Kowhai Thompson provides some simple tips for a garden renovation

One question we face when we purchase a property or when we have lived in the same place for some time is: how do we update this garden? 

What do we keep? What do we remove? How do we tie this whole garden together?

Gardens constantly evolve over time like a painting. In the words of Paul Gardner “A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places”. Much like a garden. This is part of the beauty to be embraced.

There are real benefits to inheriting a clean slate/ new build property such as the freedom to create an entirely new and updated look of your own, but there are also drawbacks. Trees and shrubs take a while to mature and there will be low plant heights initially without much shade. An established garden has pluses and minuses too. There may be trees that are too big, too much shade and unruly growth or a generally disorganised look with worn materials, faded fences and so on. But it is beneficial to start with an established garden too as there is often good structure and height to work with.

How to begin

  1. Identify trees and shrubs which will be kept. Trees that are too tall can sometimes be judiciously pruned. Trees which create too much shade can be thinned. However trees can also just be in the wrong place. Remove.
  2. Create groups of plants. If there are a few shrubs here and there, purchase several more of the same kind to make a row or a grouping. This time of year small trees and shrubs can also be lifted and relocated to create a more intentional pattern.
  3. Repaint/stain fences and raised beds the same colour. Materials added overtime can be different colours, match them all to create a unified look.
  4. Now is a good time of year to resow lawn, gives a fresh look to the garden.
  5. Add some trend plants. This season is all about foliage and structure. Add some striking foliage plants such as Pseudowintera Red Leopard and Leucadendron Inca Gold. If you have the funds, create an outdoor room for entertaining. More and more people are embracing indoor/outdoor flow and bringing the cooking into the garden with fire ovens and hardscaped BBQ spaces. Also to update, add lighting.

This is a great start and will give your established garden an updated, refreshed look.