Landscaping can be fun, especially when you have just bought a new place with lots of land for a garden. You can get creative in terms of design, types of plants, garden accessories, etc to create your own Zen-like oasis. There are so many possibilities in terms of garden styles you can emulate — Japanese, Balinese, Chinese, English, American country, or even one with a local Malaysian flavour! Whether or not you’re planning to test your gardening skills by doing it yourself or by hiring a professional landscape designer, here are some tips to get started with the process.
Make a list
Before you start buying or planning what plants or furniture to use, make a list of your ideas. Do you need a playground (especially if your kid just turned 13 and is getting too cool for school)? Do you enjoy sitting outside? Do you have the time and patience needed if you’re planning to have a small vegetable garden? Do you prefer a more functional space for entertaining guests? Or do you want it to serve as a nature refuge?
Be realistic on what suits your lifestyle best and consider how much you should have for your budget.
Do a site analysis
Observe your surroundings: which side of the garden will get more sun in the morning and afternoon? If you’re interested in building a pond, where is the best location for easy connection to pipes? What kind of soil do you have?
These questions help guide you in mapping out your garden — where different plants can be planted (those that need a lot of light vs those that thrive in shadier spots), best locations for outdoor furniture, connecting pipes for water, connecting electrical outlets for lights, etc.
A landscaping professional will have some good ideas on how to organise the different elements of your garden.
Learn about plants
It’s important to have some knowledge about the plants you’re interested in adding to your garden. Plants vary in temperament and needs. Talk to a gardener or landscape professional to learn about the different types of plants you are considering — which ones prefer sun or shade? How much water do they need? What kind of soil works best for them? What kind of fertiliser is needed? How big will they grow?
Start from a focal point
It might be anything — a sculpture, plant, vase, tree, pavilion, fountain or bushes of flowers. The purpose of this focal point would work as your centre and from there the rest of the landscape will trickle out. You can also refer to various landscape designs in books or catalogues to give you an idea. Even better, share your ideas with a landscape architect and find out what they think.
Scale and pace
In landscaping, this is the trickiest principle especially for beginners. You might not see it at first, but once you start landscaping, you will realise that by scaling and pacing your garden, it will give it a more harmonious look. This does not mean that you have to stay monotonous with the same colour or look. Instead, try to add in an occasional element that is different from the landscape and will stand out. However, repeating some elements such as a common plant or decoration would create a more cohesive look for your landscape design.