After planning comes the execution so get cracking with right kind of knowhow, time frame, budget and material to make the garden of your dreams but don’t discard the garden plan till everything is in place,
After garden planning comes the real job of bringing the two-dimensional image on paper into three-dimensional reality on the ground! Dreams may be full of colours, but realising them is all about brickwork! With the right kind of knowhow, time frame, budget, men and materials, one can do it so successfully that the picture will soon transform into picture-perfect! However, one must not discard the plan till it stands on the ground.
To begin with, one must clean the site by removing construction debris and other unwanted materials. Grading (preparing the slope as per the requirement) and levelling of the site should be done according to the design. Site should be checked for big boulders or continuous sheet of rock underneath, so as to modify the planting plan accordingly.
Underground works like cables, drains, pipelines should be completed beforehand to avoid digging later. Proper drainage is essential to have sustainable landscape. In case of very poor drainage, sub-surface drainage system has to be provided.
Remove weeds along with their roots, to prevent them from returning. Weeds become a menace, especially in lawns. So it could be better if you allow weeds by watering the bed for about a few weeks so that they can be removed before laying the lawn.
Garden bed should have rich, fertile soil for optimum growth of plants and bright blooms. If the soil is not conducive for plant growth, import good soil and prepare it with amendments such as manure. Soil test may be undertaken to know whether it is suitable for plant growth. Soil in planters and pots tends to dry out quickly and to avoid this, choose potting soil that retains moisture. Add enough quantity of manure to the beds of trees and shrubs but not for the lawn bed, as the seeds of weed present in the manure may germinate and become a problem later. It is advisable to add organic amendments such asvermi-compost and neem cake to the lawn bed. Depth of the soil bed varies with the type of plants. For lawns, a bed of four to six inches is sufficient whereas for the ground-covers and shrubs the depth should be one to one-and-half feet and for the tree species one has to go for at least two feet deep soil-bed preparation.
Civil works is the most time-consuming activity during any landscape development. Build the hard-landscape features and garden amenities like walkways, driveways, retaining walls, planter boxes, steps, illumination, gazebos, patios, decks, arbours, trellises, fences, ponds, garden furniture, fountains, pedestals (for sculptures and other decoration elements) and play equipment before the greening work. Consider the drainage of rain water and excess moisture while deciding the level of walkways, lest the paths may become waterways. Necessary drain arrangements like laying drain pipes and collecting pits should be provided to avoid inundation of the garden. Root barricading / kerb may be required to avoid the roots interfering with the civil structures and to stop the lawn grass from spreading.
In many gardens illumination is not given priority, due to which the garden beauty disappears with the sunset. With good lighting you can extend the garden hours, and enjoy the beauty during the nights. You can combine the purposes of both aesthetics and security with proper illumination. It is always advisable to have subdued lighting in the garden to elevate its features. Use flood-lights to up-light trees and shrubs, bollard or mushroom lamps to throw light on pathways and steps and spot-lights with a narrow beam to focus the important garden features. You can create good effects by back lighting to illuminates walls and fences, diffused lighting which uses translucent screens to soften and mute harsh light and down-lighting to mimic the natural light. While designing the illumination, see that only the effect of the light is felt and never reveal the source of the lighting.
Choose good quality plant material from the nursery as per the requirement. Harden the plants by exposing to the garden situation to avoid post-planting shock, especially if the plants are brought from an outside location, or removed from the old nursery bed. Mimic the arrangement of the plants before taking up actual planting. Consider the height and spread required for different plants upon maturity. Remember to leave room to access your plants for maintenance. While planting take enough care not to disturb the root ball and not to expose the roots over-ground. By placing components like ceramic pots, weathered rocks, water fountains, sculptures and other ornaments in right place, you can elevate the beauty of the garden. Paint the hard landscape elements like arbours, kerbs and gazebos with appropriate colour to improve the appearance. Mulch with pebbles or wood shavings not only serves the purpose of aesthetics and definition but also helps in retaining the moisture. After all the works are finished, perform final trimming, clean-up and prepare a maintenance schedule.
(Next week: Garden maintenance)
[The author is a forest officer and presently Additional Commissioner (Urban Biodiversity) in GHMC and can be contacted at ‘nchandramohanreddy @gmail.com]