Getting Dirty with Landscaper Matthew Daly
Multi-award-winning Perth landscaper, Matthew Daly, shared no-nonsense DIY pointers at the Home Show.
Matthew’s landscaping firm MJD Landscapes & Design has been around for over fifteen years and won scores of accolades.
✉️ Invitation to International Melbourne Garden Show x 2
🥇Gold, Silver medal & Peoples choice Perth garden festival
🏅Gold medal at Resonate
🥈Silver medal NT tourism awards
Matthew laid the groundwork, “We’ll cover the basics of garden design, which anyone can apply. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist; you don’t even have to be qualified really! If you apply these rules to your garden, they work for everyone. It’s really simple.”
Research & Development 🤓
Have an honest look at the hobbies and interests you enjoy. Perhaps you’re interested in sustainability and want to explore agriculture, permaculture or aquaculture. Maybe you want your garden to reflect a Japanese bonsai tree; meticulously crafted and artistically presented. If you have kids or dogs, how do you want them to enjoy this outdoor space?
The possibilities are endless and often a garden is the perfect canvas to paint your identity on. Write out everything on paper and work all these elements into your final design. Your thought cloud should look like this:
Find the running themes that connect all these words together and create a site plan to reflect this.
Site Plan 🗺
“The site plan doesn’t have to be accurate,” said Matthew, always one to take the formalities out of his trade. In other words, you don’t need to have every shrub mapped out to the nearest millimetre. “It’s more about spatial awareness,” creating a space that is balanced and inviting.
But it’s easier said than done; many people fall into the trap of overestimating garden space. A 3m x 3m plot can get very crowded, very quickly.
Feature plant 🌳
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on rows of trees, invest in just a single impressive feature tree like a Mulberry or Elm. Like the sun, your garden should rotate around this feature tree. Smaller ornamentals like grass or lomandra can be scattered around the garden and will grow quickly in just 6 – 12 months.
Brick paving or aggregate? 🧱
A word of warning from our master landscaper, “As soon as you cut a strip in aggregate, they are forever there.” The major drawcard for aggregate paving is its longevity. It will outlast pavers for decades. It’s not surprising then, that solid paving is inflexible. You will never be able to lay down piping, telecommunications or plumbing again. So, make sure you plan correctly!
The alternative is brick paving which “gives you the opportunity to lift your pavers, change your pavers, effect your repairs and put it back in situ. No-one will ever know!” Proclaimed Matthew.
Create some direction in your garden by pretending it’s an airport landing strip. Use solar lighting bollards to guide visitors through the space to eventually land on the gazebo sofa.
More the case in WA; limestones and sandstones have been ‘done to death’. An intriguing garden balances textures and colours skilfully. Move towards granites, timbers and steel for edging. Mixed with your greens, the colour palette should be diverse and create contrast.
Biodiverse planting 🌸
Matthew remarked, “There’s been a huge push for native plants which is absolutely warranted. But don’t be afraid to mix it up.” The easiest way to test flower selection is going to Bunnings and picking out several species. Mix and match until you find the right selection, then buy in bulk.
Planting and layout 💐
“There is no such thing as a low maintenance garden,” Matthew stated who joked that even a concrete garden will gather dust. Think seasonally and adopt common-sense policies like not planting a tree next to a swimming pool.
Recreational ponds ⛲️
Garden ponds have caused a storm around the world, yet have failed to take off in Australia. Acting in unison with nature, the ponds require no chlorine. Plants, fish and bacterial filters clean the water similar to wetlands. So, you can swim, fish and attract wildlife all in the comfort of your backyard.
Watch Matthew Daly of MJD Landscapes and Design presenting on landscaping for WA, water features and recreational ponds.