You don’t have to be an artist or to have good drawing skills to do a serviceable, easily interpreted landscape drawing. What you do need is attention to detail, consistency (so that the same symbol means the same thing each time it is used), enough imagination to be able to visualise the garden you are planning, and the ability to produce a clear, simple diagram. 


Where to Start: Take it Step-by-Step!

  1. Write down what you want to use the garden for.
  2. Draw your property on a sheet of paper.
  3. Mark where you want to eventually locate different “uses”. For example, you may want an outdoor living area, an area for the rubbish bins, washing line and garden shed, play areas for kids, garden beds, parking, driveway, carport, and perhaps a pool. Now put the plan up on a board/fridge for a week where everyone in the household can look at it. Think about the pros and cons of where things are, and where they might be changed to.
  4. After a week, have a family conference and redraw the plan. Reach a consensus, and stick to it.
  5. Now work out the cost of developing each area properly. Get quotes if need be from a landscaper, pool builder, concreter etc.
  6. Now prioritise…work out a schedule of the order in which you will develop different areas.


Most new home owners probably can’t have everything they want in a garden immediately, so they will need to decide what the priorities are:

  • A functional garden, i.e. a garden that is used a lot – perhaps for outdoor play for kids, for growing vegetables and fruit, or for entertaining.
  • A very attractive garden – this is likely to cost more to set up and maintain, and will almost certainly require a high degree of maintenance.
  • A low maintenance garden – this needs a lot of forethought, do it right and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.
  • A low cost garden – bargain plants can often be found at weekend markets, also look for discounted stock at nurseries. Inexpensive landscaping materials can be found at demolition yards, tip shops and in the classifieds of your local paper.
  • What type of garden is most important to you? To achieve any one of these things will usually mean compromising the others.
    Also decide on the style of the garden. Do you want a formal or informal garden? Do you have a preference for a particular theme, e.g. Oriental, Mediterranean, natural garden? How will it suit the style of your house, and how much will it cost to set up and maintain?

Practical Concerns


Planting too close to the house can produce shade which makes the house feel colder in winter. It will, however make it feel cooler in summer.
Tall Trees
These can cause a number of problems.  Deciduous trees will drop leaves which can block drains and gutters resulting in extra maintenance.  If they are planted too close to patios or houses, their roots can disrupt foundations and crack underground drains.  They may also be prone to collapse in stormy conditions resulting in destruction to your property.


It is not just piles of logs or garden clippings that can attract wood boring insects and termites.  They also find railway sleepers, wooden pergolas and decks highly desirable.  You will need to check for pest insects regularly if you are using timber of any description to blend your house and garden.

Dense Vegetation

If you allow vegetation to grow too dense it may attract potential garden pests, such as mice or rats.  Wasps and bees may build their nests there and end up inside your home.


Damp and Rot

Structures that are built close to the house will need sufficient drainage to avoid complications with wet rot and rising damp.  Adequate ventilation will also be necessary to reduce the risk of fungal diseases on plants and timber.  Where drains are exposed they need to be covered to prevent them from turning into rat runs.

Choice of Plants

Avoid plants that create problems.

eg. some plants such as Hibiscus attract scale insects or aphids which in turn attract ants.  If the branches are too close to windows then the ants may invade the house. 


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