Asked on Dec 17, 2016

Landscaping advice needed!

Tracey B
by Tracey B
Hi all - I know I'm in Australia, but I'm after some general landscape advice or if someone could even point me in the right direction of the style of gardens I should be googling. We have recently bought a new home that is much more contemporary than the 100 year old cottages and villas we have lived in previously. We have also only gardened on relatively flat ground. The previous owners of this home freely admit that they hated gardening so we have inherited a hotch potch mix of leggy overgrown shrubs, a mulberry, two sad Robinia pseudoacacia 'Umbraculifera' (ornamental ball on a stick trees - the ones pruned back hard) a few diseased roses, and a couple of massive patches of a succulent known as pig face here in Australia. The garden is also overshadowed by two big eucalypts. We are in South Australia where the weather is quite temperate/Mediterranean. Mild winters and summers that regularly get up over 100 - a week with temps around 113 is not uncommon. This means that drought tolerant plants are most desirable. I really love French lavender so would like to incorporate it into the design. Thanks in advance for your advice 😊
q landscaping advice, landscape
q landscaping advice, landscape
  18 answers
    • Tracey B Tracey B on Dec 17, 2016
      Thank you Janet - there are some beautiful plantings via this link - just the sort of plants I was looking for.

  • Sally inman Sally inman on Dec 17, 2016
    I have absolutely no idea what you can do but it is such a beautiful home, you could actually just let it be. My only suggestion is no junipers of any sort as I
    do not like them. But if you do, go ahead. It is a challenge but wow, it will be
    spectacular when you are finished. Best of luck.

    • Tracey B Tracey B on Dec 17, 2016
      Thanks Sally - I don't think we specifically have junipers here, but conifers are very popular, though I don't want them at our new house - too much maintenance to keep them tidy and shaped.

  • Sue Peet Sue Peet on Dec 17, 2016
    Its a beautiful home that needs some color out front. I would check with a local gardening place to see what plants are native to your area. I know here in the U.S. many people will add different plants around those big rocks. Color would actual make your house look better. If you enjoy butterflies and birds adding certain plants will attract them. Put in a birdbath.

    • Tracey B Tracey B on Dec 17, 2016
      Thank you Sue - we LOVE birds and butterflies and a birdbath will definitely be going into the front garden. The garden does look very bare and we do want to fill in around the rocks.

  • ObiaMan ObiaMan on Dec 17, 2016
    I happen to be a lover of Crepe Myrtles. The dark pinks are gorgeous. The deep red is stunning. I don't usually like the whites. They'll get to be as tall as your house in about 25 to 30 years and birds and squirrels love their seeds. Maybe consider some bulbs planted all among your rocks. Day lilies, Easter lilies or just about any that you like. They take very little care and multiply. Choose about 3 different varieties that bloom at different times. Or if it's quite dry, try succulents or sedum. There's so many different varieties. You might even want to consider a magnificent tasting orange tree. They stay beautiful and green all year and after about 6 years you'll be picking hundreds of delicious oranges over several months in winter. They can get to 15' tall easily and are sturdy enough to climb in. There are some Camellia trees that would look stunning also. Try something that is also useful maybe, like a tea Camellia or a group of olive trees. Both stay evergreen. I live in south Louisiana, which seems to have about the same climate as Brisbane. Look at some yucca or agave maybe. They would go with your style. I have some yucca that probably reach 15', maybe 20' to the top of the flowers when in bloom. Beautiful home. Order up a bunch of catalogs and just mull over them for a while and see what grabs you. Oleanders are poisonous but such a fine bushy kind of tree. Hibiscus are really fine and if you're far enough north, they tend to be evergreen. They can be planted close to the house and actually love it, like the Camellias. Another I just thought of is the Norfolk Pine. I've seen some here over 20' and last for many years. I had some 16' I always used as my Christmas trees every year. They will die if a winter comes along that dips into the teens for a few days though. If you don't get any freezes, they really look stately.

    • See 1 previous
    • ObiaMan ObiaMan on Dec 20, 2016
      I see. You must live more north central. Like I said, there are a lot of beautiful succulents that are very heat/dry tolerant. Very colorful and quite varied. Some send up flower stalks. Many are very low growing, less than a foot tall. Some hang. Your rocks would be gorgeous covered in a bunch of different varieties, even some small cacti. Aloe Vera is so useful. Things like Jade plants can take on wild shapes like Bonsai. Hen and Chicks are real nice and Kalanchoes are magnificent when in bloom with their red flowers.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 17, 2016
    Just a comment on what others have said you live in Australia....What works for everyone else perhaps will not work in your zone.Besides that may or may not be your taste.

  • Shawna Bailey Shawna Bailey on Dec 18, 2016
    No reason why you couldn't have an English cottage style garden with the style of your house. I think it would look lovely.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Dec 19, 2016
    What a gorgeous home! What you do depends on how much time you want to spend in the garden. I would take out all the old un-tended bushes and start over. If you like the big rocks, keep them. (I would take them out and clean the brick. Make sure there is brick behind that dirt! If there is no brick, terrace that part of the yard adding a layer of color on each level. Keep in mind that different colors of green are stunning. Place a few large pots in your plan for colorful seasonal plantings.) This link shows the use of different greens! You have the backdrop for this with the color of your brick! Even a walking path of pavers between a couple of the terraces even with a bench would be adorable.
    Chose easy care bushes like miniature evergreens (they never overgrow and do not need trimming) and then add some accent sculptured trees on that lower level opposite the driveway.
    I favor the ones that are shaped like Christmas trees!
    There are many posts on making sculptured gardens.
    Remember, we want to see the finished product!

  • Paula Marie Hyde Paula Marie Hyde on Dec 19, 2016
    You mentioned planting lavender, which I think would be lovely. How about some other herbs as well? I'm thinking specifically of lemon balm, catnip, spearmint, oreganos...

    All of them attract butterflies, all of them are perennials, and once they're established, they're pretty much carefree. So much so, that some might call them invasive. lol

    I have a bunch of lemon balm, catnip and spearmint, and it makes the garden look lush.

  • Chris Smith Chris Smith on Dec 20, 2016
    Hi up here from Brisbane!

    I suggest ivy geraniums, they flower all year round, very low maintenance and drought tolerant. Lots of succulents will flower around Christmas time when nothing else will.

    Agapanthus in white or purple are a nice plant with a bit of height.

    Put some medium height trees in to add interest. The butterfly bush/buddleia is a lovely shrub that requires little pruning, just deadheading the racemes of flowers that grow all year round. For a splash of white, I recommend Euphorbia/snow on the mountain. Oleandars are also gorgeous but may be a problem if you have young children or a puppy who chew leaves as they are poisonous. Having said that, it's not usually too much of a problem and they are as tough as old goats knees with variegated leave (white and green) and a gorgeous choice of flowers.

    Think about theming your colour scheme. You could just go with one or two flowering plants and use leaf colour for interest. Or you could have a pink and red garden. Or a white garden (a bit boring for me, but calming if done well). Or my favourite a purple/blue/pink/white garden.

    A scented garden would include magnolias, gardenias and yesterday-today-and-tomorrows (named for the purple, pale purple and white flowers).

    Another tip is to walk around your neighbourhood and identify the plants you love that seem to be thriving and look for them at your local garden centre.

    good luck!

  • Richard Wood Richard Wood on Dec 21, 2016
    I am a Landscape Architect in Canada and the Principals are the same . I suggest you use native Material .bushes and Shrubs that lower the height of your house
    max.hgt. 10-15ft high. also redesign your stone wall . move some out to your driveway entrance and always group 3's or 5's never in even numbers .you will get more impact that way . good luck beautiful home .

  • Chris mara Chris mara on Dec 21, 2016
    Love everyone"s sugestions. It IS truly a beautiful home! what about some grasses to give height and flow? One other thought every time I look back at photos first thing that I see is all that rock. It takes away from the home and its beauty. I think maybe get rid of some of them (keep a scattered form) instead of a two row barricade. Whatever is left an e softened with plants. I agree to pull out existing plants they do not offer any kind of form or beauty and are haphazardly placed. I actually don't mind the side area where the boulders and plantings are minimal and you can easily just add some plants without any backbreaking work in that section. Incorporate some of those you put out front to blend through the side. Also that little area to the side of front door could be a "specialty garden" with birdbath and perhaps a small tree/ bush for cover. And butterfly/bee/bird variety flowed herbs, maybe a little bench? You might want to use some of those boulders carefully to "even out" the area as that side looks lopsided from rest of house due to elevation.

  • Ruth Bosma Ruth Bosma on Dec 21, 2016
    Hi Tracey from south of Cooma in NSW.
    There are some excellent suggestions so far - I second the suggestion from Chris to walk around the area and see what grows well in the area. Keep the pigface - it would look great spilling over the rocks at the front. It's very easy to propogate - just break a piece off and stick it in the ground, so you will get a lot of mileage from just one plant and it will completely smother any weed growth. With the roses, cut them back HARD - take about 2/3rds off, feed with rose feed and if you can give them an extra bit of water, do so. They will either survive or they won't - you have nothing to lose either way.

    You could you take samples of the other plants to a garden centre and get them identified, then you can google information to decide if they stay or go.

    Any type of australian native will attract birds to the garden as will lavender. Take advantage of the shaded area for plants that need a bit of sun protection.

    Good luck with it all. Perhaps in the future we will see the before, during and after story on Hometalk.

  • Jane Jane on Dec 22, 2016
    I agree with everyone. You do have a beautiful home. You asked for landscaping ideas and got lots of great suggestions. The thing that stands out most to me is the lack of any railings on the stairs. I think a beautiful iron railing (that coordinates with the upstairs balcony railing) would look great. If it curved out at the bottom of the stairs it would soften their very straight lines and compliment the beautiful curved entry and window.
    Since your front door is already painted, I would repaint it a striking color...or give it more presence. Like these!
    I guess these are not really landscaping suggestions, but they would enhance your curb appeal.

    I love rocks. You have lots of them ;-) They would be much more appealing if they were not arranged in rows. I would put in curved beds all the way down the walkway planted with low growing greenery plus seasonal color. You could even use some of the rocks to enhance it. Check out these google images for some great ideas.
    Please post your progress. I'd love to see what you choose to do.
    Best wishes for a happy holiday.

  • Linda Linda on Dec 22, 2016
    Crown of thorns bloom year round and would add red and white color. Plant them among the rocks. I love rocks. Would also paint the door dark red or black. Green might also look great and also paint the steps to the front door. Looks as though they clash with the brick. Don't like the bush near the driveway. Pull it out and add more color because the garage door and drive are white. Good luck because all the other suggestions are great.

  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on Dec 22, 2016
    I liked all of Chris Smiths ideas that adding color would do wonders.. How about painting that front door. Give it a little extra pop.

  • Chris Smith Chris Smith on Dec 22, 2016
    Hi Tracey B,

    I couldn't resist some more tips. With the roses, yes, agree with the other poster - cut them back hard and water in some Epsom salts say 1/2 cup in a bucket of water. That should help them on their way. Your climate is perfect for roses, I think you just need that one tip!

    I have to disagree with Richard about the use of natives. In Australia, most of our natives don't grow well with showier plants as the acid levels in the soil need to be different. They are often short lived and, other than ground covers are not more about foliage than flower. Unless you love the look of natives, then disregard the advice. However, Richard is bang on with his comment about odd numbers, unless symmetry is required, odd numbers are usually more appealing.
    The rocks look fine, just a bit barren with no foliage to soften, ivy geraniums will trail beautifully over them. In a previous house, I regularly had people stop to take photos of that very scenario.

    On a practical note, I recommend red cedar chip bark to retain water and keep weeds down. It provides some colour and doesn't break down as fast as other mulches.

    Some steps or a ramp and railings would be lovely, but up to you and your budget. Have fun and enjoy your lovely home.

  • Cat Cat on Jan 20, 2017
    Beautiful home! I love flowers, so of course my suggestion is perennials. Lavender, black eyed susans. I also think Giant purple aliums would look so pretty against the brick! good luck! Remember that gardening is never finished!

  • Kj Kj on Jan 22, 2017
    Walking the neighborhood is a great way to see is thriving in your area, and what you like for a similar home style. The suggestion I would make would be to do nothing.  It sounds like you know what you are doing with plantings, trim everything back, live with it for awhile to see what thrives and what doesn't. It may be that because it seems as though it was neglected, it may need some TLC to reach it's full potential. Good luck with your beautiful new home!