From retaining existing trees to considering the orientation of your home, there’s lots to think about when you’re planning your new garden on a small block. We’ve got you covered with 10 key things to consider.

It’s exciting planning for your new home or big renovation. Your garden is a key part of that place where the heart is – regardless of how big or small it is. Getting the first steps right can make sure the result is perfect for you.

We all know the benefits of trees and green spaces at home. Using trees and green spaces to shade your home can help you save on energy costs, and even boost the value of your home. More importantly, it’s great for health and wellbeing.

Here are the top 10 things to consider so that you can make your garden the best fit for you – all while meeting the minimum green space requirements for new homes in South Australia’s Planning and Design Code:

Green wall and roof growing on supports outside house. Photo by Alex Game courtesy of Landskap
Garden featuring a green wall and roof. Design: Landskap. Photo: Alex Game

1. Get the right advice at the right time

Planning might seem time-consuming, but it saves a lot of time and work down the track.

In the early stages, seeking help from professionals such as your local council, landscape architect or builder can help you make choices that increase the value of your home, and more importantly, ensure you have the garden you always wanted.

State Flora can help you choose beautiful native plants to suit your needs including flowering ground covers, interesting grasses, climbing violets, and flowering shrubs and trees. Native plants are suited to local growing conditions, and important to support native butterflies and birds.

2. Retain existing trees and green space (where possible)

As we covered in our earlier blog, retaining trees – especially mature trees – can help shade your home and give an impressive street view, as well as provide habitat for wildlife.

Remember, mature trees can’t just be replaced. If you’re lucky enough to have one at home, give it the right conditions to thrive and it will keep giving back.

Mature tree with twisting branches over garden and bird bath. Courtesy Sunnymeade Home Garden
Garden featuring a mature tree. Design: Sunnymeade Home Garden Photo: Claire Takacs

3. Consider the orientation of your home and the best spots for your green space

Utilising the best spots to provide sunlight and shade can boost the energy efficiency of your home.

Consider where you plant new trees and if you’re building your new home, position windows to get the best advantage from existing trees.

Avoid impervious (completely solid) surfaces and instead opt for soft landscaping (the living growing stuff) and permeable paving. This will reduce run off and ensure valuable rain soaks into your garden where it's most needed.

4. Understand the growing conditions for your plants

Placing the right plant species in the right place and conditions plays a big role in the long-term success of a garden.

When choosing plants for your garden, consider the type of soil and drainage, amount of sunlight, and complementary plants that will grow well together.

5. Check the location of underground and overhead infrastructure

Avoiding clashes with services such as sewerage, power and water will reduce costly maintenance, repairs, and safety risks.

It will also help you save time if you want to set up irrigation to water your plants.

If you're installing any new services, it's important to coordinate with your builder and providers on where is best to locate them within your yard.

6. Leave room for trees to develop and grow

Allowing space for trunks, roots and branches to grow will ensure your trees and plants can mature and avoid damage to neighbouring properties, walls and fences.

Make sure to leave enough soil volume away from hard surfaces, like concrete, so that trees aren’t confined and have access to enough water.

7. Design your garden to suit your lifestyle

It’s best to choose the right trees and plants to suit your lifestyle and garden space.

Do you want a place to entertain and impress your friends? Or to start an edible garden and get your family involved? (If you do, don’t forget to check out Green Adelaide's gardening hub).

You'll see more on this in our blog on 8 garden designs for a small backyard!

You can make your garden suit your goals, and your schedule. That brings us to number 8.

Garden with stone stairs and paths. Design by Mcnuttndorf Landscaping. Photo by Michael Kai Photography.
Garden with stone stairs and paths. Design by Mcnuttndorf Landscaping. Photo by Michael Kai Photography.

8. Consider the watering requirements of your garden

Don’t just plan for what’s in your garden, but what it will take to maintain it.

Native plants are a great choice to reduce watering needs as these plants have evolved to cope with our hot and dry conditions.

If a lush green space feels like too much commitment (eek!), installing irrigation systems will help ensure your garden can be managed in the time you can put in.

9. Prepare your garden area prior to planting

Buying healthy plants and preparing your soil will help your garden thrive.

Consider how much sunlight and shade they’ll get, which plants complement them best, and the soil and care they need.

10. Maintain your garden regularly

Caring for your trees and plants will ensure a healthy garden you can enjoy year-round.

You can also get your family involved to help you stay connected with nature and each other.

These tips are from the summary of the Adelaide Garden Guide for New Homes, which has everything you need to know to help you meet the green space requirements of the state’s Planning and Design Code. The guide was developed by Green Adelaide, the State Planning Commission and Clover Green Space.

See the full guide for more information to get you started and get inspiration from a range of garden ideas.

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