How to create an awesome garden on the cheap

Professional landscape designer Dave Limburg shows how you can transform a garden with just $1,500

1. Use recycled paving – buying products such as pavers or bricks from eBay and Gumtree is a great way to save money on materials. Often contractors have leftovers from jobs, so you can source new pavers online. Otherwise you can find pavers in good condition from people simply changing their existing pavers. Just 10sqm is enough for an outdoor setting. Ideally a shade sail over the paved area will make the space more visually appeal, but also more functional. 

2. A shade sail is a simple DIY job and simply involves installing three timber posts. A shade sail kit can be purchased from most hardware stores and installed for around $500. 

3. Turf – Turf is relatively inexpensive. Couch grass roll can be purchased for about $6 per m2 from most landscaping yards. A small lawn area is almost a necessity for kids and it is certainly a garden element that families will be looking for when assessing a property to purchase. Even a small area of say 15sqm will be large enough to roll around on, set up some outdoor games, or have a splash under a sprinkler. 

4. Screening plants are a great way of softening an outdoor space and making the garden look bigger. Choose hardy plants that don't require much pruning. Where you live in Australia will determine the species, but the following will grow in most Australian conditions and require minimal care, grow to roughly fence height and look great year round:
  • Murraya paninculata (Orange jessamine)
  • Photinia robusta (Photinia)
  • Acmena smithii (Lilly Pilly)
  • Viburnum odoratissimum (Sweet viburnum)
These plants can be purchased from your local nursery for approximately $20 each in 200mm pots. In this pot size, the plants should be approximately one and half metres high. 

5. Garden plants should fill the garden beds and be selected to look great, hardy and low maintenance. The following achieve of these requirements:

  • Phormium tenax (Flax)
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star jasmine)
  • Ophiopogon japonicus (Giant mondo grass)
  • Buxus japonica (Box)
  • Cordyline varieties 

6. Mulch – Garden beds always look a lot tidier and more presentable with a layer of mulch on top. Pine bark, or Eucalyptus mulch can be readily obtained for free from local tree removal companies. 

Dave Limburg is a professional landscape designer. He is the owner of Online Garden Design, which offers custom landscape designs and DIY guides. onlinegardendesign.com.au

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