Before you start any landscaping project, identify what exactly you are trying to change in your garden, whether it be creating space, injecting color or improving functionality. Keep this intention at the back of your mind during the whole venture so you don’t get sidetracked or carried away. Collect inspiring images, photographs of your dream gardens and talk to friends and family who have gardens you admire. Draw up a map of your garden and decide exactly what needs to change, where. Likewise, plan your budget (factoring in all maintenance costs) and stick to it.
Spot your weaknesses
There are certain parts of the project that don’t require the skill or tools of a professional but it is crucial that you outsource the tasks that do. It won’t be so cheap when you have to hire a professional to fix your dodgy DIY job. Gardeners may not be necessary for most softscaping jobs; planting shrubbery, potting flowers or even laying new grass. However, hardscaping tasks; concrete jobs, water features, retaining walls and fencing will require the professional touch (and tools). Identify the things you need to use a professional for and budget accordingly.
Break it up
The best gardens have a mix of hardscaping and softscaping. Remember to keep unity with the overall idea but mix it up with textures and patterns. Consider water features, vegetable gardens and winding paths to create interest. Sort all the tasks into manageable chunks and cross things off your list one by one. Sometimes it is a better idea to bring in the professionals early to start you off with the more structural changes and leave the softscaping for after.
Know your plants
You should always be thinking about maintenance when it comes to plants. Think about water costs and opt for drought-tolerant plants. You may also save money on watering by applying garden mulch or (if your garden is big enough) installing automatic irrigation systems. Natives are often a good choice because they will respond best to your local climate and conditions and they rarely need as much attention. Factor in how much sunlight and water a plant needs before choosing it for your new garden as well as its compatibility with other plants. Although buying seeds might seem like a cheaper option, growing plants from scratch involves a lot of work! Buying smaller plants and allowing them to grow is also a cheaper option than purchasing fully formed plants.
If you’re willing to shop at nurseries on the off-season you will pick up great bargains on flowers that may just need a little extra TLC. If you’re only using tools once then consider renting things like leaf blowers or large secateurs. Bulk buy materials you’ll need again like soil, mulch, gravel and wood chips. Some local councils give these supplies away for free to save on removal costs so make the call just in case. Likewise, building and construction sites often have spare/leftover supplies they may be happy for you to take.