5 Landscaping trips for your garden.
Always wanted to create a garden retreat? Wouldn’t you like butterflies and hummingbirds adding life to your yard? If you have never tackled landscaping before, we offer tips to create your dream oasis.
If you are looking for trees or shrubs that can provide a natural privacy screen, select hardy options that grow quickly.
The eugenia oleina, for instance, is a conical-shaped shrub that grows up to 20m tall, with young leaves emerging reddish at the top. It is relatively pest-free and can be regularly trimmed into your desired shape. Water well initially to settle the soil.
Though its leaves are shed fairly quickly, the bamboo remains a popular screening choice as it also adds height and style to outdoor spaces. However, some varieties of bamboo are invasive, which means they can grow out of control quickly and displace other plants. Select clumping bamboo species and have them grow next to one another.
For that perfect, evergreen hedge, consider a row of thujas, which are fast-growing conifer trees. Featuring delicate flattened branchlets and leaves in fan-shaped groupings, thujas are ornamental trees with beautiful thick foliage. Kickstart their growth with regular fertilisation and they will take off, growing between three and five feet a year!
Tip: Measure the length of your planting area to determine the number of shrubs you need. Pick larger plants at the nursery if you would like them to grow fairly quickly.
SPLASHES OF COLOUR
What’s a landscaping project without pops of colour? Heliconia and bougainvillea are popular free-flowering plants, which means they produce lots of blooms, while allamanda and ixora flowers have long blooming periods. Feed these plants with the right nutrients to prolong their lifespans.
If you are green-fingered and up for a challenge, growing sunflowers can bring immense satisfaction. A sunflower plant can grow up to 3m high, and may need to be secured with garden stakes. Decide on your variation as there are single and double blooms, with colours ranging from yellow to maroon. An average growth takes three to four months. Don’t forget to harvest those precious sunflower seeds.
For a low-maintenance flowering tree, consider the frangipani, a classic favourite that flowers reliably. Frangipanis suit any style of garden and grow up to 6m high. However, be sure to plan its location well to prevent the falling leaves and flowers from littering your neighbour’s space. Why not use its wide umbrella shape to your advantage? Place it near your second-storey window or veranda, places where its flowers and fragrance can be fully appreciated.
Tip: Look for healthy young plants with flowering buds, as well as leaves that are in a vibrant green. Avoid plants with damaged or dying leaves, and check for any hardened soil.
BIRDS & BUTTERFLIES
With the right shrub selection, you can attract birds and butterflies to your garden.
Enjoy Singapore’s very own ‘cherry blossoms’ with the Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, otherwise known as the rose myrtle. Growing to a maximum height of 3m, this plant sprouts beautiful magenta flowers and grows relatively easily. Its purplish pulps are a delicious attraction to birds.
When it comes to butterflies, however, different species will be drawn to different plants. The blood flower, for instance, is a host plant for the Plain Tiger butterfly, which is characterised by orange wings and distinctive white spots. The Melastoma malabathricum shrub, on the other hand, attracts the Horsfield’s Baron, a native black-and-blue butterfly. Lantana (a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants) and Crotalaria (a genus of herbaceous plants and woody shrubs) are good ones to try as well.
Tip: Choose a combination of plants with different bloom times to keep your garden vibrant and lively all year round.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a low-maintenance garden! However, botanically speaking, there are annual, perennial and even biennial plants. To avoid the hassle of replanting or transplanting, select perennial species, which are for the long haul rather than going from seed to death in one to two years.
Busy people who do not have the time to water or care for their plants can also consider drought-tolerant plants that can handle tough love. Instead of cacti, choose the aloe vera, a medicinal succulent that only requires watering every two weeks, or when the soil appears dry. It is said that this plant is good for feng shui — it supposedly brings harmony and positive energy to your home. The jade plant, an evergreen with thick, smooth leaves, can also survive irregular watering. With the right conditions, it produces beautiful white flowers.
Tip: Avoid plant species that are prone to disease and infestation to keep your garden low maintenance.
Shade is one of the trickiest garden situations to plan around. If your garden comes with a shady nook, it can be a blessing in disguise, as some plants and herbs enjoy a partially shaded environment.
Ferns (staghorn, bird’s nest, etc) and indoor plants (snake plant, elephant ear, areca palm, etc) are perfect for these areas. Vertical gardens can also be designed to require less sunlight. In fact, these green walls are often used to provide noise relief.
Tip: Take note of where shadows are cast in your garden throughout the day. If a shady spot is cast by trees, provide more sunlight by selectively thinning the canopy or removing low-growing branches.
You don’t have to be a landscape professional to create a beautiful and well-planned garden. Start by making a list of your requirements, such as the amount of play space your kids might need or any water features you are planning to install. There is a saying among those in the gardening circle: the garden is where patience is cultivated. Remember to start small, as it is better to succeed just a little than to fail grandly