Are you wanting to renovate your backyard because now the location of your “holiday paradise” being closer to home is more relevant?  Or are you thinking about it but don’t know where to start?  If so, here are 5 reno tips to help your creative process.

1. Landscaping – Theme

Garden renovation

Do you fancy an Australian themed backyard with easy care natives – a home among the gum trees? Or how about a traditional English country garden, with warm brick paths, rambling roses and other fragrant pastel perennials and self-sowing annuals, alive with fragrance and colour?  Or what about a more sculptured ‘Santa Fe’ look, using stones, rockeries, cacti and succulents?  Maybe you are wondering if you can still have your Bali cake and eat it too?  Think thatched huts and teak decking… Balinese garden ornamentation/statues… decorative garden lanterns… tropical plants… water features. 

Select a theme that takes into account not only your personal taste and lifestyle but the climate in that part of Australia in which you live, as well as the soil conditions.  A variety of garden themes may appeal to you, but mixing them up in a mishmash of styles doesn’t work aesthetically.  When selecting a garden “theme”, remember that some gardens require more maintenance and watering than others, such as English country gardens.  If you don’t have a head for landscaping and can’t afford a professional, check out landscaping ideas for your perfect garden “theme” on the internet.  With a bit of online research, you can do it yourself and save money.

2. Plant Selection

Garden Renovation Tips - Plant Selection

Having selected the theme for your backyard paradise, you can then go plant hunting.  To make your theme work, aim for realism and don’t mix vastly different styles.  Let’s face it, English rose bushes and cactuses just don’t go together, even if they do both have thorns!  You will find many websites that suggest appropriate plants for Australian conditions and for the type of garden you are aiming for.  You can also ask your local nursery for suggestions.  

Some of this is just common sense. If you live in a dry, Pilbara-type climate, you may find the Australian native and Santa Fe themes easier to establish and maintain, whereas if you live in Melbourne, your English country garden will thrive with less effort.  On the other hand, Balinese style plants thrive in warm tropical conditions and clearly, may not do so well in snowy regions.

If you are tempted to replace your lawn with paving, keep in mind that you might save a bit of time on water and mowing, but you will be adding to the “heat island” effect and your home will be that much hotter every summer.  If you really do not want a lawn, consider mulch and plants, and decking as replacements.

3. Shaded Areas – Patios, Pergolas & More

Garden Renovation Tips - Shaded Area

In Australia, you know that come summer, having shade is not negotiable.  Incorporate shaded areas when designing your garden.   Depending on which part of the country you live and your chosen landscape theme, you have multiple options for shade structures.  Up north, where the sun and heat is most unforgiving, you will want some form of solid shade protection.   For example, you can go Bali Hut style, Australian style with timber or steel frame and an aluminium or polycarbonate roof, or you can have a standalone solid sun-screen structure using shade sails and shade cloth.  Alternatively, you can use a range of low-maintenance timber composite batten profiles to build a sun-screen that you can also grow plants and vines on, to reduce the sun, but still allow light and airflow.

Selecting the appropriate style shade structure will add to the authenticity of your theme, providing the right type of shade and ambience.  For example, a Mediterranean-style garden looks authentic with a grape vine-laden canopy providing shade for a long bench table and chairs beneath, atop recycled brick paving… simple, cost effective, and relatively low-maintenance. 

4. Decking

Garden Renovation Tips - Decking

Many people love a timber-look deck, and what’s not to love!  Decks look great in any size, as part of an extravagant patio affair, or something simple tucked into a corner of the garden.

The only drawback is the continuing maintenance required to keep a timber deck looking good – you have to regularly re-sand and re-oil these natural decks, plus keep an eye on white ants, warping, cracking, cupping, splinters, fading, and nails popping up.  And after all that they still won’t last forever, and by the end of your deck’s life, you will have spent many dollars and hours of your precious weekends trying to keep it looking good.  Is there an alternative?

Yes, composites.  There are many composites on the market – not all created equal. Like anything else, do your research before you buy.  Look for a well-respected brand that has a long-term warranty, like NewTechWood, which offers a 25-year warranty.  If you care about the environment and recycling, and you care about not wasting your time and money on maintaining a timber deck, then composites are clearly the way to go.   

NewTechWood is 60% recycled timber and 40% recycled plastic and offers one of the most affordable and natural timber-looking products on the market. It is available in the most popular modern colours, ranging from greys through to the more natural shades, like teak (which is the perfect choice for your Bali paradise.)  Compared to a natural timber deck, with NewTechWood you never need to do any maintenance other than to sweep it down and give it a squirt with the hose to wash the dust off.

5. Fencing & Screening

Garden Renovation Tips - Fencing & Screening

Nosy neighbours?  Ugly fencing?  Dog getting into the veggie patch?  Prying pedestrians or potential prowlers?  Or maybe you just need some extra shade.  There are many options that will enable you to section off parts of your garden to provide privacy, seclusion, and extra shade in a style befitting your chosen landscape theme.

Depending on your theme, you can consider products like decorative metal screens in various colours and patterns, which are a work of art in themselves.  You can also block unwanted attention with lattice screens and grow your favourite flowering vines, like Star Jasmine, and train them to grow up and over providing a fragrant leafy barrier.  You can plant a row of miniature fir trees to complement an English country garden, or if the Bali look is your preference, why not some tubs of non-invasive variety bamboo, like slender weavers bamboo?  Alternatively, consider timber or timber-look battens and design your own screen for walls and roof shading.  NewTechWood also manufactures composite screening boards in a variety of profiles – for internal and external use.  You also never need to re-sand, re-oil or paint these, and they, too, come with a 25- year warranty.

Remember, less is more, and the small plants and shrubs you buy today can grow much larger, so don’t overdo it – unless your theme of choice is… tropical jungle!

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