Take a step to the outside of your home
By Chantalle Bell
There is plenty of research that shows the mental and physical benefits of gardening such as relaxation, exercise and of course family fun. Planting a garden provides enjoyment for many homeowners – watching your garden go from bare ground to ripe produce or beautiful plants, offers a sense of satisfaction. Vegetable gardening can be particularly gratifying and an excellent source of fresh produce, from the soil preparation to the joy of harvesting.
“A well planned, functional garden design can be considered an investment. It can add “curb-appeal” to your house and in turn, increase the overall value of the home. Aside from the monetary value, a garden can assist in securing a quicker sale”, states Wendy Williams, Sales Director of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. If you are planning on selling your property in the coming months, then refurbishing your garden should definitely be a consideration, but first gain an accurate assessment of your property’s market value from an expert such as a qualified real estate agent or valuator. Once you have this value, you will be able to work out your budget.
Boosting curb appeal is easy with the help of colourful plants and functional furniture. A good first impression could make a world of difference as you have a chance to influence how potential buyers feel about your home before they even step inside. Remember to try and keep it low-maintenance, even if you love gardening, it doesn’t mean the next owner will feel the same, and an elaborate, high maintenance garden can be considered a negative by a potential buyer.
If your garden is looking a little worse for wear after the winter, then getting your garden in shape for summer is the perfect project to tackle right now. You can revive your tired outdoors in no time – whether you are up for a bit of a larger project, or simply ‘dusting off’ the winter, Spring is the perfect time to start working towards the dream garden you have always been wishing for – whether it will be filled with healthy vegetables or colourful flowers.
We look at some steps to get you started:
Remember: The trick is to start small, whether you are growing a vegetable, herb or a flower garden.
Step 1: Preparation
- Start with a basic clean-up, by weeding and removing any dead plants to get an idea of how much space you have to work with
- Deadhead any existing flowers to enhance new growth;
- Promote better drainage for watering and fertilizing by breaking up the soil – this will already enhance the dull looking garden.
Once this is done you have created a canvas to start with ….
Step 2: Set the scene
Work through the checklist to determine what type of garden would be best suited for you:
- What kind of garden do you want to grow?
- Do you want it to beautify your yard with splashes of colour or grow delicious vegetables and herbs? Do you perhaps want both a vegetable garden and flower garden combined?
- Will most of the plants be in containers or in beddings? Consider who will be using your yard: do you have kids or pets?
- Are you hoping to use your yard for outdoor entertaining? Do you want your garden to have a theme? (Formal, Traditional, English/cottage garden).
Step 3: Map out your garden
Ever wanted to try your hand at architecture? Planning your garden can be just as fun!
By mapping out your garden it will be easier for you to see what will go where and what you still need:
- Sketch out a basic diagram of your garden’s dimensions and what you want it to look like.
- If you’ve previously planted a garden, think about what you’ve grown before and consider what worked and what didn’t.
- Decide how much space you have, make sure the location of your garden will provide for optimal growth and appreciation.
- When choosing a location, consider planting the flower garden close to an existing structure (house, patio or fence) to create a transition between the house and the yard.
- Map out where your beddings will be and where your free standing pots will stand.
- Do you need to incorporate utility areas such as washing lines, dustbin storage, compost bins? Will these need to be hidden with garden features?
Step 4: Choose your plants
Early in your planning you should determine how your plants will function in your landscape. Plants can be used in a number of ways; they can provide you with fresh fruits and vegetables or beautiful scenery.
- When selecting new plants, look for resource-efficient plants, ones that will require less water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
- Consider budget, ease of care, and compatibility with neighbouring plants, aesthetics and size.
- When planning a vegetable garden ask yourself how much time you want to spend in it, vegetable gardens require constant attention; they need to be weeded, watered and then harvested.
- Flower gardens are probably one of the most enjoyable gardens to plan from year to year. Ask yourself what your particular style is and what will look most appropriate with your home.
- Decide what types of plants you prefer –once again as with the theme, try to limit your selection to only a few to ensure your garden has a unified look and feel.
- Should you use container/potted plants? Using pots and container plants adds a wonderful structural element to your garden. Even herbs such as purple basil and ornamental peppers can spice up a pot. Succulents have become extremely popular for their low maintenance and drought tolerance.
Step 5: Don’t Forget Decorative Touches
A spacious sitting area is the perfect spot to enjoy the garden. Patios, decks and pathways make the garden usable and provide space for you to enjoy all your hard work. Items to consider:
- Would you want to install a water feature? Water features add a dynamic element to your garden, allowing you to experience the soothing sound of flowing water in your garden.
- A popular favourite trend is adding a fire pit to your garden either in the garden itself or close to the patio where you will be entertaining.
- Add some lighting be it for décor or for security purposes. By using LED’s the cost of having lights in your garden is significantly reduced and it allows you to use your garden at night too.
- Remember that a garden makeover doesn’t always mean only adding new plants and shaping the beds; it is also worthwhile refurbishing currently existing structures. Take into account everything that currently exists in your garden that can be refurbished to enhance it even more. (Painting a wall, sanding and resealing a wooden fence or deck, replacing old pots).
Step 6: Mind Your Budget
- Carefully estimate the total cost of the materials you will need, by starting slowly.
- Don’t buy things you won’t necessarily need. Not everything needs to be bought all at once, or bought new. Good planning for what you’ll grow is key to avoiding overspending.
- Plant your own seeds instead of purchasing them from a nursery or alternatively get cuttings from a fellow gardener.
- You could also save on costs by making your own fertiliser as well as pesticides. Rich, homemade compost is the best slow-release fertiliser your garden could ever desire.
- Allocate a budget and split your project into phases – you will then be able to work on your garden as your budget allows.
Gardening can provide much more than beauty to your yard, growing something with your own two hands can fill a person with satisfaction and pride and is good for the soul. It is truly a life-time hobby, the more you learn the more proficient you will get and it is then the possibilities become endless.
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