Designing a Garden – Your Outdoor Space


It all starts with a big dream…

A dream outdoor space begins with questions that you need to ask yourself. Do I want a patio for entertaining, a playground area for the children, a low maintenance garden with a low environmental impact or a productive vegetable garden? What kind of landscaping materials do you like – stepping stones, water, rocks, pebbles and waterwise plants?

Be honest about your level of involvement; think about how to simplify your plans so that your outdoor space can become a reality. See what you can afford and most importantly the time you have available to dedicate and maintain your garden.

Walk through your local garden centre, look through gardening magazines and books for updated and inspirational images. Visit the gardening category on Pinterest, search the web and mobile apps that will give you updated images specifically tailored to your garden design.

Review your outdoor space

Walk around the space and make notes on what you like and what you don’t like. Don’t forget to factor in the geographical considerations – water drainage and most imprtantantly track the position of the sun through the course of the day. Look at existing trees and plants with a view on their maturity in a few years time.

Draw up a plan

Very important in the initial stages of any design project. A plan provides a board for you to draw up your ideas. Draw circles to represent spaces like a swimming pool, patio, garage, trampoline, braai area then link the circles with garden areas, pathways and lawn areas. It is very important to look at the relationships between the spaces and then draw them to scale. It is important to make sure the spaces flow easily, that moving from one space to another is free flowing. Take into consideration the entryways, pathways and exits and how you can draw people into the next space. By dropping levels, changing the floor material or floor pattern you can create the illusion of separate outdoor spaces.

If you think you will have trouble drawing up a plan and unsure how to execute your plans consider hiring a landscape professional that will open your eyes to other brilliant options you may not have thought of yourself.

From the inside out

Be sure to view you new space from inside your house. With the correct design, your new garden space will become an artwork through the windows. For example, the view from your kitchen window – most homeowners spend more time looking out of this window than any other and it is important to make sure your new  plans will allow people to move freely in and out, to get the garbage out, hanging out the laundry and not to compromise your security.

The finer details

Finish off your design with some fine tuning. You might want to screen an unsightly view by planting a ‘green fence’. Fast growing climbers like Star Jasmine, Bougainvillea, Gelsemium, Tickey Creeper and Petrea create a ‘green fence’ in no time at all.

Does your entrance area need some pizzazz? Think about installing a water feature or introducing a group of interesting containers with different planting combinations. If you have decided that your design must be low-maintenance and waterwise choose plants that are require less water and consider using gravel and bark chips instead of groundcover plants.

All in good time

The best thing about a plan is that you don’t have to do it all at once. As the seasons change you will be able to work on one area at a time with a longtime view on the areas ahead. You will save yourself heartache, time and money and most importantly your dream outdoor space will be realised and enjoyed for many years to come.


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