How to Create a Garden from scratch.
When looking to create a new garden from scratch you will need to consider the following 6 points:
- Garden Type
- Garden Position
- Raised Garden
- Ground Level Garden
- Plant Choice
What sort of garden do you want? You will either want a practical garden full of seasonal vegetables and herbs which will require slightly more maintenance but will give you the satisfaction at dinner time of eating produce which you have cultivated with your own hands, or, an aesthetic garden which will be full of beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees.
You may have a few potential positions for your new garden or you might have one spare space within your back yard that you wish to fill. Ideally for both Vegetable and Aesthetic garden plots, you will want to position your garden somewhere it will get sun most of the day. However a bit of shade in the late afternoon (when the sun is at its hottest) is also desirable.
With respect to an Aesthetic Garden you may wish to position this somewhere where it can be seen from various vantage points within your house, i.e. the living room window etc.
The Vegetable Garden may be better positioned out of the line of sight from the same vantage points. Maybe closer to the kitchen door or back door for practical reasons.
A Raised Garden has obvious benefits when it comes to maintaining the garden and harvesting flowers or vegetables, in that you won’t need to bend over as far to do so. This is an important consideration for those with back pain.
If your new Raised Garden is going into a previously lawned area you will need to mark out the area before spraying the lawn with a foliar applied herbicide or systematic herbicide. Once the lawn has yellowed off you will need to dig out the top 50 to 100mm of turf, and I would recommend you apply gypsum to the exposed soil, before filling your Raised Garden with the new Garden Mix. Follow the instructions on the Gypsum bag (generally about 1 to 3 kgs per m2) The Gypsum over time will turn the old soil into free draining loose friable soil.
Once you have constructed your Raised Garden, fill with Garden Mix and plant out your area. We would recommend a mowing strip be put in around the outside of the Raised Garden bed which will mean you can successfully mow all around the Garden without leaving any tufts of weed or grass that your mower simply can’t reach.
Ground Level Garden
The same applies to this garden as written above with respect to killing off the turf. You will then need to dig out 300mm of soil to give you space for your new Fertilized Garden Mix. Apply Gypsum as described above. A mowing strip or border of some sort is a good idea to define your Garden’s boundaries.
Your plant choice will largely be determined by the weather conditions that your new Garden is going to be exposed to. i.e. sunny or shady, windy or sheltered etc. Don’t be afraid to spend time in your Garden Centre reading the labels on the plants you might wish to stock in your new garden. Most labels will indicate what weather conditions the plant likes and from this you should be able to decipher whether this is an appropriate plant for your Garden. It is also useful to take a walk around your neighbourhood and look at what is flourishing. Plants thrive on different nutrients and minerals that are constant in certain areas. Your neighbour’s gardens can provide a wonderful insight as to what you might expect from certain varieties.
With vegetables make sure you read the labels for the ideal planting months and keep the labels so you know when you should be looking to harvest your vegetables. It is a good idea with vegetables to stagger your planting so you can stagger your harvesting at the other end which will mean that you won’t end up with 20kg of carrots all at the same time.
Finally don’t forget to mulch your new garden.
Aesthetic Gardens - you may wish to put a stone mulch down on top of your weed mat. If this is the case, you want a 50mm thick layer of stones over your Garden. Should you choose decorative mulch then you will need a 100mm thick layer laid straight onto the soil. At this thickness you will suppress most, if not all, of the weeds as there will not sufficient sunlight which can get through the tightly knitted coverage of mulch thus preventing any potential weeds from photosynthesizing. You will need to check the thickness of this mulch every 6 to 8 months and build it back up to 100mm thickness.
Vegetable Gardens –You can leave these Gardens with no mulching cover or you can put a thinner layer of 50mm of mulch over the garden. This will help with weed suppression, although not as well as 100mm thickness you would put over your Aesthetic Garden. However 50mm is enough to help with the weed suppression and as you will be in and around your Vegetable Garden a lot more pulling a few weeds is never too much hassle. The mulch in both cases will also store excess moisture until it is needed on drier days.
Remember, after you harvest a crop or your first planting of annuals die off it pays to add in some additional growing media like compost to mix in with the garden mix already there. This will help the next lot of plants get the nutrients they need to supply your table with beautiful flowers or fresh veges all year round.
So there it is. We hope this helps.