This guide for the North West region will help you take a fresh look at your garden and make it lower maintenance as well as more waterwise and beautiful.

Our plans provide the blueprint for creating different styles of gardens that are both striking and fit for our climate. Below are our favourite garden designs using plants that are waterwise and easy to maintain. For each garden design type, we’ve included plans from different perspectives – the front façade and a close-up view.

Be sure to download the pdf for a handy shopping list of items you'll need, plus a list of common and botanical plant names. Print out a copy of the list of plants to help during your visit to the nursery. 

Arid garden design

Ideal for our climate in the North West, an arid garden features plants that are especially important for the garden and are able to naturally adapt to the local climate, soil and environmental conditions – meaning they have little need for constant care and maintenance. 

Front arid garden view
Front arid garden view.

Close-up arid garden view
Close-up arid garden view.

Download the arid garden plan and shopping list.

Coastal garden design

Often rugged and relaxed, a coastal garden is full of hardy plants that can withstand strong winds. 

Front coastal garden view
Front coastal garden view.

Close-up coastal garden view
Close-up coastal garden view.

Download the coastal garden plan and shopping list.
 

Mediterranean garden design

 Creating pleasures for all the senses, a Mediterranean garden has a combination of colours, productive plants, interesting foliage and flowering plants. 

Front Mediterranean garden view
Front Mediterranean garden view.

Close-up Mediterranean garden view
Close-up Mediterranean garden view.

Download the Mediterranean garden plan and shopping list.

Tropical garden design

Filled with bold foliage plants that provide shade, shelter and colour throughout the year, this garden will have a tropical feel without needing a lot of water. 

Front tropical garden view
Front tropical garden view.

Close-up tropical garden view.
Close-up tropical garden view.

Download the tropical garden plan and shopping list.

Identify your soil type and improve its quality 

Sandy soil 

Sandy, water repellent soil has water pooling on top of the surface around plants, rather than sinking in. It’s gritty and won’t clump, even when wet. 

Before planting, incorporate bentonite clay and organic compost or soil-wetting agents into the top layer of soil. Always water in wetting agents until they foam. This means they are activated and doing their job. 

Clay soil 

Clay soils often become waterlogged in winter due to a lack of drainage. It’s sticky when wet and can be rolled into a ball. Adding organic matter and gypsum is recommended to help open the soil structure and improve drainage and oxygen levels.  

Stony soil

Ironstone gravels and stony soils may have visible rocks on the surface or can be found under a thin layer of sand. They are often compacted and water-repellent, with water pooling on top of the surface. Remove large rocks and unearthed stones if possible and apply soil-wetting agents and organic matter to improve fertility.

Existing turf removal

The best time to remove existing turf is at the end of winter or the start of spring. For the fastest result, spray existing turf with Glyphosate and follow-up the application within 2-3 weeks’ time.

Remove existing turf and topsoil to a minimum 150mm depth. This will remove turf roots and allow for soil preparation and mulching so the finished levels will remain slightly below paths and kerbs.

Soil preparation

The best time to do soil preparation is in autumn or spring. Clear the area of weeds, rocks, and debris. Scrape back topsoil, so you have room for soil amendments, compost and mulch (100-150mm below the adjacent kerb or footpath level).

Aerate any compacted areas by digging with an aerator, rotary hoe, shovel or strong fork before planting so that roots can push through the soil and get access to air, water, soil and nutrients. Test the soil pH to identify the soil type.  

Spread the selected soil amendments based on the soil type before spreading compost to ensure healthy plant growth. Decomposed animal manure, worm farm residue, bagged soil improvers and soil conditioners are good sources of compost. Soil improver, soil conditioner and soil concentrate are all interchangeable soil amendments.  

Thoroughly mix the compost and soil amendments into the top 300mm of soil for optimal results. If you’re aiming to improve the soil of an established garden bed, apply improver to the surface area and lightly mix it into the soil with a hoe or rake and hand water well. 

Before Planting 

Transporting leafy trees in open trailers or utes can result in severe wind damage. Use a cover or go slow. Ensure plants aren’t exposed to drying influences such as sun or wind for an extended period. Thoroughly water all plants before planting.  
 
Space the planting out according to their recommended spacing, which is based on their maturity size. For example, if a plant will grow to 1m wide, ensure plants are spaced 1m apart to allow sufficient space for the plant to grow to its maximum size. Alternatively, plants can be evenly set out to fill the designated area. The maximum growing size is listed on the plan above. @1m/c means the plant will grow to 1m wide.  
 

Planting & Mulching 

It’s important to plant trees before shrubs. Dig planting holes at least twice as wide as the diameter of the pot.  You can choose to add slow-release fertiliser to the planting hole to give plants a boost for the first year, however, it’s best practice to minimise fertiliser additives to reduce the impact on the natural waterways. 
 
If your soil is native/good quality (holding water/nutrients), you can do without fertiliser. 
Ease the plant out carefully trying not to disturb the root ball, then lightly tease the roots before placing the root ball in the hole. Once the plant is placed in the hole, the top of the roots or root ball should be level or slightly below the surrounding surface to be able to create a bowl effect directing water to the plant.   
 
Backfill the hole with the original soil or clean topsoil and tamp down gently then water in well to eliminate air pockets. Excess soil may be used to build a ring just outside the drip line to ensure water spraying on the foliage is captured and directed to the roots.  
 
Spread waterwise organic mulch or ‘cut and drop’ prunings in established gardens to an even layer of minimum 50mm to supress weeds. Keep clear of the plant stem by 50mm or up to 500mm of tree trunks. Water in well again after mulching.    
 
Stake trees and large shrubs if needed. Use 50 - 70mm diameter and 2m long stakes. Drive them 400mm into the ground and tie plants with rubber ties.   
 

Watering 

 A typical suburban block will thrive on irrigation - 2 watering days per week in summer and once a week during spring and autumn.  
 
When establishing a new lawn or garden, you can ensure it gets the best chance to establish itself by applying for a watering exemption to keep the soil moist. Once your garden is established, you will need to abide by the watering roster. Check the recommended watering schedules on the website.