Time to take a mental leap away from the house plans and imagine what we want in the garden. Some time ago, David drew an outline of the houses on our property. He wanted to see what might work with regards to garden beds, landscaping features and decking. This diagram provided the ideal starting point for our indigenous landscaping plans.
Planning what goes where on the block.
David’s drawing shows how the three homes fit on the property. Notice the natural curves and flowing lines that mark the walls of each home. These shapes are a result of David’s inclination to stay away from boxy rectangles and the odd way the land is divided by the two easements. Each one is unique in shape, but they share a common theme.
The southern boundary of our property is at the bottom of the drawing. Unit 1 has its own driveway and garage while a second driveway services the other units.
Units 1 and 2 have decks on their northern walls which lead into the garden area. Fences, designed by David, will separate each property. We’re keen to use David’s creativity to create fences which are a balance between privacy and more open views of each other’s gardens. It will be hard to create a sense of community if we erect the paling equivalent of the Berlin Wall between each home.
As well as being our home, Unit 3 sits on a larger block so it has some extra features. It has a carport rather than a lockable garage. This carport will be an open, wooden structure that enhances the view from Unit 2 rather than staring at a blank wall. Instead of a wooden deck, the concrete slab extends to the north and provides a low maintenance surface that blurs the line between indoors and outdoors. A wooden bridge then connects the concrete deck with a circular wooden gazebo in the garden. When the weather is right, we can sit in the gazebo and enjoy the serenity.
A shed will be tucked into the north-eastern corner of the garden to store the gardening bits & pieces and provide a small workshop space.
So, that’s the blank canvas we have for our indigenous landscaping.
Indigenous landscaping plans inspired by local nursery.
The proposed landscaping plan is based on the Indigenous Gardens in Maroondah booklet produced by the CRISP Nursery and Maroondah Council.
The garden should benefit native fauna by providing an indigenous habitat pocket. Using indigenous plants also avoids the problem of exotic species spreading from a garden and crowding out remnant native species in surrounding reserves.
Residents will benefit from a low maintenance garden, with a low water demand, which provides an attractive, inviting outdoor living area.
Groves of trees book-end the property.
The northern and southern property boundaries will feature groves of trees, clustered around several canopy trees like the silver leaf stringybark. Shrubs will provide the under-storey for the groves while ground covers and grasses will carpet the ground.
The southern grove will provide a natural screen for the first unit from the street, as well as providing a scenic backdrop when looking out the unit’s windows. In the same way, the northern grove will screen the rear of the property from the neighbour’s house. This grove will complement the indigenous themed landscape plan already underway in the neighbour’s property.
Selecting the exact location for the canopy trees in the southern grove will depend on the likely shadows cast by the mature trees. During winter, it’s important to maximise the sunlight that reaches the home’s thermal mass through the north-facing windows. Year-round, shadows may impact on the electricity production from the solar panels. Taking these factors into account will help us choose the exact locations.
Plenty of choice for the smaller indigenous plants.
Indigenous landscaping requires filling in the spaces around the trees in the same way that local woodlands aren’t just trees. That won’t be a problem for our indigenous landscaping plans as there are plenty of choices.
Shrubs like the Correa and Hop Bitter-pea provide food and shelter for native animals. These shrubs will also frame the views from the home’s windows.
Climbers will soften the edges of fences and walls.
Grasses and ground covers can cover the mulch to prevent weeds taking hold.
Some non-indigenous plants as well.
After falling in love with Grevilleas when we landscaped our last home, how could we not include a few of these natives in our indigenous landscaping plans? The flowers are so dramatic and attract a wide range of birds to sip on the nectar. There’s also the interesting leaf shapes which makes for an attractive plant even when flowerless.
We’ve decided to put in a few Grevilleas as feature plants, just to catch the eye when looking out a window or wandering around the garden.
Don’t forget the fruit and vegetables.
To replace the old fruit trees removed from the property, we plan to put in espaliered apricot and plum trees along the eastern fence line. Lib will then have a readily available source of fruit for her jam making.
All going well, there will be some custom built raised beds for vegetables next to the garden shed. With the right conditions, we’d like to grow a few basics so we can cut back on the purchases from Coles and Woolworths.
Oh, and no Aussie home would be complete without a lemon tree and passionfruit vine. There’ll be room for these somewhere in the plans.