Dreaming of Outdoor Living

I am not a seasoned gardener. In fact, after leaving city life behind, I’m facing the chore of creating a front garden and backyard living space in our two-year-old home, where all we’ve got by way of landscaping is some sod and a skinny little tree at the side of the road. Up until now, my green thumb has only ever been used to plunk cheerful annuals into balcony containers.

Enter Joanne Young, Garden Designer at Mori Gardens, who kindly walked me through the overwhelm of planning an outdoor space. She’s honed the process into a few easy steps that even a city gal like me can manage.

Take a tour. See your space from a new perspective. Identify problems: drainage issues, privacy needs, ugly views. Which plants are keepers? Which should
go? Check paths and walkways for repairs. Consider access. For example, herb gardens work nicely when they are close to the kitchen.

Use of Space. A weekend coffee on the porch with the paper. Outdoor entertaining. Space for kids to play, and help tend the garden. Will you grow food? Create a sanctuary for birds, bees and butterflies? Are you low-maintenance, or do you love a challenge?

Make a wish list. Include every element you’d love in your oasis. Dream big, and see how your outdoor space can evolve over time.

Consider your budget. Divide your list into stages you can tackle each year. Take into account the most economical use of your resources. For example, if you need brickwork for a shed, a pathway, and a patio, it may be more affordable to tackle all of the brickwork at once than to hire someone for each job.

Hone your style. Japanese, English Cottage, Woodland…these were terms I’d heard but was hard-pressed to define. Pore through magazines, Pinterest, and sites like Houzz.com. Collect images that appeal to you, and you’ll notice common themes emerge.

Use the Five Senses of Gardening. Joanne’s key to  beautiful garden design includes a sense of entry (invites you in to see more),

welcome (equate the space with relaxation), enclosure (defines space, creates shade and privacy), place (compliments the architecture of your home), and a sense of flow (lines direct the eye around the garden).

Draw a bubble diagram. This rough sketch of your space is ideally drawn to scale. Add existing elements, and then allocate ‘bubbles’ to plot new features. Play around before making permanent decisions. Note sun and shady spots, and experiment with lines.

Make a plant list. Remember that you can purchase smaller versions of the plants you love and let them grow in. Other considerations include maintenance, problem areas (turn them into features!), your hardiness zone, seasonal transitions, sunlight, and colour.

I’ve got everything I need to start dreaming up my backyard sanctuary. If you’re still intimidated by tackling an overhaul on your own, book a consultation with a Mori Gardens designer. They offer a no-obligation appointment to find the service that’s right for you.

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