Things to consider when planning a garden

To create a new garden is always an exciting prospect. Usually you are full of ideas and can’t wait to see these ideas turning into reality. But, as with many enterprises, the most important part is the planning stage. Something that cannot be rushed. While doing this thoroughly and carefully, you will have plenty of time to make changes and adjustments as your plan comes into being. Rushing this part you could see yourself making mistakes that can be costly in money or time. I recommend you follow these steps to fully assess the site, the principles underlying good garden design, and how to choose and develop an appropriate design for the size, shape, function and location of your garden.


Your most important question should be what is the garden going to be used for. Is it garden for a family, a cottage garden for a plant lover, or a front garden which includes a parking area. The garden itself will contain a number of functional areas – for example, for relaxation, recreation, access, or for growing vegetables. Remember that if your garden is not functional, it will not be used and neglected.

By adhering to the basic principles of design, you should be able to develop the function plan of the garden into an aesthetically pleasing space. Creating harmony and continuity, balance, proportion, scale and perspective in the garden. And be able to find practical solutions for sloping gardens, or screening out unattractive features, etc.

Style and location

Important to remember that the function of the garden will have an effect on its style, but this will not be the only factors that influence it. Its shape, proportions, the architecture associated with it, the amount of maintenance required, and its geological location. There are many examples to be found of differing styles and functions of garden design in various locations, from suburban plots to hot, dry or wildlife gardens. Doing a quick search on Google will bring up many examples.


Always remember when selecting materials to be used in the creation of your design to select once that comes from sustainable sources. You can where possible, re-use materials from gardens that are being renovated. Benefits from this is that things like recycled stone and wood will already have weathered and this will soften the appearance of any new construction. With a little research, you can find recycled alternatives for gravel and stone, which will reduce impact on the environment caused by quarrying for these items. Also look at using timber that is certified as originating from sustainable sources should you decide to use timber in your design.

Good luck on planning and designing your new garden.

Feel free to visit my website as well. A and F Complex Management

Flower of the day – Gazanias

Gazanias (also known as treasure flowers) are ideal for brilliant colour in sunny places. They are clump-forming and have green leaves that are grey beneath. They are drought tolerant and native to Southern Africa.

Their daisy-like flowers come in shades of orange, red and yellow throughout the year. Excellent  as ground covers and rockery plants in well drained soil.
Some named varieties are ‘Day Break Bronze’ (dark brown flowers), ‘Day Break Orange’ (large orange flowers), ‘Day Break Pink’ (large pink flowers), ‘Day Break Red Stripe’ (large yellow- and red-striped flowers), ‘Day Break Yellow’ (large yellow flowers), ‘Moonglow’ (double bright yellow flowers), ‘New Moon’ (creamy-white flowers with a dark yellow centre), ‘Pink’ (grey foliage with pink flowers), ‘Raspberry’ (green leaves and small, light red flowers), and ‘Tangerine Tango’ (green foliage with double, orange-yellow flowers)/ G. splendens ‘Talent’ has grey-green foliage with many-coloured, single flowers. G. rigens ‘Vaiagata’ is low growing with yellow-and-green variegated foliage and dark yellow flowers all year. G. uniflora is fast growing with grey foliage and yellow flowers throughout the year.

AFComplex Management

Blotanical is the best

Blotanical is the place to be if you have a gardening blog (and even if you’re no a blogger).It will definitely increase readers of your blog. It is a directory of gardening blogs with a difference that makes it stand out above the rest. It was founded by Stuart Robinson whose own blog Gardening Tips ‘n Ideas originates from Western Australia.

Other members of Blotanical has the opportunity to pick (rating system) your blog. You also have the opportunity to rate blogs of all the other members. It is a great community of like minded people with a passion for gardening. The members of Blotanical is very friendly and always willing to help. You will definitely not regret joining this community. I know I’m glad I joined.

You also have the opportunity to communicate with other members, build friendships, share ideas, etc. And as they say ‘You are never too old to learn’, I have found some very useful information in blogs of other members of Blotanical.

When you join, you will receive your own little plot on Botanical to which you can link your blog, display your interests and info about yourself. The best part is this piece of cyber ‘land’ is free.

First thing every day I start my day by visiting my fellow Blotanist’s, reading about and sharing in their trials and tribulations. Don’t know what I would do without them. They are part of my family now.

What have you got to loose, come and visit our community, and see for yourself.

Visit Blotanical and be amazed.

My current favorite – Clivia miniata

My current favored plant is the Clivia Miniata, it also known as Bush Lily, Coral flower or St John’s lily. It grows to a height of about 45cm in the shade of trees and shrubs.

With clusters of bright orange flowers rising among its leathery strap-like leaves it is an attractive and easy to grow plant worth a place in every garden.

The yellow form of the Clivia, (Clivia miniata ‘Lutea’) is unfortunately not as readily available.

It was revealed during a drought in Southern African in the 1980’s that this plant should not be overwatered, as it was at its most beautiful during these years without rain.


  • Depth and spacing: Plant with the crown above the soil surface and 30cm apart.
  • Watering: Water well in spring and summer but keep soil drier in autumn and winter.
  • Frost tolerances: Clivia must be protected from frost – a verandah, the eaves of a house or a dense tree canopy are usually sufficient for temperatures as low as –5°C.
  • Flowering time: Spring to summer, once the flowers are mature which will be in approx 3 years.
  • Soil: Well drained, a pH 5.5-6.5 best suits Clivia’s.
  • Aspect: Partial to full shade.
  • Ideal temperature range: 15°C to 25°C.
  • Pruning: Remove old leaves and stems.
  • Fertilizer: A generous amount of slow release fertilizer applied regularly from early spring to mid-summer achieves maximum growth.
  • Propagation: It can be propagated by means of seed, as well as vegetatively through offsets.

Composting – Common Mistakes

It’s actually difficult to go wrong with composting. However, these tips might help make composting, or breaking down of organic components, go more quickly and smoothly.

1.      Water the pile. Keep your compost pile moist, as damp as a squeezed sponge. You might have to water regularly if you keep an uncovered pile, especially in the summer. Even lidded containers can be opened to water; just use the spray of a hose now and then but be careful that you don’t overwater. The final mixture should be crumbly.

2.      Remember to add brown ingredients. Sure, the green is easy; you’ve got lots of grass clippings and plant debris. And all those kitchen scraps, even eggshells. But what about the brown? Shred dry leaves, twigs or hay for the fastest decomposition, and consider adding sawdust or untreated wood chips. You can also add tissue paper, shredded newspaper and cartons to bolster the brown, in moderation.

3.      Now mix it thoroughly if your set-up makes it difficult to re-pile,  or otherwise swirl around the ingredients if you are making use of a tumbler bin or similar setup, settle for a longer composting cycle. The pile will break down, it just takes longer.

4.      Avoid any bones, fat, meat, oil or cooked food. Also, don’t place animal manure in the pile. It attracts rodents and affects the quality of the compost.

5.      If you have a composting bin move it to a convenient place in the yard, so that you can easily carry the kitchen scraps there. If you don’t make it easier for yourself, you may never actually get into the composting habit.

Now that you’ve followed these tips, your composting should be a lot easier. Happy gardening.

You can also visit our homepage to find out more about our garden maintenance service company.

Fertilizer – What is it and Why do plants need it

A plant needs a number of different chemical elements in order for it to grow and thrive. The most important are:

  • Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen – Available from air and water and therefore in plentiful supply
  • Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (a.k.a. potash) – The three macronutrients and the three elements you find in most packaged fertilizers
  • Sulfur, calcium, and magnesium – Secondary nutrients
  • Boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc – Micronutrients

The most important of these (the ones that are needed in the largest quantity by a plant) are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are important because they are necessary for the basic building blocks (things like amino acids, cell membranes and ATP). For example:

  • Every amino acid contains nitrogen.
  • Every molecule making up every cell’s membrane contains phosphorous (the membrane molecules are called phospholipids), and so does every molecule of ATP (the main energy source of all cells).
  • Potassium makes up 1 percent to 2 percent of the weight of any plant and, as an ion in cells, is essential to metabolism.

Without nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the plant simply cannot grow because it cannot make the pieces it needs.

If any of the macronutrients are missing or hard to obtain from the soil, this will limit the growth rate for the plant. In nature, the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium often come from the decay of plants that have died. In the case of nitrogen, the recycling of nitrogen from dead to living plants is often the only source of nitrogen in the soil.

To help make plants grow faster, you need to supply the elements that the plants need in readily available forms, and fertilizer is the easiest way to do that. Most fertilizers supply just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium because the other chemicals are needed in much lower quantities and are generally available in most soils. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium availability is the big limit to growth. The numbers on a bag of fertilizer tell you the percentages of available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium found in the bag. So 12-8-10 fertilizer has 12-percent nitrogen, 8-percent phosphorous and 10-percent potassium. Thus in a 100 kilogram bag, 12 kg is nitrogen, 8 kg is phosphorous and 10 kg is potassium. The other 70 kg has no real value to the plants and is known as ballast.

I use fertilizers quite often while providing garden maintenance services to my clients. In my professional opinion it is a vital part of ensuring that my clients gardens always look great. For more info you can visit A and F Complex Management.

Composting Containers – From Pile to Bin

There are several different containers in which to make your own compost. The main ones are listed here in order of increasing complexity and generally speaking, increasing cost too.

  • Compost Pile. – The most basic method is an open heap or pile in a remote corner of the property. (Also much easier to make large quantities with this method)
  • Homemade Enclosure. – You can make your own out of stuff like chicken wire, wood, plywood, bricks, concrete blocks and so on. Make it no smaller than 1m by 1m by 1m. Make it no bigger than 5 times this volume.
  • Wire/Plastic Mesh Compost Pen. – Not really a bin at all, but more like a pen to enclose your open air heap. Cheap and easy to build. You turn the compost by hand.
  • Wooden Compost Pen. – Similar to the previous one, but normally made out of old pallets to form an open pen.
  • A Single Bin. – By far the most common setup.
  • Two Bins. – Two free-standing plastic bins with lids. Each one in turn is ‘filled’ and then left to compost. By the time the compost is ready to put on the garden, the other one is hopefully full.
  • Tumbler Bin. – Normally plastic, turned with a crank handle. Can be a bit heavy to operate, but makes the process of turning the compost a lot simpler
  • Worm Bins. – Only for household food scraps.
  • Rotating Orb Bin. – These are spherical or octagonal. You just roll them along the ground to turn the compost.
  • Indoor Compost Bins. – Some are computerized. Supposedly ideal for apartments. Also a way to recycle food waste instead of sending it to the landfill, even if you don’t use the compost because you don’t have a garden.

Having a lager garden myself, I make use of a compost pile, and always have compost spare to use in some of my clients gardens from my garden maintenance service.

For more information visit A&F Complex Management.