A Beginner’s Guide To The Naturalistic Garden
Kanebridge News
Share Button

A Beginner’s Guide To The Naturalistic Garden

Love the frowzy, painterly aesthetic of a wild-looking garden, the latest trend in landscaping, but unsure where to begin?

By Catherine Romano
Thu, Aug 25, 2022 9:28amGrey Clock 2 min

LANDSCAPE DESIGN continues to grow less formal—more prairie than pruned, more meadow than managed. Adhering to the practice of “right plant, right place,” even to the point of choosing only native flora, promises to better support birds and bees, and to require fewer resources, including water and the sweat of your brow.

To aid gardeners interested in dipping their beaks in the loose look of naturalistic planting, we asked two experts how to get started with 500 square feet of terrain. They observed that squeezing the style into that space was much like covering this complex topic in these 500 words, but they were game, suggesting ways to simplify down to fewer species and layers.

The best way to begin: Lay down what Benjamin Vogt, author of “Prairie Up: An Introduction to Natural Garden Design” (University of Illinois Press, January 2023), calls the matrix level, and Adam Woodruff, a landscape designer in Marblehead, Mass., refers to as the ground cover or base layer. Not to be confused with the layman’s idea of ground cover, such as ajuga or English ivy, this foundational layer, from 6 to 12 inches tall, is meant to function like a canvas, accounting for about 50% of your plant material. “There’s a uniform green in the landscape that ties it all together,” said Mr. Vogt, owner of Monarch Gardens, a landscape design firm in Lincoln and Omaha, Neb.

For the novice, an ideal base layer is a perennial bunching grass planted 12 to 16 inches apart on centre. Mr. Vogt said he might opt for a short variety, such as the native Little Bluestem shown in the photo at left. In the photo at right, Mr. Woodruff used suitable but non-native Sesleria, or Autumn Moor Grass.

In a 500-square-foot plot, Mr. Vogt would restrict the second layer, often called the seasonal theme layer, to plants 24 inches to 30 inches tall and, for the sake of scale, forgo the typical third layer of larger plants. Optimal for the second layer: groups of perennials or self-seeding annuals with light and water needs similar to each other and to the matrix plant. A good mix: one species that flowers early in the season, one later. Ideally both have leaves that contrast with the grass and (come fall) pretty seed heads so your garden is attractive year round.

Plants can be quite close. “Density is very important to the success of this style of planting,” said Mr. Woodruff. Mr. Vogt goes so far as saying “Throw plant tags away.” If planted densely, the garden knits together more quickly, usually within a year. Weeds are suppressed, and mulching becomes a thing of the past.

Parting advice: Before you put spade to earth, “research the heck out of plants,” said Mr. Vogt. Mr. Woodruff recommends “The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden,” by Roy Diblik (Timber Press, 2014).

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 13, 2022.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
Australian home values bounce back for third consecutive month
Heat is on Australian rental markets as would-be buyers opt out
Australian home values bounce back for third consecutive month

Capital cities lead the way as median home values see clear upswing

Thu, Jun 1, 2023 2 min

Home values continue their upwards trajectory, recording the strongest monthly growth in 18 months, CoreLogic data shows.

The property data provider reports that their Home Value Index has noted a third consecutive rise in values  in May, accelerating 1.2 percent over the past month. This is on the back of a 0.6 percent increase in March and 0.5 percent rise in April.

Sydney recorded the strongest results, up 1.8 percent, the highest recorded in the city since September 2021. The fall in Sydney’s home values bottomed in January but have since accelerated sharply by 4.8 percent, adding $48,390 to the median dwelling value.

Melbourne recorded more modest gains, with home values increasing by 0.9 percent, bringing the total rise this quarter to 1.6 percent. It was the smaller capitals of Brisbane (up 1.4 percent) and Perth (up 1.3 percent) that reported stronger gains.

CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said the lack of housing stock was an obvious influence on the growing values.

 “Advertised listings trended lower through May with roughly 1,800 fewer capital city homes advertised for sale relative to the end of April. Inventory levels are -15.3 percent lower than they were at the same time last year and -24.4 percent below the previous five-year average for this time of year,” he said.

“With such a short supply of available housing stock, buyers are becoming more competitive and there’s an element of FOMO creeping into the market. 

“Amid increased competition, auction clearance rates have trended higher, holding at 70 percent or above over the past three weeks. For private treaty sales, homes are selling faster and with less vendor discounting.” 

Vendor discounting has been a feature in some parts of the country, particularly prestige regional areas that saw rapid price rises during the pandemic – and subsequent falls as people returned to the workplace in major centres.

The CoreLogic Home Value Index reports while prices appear to have found the floor in regional areas, the pace of recovery has been slower.

“Although regional home values are trending higher, the rate of gain hasn’t kept pace with the capitals. Over the past three months, growth in the combined capitals index was more than triple the pace of growth seen across the combined regionals at 2.8% and 0.8% respectively,” Mr Lawless said.

“Although advertised housing supply remains tight across regional Australia, demand from net overseas migration is less substantial. ABS data points to around 15% of Australia’s net overseas migration being centred in the regions each year. Additionally, a slowdown in internal migration rates across the regions has helped to ease the demand side pressures on housing.”



Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop