It has been three years since you started building. Finally, after endless sleepless nights, worrying about stolen cement and long days of supervision and using up all your savings, your house is complete.
You reckon that a great garden in your yard would complete the picture of comfort that you have in your heart. You dream of sweet-smelling flowers, lush shrubs and climbing plants to entertain your eyes. In your mind’s eye, you are seated on a garden chair under a tree watching your children play.
You sigh and roll up your sleeves ready to get to work. Well, snap out of your dream state for a moment and consider the mistakes people who have been here before you have made.
Most people want to plan, design and build their own garden.
Because most people grew up in homes where growing crops was a norm, they think that they don’t need any professional help with the garden in their backyard. “It’s just a garden,” they say.
“How hard can it be,” they tell themselves.
According to Simon Singa, a Namugongo-based landscape designer, such people usually take a garden as a by-the-way.
He says: “Most people, after spending so much time and money on building the house, they couldn’t care less about a garden. So long as there are some trees and grass in the compound, they are good.”
Anyone who cares about a garden must seek professional help. There are four facets of gardening; planning, designing, building and maintenance. All the four need a professional touch.
This happens due to ignorance other than laziness. To use an example from crop husbandry, a person who has been successful and growing cowpeas may not necessarily succeed and growing beans or tomatoes.
Most people are usually clueless about simple things that are necessary for a great looking garden.
To start from the basics, the more plants you have in a garden, the better.
Singa says a good mix of ground cover, shrubs, climbers and trees is a great trick to create a perfect garden.
“There is a science to the mix,” he says.
Black soil and manure
While it is true that black soil is good for plant growth, not every black soil is good for your garden, according to Singa. “Some people use swamp soil just because it is black. They forget that swamp soil usually contains clay and that it will crack irreparably as soon the dry season comes,” he says.
To get it right with black soil, insist on manure. But some people go overboard with it. In their naïve pursuit for leafiness, they tend to over-pamper their plants with manure. They think that the more the manure the greener the plants. On the contrary, too much manure kills plants. There are also those that apply manure once and forget about it until the plants start to die. Manure needs to be applied quarterly.
Because of busy schedules, people spend weeks without actually inspecting their gardens. By the time they realise there are weeds in the garden, they have already done a good job chocking the delicate shrubs.
Mulching with coffee husks can help avoid weeds.
Smaller flowering plants even need more frequency in irrigation according to Enid Bichetero, a landscaper with Enid’s Little Treasures.
“But on the other extreme end, desert plants won’t agree to well with regular watering. One needs to know the needs of all the plants in one’s garden,” she says.
The first thing many people do after moving into their house, is get a dog.
While a great number of dogs are kept in the doghouse during the day, they are let loose at night. But most people forget to train them not to go to the garden.
They roll in the plants and break the shrubs. Others have rabbit pets which are allowed to roam the compound. Well the garden is rabbit food.
Spray pepper on the plants to keep the dog away. Sprinkling dog poo in the garden also works, according to Singa.
Others use electric sensors in the dog’s neck. It shocks the dog as it approaches the garden.
Rabbits need to be kept in their pen if you want a perfect garden.
Many people tend to forget walkways when they think about a garden for their front yard.
They know they love the trees and the shrubs, so they go ahead and fill the compound with them.
They forget that walkways are as an integral part of the garden as the plants themselves.
Singa says a lack of walkways strains the grass and kills the green ambiance.
Makindye-based Bichetero says some people prefer a gardens that have no walkways.
“Walkways have a way of making a garden look so formal and well-planned. But not everyone likes that. Some people like their garden to be informal and laid back.
“You have to know what you want during the planning time,” she says.
Get a landscaping professional to design walkways for you.