Garden Makeover: Getting It Right
View more related buyers guides
Published by TOP4 Team
For a major garden makeover to be successful you need three things: careful planning, a realistic budget and the help of an experienced landscape designer.
The first step in any makeover is to walk around your garden and jot down what you do and don’t like. This will help you to clarify both what you need from your new-look garden - perhaps an entertainment area, a place for the kids to play, a shade structure by the pool - and what you want.
The next step is to create a wish list containing all the things you must have and all those things you’d really like to find a way to incorporate, budget and space permitting. Armed with this list and, preferably, a folder full of design, product and planting ideas, consult a landscape designer to devise a workable plan. A skilled designer can actually save you money by coming up with clever suggestions for maximising space and substituting materials to ensure you achieve your goals cost effectively.
If you prefer to go the do-it-yourself route, this would be the time to draw a to-scale outline of your existing garden and start sketching. This sketch should include the location of proposed garden beds, water features, paved areas, decking, lighting, etc. This draft design should also strive to make the best possible use of the available space, highlight attractive views and hide unsightly ones, and provide for all your shade, privacy, entertainment and storage needs.
When creating a design of your own, you’ll want to keep it low maintenance and water wise. This might involve replacing some or all of the lawn with paving, gravel or groundcover plants and making provision to install a drip-line irrigation system… even a rainwater tank.
If a major makeover is on the agenda, however, engaging the services of an experienced landscape designer makes a lot of sense. This is the best way to ensure you get a design that works and that you use your budget to maximum advantage, avoiding costly mistakes. A good landscape designer also looks at more than the cosmetic, considering such fundamental issues as soil quality, stormwater run-off, drainage and irrigation.
The cost for all of the above should be set out in the initial quote you receive from the designer. Make sure you get the quote in writing and that you understand what’s involved before any work begins. If budget is an issue, discuss this with the designer. They may be able to find material or product substitutions to reduce costs or develop a plan for staging any construction work over a period of months or years.
To find a designer, ask friends or colleagues for recommendations or contact your state branch of the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (AILDM) for a list of qualified designers in your area.