Constructing a Rain Garden

Water in the garden can be a blessing and a curse. While it’s great for plants, when it gets under houses it’s not so helpful. When we took on this job on a sloped property in Geelong one of the first issues identified was the water coming down the hill and under the house. One option would have been to put in a perforated agricultural drain pipe (agi-pipe) and divert the water into the storm water network. With the clients blessing we chose to make a feature rain garden in front garden. Rain gardens help treat and slow the flow of water before it gets into storm water systems and local water ways. Installing a rain garden also enabled the water to be accessible to the new tree planting in the front garden.


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The site before we started work

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We called in the big equipment to dig out the base of the rain garden




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The depth of the trench gradually reached 600mm (2ft) at its deepest point.Rain Garden 18


The rain garden is fed by water collected in underground agi pipes across the back and down the side of the residence.
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The trenches for the pipe were filled in with scoria

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This image shows the agi-pipes at work. The water makes it’s way down the hill and into the trench before being redirected into the rain garden at the front of the property.

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Once covered in toppings and garden beds the drainage system is invisible.
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The agi-pipe is flexible enough to curve around the front of the house

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The drainage trench meets up with the main rain garden

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The base of the rain garden is filled with a deep layer of large scoria stones which water filters through easily

Rain Garden 12The scoria is then covered with a layer of fine screenings which prevent the later soil layer mixing with and clogging up the scoria

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A layer of half sand half loam is then added as a growing medium for planting 

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You can use many types of mulch for a rain garden, in this case we were going for a stylised dry river bed and chose washed river stones.

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Rain Garden 1

We installed a bridge to enable access to the other side of the garden and not disturb the workings of the rain gardenRain Garden 3

The rain garden was then planted out with native grasses that are tolerant of both drought and inundation.

Rain Garden 2Then we added some sculpture because that’s just fun.


If you want any more information of rain gardens or other ways to use water better in the garden contact us here or via the form below.

Top ten great things about winter in your garden

1. Winter gives you a break. Most plants and grass grow slower or are dormant in winter dropping the time needed to maintain your garden.
2. Bare rooted fruit trees and roses. You can get so many fruit trees and roses during winter that are nearly half the price of rest of the year. While these plants are dormant they can be sold without pots so they’re cheaper for nurseries and cheaper for you.
3. No need to water. Thanks to all the rain the garden hose can sit quietly in the corner and your water bills can take a break. If you are organised enough to have a watertank it should be getting pretty full too.
4. Lots of light during the day (when the sun is out anyway). As all the deciduous trees have shed their leaves for the winter lots more of the suns rays can make it into your garden. So whenever the sun does come out you can soak up the rays and get that hit of fresh air after being cooped up inside.
5. Time to plan. Winter is a great time to begin planning any garden renovations you have in mind. While the weather is cold and the days are short for big construction jobs outside you can get into the books or onto the web to scour for ideas to make your outdoor space unique. Now is also a great time to speak to a expert and get some advice to get your project underway before everyone else is getting out the drawing board in a few months.
6. Winter flowers. While lots of plants are taking a rest many are in show off mode in winter. Plants like Hardenbergias, Lavender, Magnolias, Daffodils, Daphne and many eucalypts look amazing at this time of year adding some colour to the grey days.
7. Snowscapes. If you happen to live in a colder area snow can transform a garden into a magical place. The soft layering of white we get in Australia can has a stunning effect on the landacape. Without the huge snow drifts of many parts of the world, our snow landscapes are often more accessible.
8. Winter vegetables. Broccoli, leeks, carrots and spinach all grow in the colder months, making for some tasty winter dinners.
9. Mud. When winter rain meets dusty ground we get mud.  Lovely, lovely mud. One of life’s great joys is watching the kids (and big kids) get out and about in gumboots and jump about making a huge mess. Pepper pig eat your heart out.
10. Contrast. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Sitting on some warm grass or sipping a cold drink on your deck on a long summer evening can seem a million miles away from icy windscreens and inside out umbrellas of July. But getting out into some spring sunshine with birds singing and fruit trees blossoming can be really uplifting and is just that much better after being stuck inside on cold wet days for a couple weeks.



If you would like some more information about what you can make the most of winter in the garden or to get your spring garden plan underway feel free to contact us below.


The many joys of fruit trees

Last year I was lucky enough to secure a property with a good size garden with a wonderful selection of well-established fruit trees. Having lived here for almost a year I have had a chance to enjoy each of the different fruit as they have come into season.


The last owners maintained a veritable orchard and market garden in the back garden. My garden has oranges, lemons, olives, nectarines, peaches, figs, apricots and two varieties of apples and pears. Most needed a good prune when we arrived as they had become overgrown.

I decided not to spray the fruit trees or provide any extra fertilisers for the trees and they have produced bags of fruit. Much of the produce I have had to share with the local bats, birds and assorted bugs. The birds and bats were however a great guide to the readiness of the fruit on the tree, very handy to novice fruit growers like myself.


I have had to become a master of preserving fruit, making jam and curing olives, to keep up with the supply.  My favourites so far have been the peach jam and the pear butter. The peaches have been our success story, with many servings of apple pear or peach crumble, jars of preserved peach sections and the wonderful peach jam. My attempts at curing the olives did not go so well. I started with a huge pile of olives, several buckets in fact, but only ended up with enough properly cured to fill one jar. After some trial and error, I found dry curing with rock salt worked the best.


Another benefit has been the ability to share the produce from our garden with our neighbours, family and friends. Handing over a bag of fresh organic fruit is a great way to meet and make friends. It seems every visitor I have had in the last 2-3 months has gone home with a small bag of fruit or a pot of jam or marmalade. Excess fruit has also been handed over to volunteers for the school fete to make into jams and preserves for sale.


Throughout summer the fruit trees also provide spring blossoms, a great deal of shade in summer, and as they are deciduous, allow the light in during winter. Having a fruit tree is a little like magic, if you have an empty fruit bowl in the kitchen, you can just walk out to the garden and return with an armful of delicious apples or peaches. What could be better.


If you think garden and your fruit bowl could benefit from some fruit trees  and would like some help getting started contact us via the link below.

Not just garden advice

While we like to stick to what we know, helping people with garden advice and design, last Monday I had the opportunity to offer some advice of a different kind. I was asked to speak to the Year 11 Business Management at Trinity College Colac about setting up and running a small business.


While I haven’t been in a high school classroom in over 15 years, and the thought of standing at the front of the class is always a bit daunting, this was a great chance to help the next generation of small business people by telling them the inside story of the Garden Consultants. I was able to chat to the students about how we went about our business planning, the creation of our logo and branding (with the help of, how we like to advertise and how our efforts in community engagement benefit both our business and the communities we work and live in.


The presentation was really well received by an attentive and often insightful audience. I wish all the students well as they tackle the rest of their VCE.


At the Garden Consultants we are always on the lookout for ways to get more involved with the community.  Aside from this classroom presentation we have been able to work with both St Patrick’s Primary School Geelong West and the Geelong West Kindergarten with their respective fund raising event. If you would like to know more or have a project or event you think we can help with feel free to contact us via the link at the bottom of this page.

Geelong Laneways

Central Geelong is an amazing place waiting to happen. While the economic identity of the city is undergoing a significant upheaval, Geelong’s urban landscape echoes the past and calls out to a new identity for the city.


Blessed with an extensive and diverse network of laneways the inner city is a place that you can find the essence of Geelong as a city. While we all can enjoy the convenience of the large shopping malls dotted throughout greater Geelong region, with crisp white walls and air-conditioning, there is something a bit lifeless and homogenised about a shopping mall. Getting out and walking about the streets and laneways of inner Geelong is a great way to get to know the city in time and place. I took some photos on a recent walk through inner Geelong to record the details of the journey.

Geelong Laneways Details

Geelong Laneways spaces

I set out to take the scenic route and explore the inner workings of the city, the spaces between the buildings. Throughout this walk I found a highly urban landscape full of rich texture, history, art and space, not usually associated with a city which prides itself on its parks, open space and beaches. These elements all provide a layered experience of the city; signs for businesses long gone, doorways and thresholds worn with a hundred years of footsteps adjoin modern utilitarian components of the city. Complex urban landscapes like inner Geelong lend themselves easily to the telling of stories, real or imagined, about the lives lived amongst these places.


Geelong Laneways art

Geelong Laneways texture

The nice neat façades on the main street frontages give no indication to the eclectic nature of the laneways behind. These are the stripped back spaces left over when buildings are being designed. These spaces are often more intriguing places in a city and have a level of honesty often lacking in the more public veneer of the city. Designers sometimes try too hard to impose new and fresh spaces that can take years to gain a sense of character and place for their inhabitants. By slowing down and having a fresh look at old surroundings we may find the beginnings of captivating spaces just waiting to happen.

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If you think you might have an intriguing outdoor space waiting to happen feel free to contact us to find out how we can help you get the most out of your garden.

Gibbs Sculpture Park, New Zealand

In April this year I attended the International Federation of Landscape Architects conference in Auckland New Zealand. As part of the conference I took part in a tour of the Gibbs Sculpture Park, an hour north of Auckland. The sculpture park ( ) was set up by New Zealand businessman Alan Gibbs over twenty years ago and contains large sculptural works by some of the world’s leading artists, including Richard Serra, Andy Goldsworthy, Anish Kapoor, Sol LeWitt and Maya Lin. The sculpture park is an amazing experience, the scale of the works and how they interact with the landscape is breathtaking. The green rolling hills and beautiful Kaipara Harbour would have been enough to make for a great days walk. However the artworks are the scene stealers. Below are some pictures I took of my favourite sculptures.



Te Tuhirangi Contour – Richard Serra


Untitled (Red Square/Black Square) – Richard Thompson


The greenness of the grass and blue sky were an attraction in themselves.


Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape – Leon van den Eijkel


Dismemberment, Site 1 – Anish Kapoor


Arches – Andy Goldsworthy


88.5° ARC x 8 – Bernar Venet

Even if you don’t have 1000 acres on the edge of the largest bay in the southern hemisphere art and sculpture can provide inspiration in your garden. For more information about how art can add value and beauty to your garden contact us here.