May 20, 2014

One of the attractions of Vermont is the larger blocks of land. But, whether you have 550m² or 2,000m², how can you make the most of that outside space? Vermont resident and Director of Exterior Landscape and Pool Creators Matt O’Brien shares his insights.

“A lot of people here want a simple garden, not too extravagant,” he says. “They want to get that inside-outside feel, to enjoy al fresco entertaining, and create a sense of privacy. For the larger blocks, pools are certainly popular, and there’s the chance to plant more substantial trees.”

Matt recently designed and constructed the gardens for the Binet Homes built Wandin Manor in Riverland.

“They wanted a simple but formal design, so we planted hedges which, once established, will add privacy without taking away from the house design. We chose hardy plants to tolerate the local conditions here at Pitt Town, with minimal water requirements. It had to be cost-effective but elegant.”

He says that when you’re starting with a blank block of land, you need to consider three key elements.

“Firstly, it’s essential your drainage is correct, as this plays a big part in the longevity of your landscape. Many problems can arise if it’s not installed correctly. Then, analyse the site to work out the areas you require for play, utilities, gardens and so on. For example, if you have active children you may wish to maximise the play areas. Lastly, you need to have a budget in mind, and be open with your landscape designer so they can work with you to best achieve your dreams.”

Matt says people tend to underestimate the cost of landscaping. “They see the garden shows on TV so they have ideas of what they would like. But if you are incorporating hard elements such as an outdoor kitchen, raised planters, a driveway or glass balustrading, it adds up quickly – and you may find you have to cut back to fit your budget.”

He says you also need to think about the outside at the same time as working out your home design. “You’ll need to submit a landscape plan to council with your DA.”

As for plants that will thrive in this area, Matt says he is pretty confident of finding plants that will work in most situations. However, some plants will not tolerate the extreme heat in summer and frost in winter, so you need to consider the aspect and conditions of your area.

Your best choice for Vermont planting

Choose natives – in general they’ll tolerate the extremes of summer and winter, and are also drought tolerant so require less water

Magnolias are evergreen with a shiny green leaf and rusty velvet underside. They make a great feature tree.

Buxus is a good hedge variety – it’s also a softer way to disguise property boundaries

New varieties of Lilly Pillies are pest and disease resistant, and grow quickly

For a durable lawn, plant Soft Leaf Buffalo but make sure you check your drainage.

Need more help with your garden? Contact Matt at Exterior Landscape and Pool Creators on 1300 735 122.

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