Garden Design

Creating your indigenous garden

If you are starting from scratch or redesigning a garden bed, one of the best things you can do is observe your garden for a year. This will give you an accurate picture of your garden through all the seasons when light and shade and moisture can vary enormously. Regardless of whether you have the patience to do this or not, the starting point with garden design is to do a site analysis of your garden. It allows you to identify the pros and cons, limitations and possibilities for your garden. It is also important to work with your site. If you know a section of your garden is shady and damp, select plants that are suited to those conditions rather than trying to change the site

Main considerations

Indigenous plants can be used to beautiful effect in almost any style of garden. When deciding where and what to plant consider the garden as a whole, taking into account such things as: The style of garden you are trying to create, and how you would like it to fit into your local landscape or neighbourhood. Examples include a bush garden, contemporary garden or cottage garden. If you already have an existing garden featuring exotic plants, think about how indigenous species could work with them.

How you use your garden – consider including features such as a bench under a tree to sit and relax, or a path that meanders through different areas within the garden.


Design elements such as feature trees and the inclusion of different layers of shrubs, grasses, flowers and groundcovers. Consider the colours and textures of flowers and foliage and how they will work together in the garden.

Habitat elements such as bird baths placed near prickly shrubs (for shelter), nest boxes in large trees, large rocks for lizard lounging, or a pond with refuge logs for frogs.

 The function, mature size and growing requirements of each plant. Ideally, plants with similar growing requirements should be grouped together to maximise growth and efficiency of water use.

Before you start to plan your new garden remember to look up for powerlines and check for services below ground. It may be a wasted effort to plant extensively in easements where access for maintenance and other works may be required.