Julia Pannett

Home Insurance

25 Dec 2015

Simple Garden Design Tips for Homes

Gardens can turn a backyard into a sanctuary, a plot of dirt into a veggie patch and a house into a home. While it is easy enough to hire someone else to do all the dirty work, there is a sense of pride that comes from knowing what all the flowers are called and what makes them thrive. Although there are many factors to consider, here are some general gardening tips and tricks to help even the newest of gardeners succeed.

Test your soil

If you plan on using the existing soil in your garden you should find out the pH balance by conducting a soil test. Soil test kits can be purchased at most gardening stores and are very easy to use. If the pH is too high to start with, you can end up putting in a lot of work only to watch your plants perish from nutrient deficiency. An ideal pH range of 5.5 to 7 allows plants to best absorb necessary nutrients. Adding organic matter and fertilisers to your garden can increase the quality of your soil. Potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen are the vital nutrients that help plants grow. Look for organic fertilisers that contain these.  Chemical and synthetic fertilisers on the other hand can damage your soil.

Pick plants that correspond to your garden’s conditions

It is best to buy plants that will thrive in the conditions that are available to them. If you have a          garden that is in the shade all day you should avoid things like vegetables which need 6-8 hours of sun a day. Herbs are a great alternative suited to shady gardens. There are herbs that thrive in both sun and shade and they are great for homes with limited space. You should also consider the local temperature and time of year you are planting and would like your garden to bloom. For example, gardenias flower in the warmer months and do not like frost. They emit a fragrant perfume and do best with some shade, particularly in the hotter months.

Know your space – less is more

When you are planting new things in your garden or even in a planter box, you want to leave room for growth. Ask the garden store, or review the planting instructions provided with the plant, to ensure you have left enough space for the plant to grow freely. You also have to think of the existing root systems around things like trees or other flowers if you already have some planted. Overcrowding can cause plants to compete for water and nutrients. Trees specifically consume a lot of water so you need to ensure there is ample room around them. You also don’t want to put trees that will grow tall too close to the house or near power lines. This may be of additional concern if you live in a bush fire prone area so ensure you have put some thought into it before you plant a tree.  To learn more about how to be fire smart with your home during bush fire season.

Be prepared for the upkeep

A garden is a project of passion, not a one-off activity. Regular watering, weeding and re-planting are just some of the things that will be required. The plus side is that it is a great way to get your daily intake of Vitamin D from the sun and stretch and work your joints and muscles. Things like weeding and pruning and even planting can also be a great way to get the kids outside and teach them about how things grow. Planting and retrieving herbs and vegetables can even teach them about what they are eating and where food comes from.

“You’ve got to grow it to know it” –Margaret Roach

A great way to learn about gardening is to do it, research it and talk to others who do it. Visit public and private gardens, talk to the employees of your local garden supply store and read about it. Learn which plants require a lot of water and which don’t. Discover which weeds spread the fastest and need to be eliminated first, and what plants do best in your garden.

Creating a beautiful home and garden is both rewarding and educational. Before you know it, you will be able to help your friends when they are starting out with their own gardens.

Once you have invested the time and money in your garden, you should review your home insurance to ensure that your policy covers any damage to your garden in the event of theft, fire, or malicious damage. As well as being enjoyable, a well presented and maintained garden can help to improve the value of your home so make sure all your hard work is covered.