Friday, 8 March 2013

Choosing Plants and Trees for Adelaide Gardens

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Renovating an existing garden, or establishing a new garden from scratch, is an exciting, albeit time-consuming project, and it is important that you have a clear plan and as much information as you can before you begin, so that you are able to make informed decisions and design a garden that will thrive in the weather and soil conditions peculiar to Adelaide.  In particular, think carefully about the types of plants and trees you are going to choose, as well as the style and function of the garden you want to design.

Plant Choice

Adelaide’s soil conditions are somewhat diverse, with some significant variation between different parts of the city and its surrounding suburbs.  Generally speaking, however, most of the soils on the Adelaide plain are of clay-limestone origin, and so to establish or renew a successful garden here you will need to ensure that your design takes stock of this, and that what you have planned suits your lifestyle, both in terms of the garden’s function and the maintenance it will require.

The key, therefore, to creating a successful garden is plant choice, and this provides a number of challenges, as well as some exciting opportunities, for Adelaide homeowners.

Adelaide is considered as being in a temperate zone, although of course we are prone to weather extremes, while water availability and cost here is always a pressing issue.  Therefore, it is both cost effective and environmentally sound for any Adelaide garden to have a strong emphasis on drought tolerant plants and trees.  These may be Australian Native or introduced species - indeed, a mix of the two can create a very pleasing effect - but a key to sustainability and manageability is that you choose plants that need as little watering as possible once they are established.  Given this, it also follows that it is advisable to choose plants that do not require large amounts of fertiliser or other chemicals to flourish.

In addition to choosing plants that are suited to Adelaide conditions and are able to flourish with little water, a further key is choosing non-invasive plants.  Essentially, invasive plants are those which, largely through human intervention, exist in places beyond their natural areas of distribution and which cause harm to other species of flora and fauna.  Invasive plants can be Native Australian or imported species.

A way to avoid accidentally introducing invasive plants into your garden is to check carefully the source of any plants you purchase from a garden centre or plant nursery, and to avoid purchasing plants from places such as car boot sales, or accepting or trading cuttings with other people.  Further to this, when you are considering indigenous species, it is important that they are grown from seed sourced locally, to be able to make the most of your local conditions. If you are in doubt, your local council or the Natural Resources Management Board should be able to advise you.

If you are unsure about where to begin in deciding which drought-tolerant plants and trees to choose, you can learn a good deal simply by looking at private and public gardens in your suburb that are managing to survive even during the hottest and driest conditions.  Take a note of which plants are appearing to thrive and think about whether they can play a role or will look good in your own garden.  Local nurseries or garden centres should also be able to provide you with additional suggestions as to those plants that have been grown successfully in your neighbourhood.  Remember that plants that grow well and look good in other parts of South Australia or interstate may not always prove suitable for an Adelaide garden.  This is why it is always good advice to source as much as you can locally.

Style of Garden

It’s extremely helpful to have in mind precisely what sort of garden you are looking to create.  Are you intending a formal or informal look?  Do you want to include spaces to grow fruit, vegetables or herbs?  Will you want to have a lawn?  Are you intending to design an outdoor entertainment space?  All of these questions will help to determine the size and species of plants that will work best in your locality.

It is also important to factor in some other practical considerations in order to determine what will best suit your particular circumstances.  For instance, do you need trees to protect your home from hot summer sun, or plants that will give you added privacy?  Or are you simply looking at plants that will provide colour and enhance the appearance of your home?  These very different functions require very different sorts of plants and trees, and so the role you wish your garden to play should also influence your thinking.

In further practical terms, it is also very important to think about the sort of gardener you are.  The higher the maintenance levels required by your trees and plants, the more commitment that is required on your part, so think about your lifestyle and how much time and energy you can realistically devote to maintaining your garden.  It would be a shame if a lack of time prevented you from keeping plants and garden in good order, so that all your initial efforts ultimately come to nought and you are left with a garden that doesn’t fulfil the role for which you intended it.  Again, this is where plant selection is vital - make sure you choose plants and trees that require only as much maintenance and care as you are able to give them.

There are a number of places that can provide you with further information on designing and planting a garden - look at the plant nursery and garden centre section of TradiesSA to find an expert in your area who can help you make the right plant choices to enhance your garden design concept.
Useful websites for further information:

Tradies SA is website dedicated to helping homeowners in Adelaide and South Australia to find a qualified, skilled and dedicated tradesman.
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