Having 15 acres to work with I have the advantage of designing multiple areas to enjoy and use productively.
This means that I have designated areas for relaxing and enjoying the birds at close quarters, as well as my vegetable garden and then the rest dedicated to being a refuge to the local wildlife.
Before moving to Cedar Creek I was oblivious to the problem of environmental weeds, particularly those that start out as attractive garden plants.
There are more than 200 backyard plants that become bush land pests when they jump the garden fence.
Once they’re in the bush they smother the native plants, removing food and shelter for our wildlife.
Please think very carefully about what you plant in your garden and how you will ensure it does not become a pest.
I sometimes think that we have all of the pest plants here on our property. Lantana, Mother of Millions (shown in the photo above), Cocos palms, Fireweed, Grounsel Bush – there is a long list. In Australia there is a wealth of information available on Weeds and what to do with them.
Your organic garden should be designed for the environment as well as for you
Always start with a plan and use this to consider what you are looking to achieve in your garden. Think about your neighbours; ensure you know where any underground services are located, overhead power lines. Are you in a bushfire prone area or are there summer storms, waterways that flood, or perhaps there are birds and native animals that need your help?
Ensure that your plan incorporates solutions such as minimising storm water run-off by channeling water into garden beds and/or creeks and dams. Plant carefully under power lines so that trees and shrubs are kept well below the height of the lines. Check the potential of root damage to houses, driveways and pipes. Make sure fences and garden beds do not channel stormwater onto neighbouring properties
Where possible incorporate the use of recycled materials into your design.
Or if you are lucky enough use the materials that are already available on your property.
We have an abundance of rocks so this has been very useful for garden borders and low walls and retains a natural look and feel.
Driveways and paths, fencing, retaining walls and garden edging need to be made to last and always check with your local authorities for any regulations around their construction.
Always add a water feature, even if just a birdbath or bowl. This together with rocks, logs and other structures provide for native animals such as lizards and birds.
Plan for how you will water your garden
If you can put in a water-efficient irrigation system that suits your garden design, plants and layout it will save you a lot of time in future.
Always design your garden to be low-maintenance so that it saves both time and money.
Where possible group plants by their watering needs and reduce lawn areas.
Include a rainwater tank to reduce potable/tap water usage.
Having been through a drought recently I was reminded how important it is to be able to continue to water the garden using your own resources such as rainwater or grey water.
Once you have planned for the practical outcomes you can start the creative side by using the existing site contours to add interest and work with the existing ground levels rather than changing them – perhaps terracing or incorporating steps.
Then we get to move on to the enjoyable side of gardening by deciding on which plants you will incorporate into your landscape.
If you are lucky enough to have existing mature trees it could be something as simple as bushes or groundcover underneath.
Remember to consider the size and shape of plants at their maturity in your design. This will minimise wastage as you have to remove plants where they are too close.