There are a few things to consider when planning the landscaping of a new home. Many garden magazines show curved meandering paths that look cute and rustic but in reality, some paths need to go directly in a straight line. If you place a curved path from the laundry to the clothes line, everyone will take a shortcut. The same applies for the route from the car to the front door. If you want a curved path, you will need to fence it with at least a low wall, to prevent people taking a short cut at least until the plants grow tall enough to form a visual barrier. The alternative is a permanent bald patch in the garden or lawn. We’ll look at garden edging that will do this in a few installments.
The next thing to consider is drainage. Here in Australia, rainfall is low, so I wanted to prevent a light rainfall running away but allow a heavy rainfall to drain away to prevent flooding. I began by pegging out the borders of all the paths and digging out about 80mm or (3 inches) of clay and piled it around the boundary fences to create a low dyke, only about 100mm (4 ins) high. It doesn’t look like much but digging out 80mm of clay over a 1200mm (47 ins) wide path, actually creates a large pile of soil.
Similarly consider the watering of your garden or power points for fountains or lighting. If you need extra taps or switches, now is the time to plan these too. It will cost twice as much if the plumber or electrician has to cut a trench through a concrete path later and there will always be an unsightly joint. This doesn’t mean you can’t lay your path yet, if it crosses a pipe or cable. Contact any tradesman and see what pipe or conduit is required and at what depth. Wrap both ends of the pipe in plastic, dig the trench and lay it now. You can go ahead and pour the path.
It will remain undisturbed when the power or water is plumbed later, when you have the money to pay for the cable and the electrician to connect it. When your funds allow the water or power connection to be completed, the tradesman simply digs each side of the path to the conduit, removes your plastic wrapping and feeds the cable or water pipe through your conduit.
Adding an outdoor power point to your vegetable garden is a worthwhile addition. Hedge trimmers, edge trimmers, weed or brush cutters and lawn mowers are all much cheaper if you buy an electric version rather than the petrol models. What you spend on installing the power point, you will gain in savings on equipment. It will also increase your yield because snails and many other herbivorous pests are nocturnal. Flicking the light on suddenly at night will leave them exposed and easy to pluck off your plants. This is a chemical free way of controlling pests and is especially effective against snails and slugs. Adding an electric light this season meant we now pick whole silverbeet leaves and our lettuces are completely bug free. Last year we couldn’t grow lettuces without heavily sprinkling them with snail pellets and even then we lost half of them to snails. We can now grow beetroot and capsicums; the snails used to eat the seedlings off at ground level
Buying a new home will leave you too broke to do all the stuff you want in the first year. Use that time for planning and get it right. It’s far cheaper to do it once than to have to dig it up, level the site and do it again.
We might not have been able to afford the concrete yet but we could afford a few lesser expenses and we made the best use of the small amount of money that was available. More on that in the next installment.