Setting up our back yard -the planning stage

I suppose it would be best to start my blog from the very beginning – setting up our back yard. It started out as what I thought at the time to be a beautiful grey dirt patch. Beautiful because it was mine, and absolutely no other reason. The design took the better part of twelve months I realise now.

The pen to paper garden plan took weeks, especially because we had a budget – not particularly small to be honest, but a budget all the same – $2000 had been put aside over the time we built for me to set up a garden. I would recommend having a bit of a cushion like this before setting up a new garden or pulling out an old one to start again. It means you can do a large chunk at once and really get a feel for the materials you can afford to use.

I had too many plans too count- starting out with a formal garden with a garden bed right the way around the perimeter. Thank god for Ma – her suggestions helped me develop the garden to have different elements, which was especially hard when the plans kept changing due to the cost and availability of materials. Talking about it with other people gave me plenty of ideas, and over the year previous I had collected a few books on garden design. I spent plenty of time on Houzz saving a million pictures of ideas I could try to incorporate. When push came to shove, I had to cull a bunch of them – but I could see patterns in what i liked a lot of the pictures. The books helped me understand how to make functional, beautiful small spaces.

After my last meltdown, I sat down one weekend and wrote everything I wanted down – I needed it to be a funky space because it was so small. I started with a corner garden on the south west side, then three corrugated beds along the back to the northern side. I realised for now my water tank would have to wait a few years, so I could afford to custom design one to the right shape and size.

My lawn patch started as a square. I can not encourage enough to change your lines! You can keep them straight if you like, but move them around, they don’t have to be on the same planes – the lawn edged didn’t have to end where my pavers did, much to my surprise. A groovy curve on one side of the lawn helped blend my straight lined L bed in the corner with my round corrugated beds.

I opted for raised beds as the area is too small for trees, so these give my yard a bit of height to it. The back fence has probably a  four or so metre drop to the road on the other side, a wall which i really don’t want to put pressure on with strong roots. I added both grass and gravel to add texture, and to allow an area where i could easily put a fire pit while avoiding the less organic feel of pavers. In a small garden you can’t have it all, but please don’t be scared of changing it up a bit! Embrace the area, some key elements will really help you make the space stylish and functional.

Planting for me is therapy, I can’t tell you how great my body and mind feel after even half an hour of digging around. I needed to maximise the planting space I have, so added a ground bed across the back fence between the raised beds. I added a curve at the end just for fun. This means I can grow more food and flowers to keep my soul happy.

My garden is probably an eclectic cross cottage garden. You can have whatever style takes your fancy, and mix and match as you please. Please don’t ever forget the following

  • Make sure you know what you want your garden to do – grow food? be a social precinct? be a play area for kids?
  • Read books, collect pictures – take time to figure out what you like the look of – and what you hate!
  •  Change texture, at least once in the garden.
  • Give the garden height- use trees or shrubs, or alternatives like art, rised beds, pots.
  • Know what you don’t like – plan to plant a vine or tree to cover a garden shed for instance.
  • Draw attention away from what you don’t like – my three round beds are brightly coloured, so I don’t really notice the ugly fence on each side.
  • Don’t panic. The meltdown was so not worth it.

If you are over excited, like I was, you can plan the plants you want to plan. These can change, but it helped me see how i could create more height and more texture in my small area.

Before you look at the picture, please understand I have no concept of drawing anything to scale!