5 Tips on Choosing The Right Landscape Gardener In Perth

Personal recommendations can often be helpful when making decisions about home improvements, however the ‘right’ landscape gardener for your friend or neighbour might not be the right one for you. The following tips should help guide you towards making the best decision for your specific requirements:

Have a plan

Before you do your research into WA’s many reputable landscape gardeners, all of whom have different specialisms, services and fee structures, sketch out some provisional plans or write down some ideas, including your budget range. These initial ideas will help inform your decision – it’s also important to consider other factors such as the size and layout of land, the quality of the soil, how much shade and direct sunlight your garden has, the scope of the project and the anticipated timescale. You can refer back to your early sketches and share these with your chosen contractor; he or she can then use their years of experience and expertise to modify your plans in order to make your vision a reality.

Scrutinise portfolios

Every established landscape gardener will have a portfolio to showcase their ‘before’ and ‘after’ (and ‘during’) photos to prospective clients, demonstrating their creativity and ability to produce a sensational finished product. Ideally, select a landscape gardener who is able to both design and construct your garden (some companies specialise either in design or construction only). This will minimize the risk of something getting ‘lost in translation’ between the planning and the creating of your outdoor space. Looking through portfolios will also give you inspiration and show you what is possible, even with the smallest of gardens.

Check credentials

Before going ahead with signing a contract, thoroughly read the contractor’s credentials and endorsements, and check the fine print. Check that the landscape gardener is fully and comprehensively licensed and insured; also enquire about their accreditation and professional membership – for example, the Landscape Industries Association WA has a Code of Ethics and Values with which all its members comply. Look into the guarantees and warranties the landscaper provides, and investigate their track record in compliance regulations. A self-employed gardener might be in a better position to devote themselves to your project, and for a substantially lower fee than a large professional landscaping company, however they might lack the specialist equipment and industry insight, which may mean they end up taking longer to complete the job.

Book an initial consultation

An opportunity to meet in person is essential in establishing a rapport and determining that they are definitely the ‘right man/ woman for the job’. You are making a substantial investment, and this is a project that will inevitably entail significant noise, disruption and expense, so take your time before you sign on the dotted line. You should feel comfortable with your chosen contractor and the way they communicate with you – for example, responding clearly and positively to your ideas and feedback. If you don’t feel confident that they can offer what you are asking for (experience, manpower, courtesy, reliability, knowledge and skill), look elsewhere.

Practical considerations and aftercare

Agree on budget and time constraints, and other practical considerations. Both parties should establish clear communication around the estimated costs and timescale of the project; when and how regularly the contractor requires payment; what you the client should expect at each stage; plus issues such as installation, equipment and materials. It’s also important to understand their process should any design changes be required mid-project, and whether you will be charged additional fees for these. If necessary, can your gardener perhaps stretch your budget and be a little bit flexible and innovative to help you achieve the garden of your dreams?

Finally, your landscape gardener should be willing to spend some time with you explaining the care and maintenance of your newly-renovated garden, and show you how to keep it flourishing season after season, year after year.

 

4 Herbs Every Cook Should Have in Their Garden

If you consider yourself to be an at home Masterchef, you will want to include edibles in your landscaping design. Herbs work well when contained in one area, and a retaining wall is a great option. What you plant may be dependent on the environment and location, but with some attention you will be adding your fresh ingredients to your recipes in no time. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are 4 herbs  every cook should have in their garden:

#1. Mint

Mint is relatively easy to grow, it does like some sunshine but you will rarely have any pests to contend with. You will need to be careful during the summer months as your mint will need to stay hydrated. The best way to plant this is with cuttings, as it can be difficult to start from seed. This is a plant which can quickly grow out of control and we recommend keeping it contained in an oversized pot.

Cooking with Mint:

  • Add to your summer salads
  • Use in water for a refreshing twist
  • Combine with basil for a delicious pesto
  • As a key ingredient in Thai cooking

#2. Rosemary

Rosemary is known for its beautiful burst of purple, so not only is it a must have cooking ingredient but it will be a feature in your garden. Rosemary prefers hot weather and will stay evergreen all year round. Plant this in your retaining walls or in pots and you will be rewarded. While it does like water, it doesn’t like to be drenched so light watering will see it thrive.

Cooking with Rosemary:

  • Pair with lamb roast
  • Serve with roast potatoes
  • Flavour your olive oil
  • Use in marinades
  • Add to the top of your homemade bread

#3. Basil

There are over 100 varieties of basil, and you can start with just one or choose a few different types. Basil will grow well when you have good quality soil, and it likes a sunny location. You need to be careful of caterpillars and snails as these little critters will be attracted to this delicious herb. Basil will thrive when the ground is damp, and it will benefit from a liquid seaweed fertiliser.

Cooking with Basil:

  • Add it to your pizza topping
  • Make basil tea to treat nausea
  • Pair with tomato based pastas
  • Create pesto as a base for a variety of dishes

#4. Parsley

Parsley is more flavourful when picked fresh, and is one of the most popular garnishes. Your parsley will require a fair amount of sunlight to grow, but it will be quite low maintenance. Give it some compost and regular watering, every second day is ideal, as it prefers damp soil. Plant parsley in your garden bed or in a pot, either option will prosper.

Cooking with Parsley:

  • Use in tabouli
  • Add parsley to your egg dishes
  • Pair with steak
  • Put it in salsa

Having fresh herbs on hand will make your cooking even better! Add some extras to your garden such as cherry tomatoes, spring onions, chilli and garlic. When well organised, herbs will smell and look good as part of any landscaping design.

Pet Friendly Landscaping Tips

When you have a pet they are a member of your family, and you will want to make your outdoor area a space which they can enjoy safely. Getting the balance right between making your landscaping both pet and people friendly can be achieved with some forward planning. Here are our top tips for your furry friends:

Eliminate the Dangers

Puppies and kittens like to explore the world with their mouths, and this often means eating things they shouldn’t. If they do accidentally poison themselves it can lead to an expensive vet bill at 11:30pm on a Sunday night. If you have a pet who likes to eat plants, avoid toxic varieties. A few to look out for include lilies, ivy, sago palms, philodendrons, aloe vera, azaleas, daffodils and carnations. Other things to be aware of are mouse baits, fruit stones, garden mulch and fertilisers.

Pets are Messy

When pets play outdoors they can be messy, and your landscaping choices can affect the amount of destruction they can do. Give them room to run, and consider paving near any doorways to avoid muddy paws running through the house. Depending on your pet and how determined they are, protecting your plants could be as simple as having a raised garden bed with a retaining wall. Footpaths will give them somewhere to run, and plenty of toys could distract them from any digging out of boredom. For dogs who like to bury their bones, a designated digging area might be the only solution. If you choose grass, go for a hardy variety which can withstand an active animal. Any lawn will require regular mowing and maintenance to prevent grass seeds which could potentially cause your pet discomfort.

Comfortable Surroundings

Your outdoor area should be comfortable for your pets, particularly if they will be spending the majority of their day outside. Shaded areas and shelter will be essential, as are floored areas which won’t get too hot underfoot. With hot summer days it doesn’t take long for little paws to burn. Look for materials which allow them to explore their surroundings without creating a mess – they may even enjoy a fresh water feature. You can create a specific area for your pets to play, noting it may take some time to establish new rules. Often pets can be clever escape artists, so your landscaping should include a high quality fence.

A Space Everyone Can Enjoy

When it is time to plan your landscape design you should always consider the function of your space. If you have pets you will need to take their needs into account to keep them comfortable and safe. Having an outdoor area which is safe for pets, and enjoyable for their human owners is possible. At Allscapes WA we are experienced in landscaping in Perth, and can assist you in creating an outdoor area which fits your specific needs. If you would like to chat with us about your project, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch with us today.

 

How to Look After Your Lawn in Summer

During the Australian summer our temperatures are known to soar. This can cause our lawns to suffer from the heat, and it is important to be prepared in order to maintain their lush green appearance. Regardless of the variety of your lawn, some of the hottest days can cause heat shock, but we have a few tips to get you through. Learn how to look after your lawn this summer:

Mowing Your Lawn

The frequency in which you mow your lawn in summer will depend on the type of grass you have, and how healthy it is. Some types of lawn are dormant in summer and will not need to be mowed very often. However, those healthy, summer growing varieties which are well watered will grow plenty of green leaf (and probably plenty of weeds).

As a general rule, only mow a third of the length of the grass. Mowing your lawn too short or too often can cause it to thin out and make it susceptible to the heat, weeds and bugs. Letting the grass grow too long can also cause problems because the bottom layer may suffer damage from the heat. Always use a sharp blade on your mower and try to mow when the weather cools down, either early morning or later in the day. This will help prevent any freshly mowed tips from burning. It may be tempting to mow after the summer rain, however it is recommended you wait until the lawn is dry as it will be easier to cut and give you a more even finish.

Fertilising Your Lawn

When your lawn is well fertilised it will be healthier and less susceptible to any pests or diseases. However, you should never fertilise lawn which is dormant, so check your variety before proceeding. We recommend you thoroughly water your lawn a week before feeding. Fertilising your lawn regularly will keep it looking green, but be aware as this will also mean you will need to increase the frequency of mowing and watering. Fertilise your lawn on cooler days, early mornings or evenings as it must be immediately watered into the soil and off the grass to prevent burning.

Watering Your Lawn

Consistent watering is the key to maintaining a lush, green lawn throughout the summer months and this may be easier with an automatic reticulation system. It is important to establish a healthy deep root system, and newly planted lawns will need careful watering while they are in the early stages of growth. Depending on the soil type, moisture will be absorbed and retained at different rates, so getting the watering right can be difficult and sometimes a case of trial and error.

You should check for signs of drought and heat stress on a regular basis, remembering you will need more water after days of intense heat, drought, low humidity or high dry winds. It is recommended that you water the lawn deeply twice a week, in the early morning or evening unless there has been a downpour.

Wetting Agents

There are certain soil types which become very dry and water repellent in summer, causing water to run off the soil instead of holding it. Wetting agents coat the soil with a special substance which attracts water and breaks down the soil coating.

Weeding Your Lawn

Unfortunately, in summer weeds can be a nuisance, especially the drought resistant dandelion and other varieties which have long root systems. Dig the weeds out by hand in the cooler evenings and avoid using chemical weed sprays in high temperatures. If you use a weed killer, always follow the instructions on the label. Keeping on top of your weeds and regularly pulling them out will help keep them at bay.

Be Water Wise

Conserving water can be crucial in Australia during the summer months, with some councils imposing restrictions in times of drought. You may face government restrictions to water only on certain days at certain times. If this is the case, deep watering will mean you only need to water your lawns twice a week. Alternatively, you can keep an eye on your lawn to see when it starts to wilt. This is a signal that it’s time to give a heavier watering.

The way you care for your lawn in summer will depend on where you are located and the variety you have chosen. If you would like assistance with landscaping in Perth please contact us.

Tips for Designing an Outdoor Entertainment Area

Summer is just around the corner and when the warmer weather hits you will want to make the most of your outdoor entertaining area. Designing a space which is both inviting and practical can be a challenge and will take some forward planning. Enjoying the sunset with friends, family BBQs and a quiet drink at the end of a long working day are all activities which deserve a dedicated area outdoors.

At Allscapes WA we can expertly assist you with any landscaping requirements, and here are our top tips for designing an outdoor entertainment area:

Understand the Space

When designing your outdoor entertainment area, it is important to understand what it will be used for, and how much time you have to maintain it. Be strategic with positioning to make the most of the sun and the shaded areas. If you have a pool, consider paving seamlessly between the seated area and the wet area to maintain a sense of consistency. Plan which areas may benefit from greenery, retaining walls, paths and lawn, with artificial lawn also being a practical option. The function of your space will determine what you want outdoors, whether it is a bar or an area to play cricket, your design should suit your lifestyle. Even a small outdoor area can accommodate guests by using a minimalistic approach.

Bring the Inside Out

One trend we have been seeing lately is merging the indoors with the outdoors. Comfortable seating, and colours which reflect the indoors will blur the lines between the two areas. Outdoor kitchens are popular, and the result is no one being left out of the conversation by having to rush inside to wash the dishes. There is now a range of outdoor furniture and cushions which are both cosy and weatherproof, and these allow you to infuse some style into your entertainment area. A television and speakers can create ambience, and give the space a living room feel without sacrificing the unique outdoor setting.

Create a Focal Point

An entertainment area will be enhanced when you have a focal point. This could be a firepit or feature wall, and should be a piece which brings everything together. If you are short on space, this feature could be something as simple as a retaining wall filled with colourful plants, or a unique bush placed where everyone can see it. Stone tiles, a quirky outdoor stool or even mood lighting will accentuate the area, depending on the theme you have chosen. An outdoor pizza oven gives a rustic feel, while still being practical for entertaining.

A Comfortable Design

In addition to your outdoor entertaining area being easy to manage with all the aesthetic features you want, it should be a space which oozes comfort. You can use the space all year round with a few simple installations. You can include gas heating, outdoor fireplaces or fire pits for winter use, and outdoor blinds are an effective way to shield you from any wind or rain. In summer, ceiling fans will circulate the air, and plants can be placed in highly lit positions to offer additional shade. The right landscaping will make your outdoor entertaining area low maintenance all year round, and reduce the amount of mud being dragged through the house.

 

At Allscapes WA we can assist with all of your landscaping needs and create an outdoor space you will be able to enjoy. Please contact us today to find out how we can transform your entertaining area.

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