Five gorgeous gardens

Spending time in a beautiful garden is an intrinsic aspect of Aussie lifestyle and gardening is a rewarding hobby enjoyed by people of all ages. Working outdoors to create your own vegetables, fruits and flowers can be great exercise, enhancing flexibility and strength, whilst also burning calories (and saving you money to boot). Studies have also shown it can improve your mood any anyone who has ever enjoyed getting their hands dirty outdoors knows it also nourishes your soul.

If you love creating a little piece of natural splendour at home - or want to create one - but don’t quite have the time and energy required for heavy maintenance, then these five gardens are for you. They will deliver a vibrant and luscious garden whilst also being easy to develop and are low on maintenance.  

1. Native Australian plants garden 
The key to a self-sustaining garden is allowing natural ecological processes to take over. It is a logical process: plants that thrive in their natural soil type, climate and rainfall require less maintenance.

What are the benefits of native gardens?
Locally native species, or indigenous plants, have evolved over many thousands of years to the local conditions and can therefore easily flourish in this environment, with less water, fertiliser and human assistance. Native plants are also beneficial as they attract native wildlife and will work with the surrounding environment rather than posing as a weed threat. Speak to an expert at your local plant nursery and always research native plants indigenous to your area before simply planting them in your yard. 

What are the best native plants for your garden?
Check out the fiery red leaves of the aptly named callistemon, ’Great Ball of Fire’, which only requires occasional pruning (pictured here). Grevillea asplenifolia is a shrub species of grevillea that produces stunning burgundy flowers, grows quickly, is tolerant against drought and frost and attracts hummingbirds. Kangaroo paws are another vibrant and resilient native flowering plant, which grow best in well-drained soils in a sunny position.  

The national floral emblem, the golden wattle is tolerant, grows quickly and easily from seed, usually flowers all year long and has adapted to hot, dry climates. Finally, Brachyscome multifida is a native daisy with enchanting purple flowers that occupies a diverse range of habitats. They survive on little water and have a long flowering period. 

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2. Japanese rock garden
Minimalist designs are the focus of Japanese rock gardens, which offer much longed for tranquillity and simplicity. This type of garden utilises durable elements such as rock and stone. The addition of trees and shrubs, water features and garden ornaments create the atmosphere of a miniature mountainside. Delightful. 

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What are the benefits of a Japanese rock garden?
The durability of rock or stone and lack of grass means very little maintenance.  A Japanese garden also creates a zen-filled space ideal for those who love simplistic beauty and appreciate places for reflection. Love doing meditation, yoga or Tai Chi? This is the perfect spot to create some inner zen at home.

Which are the best plants for a Japanese garden?
The best type of plants for a Japanese-style garden in Australian conditions include an evergreen dwarf shrub like Korean Boxwood, a dwarf pine such as Dwarf Mountain Pine, a deciduous shrub like Japanese Spindleberry and strappy-leaf plants such as Lomandra longifolia.  

3. Fake turf garden
Ever dreamt about ditching the Saturday morning mowing ritual but still maintaining an open grassy space for entertaining?

What are the benefits of a turf garden?
Having to trim, mow and maintain a lawn is easily one of the most tiresome and time-consuming aspects of the modern backyard. If you want the open space for games and activities that a lawn provides, without the hassle of having to maintain it, a fake turf garden provides the perfect solution. 

What are the best plants for a turf garden? 
Complement a turf garden with a small bed of plants or a few pot plants. 

Succulents are some of the easiest plants to care for as they require little water and don’t require pruning. Try a snake plant such as the Bantel Supreme (Sansevieria trifasciata), a Cylinder Snake Plant (Sansevieria cylindrical) or a leafy-stemmed yucca (Sansevieria arborescens). 

Other hardy plants for pots or a small bed include epiphytes such as the Giant Air Plant (Tillandsia fasciculate) or the crucifix orchid (Epidendrum), which can simply rely on rainfall. 

4. Terrarium
For those in units without the space for a backyard or anyone looking for the ultimate low-maintenance garden, a terrarium is an ideal solution.  

What are the benefits of a terrarium?
Terrariums create a self-perpetuating microclimate in which your plants can survive for years with next to no maintenance. They are also very easy to create and are a natural and striking addition to any home. 

How do you make a terrarium?
To make a terrarium, place a layer of gravel or pebbles in a clear glass or plastic container, about 2.5cm deep. Next add a layer of activated charcoal, followed by a layer of sphagnum moss. Finally, add a 4cm deep layer of potting mix.  

What are the best plants for a terrarium? 
Ideal plants for a terrarium include Peperomia, Helxine, Calathea, little ferns and Hypoestes phyllostachya. Arrange the plants with the tallest one in the middle and to the rear. You have full creative licence to arrange the plants according to height, colour and leaf shape in any way you deem aesthetically pleasing. Water the plants enough to settle the plant roots in and ensure you keep the container away from direct sunlight or heaters. 

5. Formal Garden
Easy to maintain as it contains orderly hedges or shrubs, which only occasionally require some trimming or watering. It is balanced, neat and visually pleasing. If a formal garden is well planned, it should require very minimal effort.  

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What are the elements of a formal garden? 
A formal garden should be symmetrical and use right-angled geometry. Start by dividing the garden up into sections and plan out each area. Use an even number of shrubs trees and plantings and make a path the central axis to link the house and garden. 

What are the best plants for a formal garden?
The staple plant in a formal garden in my eyes should be a lomandra. This is a fantastic border plant, vibrant green in colour, which creates a succulent edge and perfectly frames the garden. Add a splash of colour with an electric pink cordyline then throw in some sophistication with a bold white Sago bush. For a native hedge, try a Westringia longifolia or Syzigium australe. Ferns are also great additions to formal gardens and roses are a popular option for many. Another Australian inclusion to consider is a coppiced Eucalyptus cinerea hedge.  

Which of these ideas do you think would suit your garden best? Let us know your thoughts and join in on the discussion about gardening in the comments below.