Weekend Argus article by Kay Montgomery

Water-wise gardening
July 12, 2008

Global warming is clearly influencing the way landscapers are designing local gardens. This could be seen at the 2008 South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) Awards of Excellence which recently honoured the country’s top landscapers.
Among the Cape’s winning domestic gardens entries was Clayton Laue of Paarman Landscapes who received a Gold Award for the installation of Hannes and Mari Van Zyl’s garden in central Stellenbosch. This year’s Cape entries were judged by well-known Cape landscaping personality Jean Wouters and top landscape architect Claire Burgess.
A trained landscape designer with extensive experience in indigenous flora, Clayton has been landscaping in the Cape since 1999.
“As avid gardeners, the Van Zyl’s wanted a low maintenance, simple garden with a zen feel,” says Clayton. “The result is a tranquil garden with a large expanse of water.”
“Interestingly, the garden had no lawn at all,” says Clayton, referring to an issue increasingly addressed by eco-conscious landscapers.
“There were also many challenges, as although Ann Sutton had done the original concept design, the design of the water feature changed many times during the project. We worked off and on the site for between 12-18 months. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us,” he says.
Are you planning to revamp your garden this spring? Gardens designed by leading landscapers showcase the latest trends developing in the world of gardening and will provide you with inspiration to get started.
• Conserving water. Despite a week of torrential rain in the Cape, the water smart approach to garden design is really necessary for the Cape. Strategies include the use of low water usage plants (both indigenous and exotic), zoning the garden into low medium and high water usage areas, as well as irrigating each area on a different watering programme. Less lawn is fashionable and when lawns are planted they use indigenous lawn species such as buffalo or cynoden species which need less watering.
• More use of indigenous plants. Fynbos plants, including architecturally attractive restios are now used in gardens.
• Eco-friendly gardens. Many homeowners now want a garden for wildlife, complete with a pond that attracts small creatures.
• Use of natural rocks. Instead of using pavers and cladding which require the use of energy to manufacture, landscapers are opting for using natural stone, and preferably that found on site.
• Grass and perennial plantings. This trend is steadily increasing as landscapers use these water wise plants in massed plantings in areas where a decade ago a lawn would have been the norm.
• Permeable hard landscaping surfaces. Instead of solid paving there is a trend towards a surface that allows water to penetrate into the soil instead of running off and being lost to the garden. For example, paths of stepping stones interplanted with low water usage groundcovers.
• A natural look. The above techniques tend to result in a garden that is less tidy than the lawned garden and flower-filled borders of 20 years ago and less formal than the Tuscan style.
Interested in working with a top landscaper? The landscapers honoured by SALI for the installation and design of gardens across the Western over the last year were:
• Gold Awards: Paarman Landscapes for constructing the Van Zyl garden in Stellenbosch designed by Ann Sutton and Clayton Laue

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