeover shows are not real life. The best and most beautiful gardens will evolve over time and have a more natural and organic ‘look and feel’ because of that. Even though they’re living things, too much structure can make a garden feel soulless.

Work on your garden beds a little bit at a time, then take a break, step back and look things over with a cup of tea, or a cold one. Give plants a chance to establish and fill in and you’ll be able to see more clearly how the final garden will look when it is fully developed in a year or three.

Points of interest

Most good gardens have a point of focus, a central design piece or area around which the rest of the garden revolves. This is an easy principle for beginner gardeners to put into place and work with. Your focal point might be a feature garden bed, some outdoor furniture, feature paving or a single, spectacular plant or tree. The idea is to draw the eye to the focal point first, and then drift from there to enjoy the rest of your garden.

Scale and rhythm

This is a little more technical, but beginner gardeners can create a natural rhythm in their gardens by varying the size of the plants throughout. Achieve a natural flow and gradual ‘reveals’ by alternating taller plants with shorter plants.

Consider the position of your plants near walls and paths. Useful examples include planting small and low plants on the edge of paths and garden beds, and then building in size as you move back through the bed, with the tallest plants positioning against walls and fences.

And finally, repeat certain plants, shapes and colours throughout your garden to give it a consistent visual theme. There’s no need to be repetitive, but by using one style of plant as a strong feature in one area, and then using that same plant as a detail in another area draws the garden together nicely.

Embrace change

Be open to change. Gardens are always changing naturally anyway, so be prepared to abandon an idea if it’s not working, and try something new. You’ll change too, and something you loved three years ago might not feel the same for you now. Your garden should be your happy place, so plan and plant to put a smile on your dial.