Top 10 Landscaping Tips of 2011

Looking to make the most out of your garden with some clever design? Then check out our top ten landscaping tips for 2011, the year for being water-wise, eco-conscious and spectacularly creative about space.

1. Have a plan

No one ever created a masterpiece without having a blueprint, which is exactly what you need if you’re going to create a garden to rival Eden. Be realistic – don’t envision flower beds bursting with colour all over the garden if you own two bulldogs, for instance, and don’t expect the kids to understand when you decide to get rid of all the grass to create a Victorian tiled tea garden. Stick to what suits you and your co inhibitors before you even think of making a change.

2. Use what you have

Unless you’ve got a barren square piece of land to start with, in which case you need a whole lot of help, you should have something already in place that you can work with. Do you have a tangle of indigenous bushes, for instance, or a few existing beds that just need a bit of reshaping to create better lines? If so, try and incorporate the current features of your garden into your new vision, and they just may become highlights.

3. Go indigenous

Forget exotic plants, they’re not that impressive these days when you consider how beneficial it is to choose indigenous plants instead. They’ll save you money, they’ll grow well in your climate (because they’re built to) and they’ll create a balanced eco system in which a host of other things will thrive.

4. Choose your materials wisely

Whether it’s a spectacular water feature, a set of stones or an arch to create an accent point, make sure you choose well. Not only will these pieces of art be incorporated into a living and breathing landscape, they’ll become main features that people will focus on when admiring your garden.

5. If you have destructive pets…

There’s no reason to leave your garden as is, and there’s no reason to send the dog to a ‘nice farm’ either – compromise. There are a few techniques you can use to create a pet friendly landscaped space, including creating a digging spot in your garden just for the dog or using rocks as ground cover in places where you really don’t want digging.

6. Keep it simple

This is one of the principles of design. Instead of having too many choices stick to one or two colours to create a theme, or keep decor to a minimum.

7. Remember balance

Whether symmetrical or asymmetrical, balance is the key to creating something that is pleasing to the eye. Symmetrical balance means spacing things evenly, dividing the garden equally and mirroring elements on either side. Asymmetrical balance is slightly trickier as you won’t really have a mirror image but you will be able to work with contrasts and themes to keep it consistent.

8. When choosing colours

Think about what adds dimension to the space – leave neutral colours in the background and bring brights to the front. Use colour to draw the eye and highlight features, such as a grey statue in the middle of a colourful flower bed.

9. Maintain your proportions

Keep your space in mind when deciding what features to include and try to keep everything in proportion in relation to each other. A large water feature in a small bed, for instance, won’t work.

10. Avoid clutter

Image: Simon Howden /

The best way to do this is to repeat patterns instead of scattering elements everywhere – try planting a row of bushes to lead the eye or repeating a section of colour, for instance. To avoid the landscape looking boring, choose one or two bold features that stick out from the repetition.

Jacky Letard has been writing about the outdoors and home improvement tips for years. Read her latest articles on plastic decking and pool decking.

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