Suburban garden makeover: from lawn to lush

In progress: the garden design and its execution

Suburban garden makeover in progress

There were several design ideas at work when I was planning this garden:

  • I wanted to develop separate spaces in the garden, each with its own identity;
  • I wanted to incorporate two planting styles in particular that interested me. Firstly, the big leaved, tropical/exotic look and secondly a more naturalistic look typified by the planting of perennials and grasses, in other words a nod to the Piet Oudorf and Noel Kingsbury style. I realised that these two styles didn’t necessarily sit well together, hence the idea of separate spaces;
  • I wanted to incorporate a fruit and vegetable garden;
  • I wanted to break up the formality of the natural rectangular shape of the garden;
  • I wanted to focus on designing with plants, rather than with hard landscaping materials.

I decided to break the main part of the garden up into two circular spaces of lawn, bordered by deep garden beds. The space nearest the house would be the ‘exotic garden’, this would lead through a narrow gap in the planting to the ‘perennial garden’, beyond which was the ‘productive garden’.

This plan entailed laying out the basic design and removing lots of turf. Ideally, I would have removed the turf, dug over the ground and buried the turf upside down beneath freshly dug soil. The advantage of this is that you retain the crumbly top soil around the turf roots and benefit from the addition of organic matter to the soil as the turf breaks down.

However, I can be an impatient gardener and my plan was to transform this garden in as a quick a time as possible, so digging over the whole site by hand was not on the agenda.

You’ll see what I did in the pictures below. Click on the first image and then click on the arrows to click through to the next one.

For part three of this suburban garden makeover – the maturing garden – click here.

For part one – the blank canvas – click here.

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