Tropical Twist

To soften the space, the new garden bed was subtly outlined with gently curving aluminium edging
Fresh, funky and family friendly, this rear garden provides a taste of the tropics.
To create a backyard that perfectly captures the personality and lifestyle of
the owners, sometimes you need to think outside the square, or in this case, the rectangle. When presented with a long and narrow rear garden comprised of a new lawn and several existing, highly angular features I will  bring everything together through a lush, tropical plantscape, which would “green” the rectangular space and soften the hard lines.
Plants of different heights were used to create the layered effect expected of a tropical garden.
 This was made possible through the tropical garden concept, which offered a relaxed and less formal solution for producing a coherent, holistic design. However, this approach was not without its challenges. As the majority of the established trees were to stay, this meant we had to be cautious of potential root competition for new plantings. Also, tropical planting usually requires the creation of deep garden beds to get maximum layering but, in this case, the owners wanted the lawn to be as large as possible.
So the family’s son had somewhere to play, creating as large a lawn as possible was a main priority.
 A mix of native and exotic plants with striking foliage, such as cordylines, birds nest fern, golden cane palms, elephant’s ears, turf lily, slender weaver’s bamboo and tiger grass. These were then interspersed with flowering plants, such as white calla lilies, clivias, Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ and various gingers, which off er seasonal splashes of color, contrast and interest. As ground cover, mondo grass and native violets were employed. The combination of foliage and floral-centric plants worked together to produce a range of heights, colors and textures, creating a richly layered tropical jungle effect.
Contemporary with a tropical twist, this newly landscaped backyard suits adults and children alike.
 The plants wrap around the perimeter of the garden, in the centre of which is a large, level lawn that provides a safe and open space where the owners’ son can play. While the rectilinear shape of the lawn offered some resistance to the creation of a casual tropical ambience, curved aluminium garden edging was incorporated along one side to soften the look and gently contrast the angularity of the deck and timber edging. To turn the deck into a great space for entertaining and bring some of the colors from the garden to the dining space, it was furnished with an urban-grey table made out of glass-reinforced concrete (GRC) and teamed with funky chairs in luscious lime. A contemporary tropical feel was also encouraged into the garden with the potted frangipani and cordyline that flank the dining area and help to define the adult entertaining space.
The deck was furnished with a contemporary table made of GRC and fun dining chairs in lime green.
At the far end of the garden, a stunning laser-cut Corten steel feature screen was installed, providing a focal point that can be enjoyed from the deck or when looking out from inside the two-storey home. The screen, which is backlit for added effect, was also installed to add warmth and textural interest to an otherwise soft-scaped area.

The existing timberedged beds were given a new lease on life with a flourishing new plant palette
We can approach each landscape design holistically and invest time with the homeowners to ensure we create beautiful, functional outdoor spaces that reflect their lifestyle, while ensuring the constraints of the site are met. And it seems this is an approach that has reaped rewards in the form of an innovative and inclusive design that meets the family’s every need.

My Garden My Therapy

There are a few gardeners who have the special talent of being able to turn a once decrepit backyard into a magical place filled with drama.

In many small suburban gardens the house divides the plot into two separate gardens, often creating awkward little corners that need special attention. It is some property that first caught.

Utterly Unique in the Garden

Transform your garden with exquisitely handcrafted one-of-a-kind artworks

Do you have an outdoor wall that needs brightening? Or perhaps you need something to draw the eye to a particular part of your garden? There are many ways to add interest to an outdoor space — sculpture, murals, decorative gates  but if you want to create maximum impact, unique handcrafted pieces are the way to go.
 This is a 7 Elements Design creates one off artworks designed for use in the garden or outdoor living spaces. Many of her pieces, which range from pavers and sculptures to gates and works of mosaic art, incorporate glass. This causes them to glisten in natural sunlight or under artificial lighting, adding an extra dimension to your outdoor space.
 Each piece is not only unique, it is carefully and skillfully handcrafted. Is constantly evolving with exciting new design concepts always in the pipeline for discerning homeowners and art lovers  who want to stand out from the crowd. Although each design is different, the functionality and quality of the artworks remain the same. Gates and pavers, for example, are designed and built to be regularly used, so you can be assured they will last the distance.
 Materials for other pieces, such as sculptures, wall art and mosaic murals, are also chosen for their ability to retain their color and integrity in an outdoor environment. The result is a unique piece that will be a feature of your garden for many, many years to come.

Potted Pleasure for Garden

Pots can be used as decorative elements in their own right, such as this planter from Rock & Stone.
Pots are a great decorating tool … and they don’t always have to be used to hold plants

Growing plants in pots gives you a means of having foliage and flowers in the smallest of spaces. Just as importantly, the pots can form part of an outdoor decorating scheme, adding accents of color and form. Pots can be used as features in their own right and act as focal points; they can be integrated into the background of a garden design or you can go a step further and use them for another purpose altogether, such as a water feature.
If using your pot in the traditional way (as a home for plants), be sure the color of the pot contrasts yet complements the color of the foliage or flowers. Try picking an accent color from the plant and use that. If you have a highly ornamental plant, opt for an unpatterned pot so it doesn’t compete for attention. And don’t forget the pot needs to be in proportion to the plant.

Plethora of pots and planters
There is no shortage of materials to choose between. There is cast concrete, terrazzo (a concrete product ground and polished to expose the colored aggregate), GRC (glassreinforced concrete), stone, plastic, poly-fiber, ceramic and metal. Terracotta is a traditional and timeless choice. You just need to seal the interior to prevent water loss. Glazed ceramic pots come in many shapes, colors and textures, so you can mix and match to your heart’s content. For a pot that will last and last, consider concrete. Cast-concrete pots can be painted in the color of your choice.
When choosing a pot, there are many practical considerations, ranging from the eventual size of the plant that will be going into the container to issues of weight and manuevrability. And it should go without saying that a pot must be waterproof.

The glazed ceramic Jarres a huile pot
from Rock & Stone is ideal for
a European-themed garden.
Pot placement and plants
Pots can play a useful role in defining or accenting an outdoor design so their placement is critical. You can place them at entrances, the start of a pathway or in a previously drab and uninteresting corner. For a focal point, place a single pot against a feature wall or to divide a space or create a privacy screen, try a row or large pots with tall plants. When grouping pots, do so in uneven numbers and don’t combine too many different colors or shapes.]
For permanent plantings, choose plants with a long flowering period (fuchsia, kalanchoe, pelargonium/geranium, impatiens, cymbidium orchid etc). Some garden plants, such as gardenias, will actually flower for longer periods in a pot placed in the right position than theydo in the garden. There are also many hardy architectural plants (cordyline, flax, yucca, dracaena and agave), that look amazing year round in a pot as they don’t rely on flowers to make an impact. Just remember, when placing your pot, it needs to be in a spot that meets the plant’s sunlight requirements.

Pebble Panache

Stepping stones lead the way through a vast sea of pebbles
Pebbles can enhance the look of a garden and reduce your maintenance chores

Be it as a landscaping tool, in planter boxes as mulch, in water features, as edging to driveways, in garden beds and ponds... pebbles are nothing if not a versatile option for your outdoor living spaces. With so many different colors and sizes available, using pebbles in your landscape is limited only by the imagination. And while black, grey and white are the most popular pebble colors used in landscaping, there are exotic imported varieties, particularly from Asia, such as spectacular jade ones.
Choosing the right color depends on the look you are going for. Blacks and grey tend to blend in, whereas white stands out and gives striking contrast  particularly when teamed with different-colored grasses such as rust colored or silver ones.

The popularity of pebbles
Part of the reason why pebbles are so popular is because of the need to be water wise in most parts of the country. Another major factor in the rise in popularity of pebbles is that people don’t want to put time into mowing lawns, so pebbles provide an excellent decorative alternative that is low cost and low maintenance. Pebbles truly are an inexpensive landscaping option, with prices ranging from between $90 and $300 a cubic meter. Price is often determined simply by freight cost and the distance they have to travel, so using local varieties and local suppliers is often the most budget-friendly option.

Use pebbles as an alternative to organic mulches for planters.
 An alternative to mulch
Mulching is essential in the hot Australian climate. Its purpose is to enable soil to retain water and to minimize evaporation. Pebbles are an excellent alternative to traditional mulching products. They allow water to penetrate to the roots of plants, while still enabling the soil beneath them to stay moist. Unlike mulch products, such as bark or woodchips, pebbles don’t ever wear out or break down, which means they are a far more durable and costeffective solution. In addition, whereas some woodchips can change the pH of the soil, pebbles will not. And while woodchips, bark and other organic materials used for mulch will fade, deteriorate and look messy over time, pebbles will continue to look good long after they’ve been laid.

Staying right on trend
Polished pebbles, which mainly come from China, are quite in vogue right now. They are very striking, particularly in planter boxes. The shiny, waxy coating will come off after repeated exposure to sun and rain, so they’re best suited for areas that are undercover — or indoors.
Stark white gives excellent contrast to foliage and can also create a dramatic visual effect, while grey has a look of sophistication about it and creates a more subtle effect in a garden or pot. For native gardens, pebbles in browns and earth tones are the perfect fit. Pebbles are an easy way to enhance your landscape both practically, in terms of maintenance and being a water-wise choice, and aesthetically as a stylish designer option for added color, interest and texture.

You can make good use of pebbles and stones
in water features for added texture and color.
Design ideas
  • Choose the color of the pebbles to enhance a themed outdoor design, such as white pebbles in a Japanese-style garden.
  • Place pebbles on the bottom of a pond or at the base of a water feature to add to the natural ambience. You can also place pebbles around stepping stones or along the sides of garden paths to highlight the pavers.
  • Use pebbles as an alternative to lawn in areas such as small side courtyards or under established trees or shrubs. Pebbles can also be used in mosaic work. You could create a mosaic step or a prettily patterned garden path.
  • Pebbles of various sizes can be used with larger stones to create an authentic-looking dry creek bed.

Expert tip
You can use pebbles as an alternative to traditional mulch products, such as woodchip sand pea straw, in either gardens beds or planters. Coordinate the color of the pebbles to match your outdoor decorating theme.

Matter of Trust

A potted desert spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri)  always cuts a striking figure.
High-quality architectural plants from a specialist nursery you can depend on

Plants are critical to the success of any landscape design and they represent a sizeable portion of your budget. To be assured of the best-possible quality, you need a supplier you can trust. Dragon Trees Australia has built a reputation within the landscape design industry for supplying plants of the highest quality and is the trusted name when it comes to dragon trees. As Australia’s leading dragon tree supplier, Dragon Trees Australia has worked with many of this country’s top landscape design firms and is known for its high level of professionalism.

The most eye-catching feature
plant is the dragon tree
 Although Dragon Trees Australia has supplied plants for many high-end residential and commercial projects, the company can cater for all landscape styles and budgets. A specialist nursery growing architectural plants from around the world, Dragon Trees Australia has a management team comprised of qualified horticulturalists with more than 40 years combined experience, so they are well placed to recommend the right plants for your project and your price point
The dragon tree
is a very popular architectural plant
As you might expect, the dragon tree (Dracaeno draco) is the most popular tree in stock, with the tree aloe (Aloe barberae) a close second. These two trees are fast becoming the must-haves in modern landscapes, along with blue nolina (Nolina nelsonii), desert spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri), red hesperaloe (Hesperaloe parviflora) and giant hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera).

The tree aloe (Aloe barberae)
looks impressive when uplit
Dragon Trees Australia doesn’t just focus on plants of eye-catching form, its emphasis is on plants that require little maintenance and make a strong visual impact. With the rise in popularity of the outdoor room, the need for plants that will provide a focal point and complement the room’s design and decor has escalated, as has the need for easy care plants.
Dragon Trees Australia provides a door to door delivery service and because the company carefully tapes and shrink-wraps stock onto pallets, you can be assured that plants will leave and arrive in the same condition.

Make Beautiful Garden with Factory finish

Reused materials include a storm drain, corrugated steel panels and crazy paving
Featuring strong lines and exposed finishes, industrial style design makes a statement

Back in the day, industrial style wasn’t classified as a style per se. Rather, the term referred to an everyday workplace aesthetic for locations such as warehouses and factories. Over time, however, an appreciation for the stripped-back and utilitarian look emerged, with the industrial look now a popular style to incorporate into a range of outdoor settings.

Materials from an industrial site get a new lease
of life in this modern landscape design.
Distinguishing features
A space boasting the industrial look can often give the appearance of being unfinished and the materials and fittings employed may have been previously used in another form or for a
different function. Its signature lack of pretence seeks to expose the raw beauty in utility.
It is far from decorative in appearance and often features simple and naturally textured finishes that celebrate the natural wear and tear that occurs over time. Such elements as exposed steel supports and joinery is common, as is mismatching and weathered wood, unpolished steel and decor with rust finishes. Subtle color may be found in multiple layers of stripped-back wall paint or uncovered red brick.
The beauty of this style is often attributed to the natural ageing process seen in the materials something that adds character and a sense of history that many find appealing.

Relying heavily on disused industrial materials,
this garden won gold at the Chelsea Flower Show
Old becomes new
There are generally two types of industrial styles, according to Aaron Jackson, head of design at Think Outside: industrial and vintage industrial. Vintage industrial can be genuine old industrial furniture often from the ’40s through to the ’60s, or made using original or replica components from this era.
The restoration or repurposing of preused materials adds an eco-conscious edge to the industrial style. Recycling and upcycling previously used local materials means we are cutting down on travel miles and encouraging sustainability. It’s also a durable choice that has the benefit of getting better with age, which means it will require minimal care and upkeep and still look fantastic.

Integrating industrial style
Industrial style is very versatile due to its simple and strong design concepts, and can work with a number of settings and outdoor designs. It can be incorporated as accent pieces in a greater design scheme, such as light fittings or wall art pieces, or it can take on a larger aesthetic, such as wall screening or suites of furniture, such as a dining table and chairs.
The great thing about the industrial look is it can work with ultra-modern looks to create a statement, or with old warehouses and traditional cottages. It generally works best with lots of wood and natural stone. However, if you think creatively, its variety of uses will astound you.
When looking to integrate some industrial style into your outdoor areas, Aaron suggests having a couple of signature pieces, such as a large dining table, for focal points. Don’t be afraid to mix and match chairs, or you might have a bench seat down one side with stools and chairs on the other. There are no rules, so have some fun with this design approach and enjoy its versatility.
From Think Outside, Spindle table set
is made of recycled industrial cable spindles.

Spoiled for choice
The ways in which you can incorporate an industrial-style aesthetic into your outdoor areas are endless. You can use reclaimed materials and fittings from factories or industrial sites in the construction of outdoor structures, or you can buy products made from salvaged industrial materials or materials distressed to look the part. From storage boxes, coffee tables and shelving to lighting, works of art and mirror frames, utilizing this style in your own home is only
limited by the bounds of your imagination.
The most important thing with this type of look is to go as authentic as the budget allows, whether it will be original pieces or good-quality reproductions or, perhaps, a combination of both. The danger is if you go too cheap with bad imitations the whole look can appear very contrived and lose its effect Entirely.

Design tips
1. Raw or aged metals work extremely well with weathered timber finishes. For visual contrast or a design accent, mix neutral industrial palettes with pops of bright color.
2.  Add some softening touches to hard surfaces such as a decorative pot plan on an industrial-style table or some vibrant cushions to add texture and create balance on a bench seat.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of lighting when looking to achieve an industrial look. As the style is quite masculine in nature, tone things down with warm lighting effects such as lamps or down lights.

Expert tip
Concrete surfaces and finishes complement the industrial style and suit contemporary outdoor designs. Consider expose aggregate paving, polished concrete bench or table tops or cast-concrete bowls and pots.

Beautiful Garden with Linger

A Portuguese laurel hedge covers the paling  fence and merges the garden with the parkland beyond.

Once you venture into this layered, highly textural garden, you won’t ever want to leave

The brief was to create a lush space that could be viewed from a raised patio and from inside the two-story house, and to change what was initially a rather cheap developer’s garden with some scrappy natives into an urban oasis. The garden also had to feel private when you walked through it the owners definitely didn’t want people in the neighbouring park seeing over the fence.
The paving used in this garden is a mix  of pea gravel
and slate, interspersed in places with mondo grass.

It was important that the new garden look as if it had been designed as part of the house, so I had to take the existing soft rendered finish on the walls and the sandstone-paved patio into consideration. Also, each owner liked different types of plants and planting styles, one being more formal than the other, so I needed to combine both preferences within the space.

An S-shaped curve disguises the triangular
shape of the block in a bid to make
the overall space appear larger

Although you can see the native gums in the park, the overall garden has a casual Mediterranean look with semi-formal features, such as hedging, were used to create garden spaces but inside each of those spaces, the look is loose and slightly overgrown, making them soft and inviting. An S-shaped curve, defined by mild steel edging, runs down one side of the garden to disguise the triangular shape of the block. It also means the garden is not seen all at once when you enter through the side gate, which works to make the overall space, which is quite compact, appear larger than it actually is. This “S” bed is quite deep, allowing for layered planting to disguise the fence boundaries, and is bordered by a low buxus hedge.

A circular spiral of stones was set in the area of gravel
towards the rear of the garden to add interest.

On the other side, a Portuguese laurel hedge works as a nice backdrop, covering a plain paling fence and blending the garden into the park on the other side. Along the base of the patio, there is a series of clipped French lavender fins, which echo the privacy screens attached to the house and create a strong graphic element in contrast to the softer elements. Between the lavender fins are tightly clipped buxus balls, which appear to have just rolled off the patio and found a place on the ground at random.

The shape of the clipped lavender fins references
the shape of the privacy screens on the residence.
Other plants in the space include a kalamata olive tree, a lemon tree, mondo grass tuff s through the gravel and a Melianthus major, which attracts birds when in flower, and interesting serrated leaves thereafter. Contributing burgundy-red accents in the largely green planting palette, there is a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, redstemmed euphorbia and a coral bark maple.
This timber bench is oriented to take in
a leisurely view of the densely planted landscape.
My approach is to design gardens that can be “gardened” and clipped if the owner chooses  and has the time  to create the semi-formal effect or they can be left for a year and become slightly overgrown and much softer while still looking good. This way the owner has choices and the garden doesn’t always need to look the same. At the end of the day, I always ask myself, would I feel comfortable sitting in this garden having a drink or reading a book. If the answer is yes and I wouldn’t feel like I’m sitting in a display garden or a fancy hotel courtyard, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

Gardenline make Beautiful

Long straight lines add drama to the space
Straight, angular or curved … lines can create different effects and moods

Lines in the garden can be used to lead the eye and focus the attention of the viewer, or they can be employed to physically guide people through a space. Lines create focal points and influence the mood of the landscape. Different ways of using lines in a landscape have Different effects on the emotions of the people viewing them. Lines are also critical to creating a sense of structure and developing the aesthetic appeal of a garden.

Boasts straight-lined paving
for a subtle formal touch.
Creating different effects
How can lines be used and what effects do they have in landscape design? Generally, there are straight, angular lines or curved, organic lines. The type of lines used will affect the mood of the people spending time in or viewing the garden and the speed at which they will move through the landscape. Here are some examples of the effect certain types of lines can have:
- Straight lines: These give a structured, ordered and purposeful feeling. On the other end of the spectrum, curved flowing lines throughout a landscape result in a calmer mood, which can feel more natural and soothing; even more welcoming.
-Long straight lines: For a strong impact, use long straight lines. They draw attention directly to the point at the end of the line. Such lines can either be utilized for effect and to introduce a sense of drama or softened with interruptions to the line.
- Lines with sharp angles: Sharp angles, including zigzags, can give an impression of energy and excitement. But in the wrong place, particularly when used in small spaces, they can create tension.
- Crossing lines: To create interest and draw attention to the intersection point, use crossing lines. It resembles the “vanishing point” that is created on the horizon, which is a sight commonly seen when traveling along long straight roads or paths.
-Circular lines: A circle or oval can give the impression of enclosure and a feeling of being embraced or surrounded by the landscape. Circles draw the eye into and around them, like the lines in the center of a flower that direct bees where to land.

The curves and circles create
a relaxed and inviting look.
Designing with lines
Lines can be created with hard landscape elements such as paving, retaining and garden walls, planters, sculpture, water features, ponds and pools, arches and structures such as pergolas. Lines are also formed by soft landscaping, including plants, branches and water, as well as shadow and light.
Lines can be used to attract attention towards a feature or to distract the eye away from an unpleasant element. Lines can be used to take you on a journey from one focal point to the next, either physically or visually. The interior and exterior lines of the house can be considered within the landscape so when viewed through windows, the vista is accentuated within your property to draw attention.
When there are dominant line styles in the existing architecture, or the surrounding buildings, the lines of the landscape need to be integrated harmoniously. This can be done by contrasting the line style or complementing it. Angular architecture can be softened by the style chosen for the landscape, or the sharp angles can be echoed in the lines and surfaces of the landscape.

How many lines?
Man-made structures often have many lines, which can lead to a melange of conflicting angles. Without care, the effect can look haphazard. Nature, on the other hand, tends to blend one object (a boulder, tree, creek) into another and lines only emerge where different natural element start and finish.
If you have multiple lines crowding a space, there will be a sense of movement and busyness. If there are fewer lines in a large space or an area of heavy texture, it can create a calmer feeling and ensure that the lines have a greater design impact. You also need to consider the spacing of lines. Random spacing results in a more relaxed look while regimented lines give a sense of order.

Expert tip
Consider your garden’s viewing points. Where will the landscape be viewed from: a doorway, looking down from above, a deck, the street? Also consider how you might frame these viewing points by using lines.

Tooling For Organic Garden


A gardener is only too happy to get their hands dirty but that doesn’t mean you want to tear your hands to shreds to shift mountains of soil bare-handed. You need tools and the tools you choose will become your friends and allies so choose them wisely.

The key with your tools is to buy them with the intent of passing them on to your grandchildren. You plant a tree for the long term so it makes sense to buy your garden implements for the long term too. There is no such thing as a cheap tool. You may not pay a lot of dollars for it but someone else makes up for the true price for your bargain through cheap labor and cheap manufacture standards, and of course terrible environmental consequences.
Tools are an extension of your hands, legs, and mind in the garden. They extend your reach, increase your strength, improve your efficiency and above all else provide assistance for specific tasks, particularly the repetitive ones. Tools do not make the gardener, rattier the gardener makes the tools work for them. If you keep these simple few thoughts in mind, you won’t be needing to build a shed to house every tool known to humankind before you harvest your very first lettuce or tomato or flower.

A Spade
Which comes first, the spade or the secateurs? Probably your spade because you need to work soil and compost before you actually start cutting too much (aside from if you are clearing of course). A good spade is multi-purpose... good for digging, cutting grass and roots, turning soil and mixing compost or potting mix. Buy a good spade and you will have it for many years and that little extra investment will pay for itself hundreds of times over.

Like your spade, go for a top quality brand of secateurs with a replaceable blade. You won’t go out in the garden without them as there is always something to nip. Trim, cut or prune wherever the eye is cast. There are many different types of secateurs but a pair that cuts right through the stem is the best multi-use option to begin with. 

A fork
A good Fork is a must in the garden. Ensure that the teeth/tynes are all pressed from one piece as individually welded on teeth will invariably break off in time. Forks are great for loading and shifting materials like woodchip, mulch, straw green waste etc. You can use them to aerate the ground as well as mark lines to sow seeds. There's nothing better than moving a good Fork-load of mulch in one turn, something that a shovel or spade could not do. 

A Square-Mouthed Shovel
This is ideal for loading from one area to a barrow and then for pushing it around at your destination. They are also great for sliding along concrete or asphalt/hard surfaces so that you can work from the edge of a pile inwards quite easily and methodically.

A Rake
Rakes come in handy for the dean-up side of your work. A good plastic rake is great for collecting leaves and raking clean grass and pavement areas where there are lots of leaves, grass clippings or debris. A metal rake is great for working the soil. Start with a plastic rake and work up from there as time goes on.

A Wheelbarrow
Depending on the scale of your garden to start with, you can always start with buckets if it is just a raised garden bed and some pots. However, for a bigger backyard, a wheelbarrow is a worthy investment. Lighter weight wheelbarrows can be useful in some instances as they are easy to
maneuver. Be careful about getting one with a super-wide front wheel as they are harder to push around and more suited for construction sites and when doing the heavy work of establishing the garden.
Overall, as you tool up For your organic garden remember the simple motto, you don’t need many tools but make sure the ones you have are good quality ones.

Tools Favorite
I have a landscape tool that I can’t live without when working which I call a “wonder level”. For a landscaper's kit bag it is a must and I use it to get soil or gravel areas leveled off as well as leveling sand prior to paving. I love this tool. For gardeners on the early part of their journey it is not really necessary but think about it For when you are ready.

Making up a compost

Making Compost at home
Composting involves you getting in touch with the “waste” from your own life and learning the art of creating a resource that will fuel the nutritious growth of you garden for a lifetime.
Composting is one or the first, if not the first, activities that you need to engage in when getting started with organic growing. Even when you are planning, setting up, setting out and laying down the parameters for what, where and how you are going to grow your organic garden, composting is something that you can start straightaway.
The really inspiring and exciting things is that starting up a compost bin is one way that you can actually change the world, by specifically changing the world that is immediately around you. Composting is something that any gardener worth their weight in humus I doing on an ongoing basis.
Although there is a “yuck” factor to work through as compost can get a little smelly, when done properly composting is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your health and for the planet.

Jumping Into the Compost Bin of Life
So where do you technically get started with composting? The first point on your composting journey is simply “awareness”. The easiest way to become aware of your composting possibilities is to start thinking about your waste, the outputs that you generate as human every single day. One way you can do it is to carry a bag around with you and to put everything that you go to throw out into this bag. The best part of doing this is that carrying this waste around makes you aware of it in all of its dimensions. If you feel a bit self-conscious carry it around in a non-transparent bag, but if you are not self-conscious carry it around in a clear bag so that others can see what in it and hopefully ask you questions. That way you are also actually composting the minds of others in the process.
The idea behind this is that you can then look inside your bag and start to determine what are the things that are compostable and which are recyclable. This is the best way to get connected to compost in is its true context. That context just happens to be every minute of your day, every human activity develops some of sort of output. Without getting into the intricacies of entropy, if you can appreciate the cyclical nature of resource you are halfway towards dealing with the problems that our consumption-based economy has created.
Once you have established in your own mind what it means to be composting you are ready to get started with the practicalities. Set up two containers in your kitchen where you can separate you food scraps ready for composting. On top of that, recognize and act on the “recyclables”. Auditing the average garbage bin in Australia shows that more than half of the material consigned to landfill is compostable scraps and paper. When you consider that of all the garbage going out every week, half of it is a resource, then putting a bin out could be seen as a crime against the environment if you don’t take the time to separate your waste.
Composting puts value in garbage. When things are mixed you have a red bin, and it may be called mixed waste but in effect it is garbage. When it is separated into the distinct categories of waste that “garbage” bin becomes a resource receptacle. It is this change of thinking that is the basis of composting. To those who look at it from a financial point of view, composting is a resource simply awaiting transformation into a state where it can be taken up by nature’s systems and reused. This is where you have a chance to support nurture and regenerate not only nature and nature’s health and the health of our produce but, naturally enough, your own health.

Creating Your Composting Bin
Two simple definitions that you need to take on board in terms of your composting are “green” and “brown”, or “nitrogen” and “carbon”. It is probably easier to think of it in terms of living things are “green” (nitrogen providing), and dead things are “brown” (carbon providing). Green living thins include recent cuttings from trees, green waste such as recent lawn clipping, and food scraps. Brown, or carbon, includes dry grass clipping, dry leaves, twigs and shredded paper. Whit these definition in mind you are ready to set up your compost bin;

Step 1 Find a position for your compost bin where it can sit on the ground. Place compost bin of rabbit proof fence or chicken where on ground. This prevents any visits or intrusions by unwanted visitors.

Step 2 Put your bin on the wire

Step 3 Put a layer of dry mixed leaves from your garden or your local park. This is a “brown” or carbon layer

Step 4 Put your first layer of green waste in, which should be from your garden, including off-cuts and fresh grass clipping, to about 150-200mm thick. Water this layer in with half a watering can of water

Step 5 Put in your first layer of composting food scraps.

Step 6 From this point alternate layers of brown and green waste as per the “compost recipe”. Ensure that each time you add material you water it in. Each time you water it in turn your compost, either with a corkscrew turner or a fork. Once your, compost is sitting for its maturation period, make sure that once week you add water and turn it.

Once the bin is full it has to be left and can be used after eight to ten week. So to do composting properly you actually need two bins. One bin will be your working bin that you are adding to, the other will be breaking down, ready to be used. This way you have an ongoing supply of compost.

Creating a Family Heirloom
Your compost, and the recipe for it, will become a family heirloom. You will learn all the intricacies and how to adjust. When you compost gets too wet, add some dry material (your brown matter). If it’s too dry make sure to add some additional water and green material. Just like all of your favorite recipes, creating family heirlooms takes time. The best way to learn about composting is through observation of your won compost bin. Composting is an activity that you will constantly develop and refine. Ultimately you can pass on your discovered compost wisdom to family and friends, and what a gift your are giving them and the planet at the same time.

Compost Recipe
Always add the same amount of brown waste as green waste. So if you add the equivalent of a shoe box full of food scraps from your kitchen then add a shoe box full of brown waste to cover it.
Remember that to be prepared, so next to your compost bin you need to have the other ingredients that you will need. Cooking up a compost bin is like cooking to any other recipe; you need to have all the other ingredients ready so that you can add these as you go along.
Have two bins next to your compost bin. One bin can be full of twigs. The other bin can be full of grass that you have allowed to dry out with some paper added. That way every time that you add some green waste to the bin you can add the equivalent in brown waste.
Other ingredients that you can have to hand are chicken pellets, or scratching from you chicken pen, that you can add between layers every now and then. You can also have a bag full or rock dust so that you can add a dusting over the top of your compost every couple of weeks, to add more minerals to your overall complete compost.
So each time you add a layer, make sure to add the equivalent in opposite material. Think of your compost as an alternating green with a few additions like chicken pellets and rock dust thrown in.