When you’re building a brand new home, the garden is often the furthest thing from your mind. However, your garden is as important to the overall aesthetic of your home as any of the built features, and it’s a good idea to consider this in your planning.
You don’t have to have a green thumb or be a professional landscaping expert to grow and maintain a beautiful garden. It just takes a little bit of research and some planning ahead – the rest is just a little bit of maintenance, then it’s up to Mother Nature.
If you’re completely new to gardening, this is especially important. The good news is that “starting early” doesn’t necessarily mean getting stuck into the cold outdoors in the middle of winter. (We much prefer curling up on a comfy couch during this time, with a mug of hot chocolate and Google guiding us through the dos and don’ts of gardening.) Of course, if braving the frost is your bag, who are we to stand in your way?
Jokes aside, though, it’s a good idea to establish a few important basics before you begin, and winter is the perfect time for doing that research. For example, do you know what type of soil you have on your property? What types of plants would work best in this type of soil? If you don’t really have a garden so much as a barren wasteland, is it possible that there is something preventing things from growing in your yard, such as poor soil nutrition?
The simplest, most cost-effective way to ensure that you have a beautiful garden all year round is to choose plants that are likely to thrive in the existing environment. It’s also a good idea to pick plants that won’t take up more of your time than you are willing or able to spend looking after and maintaining. Those pretty little colourful flowers might compliment the neutral tones of your boundary walls perfectly, but they may also be extremely delicate and require daily tending. If you don’t have that kind of time, you’ll either end up with bare flowerbeds or spend a fortune on garden services. Similarly, if you place plants together that have different light and watering requirements, you’re bound to have a patchy, non-cohesive result. Your best bet is to settle on a particular theme or look before you go shopping for plants and seedlings.
Don’t dig it
The condition of the soil in your garden is key. And contrary to what many gardeners have been taught, turning or aerating the soil can actually do more harm than good, resulting in hardening of the soil, drainage issues and soil erosion. Rather, take steps to protect the soil by using compost or planting groundcover plants, or letting leaves that fall in the flowerbeds stay there and nourish the ground, rather than raking them up.
Strangle the weeds
Or better yet, pluck them out – quickly. Unfortunately, weeds are a problem that will never entirely disappear, as their seed is carried on the wind or brought into your garden by birds. You’ll need to be proactive about keeping them at bay, because once they’ve taken over, it’s a painful and often costly exercise to get rid of them – especially if they’ve been allowed to take over your lawn.
Take it easy
Even if you’re not an avid gardener, there is a great deal of joy to be had from seeing the results of the work you put in. Don’t take on too much, though, and let yourself be overwhelmed by the size of the task at hand. If you’re just starting out, select a spot you’d like to improve and start there. Gardening is a soothing, meditative activity for many who need to break away from the daily grind and enjoy a little peace and solitude. Your local nursery or garden centre will most likely have a few very knowledgeable staff who can help you get started, and will guide you in your selection of plants and equipment. And if you’d rather just enjoy the finished product, you can always bring in the professionals and sip sundowners in the gorgeous green getaway they make of your back yard.