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Preparing the plan

As soon as you have worked all this out it is really beneficial to draw up or obtain a scale drawing of your whole house block, its features and its building developments. This makes it much easier to see all your ideas come together and check out all the possibilities.

Check with the local to make sure there are no local government regulations that could restrict your planning and development for the site particularly in areas of environmental or heritage significance.

 You need to mark accurately the position of the house on the block, any other outbuildings and structures, then position the service lines, easements, sewerage, electricity, gas, water, taps and water metres. The relevant utilities usually have these plans.

The best scales to work with are 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 scales on A3 or larger sheet of paper.

Existing trees can be marked in using circles. The diameter of the circle represents the spread or width of the plant at maturity and the dot in the centre represents the trunk or stem. The size of the circle is very important so you can judge and plan for exactly the right amount of space.

You can also make overlay sheets of transparent or tracing paper to sit over the original base plan. All the services could be drawn on a separate overlay sheet as well as the proposed watering system, contours, the areas that need screening and the areas that have the best views or views that need screen. The plan will form the basis for your work to develop the garden over time or instructions to a professional landscape designer or contractor.

The design principles

In summary:

  • A garden should reflect the owners personality and lifestyle.
  • Work out your needs for the garden that suits you.
  • Decide on the features you want, vegetable garden, aviary, retreat etc.
  • Design to minimise the impact on the natural environment.
  • Design to suit the time you have for upkeep and maintenance.
  • Choose your plants wisely.
  • Plan features to improve views and microclimates.
  • Decide if lawn is necessary and how much you can afford.
  • Use screening for privacy, noise, wind and shelter.
  • Plan ground surfacing positions and materials.
  • Design for flexibility for the future.
  • Disguise unsightly features.
  • Develop a scale plan of your property and all the service and features so you can plan wisely.

Spend time on your garden and seek as much information as you can from books, magazines, web sites, local nurseries, garden owners and observing successful features from established gardens in your area. If you are engaging a landscape designer or contractor many are willing to meet your requirements for a low maintenance and low water use garden.