Having a go at landscape architecture is an option for even the most novice backyard practitioner.
It shouldn’t be all too different than redesigning a room in your house. There are elements that can be put in, taken out or moved, and you’ve got a set amount of space in which to do it.
Backyard makeover shows can be misleading, however. If you think you’re going to have an award-winning garden finished over the course of a weekend, you’d better get on the phone and see if you can round up 50 labourers. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth doing though. What may take a while to complete will pay itself back with truckloads of satisfaction every time you step out the back door.
Whether you’re looking to change up a simple flowerbed, or do a complete backyard overhaul, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind to make the process that much easier.
Your first job will be to note down some things that you would like to have in your garden. Do your kids need a play area? Do you want a deck out back? Were you looking to have a vegie patch? Once you’ve got a good idea of what you’re looking for in a garden, it’s a matter of making a few very basic sketches of how it might work.
These don’t have to be architectural, CAD graphic level drawings. Simply map out the shape of your yard, and throw a few rectangles and circles in it to help visualise how it might all fit. There is zero commitment in this and can be a fun way to throw around ideas.
Know Your Backyard
Where does the sun set? Where does the wind usually come from? These sorts of things can be easily forgotten in the planning process, and then rear their ugly head when you’re trying to enjoy a family dinner on your patio in the middle of summer and you’re melting from the sun.
If the wind blows consistently in a direction, this can affect things like fire-pits or pizza ovens, and can also have you thinking about plants that could shed into your freshly cleaned pool.
Sit On Your Plans
Once you feel like you’re happy with your draft plan, don’t throw yourself into the car and head down to the hardware store. More often than not you’ll have a brainwave a couple of days later that will have you re-scribbling your plans again.
Sit on your design for a couple of weeks before jumping into it. You may not have thought about something like places to sit in your new garden, or how it looks from the back window of your house. Give the plans time to sink in.
Start With Something Achievable
Many an Amateur Landscaper has started with something major, only to be disheartened or put off with the amount of effort it takes. Begin the process with a small flowerbed or a little path – something that will kickstart your transformation with an easy sense of satisfaction. Once you see a noticeable change, it will spur you on to continue.
Remember, these things don’t happen overnight. Be comfortable with the fact that the process will be long and arduous, but taking your time and doing things properly will yield the best results.
Have a Centrepiece
A great tenet of landscape design is to work around a focal point (or series of). Whether it be a fountain, a sculpture, or a show-stopping plant, having something that draws the eye toward it helps bring the whole yard together.
At the same time, you want to have a nice sense of scale and pacing throughout your garden. The understanding and creation of this balance is generally what differentiates amateur from professional landscape architects, but having a colour theme and making sure that there is a variety of shapes and colours is a good starting point in finding the right aesthetic.
Be Open to Change
If something isn’t working, or an element that you felt would be stunning in your head turns out to be average in real life, don’t stick to the plan for the sake of it. Be open to mixing things up as you go along, as this will make the whole process both easier and more enjoyable.
Remember that patience is the name of the game when it comes to amateur landscaping. If you take your time and put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with a backyard that is more than worthy of being put up on the fridge.