• Grace Cobb

Getting the dirt on garden design


How does the process unfold when you have your garden designed?

This is great fun and a chance to learn and grow your own knowledge. You finally get to write down and work out what you really do and don’t love about gardens. The beauty is we are all so different. There are thousands of different pictures that for one reason or another satisfy what you truly love. As you dream and think about these ideas a pattern emerges, and that allows me to see what you do truly love. So first of all, I wander your garden with you and just listen.


I want to see what you have to say. Sometime later I re-ask you similar questions only this time I write it all down in detail. My role is to bleed your brain so that I can design a garden that makes your heart and soul sing.

I help to make it functional and sit harmoniously in the environment, but most of all I create spaces within your garden that will be breathtaking…… places you can love and create memories in. I can advise what will and won’t grow given your soil, water and climate. And if I don’t know the answer, I have some wonderful people I can call on to help me.

My next job is to come and survey your garden. I simply measure where everything is. I start with the house and the height of the windows, then measure where the boundary is, where existing garden beds are, where the trees are and anything else that may be important to you. I then take that home and plot it all on a computer.


Its then that the designing of the master plan can begin. I’ll admit that this can take a bit of time. Creating a garden design is a bit like doing a painting. It’s a masterpiece so can go on and on and on. Once you get into a creative space, the hours quickly slip away. However, most of you are keen to get the ball rolling and you want to see what is going on.

So after about a month I come to you with a draft plan and some picture profiles. The draft plan gives you a bird’s-eye view of what your new garden will look like and a broad outline of the plants to be used. The plant profiles allow you to see the ideas I am bringing together for you and also how the plant combinations fall together. This is a time for discussion and allows you an opportunity to change things if need be.

Once you give me the go ahead, the master plans are finalised then it’s onto the planting plans. Planting Plans are a copy of the master plans only every plant on the plan is identified and marked. When you go to actually plant your garden out, you know where everything has to go. So you would be lost without this plan!


Another set of plans are the hard landscaping plans. These plans remove all the plants so you can clearly see the outline of garden beds, where pergolas are to go, where decks or terraces or pools are placed. These are great plans to have on hand because it seems to simplify the plans. There is a lot of detail in the planting and master plans!

That’s it for the plans but I do also give you a full list of the plants chosen, indicating their common and botanical name, height and spread, whether evergreen or deciduous and the number of plants required. A Plant Maintenance Guide is also included, giving you a picture of the plant, its seasonal interest and how to look after it. I have to tell you, this information is like the answer booklet in an exam. It’s heaven to have. You have all the answers to your very own garden at your fingertips.

So if you aren’t a gardener, this is a booklet to teach you exactly how to look after everything that is in your garden…………..or you can just put it in your filing cabinet for a rainy day!

Once the plans are completed we have to actually put your garden in. We can put the garden in all at once or in stages. I am flexible. The thing is, once you have a plan, you have set the process up to unfold and you can implement it how it suits you. My advice for anywhere with hot summers, is to plant only in Autumn. At least then, the plants have had some time to acclimatise when the intense heat hits. My other bit of advice is to get the builder in to do any of the hard landscaping before we think about putting garden beds and plants in. Bob cats, trucks and other heavy machinery compact the soil and this is something we really need to avoid for a thriving garden.


Once the builders have finished we can calculate the soil you need.

Soil preparation is hugely important so I am really fussy about it. The gardens I put in are a raised mixture of sand, soil and organic matter, with the aim of giving the plants excellent drainage and fertility. The other major factor is water. So girls, sidle up to those gorgeous husbands of yours and get the bulldozers cracking. If you want a beautiful garden to last through the generations, you need a dam close by. Put a watering system in. They save you time and money in the long run. The other thing we need to be aware of is water quality. Bore water will restrict you on what you can and can’t grow and if that is your reality, we have to work with it. It’s then a matter of ordering the plants, having them delivered, planting them and mulching. And I love it if you are involved.

The pictures you see are the very young gardens of Kaloma Aged Care facility based in Goondiwindi. A path leads all around the gardens so that residents can go outside and be in amongst the gardens, something they weren’t able to do before. It’s been a terrific success for everyone involved.


So there it is. It’s not complicated but you learn so much along the way and you end up with a garden you love and can enjoy. If you are looking to design a garden, please pick up the phone and call me.


Tina Raines is our resident GARDEN & LANDSCAPE DESIGN

specialist. Tina writes an advice column for Border Living Magazine

from her home in Toobeah, Queensland.

Phone: 0427 445 872

Follow Tina on Facebook here

#Garden #borderliving #landscape #design #style #TinaRaines

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