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Starting a garden - the planning stage

This article was first published on 22 Jul 2014.

Starting a garden - the planning stage

Starting a garden - the planning stage

One of the most enjoyable parts of gardening is going out and buying new plants. Many of these plants are bought on impulse as we like the look of them, and while there is nothing wrong with this, their placement can be often an afterthought.

This is where the planning of a garden comes in. It cannot be over emphasised how a bit of time spent at the beginning can make a huge difference to the outcome of the whole garden.

Whether you are starting a new garden from scratch or just renovating an existing area, spend some time looking at the garden and jotting down some notes. Take into account the amount of shade or sun, any existing plants you want to keep and possibly even develop a little sketch. You can go as far as testing the soil to help determine what will survive but just a simple digging over will help you find out whether it is a wet or dry spot.

When you have decided on the type and style of garden, then it is time to start thinking about the plants. Choose plants you like but that will also survive well in your conditions. Although it may be tempting to try plants unsuitable to your garden’s conditions, it can be like throwing money away.

To hear more about starting a garden tune into “In the Garden” every second Friday (next broadcast 1 August) at 10am on 105.4 FM / 1575 AM, streaming live or podcast on

Dylan Norfield is the Collection Curator of the Geographic and Arboretum Collection at Dunedin Botanic Garden.