We had a question about how we did our landscape plan. We didn’t get Wisdom to do it but then we also didn’t have a DRP requirement to submit a specific plan prior to building as we are not in an estate. If we needed a plan I probably wouldn’t have gone through Wisdom but explored other online people such as http://www.onlinegardendesign.com.au/purchase/ as these sites provide 1 year follow up on their designs ( I am not sure Wisdom are so generous with their follow up). As we didn’t have this requirement we could be a little more relaxed about the plan however the man in the house decided this was his project and spent many hours researching everything from council requirements for retaining walls, through to easement requirements, plant types, shadows etc. We also developed/landscaped a garden in our previous house which was local so we sort of knew what plants grew well or more to the point what plants we grew well based on our skill levels. We also knew which nurseries we liked and would use.
An additional note As we started to write this post it became a little ridiculously long and complicated as our design evolved so many times and so many ideas/plants we had once we moved in and things changed so we apologise for the ramblings but maybe something will be useful.
So how did we start:
1 We actually selected our block with north in mind. Our block opens to the north side of the house giving warm north sun to living areas all along the side house. It also meant the back of our yard is narrow to the west meaning any trees would give good shelter from the hot west sun in Summer.
2. When planning we worked out what was essential for the house to have and these were :
- a place for a rotary clothesline…..we just like them and they make a good space to bowl from in cricket
- fruit trees and vegie patches as we love producing some of our own food
- An open space for the boys to play in including their trampoline
- Spaces/runs for our chickens and dog proofed fences
- we sort of wanted leveled land where possible which meant a rear retaining wall and we had to have a retaining wall along our side boundary as required by council
- some delineation between spaces
- Space for the shed
- Fragrant plants and some natives where possible
3. We then looked at what was required by council/ legislation. Our block had to have a fall to the easement and you can’t build over an easement which was right on the north side fenceline at the back. This basically means this part of the yard had to be grass or something able to be moved so it suited the play area concept well. When planning our retaining walls we thought if we ran a retaining wall closer to the house between this play area and the house, we could stay within council requirements (retaining walls of no more than 600mm high to hold back fill without approval) yet also level our land close to the house. This also meant that we could run trees along the top of the wall shading and screening our elevated house.The retaining wall through the yard also helped to delineate the nice walkway/ fruit tree area from the more functional play, chickens, vegie beds and clothesline area bellow. It turns out the wall did more by providing a backdrop for our vegie beds and a shade/screen for our chicken coop which you now can’t see from the house very much.
4. Originally we planned to have Wisdom Landscapes do the rear and this northside wall so we could start planting from day one, but as has been recorded in our other blogs this was not successful due to some issues coordinating with our neighbour. Wisdom developed a ‘plan’ for the things we asked for which also included some stepping stones down the side. We liked the stepping stone idea which Wisdom Landscapes suggested and so got them to install them but they didn’t really go anywhere and stopped to early so once we moved in John had the idea to extend them to the rear and also put double ones down to the play area. John also had the idea for the aluminium edging and the white stones. When I indicated they wouldn’t be able to build the rear wall I asked if they could use the blocks for the side wall. Wisdom Landscapes kindly shifted that rear wall to the south side of our house at no real additional cost (it was about the same length) which meant we got John to build and tie in all the rear wall at a later date. What a drama at the time and not ideal but John was great and as we said earlier we should have got him to do the lot. Wisdom was also very accommodating shifting the wall without cost.
5.We then looked at the sun profile for the block. There are some websites where you can actually look at the shadow cast by your house and also where the sun goes such as http://www.findmyshadow.com/. This allowed us to see where plants would get sun and those that would get hardly any.
6. Then we sat down and worked out the areas in the house and what sort of trees would work where. Then we matched the areas with the trees and equipment we wanted and set about putting little scale shapes all over a plan to work out how things would go and how they would fit. For example
- We deliberately positioned tall deciduous trees on east and the north side of the house towards the rear as during winter the trees loose their leaves and this allows the north sun to come into our rear living areas and alfresco.
- We put taller evergreen trees towards the front and rear to shield some of the westerly sun and also to act as screens for our neighbours (once they grow!!!)
- We looked for sheds which would fit down the side of the house and realising the only shed that would fit was a small shed, we found alternative storage areas to fit things. Having lots of smaller storage areas actually works well for sorting/organisation. We now have a bike storage box, a gardening shed and a tool shed which avoids some of that crazy clutter that ends up in a big shed.
- We found raised garden beds that would fit along the wall and it turned out lots of smaller beds was cheaper than long large ones. We were (John was) able to level these beds as well so they stepped down in line with the wall.
7. Then I must say there was a lot of working it out as we went along. Lots of looking for things that fitted on the internet, just wandering through nurseries,the ‘big hammer’ etc. and going hey that looks/smells good. This is how our gardens have evolved in the past and so this is how this one will probably too.
Well off to plant our first vegies this weekend. Can’t wait to taste our first crops.