Areader wrote, ''I have been reading 'Green Fingers' with great interest of late as I am considering re-doing my garden. I was wondering if you offer your service with regard to which plants would suit my garden and how best to do it up.''
GRAND DESIGN: From left to right, use low-growing plants to accent prominent features in the garden and to provide an interesting ground cover when lawn grass is not suitable.
When I receive enquiries from readers, I answer them to the best of my ability. I go out of my way to survey plant markets on their behalf and if I am not familiar with the subject matter, I ask people who are. But without background information about the reader's garden _ size, locatation, the owner's personal preferences, whether she likes foliage or flowering plants _ I do not know what advice to give as to which plants would suit her garden.
I suggest that she consult a professional landscape designer so that she can discuss her preferences for a garden. However, whether you are commissioning a professional designer to do the landscaping for you or doing it yourself, keep in mind that a good design needs careful planning. It must meet your needs and desires and at the same time keep the surroundings attractive and pleasant. Most importantly it must be something that you are truly happy with, because you will be living with it for years, if not for the rest of your life. Before you start, answer the following questions:
1. What kind of lifestyle do you have? Do you prefer the outdoors or indoors for recreation? How frequently do you entertain? Are you an avid gardener?
2. Do you have children, and if so, how old are they? Do you want a playground incorporated in the landscape?
3. Do you have any special preferences for certain plants?
4. How much are you willing to spend on the project?
5. How much work (or money) are you willing to put into (or pay for) the maintenance of the landscape?
6. Do you expect to walk through the landscape or enjoy it from your window?
SCREENING BLOOMS: Densely growing shrubs allow privacy.
Once the local climate and the site characteristics have been determined, the plan can be made based on your answers to the above questions and according to the three basic functional areas of the house: the public area, private or outdoor living area, and service or utility area.
The public area is the space between the house and the street and the part most visible to passersby. This is the area which creates the first impression, thus it is what most homeowners are most concerned about. The outdoor living area is where you relax or entertain guests away from the public eye. Ideally it should be connected directly with the living or dining room. To ensure your privacy, use plants to screen the area from passersby, from other parts of the ground and from neighbouring houses.
The service area is usually near the back door and is not meant to be in view of the public. As its name implies, it is a service area for such things as the doghouse, garbage bins, clotheslines, storage shed and other odds and ends. Again, you can plant shrubs and trees to screen this area.
The most basic and important part of landscaping is choosing the right trees and plants. Remember that, unlike furniture, trees cannot be moved around once they are in place, so you have to choose them carefully. If the house is a bungalow, choose a small tree to plant beside it, as a big tree beside a small house will make the house seem even smaller.
In landscaping, plants have different uses, and are classified as follows:
1. Ground cover: Plants used to cover the ground, to prevent soil erosion. They are usually planted in areas where lawn grass is desirable but not suitable, such as too steep or too small areas where mowing is difficult.
2. Edging: Low-growing plants used to define pathways. Choose ones that are attractive and compact.
3. Specimen plant: A plant of special beauty or unusual quality which is used as the jewel in the crown. To be effective, it needs space.
4. Accent or focal point: One or more plants which are used as prominent features in the garden.
5. Barriers/screen/hedges: Plants that provide privacy. Shrubs with dark green, fine texture and dense growth habits make good screen plants.
6. Foundation plants: Dense shrubs grown near or along the house, to cover its foundations. At corners they soften vertical lines; near a door they act as a frame; in front of a house they minimise its height.
Don't leave the choice of plants to the landscape designer. Survey what is available at plant markets such as Chatuchak on Wednesdays or Thewet pier, or at plant stalls and nurseries along roadsides if you are living upcountry, and see what you like best. The vendor should be able to tell you the plants' growing habits.
Once the plants are in place and landscaping is finished, it is not the end of the story. As the homeowner you must make sure that your garden is properly cared for, otherwise after a few months the landscape which had cost you a fortune will look unkempt and unsightly.
landscaping needs careful planning, as trees cannot be moved around once they are in place.
About the author
- Writer: Normita Thongtham