A Garden Make-over

Updated: 19 April 2011

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A Garden Make-over


Our house is below road level, being on the low side of the gully we live in (with a creek at the back). The slope down to the front of the house was originally a mess of cement over chicken wire made to look like rock, and filled with venomous looking succulents (with a real bite, as I found out when I attacked them 28 years ago with a steel cutter on the end of a petrol powered trimmer - the sap that sprayed me burnt my skin and sent me howling to the shower, and left a red rash).

I cut up the cement with a grinder and finally got the bank cleared, and planted some ground covers (juniper, prostrate grevillea and prostrate cotoneaster). These did well for many years, but buffalo grass finally invaded and various saplings self-seeded and sprang up, obscuring the magnificent eucalypt on the corner of the block. You can see the mess in the following picture:


This year, 2011, we decided it was time to get some professional help, and called in Chris Bye and his off-sider Sam from CB Landscaping at Helensburgh. Here is the result:

We had the basic idea of focussing on the lovely little Japanese Maple we planted 30 years ago and that great gum (eucalypt) tree on the other corner, with a pebble ("Cowra Gold") garden setting of the maple and a native garden around the gum, with a sweeping curve of ground-covering juniper separating the two areas. Chris worked out all the detail and the plantings, and the whole job was done in just 3.5 days.

The photo doesn't do it justice, making it look barer than in reality. Once new plants have developed it will look much softer. See at the bottom of the page for a list of the plants used.

I've edited the "After" photo to show what the junipers will look like when they have spread out

Some Details

This is the mess as it was, between the gum-tree and the house. The treated pine logs and rubble at the lower right are part of the drainage work I had done around the front of the house.

All cleared off and fresh soil added - the soil is a mix of sand, soil, blood-and-bone fertiliser and manure.

The retaining wall is made of treated pine sleepers (200x50mm) set vertically in quick-set concrete, with horizontal sleepers fastened to them with large galvanized screws.

The ditch along my prior drainage work has now been filled.

...and all looking open and airy now.

Back to the prior mess along our boundary with the neighbours,

...and what it now looks like, with access steps. The fill in the steps is compacted "decomposed granite", a great material, so easy to work with.

Just for interest here is the base of the gum-tree. Notice the chain! I used to chain my box-trailer to the tree when it was smaller, and the tree grew around the chain. I'm leaving the chain there as a warning to any future tree-loppers - you wouldn't want to hit that with a chainsaw!

I did part of the walkway down the side of the house, but left the rest for the guys to do - I'm not built for digging, and I'm getting too old to change.

It now looks like this, with a section of the Cowra Gold pebbles (the base for a "pot garden" outside a full-length window) and more decomposed granite down past the far end of the house.

A photo from the roof...

And Chris and Sam with the finished job...

CB Landscaping

The Plants

Click here to see a picture of the garden labelled with the plant names

Grevillea "Ned Kelly"
grows to about 2 metres; masses of orange-red flowers; drought tolerant Australian native
Grevillea "Sylvia"
open fast-growing shrub with pink flowers; grows to about 2 metres; Australian native
Hebe "Wiri Image"
a compact evergreen shrub with sprays of violet flowers; grows to 1 metre; from New Zealand
Juniper Conferta
also known as "Shore Juniper"; ground-hugging and spreads to 2 metres; will cascade over a retaining wall; native of Japan
Liriope "Evergreen Giant"
evergreen and drought-resistant; mauve flowers through summer and autumn; grows to 60 cm high;
Prostrate Grevillea
ground-covering grevillea; unsure of actual variety

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