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New Home Construction Landscaping

New Home Construction Landscaping

Construction of a landscape for a new home can be easier and more cost effective than putting the landscaping in afterwards. The key is to start the new landscaping and in particular, the planning, design and construction as early as possible. As a guide to how to implement New Home Construction Landscaping as cheaply and efficiently as possible, take a look at how some commercial landscape constructions.


Top Money saving tips for new home construction landscaping

  1. Design the landscaping for your new home at the same time as your home.
  2. Install landscaping services and infrastructure during your new home construction
  3. Begin some of the landscaping before the new home construction.
  4. Use tube stock plants as much as possible.
  5. Use an experienced and skilled landscape designer.
  6. Drip irrigation systems should be integrated with the new home construction.
  7. Mulching around the new plants.
  8. Work with the existing topsoil.



Design the landscaping simultaneously with your new home.

The landscape as an extension of the home

The best landscape designs are those that integrate with your new home. The new home landscaping should be considered as part of the new hone. In this way the new landscaping is an extension of the new home itself/ An example of this is an outdoor eating area with a pergola near the kitchen.  Part of the Melbourne lifestyle is having an outdoor barbecue, so the design of this area should really be an extension of the home.


Saving money by designing the new landscape early

Designing the new landscape early allows for all of the required connections to electricity and water to be planned in advance. Good landscape design for an outdoor eating area needs to consider how to remove rain water from the area as quickly as possible. By designing both at the same time, there are opportunities to save money in plumbing, electricity and irrigation. Extra outdoor electricity outlets and garden taps for irrigation can be planned at this stage. This is much cheaper than adding them later.

New Home Construction Landscaping. Garden lighting and irrigation should share trenches with house stormwater where possible.

New Home Construction Landscaping. Garden lighting and irrigation should share trenches with house stormwater where possible.



Landscaping the backyard. Begin your landscaping early.

Beginning your landscaping early will enable you to get labour saving machines into your backyard.




New Home Construction Landscaping. Install conduits below any future driveways or paths.

Installing landscaping services like garden lighting or irrigation under existing concrete driveways is expensive. Always lay some PVC conduit deep below the roadbase even if the landscape design has not been done yet.

New Home Landscaping infrastructure.

Landscaping such as entertainment areas, retaining walls and garden paths may require concrete pours for foundations.  Having this poured at the same time as the house foundations will save a lot of money. Each concrete pour includes some concrete waste that cannot be used. Minimising the number of separate pours will save money. Landscaping connections like electricity and water may need to go under the new home’s patio. It will be much cheaper to arrange this before the patio is built.



Start Landscaping early.

When landscaping a newly constructed home’s backyard or courtyard, getting materials to the back of the house can be a problem. Often the access on either side of the house is too narrow to get large amounts of landscaping materials to the back of the house economically. By designing, estimating and storing the materials in the backyard can save some headaches later.


Use smaller plants

Melbourne plant nurseries can supply fast growing tube stock and 140mm pots relatively cheaply. By planting these in areas unaffected by the new home building they can become well established by the time the home is completed. Exotic plants can then be transplanted to new locations if necessary. Australian native plants often to not transplant that well, so try to get their positions correct to the landscape design. Ideally put the plants in Autumn before the new home construction begins.


Potted Plants for the landscaping.

Potted Plants for the landscaping. Establishing smaller plants early will save you money.

 Fast growing screening plants

Your landscape designer may establish locations for fast growing screening plants to be planted. Often these will be at the fence line of the property. If you can establish what the finished ground level will be, these plants can be put in during the preceding autumn. By the time you move in to your new home, these plants can be well established and screening out your neighbours and giving you some privacy. Always ensure plenty of mulch is used.  You may get some broken branches or other damage during the construction, but the risk is usually worth it unless you have chosen very expensive plants.



Get advice from an experienced and skilled landscape designer.

An experienced and qualified landscaper or horticulturist will be able to advise you on your plant selection and plant care. At the design stage they will be able to check if you have selected the right plants for shady parts of the garden. Also speak to your local plant nursery.


Drip irrigation systems

A drip irrigations system will save you money for years to come. The money savings will be in both avoiding the death of your plants and using water efficiently. Additionally, it will help get your smaller plants well established early. Ideally it should be part of the new home’s water tank system.



New home construction will churn up a lot of topsoil and generally create a lot of mess around your future gardens. Our top tip here is to mulch as much as possible any future garden beds and newly planted screening plants. Initially using a fast decomposing mulch will improve the soil and will mean the final, more expensive, mulch layer can be a little bit thinner. So, if you have some garden beds that the landscaper designer has decided on an expensive coloured mulch, used some layers of inexpensive cane mulch or pea straw before the final mulch layer. If you put these layers down months in advance of your new home construction, you will have great topsoil by the time your landscaping begins. Especially if you have also added organic matter to the straw.


Use your existing topsoil if possible.

Can I use my existing topsoil?

New home construction often involves scraping the topsoil away for the concrete slab. Your landscape designer should identify areas where this topsoil could be used in your landscape design. Poorer topsoils could be used as fill or to create some landforms in your garden. With some amelioration with organic matter or manure, most of these topsoils will be suitable for garden beds. Another possible use is as a subsoil for your lawns. This will reduce the amount of topsoil you need to buy later and save quite a bit of money. If if is one of Melbourne’s reactive clay topsoils, then adding gypsum and organic matter to it, will turn it into an excellent subsoil for lawns. Remember that some lawn root systems can be a metre long so a good quality sub soil like this can save a lot of money  by storing water and nutrients for the lawn. Your existing topsoil can be stockpiled for later use. Build a compost heap on top of it with layers of peas straw and  stable manure. Stable manure can often be bought cheaply from your local horse stable.

The existing topsoil was used as a subsoil below this lawn. This meant that money could be saved by using only 50mm of sandy loam. The existing topsoil was ameliorated with gypsum and organic matter, then rotary hoed to break up the clay.


More home garden landscape gardening ideas from Red’s Landscaping.


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Small Garden Design Ideas



© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil – Quality landscaping Melbourne


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swimming pool pergola

Pool Landscaping Designs


Pool landscaping design provides some challenges for the horticulturist as for the hardscaper and landscape designer.

Plant selection pitfalls

The landscape designer should choose plants that will not shed too much material into the pool which would consequently result in a mess in the pool. Garden plants and trees that shed a large amount of material into the swimming pool will consequently  create a lot of pool maintenance headaches for the swimming pool owner and may lead to pool pump damage if the skimmer box is blocked. A blocked skimmer box can also result in cavitation at the pump impellers leading to costly repairs. Another important factor to consider is the tree roots.

Consider the plant root system

The root system will be a similar size to the plant branches and leaves, so fast growing plants could have root systems invading the swimming pool plumbing. For this reason, root barriers should be used between the larger plants and the swimming pool plumbing.

What are the best trees to plant around pools in Australia?

Planting around your Pool. Our top 8 plants.

One of our favourite planting scheme for planting around pools and also for rooftop gardens is the tropical look garden. This landscape design theme will result in a luxuriant exotic look therefore enhancing the feeling of tranquility. The plants for this design theme can be frost resistant hardy plants therefore ideal for the Melbourne climate.


Dicksonia Antarctica



Dicksonia Antartica

Dicksonia Antartica underplanted with hostas and smaller ferns. This creates an exotic look and a great privacy screen.

Dicksonia  antarctica is an evergreen tree fern that grows naturally in the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne, which also means it is ideal for the Melbourne Garden. It grows naturally in the damp shady gullies which also means you will need to keep it well watered at the crown. For this reason, we recommend a drip irrigation system. Underplanting with smaller ferns and hostas will also add to an exotic tropical effect in your garden.

Blechnum gibbum

The miniature tree fern or Blechnum gibbum usually grows a truck like e tree fern.  The fronds can grownup to 1 metre long.

Blechnum gibbum

Blechnum gibbum or miniature tree fern



Cycad gives a garden an exotic look.

Cycads covered the earth during the time of the dinosaurs. These plants are great for creating the exotic tropical look in your Melbourne garden.

Chinese Windmill Palm

The Trachycarpus Fortunei is a very hardy, frost resistant palm. Also known as the Chusan palm, it is salt tolerant which also makes it a good choice for coastal gardens.


Chinese Wind Mill Palms with Cordylines at Kew Gardens.

Chinese Windmill Palms with Cordylines at Kew Gardens.


Cordyline are a slow growing palm like tree. The cordyline indivisa will eventually grow to around 3 metres.

Cordyline indivisa

Cordyline indivisa. . indivisa is a slow-growing, evergreen erect tree reaching heights of 3m or more.



Hosta a herbaceous perennial. Attractive foliage sometimes variegated.

Hosta a herbaceous perennial with attractive foliage sometimes variegated. Flowers in early summer. – Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The hosta has  stunning large spade shaped foliage in an amazing range of colours. For this reason, hosta is a garden favourite the world over with both gardeners and flower arrangers. Hosta will thrive in the moist shady conditions under the ferns or near a pool or pond.

Banksia Robur

Screening privacy plants like the BANKSIA ROBUR or swamp banksia have large leaves and will therefore help with privacy around your swimming pool. This banksia  is an attractive and hardy plant ,suitable for low hedges and pots. Growing to a little over 2 metres, the flower spikes appear usually in autumn and winter initially as bluish green but these will turn to yellow-green brush type flowers as they bloom.

Banksia Robur is also know as the Swamp Banksia

Unsurprisingly, given its name Swamp Banksia, it doesn’t mind badly draining soil. It might be the plant you are looking for to plant in a damp spot in your garden. It has even been used as a root stock for less hardy varieties of Banksia. If you are in one of the frosty suburbs, it will tolerate a little frost now and again. Suitable for sun or part shade it will produce beautiful flowers in both. As an added bonus in your garden it will attract birds, bees and butterflies. Like most Banksias, it is an important source of nectar for both insects and mammals.


Banksia Robur Poolside

Banksia Robur Poolside

Bansia Robur’s Natural Habitat.

The leaves are large and have serrated edges. This Banksia occurs naturally in swampy or sandy conditions along the East coast of Australia from Southern New South Wales all of the way up to Gladstone in Queensland. This makes it an ideal plant for the coastal gardens. Take care not to let it dry out too much, especially when it is first getting established. For this reason, an irrigation dripping system is a good idea.

Banksia Robur in a planter box by a swimming pool.

Banksia Robur in a rendered concrete block planter box by a swimming pool.

Another plant to consider is the banksia coccinea or red Banksia.

Kentia Palm (Howea fosteriana) by the pool

If you are looking for swimming pool landscaping ideas, the Kentia Palm (Howea fosteriana) makes a great plant for creating a luxuriant garden by the pool. It also provides a little shade as well as softening the look of the landscape. Amongst the palms, it is one of the easier ones to maintain.

(Howea fosteriana) Kentia Palm by a swimming pool.
Kentia Palm by a swimming pool.

The Kentia Palm from Lord Howe Island can create a tropical look in Melbourne

Also known as the Forster sentry palm or the flat palm, the Kentia Palm has solitary stems bearing large pinnate leaves on long stalks. This evergreen palm is native to Lord Howe island. The Kentia is tolerant to partial shade, and will grow to around 2 metres tall in your poolside garden or pot. This makes it a great plant for creating a little shady spot by the side of your pool. It prefers well drained sandy loam with a neutral to acid PH. It is also a popular indoor plant, so it is a palm you can grow both in an outdoor or indoor pot.

Pool Plants to avoid

Plants to avoid around swimming pools are fast growing plants with invasive root systems and plants that shed a lot of material into the pool. Plants to avoid include Birch, Wisterias and Figs.

Pool Landscaping Design Project Melbourne

A well designed outdoor space should function as extension of the home itself. For our new pool landscaping design project in the leafy southern suburbs of Melbourne our aim is to make this outdoor space an integral part of the home itself. The design of the swimming pool landscape should be done at an early stage of the pool design rather than tacked on later. This will usually result in a better design outcome.


pool landscaping designs Computer Model

Pool landscaping designs using computer aided design. An integrated outdoor space. that looks good from every angle.

The pool landscape design features a sunken outdoor eating area with fireplace surrounded by a formal hedge. Tall fences provide a privacy screen whilst still allowing some light through.


pool landscaping designs sunken outdoor entertaining area.

Sunken outdoor entertaining area by the swimming pool.

The green formal hedge creates a soft border between the sunken eating area and softens the look of the concrete. The cushions in the seating area could be coloured to match the garden plants or left as a neutral grey. Grey will go with most colours in the garden but some coloured cushions would help break up the grey.

How do you build privacy around a pool?

Privacy around a pool can be built with fences, trellises and smart plant selection. Using CAD (Computer Aided Design) the privacy aspects of the design can be checked from any angle and agreed with the client.

Pool landscaping designs. Luxuriant plantings of ferns like dicksonia antarctica and palm trees help build privacy around the pool. 

Pool landscaping designs. Luxuriant plantings of ferns like dicksonia antarctica and palm trees help build privacy around the pool.


Pool landscaping designs. An integrated home and pool design. 

Pool landscaping designs. An integrated home and pool design. Using computer aided design helps to visualise and plan the design.

By using computer aided design to create a computer model of the bespoke pool design enables the fine details to be worked out in advance. One of the great advantages of this type of landscape design is that the view can be checked from every angle. Privacy can be built around a pool using screening plants, then checked from the viewpoint of your neighbour.

Sunken outdoor entertaining area with fireplace

The sunken outdoor entertaining area helps to improve garden privacy whilst making it easy to keep an eye on kids. This type of design using garden levels as a design feature also makes the garden appear larger. This is also a great design technique for small garden design.

Sunken Garden Design - Chelsea Flower Show.

Design inspiration Sunken Garden Design with Buxus hedge – Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Note the use coloured cushions to match the flowers. The sunken concrete pavers provides a repetition theme throughout the garden.


Exposed Aggregate Concrete around your Swimming Pool.

Exposed aggregate is a great choice for swimming pool surrounds but choosing the right mix is important. Larger aggregates will provide better drainage and grip, but will be uncomfortable to walk on. According to the Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) the areas around the pool must be a low slip surface. For exposed aggregate concrete around swimming pools, a 5mm pebble aggregate should be used.

The Outdoor Shower as part of your Swimming Pool Design.

If you are living one of the Melbourne seaside suburbs like Brighton or Elwood, an outdoor shower is a great addition to your  Garden Design. The outdoor pictured below features matching pool tiling, copper pipe and brass shower head.

Tiled Outdoor Shower

Tiled Outdoor Shower.

An outdoor pool shower. A practical solution for coastal gardens.

Outdoor pool showers are very practical solution especially in coastal gardens where swimming pools and beach access are part of our Melbourne beach lifestyle. The outdoor pool shower is a good way to avoid having beach sand taken through the house. It is also a handy way to quickly remove salt or pool chlorine and other chemicals from your skin and hair.

Outdoor Shower Under Construction

Concrete block Outdoor Shower Under Construction

Outdoor Pool Shower Design

The design of the outdoor shower involves more than just the part you can see above the ground. Consideration must be given to the appearance of the shower from every possible angle therefore plumbing to and from the shower should be integrated into the initial design.

Plant Selection near your outdoor pool shower

The garden and landscape design in the immediate area of the shower need to be able to cope with the added humidity, water splash and pool chemicals, therefore plants which are prone to fungal diseases should be avoided. For example, the common staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) will also soften the design and create a natural look, but may need regular maintenance to protect it from fungal diseases. Consider using Foxtail Palm trees (Wodyetia bifurcata)

Giant Bromeliads, (Alcantarea), crotons and White Spider Lilies .  A well designed outdoor pool shower should also create a feature piece in the garden.

Consideration should also be given to easy access to the shower without having to walk over slippery surfaces. The safety of the customers should always should also always be considered with any garden design. The shower wall itself needs to be well secured into the foundations in order to keep it vertical and ensure safety and design requirements are met.

Red’s Landscaping and Civil

Red’s Landscaping and Civil can provide swimming pool design and build solutions which also includes design with 3D visualisation,  construction and landscaping.


Related Landscaping Ideas from Red’s Landscaping


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© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne


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Soil Profile showing showing the topsoil layer.

Melbourne Landscaping Topsoil Types

Topsoil in Melbourne

Topsoil in Melbourne is heavily dependent on the underlying geological material, if there has not been a history of topsoil ameliorations or importation of topsoil from other locations. According to the Department of Agriculture, topsoils of Melbourne can be divided into 9 distinct types. In some parts of Melbourne, the importation of topsoil will be a bigger factor than the geographic and climatic range.

Sporting grounds, in particular, will normally have a thick layer of imported friable topsoil so if your garden is built on one of the closed Melbourne racetracks like Richmond, Cheltenham or Braeside your topsoil could be different to your neighbour across the street.


What is Topsoil?


Topsoil is the layer of soil just below the surface layers. The surface layers are the layers containing the litter of plant residues as well as accumulated organic matter with some mineral soil and most of the soil life.

Typical Garden Topsoil

Typical Garden Topsoil


Nine types of Melbourne Topsoil


1.    Red Loam Topsoil

This could be the best natural topsoil in the whole of Melbourne as they are well structured deep and friable. These topsoils can be mildly acidic like most topsoils in hilly wooded ranges. They can be a little poor in plant nutrients, so regular amelioration with organic matter will be of great benefit to the soil. On lawn areas a light annual application of garden lime will help.

The red loam topsoil will mostly be found to the East of Melbourne in the upper Dandenong ranges and in the hills between Monbulk and Silvan. This type of topsoil will normally suit a wide range of plants as is has excellent drainage, and a good soil structure for plant root development.

Red sandy Loam topsoil.

Red sandy Loam topsoil.

2.    Brown Loam topsoil over Clay

These topsoils formed over the older basalts on the southern Mornington Peninsula. This is the brown-grey loamy friable topsoil naturally occurring in places between Main Ridge and Flinders. For best results in your garden, ameliorate with manure and organic matter. Take care not to cultivate too deep and bring the clay to the surface.

Brown Sandy Loam Topsoil

Brown Sandy Loam Topsoil similar in Colour and texture to Main Ridge Topsoils on the Mornington Peninsula .

3.    Dark grey sand topsoil over clay

These topsoils are found over a large part of Melbourne. The flat and undulating land between Kew and Mount Waverley as well as deeper topsoils in Tyabb, Balnarring Frankston and Mornington. This topsoil is also over a huge part of the Melbourne suburbs within a triangle from Dandenong to Cheltenham and over to Toorak. After long periods of heavy rainfall, a watertable may occur over the clays. It is important for Melbourne Landscapers to take drainage into account when landscaping on these soils. As with other Melbourne loam over clay soils, ameliorate with manure and organic matter. Take care not to cultivate too deep and bring the clay to the surface.


4.    Light Grey loams over clay

A light grey loam with some gravel and small stones found in the suburbs to the North East of Melbourne. These soils will be found around a strip from Rowville to Bundoora and from Croydon to Kew. At the boundary of the topsoil and clay layers large angular stones occur which makes digging drainage difficult for residential landscapers. Generally, these soils are deficient in humus and nutrients. Melbourne landscapers should dig in organic matter and manures to ameliorate these soils. As the clays here are generally reactive, an application of gypsum can help drainage and soil structure. A small amount of garden lime can be added to correct acidity.


5.    Gritty light grey loam over clay.

Topsoils formed over parent granite at Mount Martha and Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula as well as Hallam, Lysterfield and a few other places. The sandy loam is generally ok for drainage but has poor water holding capacity. The abrupt transition between the sandy loam and the mottled yellow brown and grey clay can lead to water logging on lower slopes in winter and spring.

If this is the case, landscapers should consider subsoil drainage systems. As the soil has poor water holding capacity, landscapers should dig in plenty of organic matter as well as install an irrigation system with a dripper. Generally, this soils are only mildly acidic.

6.    Dark Loams Local Sands and Clays

The parts of Melbourne which were previously swampy or flood plains like the Melbourne Suburbs close to the Yarra. These Melbourne suburbs include Banksia Park near Heidelberg and Bulleen. The frequently flooded Yarra floodplain of the lower-middle yarra river and tributaries were once covered in Manna gum, swamp gum and river red gum with swamp paperbark in the wettest areas. These are a mix of topsoils and it can be difficult to draw conclusions on drainage. Landscapers should ameliorate with manure and organic matter.


7.    Deep Sands free of Lime

This is the natural topsoil in coastal gardens between Black Rock and Brighton and along the coast of Port Phillip Bay all the way to Rye. Some of the land previously used for market gardens in Langwarrin and Cranbourne have this soil. These soils are generally very deficient in nutrients, so landscapers should dig in plenty of manure and organic matter to improve the soil. Annual applications of garden lime will help to neutralize the acidity.


8.    Deep Sands with Lime

The topsoil between Sorrento and Cape Schank in the coastal sand dune areas is a whitish grey sand occasionally over a hard lime base. These soils can be either acidic or alkaline, so if your plants are not thriving a soil PH test may be required. Landscapers should dig in plenty of manure and organic matter as well as install an irrigation dripper system. The coastal plant selection for these soils needs to be particularly salt, wind and lime tolerant.


9.    Heavy clay topsoil over basalts

The suburbs to the west and north-west of Melbourne are well known for their heavy clay soils. This area stretches all the way from Richmond to Broadmeadows and Altona to Thomastown. These soils are characterized by a thin loamy topsoil over dark reddish-brown heavy clays. Often outcrops of the basalt can been seen on the ground surface. The soil structure can be improved with the addition of gypsum and landscapers should dig in plenty of organic matter. For lawns and other gardens sandy loam soil will need to be imported. For the home landscaper, the digging of the requires drainage trenches can be difficult.



Landscaping poor draining topsoil

For your backyard or frontward lawn, the ground can be sloped a bit more to aid with drainage. Depending on the usage and the makeup of the layers below, you could probably get away with as little as 100 to 150mm of topsoil for your garden lawn. For example green couch Cynodon dactylon, the roots will penetrate the ground up to 1.5 metres deep with much of the root mass at around 600mm deep. For this reason the layer below the top soil needs to be suitable for root growth if you want your lawn to be drought tolerant.


Will gypsum help?


Clay soils


Gypsum is the most widely used calcium additive for garden. If you need gypsum, you can save money by buying it in bulk from your landscape supplier. If the subsoil has a hard clay layer the moisture and the roots might not penetrate or your lawn and you could have poor drainage. Some clays will respond to the addition of gypsum. This will be the case if the clay you have is a flocculant clay. Clays like montmorillonite with high levels of exchangeable sodium will generally be improved by digging in some gypsum. You can perform a simple soil test your clay by putting it in a jar with some pure water, then stirring to create colloidal mix. The mix will appear cloudy.You then add some Epsom salts or gypsum to the mix and watch what happens. If the clay then forms flocculant, or larger, particles that sink to the bottom of the jar leaving a clear layer of water, then your clay is flocculant. Individual clay particles are made up of fine flakes smaller than 0.004 mm. Depending on the type of clay, the fine particles are held tightly together by either weak bonds in the case of kaolinite or stronger bonds if the clay contains positively charged metal ions such as sodium, calcium or potassium. The negatively charged clay particles will repel each other but the individual flakes will bond to each other.


Negatively charged clay particles repel each other.

Negatively charged clay particles repel each other.



In the heavy flocculant clay topsoils of Melbourne’s western suburbs, gypsum can help to displace sodium and improve the soil structure.


Saline soils


If your garden is near Cape Schank or Sorrento, or if you have a windswept coastal garden, then you might have some soil salinity to contend with. This could also be the case if you are by the sea in Biggera Waters, Runaway Bay or Hollywell and get sea water spray on your lawns and gardens. With saline soil, gypsum will also help as the calcium in the gypsum will remove sodium from the soil.


The disadvantages of gypsum

After an application of gypsum, you should follow up later with slow release fertiliser like Neutrog. Upsurge. Nutrients such as Iron and Manganese can be leached from the soil by the addition of gypsum. Applying excessive gypsum to sandy soils can result in the plants transportation system for zinc, copper and phosphorus being affected.


Agricultural lime

Agricultural lime may be a combination of calcium and magnesium carbonates if it is made from dolomitic rather than calcitic limestone deposits. Use on acidic soils to increase the PH.


Soil Testing

Soil testing kits can be used for simple PH checks of your garden soils. If your plants are not thriving despite all of the care and attention, then samples of your soil can be taken to a laboratory for analysis.

Soils can be tested in a laboratory for salinity or contamination.

Soils can be tested in a laboratory for salinity or contamination.

Buying Landscaping soils

When buying landscaping topsoil, always check that you are buying a high-quality product that meets the Australian Standard for topsoil. Soil should also be free of weeds and other contaminants. For lawns, your topsoil needs to be very free draining. The best soil for top dressing lawns is a very sandy soil. For garden beds a little bit of the natural clay soil mixed in will help water retention.

The soil is an indispensable ingredient for the life of humans, animals and ,of course, plants. The soil supplies nutrients and raw materials, storage and filtered water. The soil can degrade harmful chemicals but healthy soil should not be taken for granted. If we allow our soil to be overused, or allow a hard crust to form, then the soil will require amendments to replenish the nutrient store and to make the soil friable. Water will tend to run-off taking some of the soil and nutrients with it.

A healthy soil will contain a great deal of life. Not just microorganisms like bacteria and fungus, but also earthworms. Many of these will form a symbiotic relationship with your plants.

In Melbourne we a lucky enough to have some great resources to improve and maintain the health of your soil. First of all, you should be using a layer of mulch. Mulches such as pea straw and sugar cane mulch will decompose relatively quickly and bring your soil to life. This is especially true when used with an organic fertiliser. If you are after a different look to the sugar cane mulch, you can always use a different mulch over the top. Take care not to mulch up to the truck of trees or shrubs, as this can lead to collar rot. If using a mulch like pea straw, make sure it is weed free. Secondly, consider using a soil tonic to improve your topsoil.


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil – Melbourne Landscaper.


More Information on Topsoil


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Stunning Pink flowering gum.

Tree Landscape Design Melbourne

Tree landscape design is an essential part of commercial or residential landscape gardening. As the Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”. With the cooler months, it is time to think about planting some trees.

Trees as an attractive focal point

Some attractive Trees and shrubs can provide an interesting focal point for your garden. Many Australian native trees will provide vibrant coloured flower creating both beauty and food and habitat for a wide range of Australian fauna. As an added bonus, the colourful flowers provide a source of nectar and pollen for honeybees and native bees, well away from the garden pesticides. Foliage colours can also be used to create a contrast.


Lemon-scented myrtle also known as the Sweet Verbena Tree (Backhousia citriodora) is a Queensland species that is both attractive to honeybees and a source of bush tucker. However, as it is a rainforest plant, it is not particularly drought tolerant. If you look after it, you will be rewarded with clusters of attractive white flowers.

Design Considerations. – Locating the tree

When designing the garden for trees, make sure you consider the final height of the tree and any garden maintenance requirements. Space between the tree and a fence might need to be big enough for mower access. Also the location of any overhead power lines should be considered. If you are planting a street tree, the local council will have guidelines for the minimum distance to services such as stormwater outlets and power poles.

Planting Trees like a professional commercial landscaper

If your new tree comes in a plastic pot, make sure you protect it from the searing  sun. A few hours of intense sunlight on a black plastic pot can do a great deal of harm to your new tree. Make sure you give the root ball a good soaking. If possible, dip the pot into a bucket of water.

Tree Planting

Tree Planting. Make the hole much bigger than the pot especially in Melbourne clay soils.

Dig your hole much bigger than the pot size of the tree. That means if you are planting a tree from a 300 mm pot, the hole should be dug around 900 mm. This is especially the case if you are planting in poor quality soils. Aim to have the new tree slightly higher than the natural ground level. If you are in a heavy clay soil, dig in some organic matter both below and around the plant. If you use a lot of organic matter, this will tend to shrink as it decomposes so take care not to overdo it. The organic material used should be well composted. Backfill with 50% high quality topsoil mixed with the site topsoil. If you have a reactive clay soil, which is common in Melbourne, a hand full od gypsum can be dug into the bottom of the hole.



Once you have placed your tree in the hole, give the roots a bit of a tickle if they appear to have been root bound by the planter pot. This will encourage the roots to grow outward into the new soil. If you are planting a Eucalyptus or Magnolia, the roots should be disturbed as little as possible.

Water the new tree and tamp down on the soil to remove any air pockets. Cover the root zone with around 75mm thick mulch ensuring there is a gap between the trunk and the mulch to prevent collar rot. In most cases staking of the tree is not necessary. If you have a larger or a top heavy tree, use 2 or 3 stakes placed away from the trunk and tied loosely with a rag.


Correct tree staking.

Stakes need to be clear of the rootball. Ideally 50 mm hessian ties should be used and stapled to the stakes to allow some trunk movement. Ensure the ties do not damage the trunk.



Watering trees

To avoid drought stress with you newly planted trees, give the soil around the plant a good soaking. The best solution for saving water is a dripper irrigation system with a timer and a moisture sensor. An annual application of a soil wetting solution will save water by reducing run off.

Mulching around a tree

Create a dish to keep the mulch clear of the tree and the top of the root ball close to flush with the finished height. The mulch height should be 200mm with a diameter of 1200mm.


Weeding and mulching

Keep Weeds, lawns and other vegetation away from the root zone of your new tree until it is well established. For trees, this means an area of around 1.5 metres  diameter should be kept clear for the first 3 years. The mulch should be topped up annually as it slowly decomposes into the soil.


Feeding your new Tree

Native Trees

Native plants generally require very little fertiliser, so be careful when applying and always use low phosphorus fertilisers. Products like Neutrog Seamungus combine the trace elements of seaweed with the nitrogen of chook manure to get your plants off to a good start. Neutrog “Bush Tucker” has been developed specifically for Australian Native plants and is ideal for even the most phosphorus sensitive proteas, banksias or grevillias. As well as harming native trees, excess phosphorus will inhibit mycorrhizal fungi essential for root development with your new tree. Phosphorus run off into streams and waterways can also be a problem.

Exotic trees

Exotic trees will require a little bit more feeding for the low phosphorus Melbourne soils. Also add a small amount of slow release fertiliser to the hole.




Even if your tree is an Australian Native, don’t be afraid of giving it a regular prune or trim to get it into the shape you want. This should be done both early and regularly. After a year or two it the tree should be strong enough to stay upright without the stakes. This is the reason why the young trees should not be staked too tightly. Always use a clean and sharp pruning saw to avoid spreading plant diseases.


Plant Selection

The trees selected for your Melbourne garden should be reasonably drought tolerant, non invasive and easy to maintain. Consideration should be given to the full extent  of the leaf canopy and the root zone when the plant is fully grown. In particular, the plants chosen need to have resistance to the weather conditions and the fungal diseases that go along with it. A visit to your local botanical gardens is a good way to select plants for your home garden and also pick up some landscaping ideas. Some councils Council have also published a guides to saving water. Some of the trees listed in the guide include Kurrajong, (Brachychiton populneus), Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), Screw Pine (Pandanus Tectorius), Coastal Banksia (Banksia integrifolia), Tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) , Tulipwood (Harpullia pendula), Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) Blue Lilly Pilly (Syzygium oleosum)


Lagerstroemia indica has purple, pink or white crinkly flowers that appear like crape (or crepe). It is a deciduous tree but it can be grown as a  large shrub. The long dark leaves are bronze when the tree is growing rapidly.


Lagerstroemia Indica

Lagerstroemia Indica is a tree or shrub native to China and Korea. Striking conical panicles around 200mm long. Ideal for small gardens and Mediterranean gardens.



Blue Lilly Pilly (Syzygium oleosum) has stunning purple or blue berries contrasting with the rich dark green foliage. The colourful berries can be eaten.


Corymbia ficifolia or red flowering gum is native to southern Western Australia.


Many of us love the look and the bird attracting ability of the Western Australian Flowering Gum. (Corymbia ficifolia) (Previously know as Eucalyptus ficifolia). In the past the problem has been its ability to withstand the humidity of the Gold Coast. The good news is that horticulturalist Stan Henry has developed a hybrid variety suitable for the humid conditions of South East Queensland. The hybrids, which combine Corymbia ficifolia, the red flowering gum from south-west Western Australia with the swamp bloodwood, Corymbia ptychocarpa from northern Australia are know as the Summer series – ‘Summer Red’, ‘Summer Beauty’ and ‘Summer Snow’. Look for these in your local plant nursery.


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil Melbourne Landscaper.


Local Council Street Tree Policies

Stonnington (Covers Prahan, Toorak, Malvern and Glen Iris.)

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Hanson Bokhara Exposed aggregate concrete.

Exposed aggregate concrete pathways

Exposed aggregate concrete is a great design solution for public spaces. The attractive durable not slip surface makes it an ideal choice for landscape architects. High traffic areas around public buildings often use this type of concrete path.

Exposed Aggregate Colours

The aggregates are available in a wide range of colours to suit your landscape design.  The available colours include red, brown, dark grey basalt, green quarts as well as black and white. In combination with this selection, the fine grain aggregates or sands are also available in a wide range of selections. The colour of these these fine aggregate will also be the more dominant when the surface is lightly abraded. However, more heavily abraded surfaces will result in more of the colour of the course aggregates showing.  This will result in a different appearance for the exposed aggregate concrete path. Coupled with this, the cement matrix can also have colour added. Always take these factors into account when selecting the aggregates and especially during the process of exposing the aggregates.

Exposing the aggregate

In addition to this, exposing the aggregate at a different concrete curing time can lead to different appearance. Similarly, this can result in colour differences for the same site for the same aggregate concrete pathway. To maintain quality, the landscaper must use a consistent approach to exposing the aggregates. As a rule of thumb, no more than 1/3 of the aggregate should be exposed.


The suitability of Exposed Aggregate Pathways

The landscape architect needs to also consider the use of the exposed aggregate concrete path when selecting the aggregate. Use a fine rounded aggregate for areas near swimming pools. For exposed aggregate concrete paths where water drainage is important, 19mm aggregates should be used.  Exposed aggregates of more than 20mm can be very difficult to transport using a concrete pump.

Exposed aggregate concrete strength

When rounded pebbles are used throughout the path, the path will be slightly less strong. This is because the matrix will not bond to the aggregate as tightly as it will with rough shaped aggregates.  Generally, the path should be at least 100mm thick N25 concrete. N25 means that the concrete will achieve a compressive strength of 25 mPa after 28 days.

Preventing Cracks

Even the strongest concrete will be weak in tension or bending and even properly cured concrete will have microcracks. Therefore, to minimise cracking steel reinforcement must be used. For pathways, this should be at least SL 72 using saddles to keep it in the top 1/3 of the concrete.  SL72 means that the bars are each 7mm in diameter with grids of 200mm. The path should be laid on 100mm thick class 3 roadbase , if it is for public spaces. If there is any possibility of a vehicle driving on the path, then the path needs to be built like an exposed aggregate concrete driveway. This will be the case with any vehicle crossovers in the path design. In these cases the concrete needs to be at lease 125mm thick N32 (32mPa) concrete with SL92 mesh laid on at least 100mm of class 2 roadbase.

Landscape design with exposed aggregate concrete

Outdoor Furniture on Exposed aggregate concrete.

Durable Outdoor Garden Furniture on Exposed aggregate concrete. ACLA Consultants landscape architects.

Using alternating concrete colour to break up large areas of concrete.

When the customer requirements call for a large expanse of exposed concrete, alternating contrasting colours can help to break up the appearance.  The public space at Balwyn Community Centre, Melbourne, used alternating exposed aggregate concrete of Hanson Bokhara with Hanson Galaxy. The artificial turf also helps to break the appearance of the large area of concrete and gives the area a more tranquil appearance. (ACLA Consultants landscape architects.)

Contrasting Exposed aggregate concrete

Creating some shade with a tree in the concreted area. The tree roots are protected with a slotted stainless steel grate. The lighter colour Hansen Galaxy forms a geometric pattern around the grate.(ACLA Consultants landscape architects.)


Drinking Fountain and exposed aggregate concrete.

Drinking Fountain and exposed aggregate concrete. Hanson Bokhara contrasts well with the natural concrete in-situ walls. (ACLA Consultants landscape architects.)


Hanson Bokhara Exposed aggregate concrete.

Exposed aggregate concrete is ideal for garden steps and stairs to help maintain grip. Recent sealing of the concrete makes it appear slightly darker. (ACLA Consultants landscape architects.)


Alternating exposed aggregate

Alternating exposed aggregate path.  Garden beds also break up the space. Sunbury Global Learning Centre.


Alternating decorative finish path

Alternating coloured path with centre native garden. Sunbury Global Learning Centre.


Entrance and Alternating decorative finish concrete path

Building entrance and Alternating exposed coloured path. Sunbury Global Learning Centre.


Concrete block garden retaining wall with coping next to the decorative finish concrete path.

Concrete block garden retaining wall with coping next to the alternating exposed coloured path. Sunbury Global Learning Centre. Hanson Bruthen and Hanson Galaxy.


Alternating colours of the concrete decorative finish entrance way.

The decorative finish of the alternating decorative finish of the entranceway looks striking when compared to the old concrete footpath in the foreground. Sunbury Global Learning Centre.

Frequently asked questions about Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Is Exposed aggregate concrete expensive?

Exposed aggregate will be more expensive than normal concrete solutions. It will  however, add more value and landscaping interest to your property. There is also extra labour in exposing the aggregate. Alternating colours is  also great way to break up the large expanses of concrete. It will similarly add to the cost, but will add great value to your property.

Should you seal Exposed Aggregate Concrete?

Sealing is essential for these paths. The high quality sealer we use helps to maintain the appearance of the coloured concrete by preventing stains getting into the pores of the concrete. The sealer also helps to prevent dust coming off the concrete.

Is Exposed Aggregate Concrete Durable?

It is important not to exposed too much of the aggregate during the water pressure cleaning part of the process. This is because exposing the aggregate excessively will result in it breaking loose from the matrix. Do not expose them more than 30%. The concrete we use for pathways is N25 with SL72 reinforcement over a thick layer of roadbase.

Residential Concreting Solutions

For residential concreting solutions a smaller version of the commercial landscaping concepts can be applied. In some cases it will be necessary to cart the aggregate mix in by wheelbarrow.

Exposed Aggregate Concrete Melbourne

Concrete Designs, textures and colours

Outwest Concrete have a great range of  aggregate colours available.

Colours and Textures available.




More information on decorative concretes


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

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Looking through the hedge at the colourful garden

Cottage garden ideas from the Cotswolds

Cottage garden ideas can be found in many of the gardens open to the public. These include Open Garden Scheme Gardens and the many home gardens worldwide. One great source of cottage garden ideas is the National Trust of Great Britain.

The Arts and Crafts movement


The Arts and Crafts movement was an aesthetic movement started by designer, poet and reformer William Morris. In 1861 Morris founded the interior decorators and manufacturers Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company.  Morris during his time studying Classics at Oxford University, became influenced by medievalism. The company was founded with a desire to capture the spirit and quality of medieval craftsmanship. By the 1890s the influence of the movement had spread and become part of a growing international interest in design.


Cottage Garden ideas and the Arts and Crafts movement

American horticulturalist Major Lawrence Johnston created the Serre de la Madone garden in France and the Hidcote Manor garden in the Cotswolds in the UK. The Cotswolds had become a centre for the arts and crafts movement due to artists like Dante Rosetti and his friend William Morris moving out of smoggy London to the Cotwolds. The rural setting far from London with its beautiful scenery and idyllic lifestyle made it a magnet for the type of cottage industries that were part of the movement. At the time, local crafts and skills had not been overtaken by industrialisation. Architect Charles Robert Ashbee moved from London to Chipping Campden and set up factories in some rural buildings employing around 150 skilled craftsmen.

Hidcote Cottage Garden Design

The early parts of the Hidcote garden design were very much in line with the Arts and Crafts movement. Later parts of the design became a little more formal. As the garden is separated by hedges, stone walls or by geographic features, these very different garden design styles go together surprisingly well. The garden design concept was that the “rooms” of the garden were and extension of the architecture of the house itself.


Arts and Crafts Movement Cottage Garden ideas

Cottage Garden ideas. A stone garden path with overflowing border plants is often a feature of Arts and Crafts gardens. Between the 1890s and 1930s gardens the Arts and Crafts Movement was a major influence in Cottage Garden design.

Cottage Gardens often give the appearance of cheerful simplicity.  In reality, the creator of the garden,Major Lawrence Johnston, was an avid collector of garden plants. The Major, went on exotic plant hunting expeditions to Yunnan, China in 1930 and South Africa in 1927 to find plants for his garden. The province of Yunnan in South West China has been the source of over 10,000 plants for western gardens.


Topiary Yew hedges Cottage Garden ideas

Cottage Garden ideas. Topiary Yew hedges with topiary box, hornbeam and holly. Rustic Stone Garden paths.

The topiary hedges at Hidcote create interesting views, but also help to divide the garden into smaller garden rooms. Many of these rooms explore different garden design themes. Hidcote is a great place to visit for garden design ideas.


Looking through the hedge at the colourful garden. Cottage Garden ideas

Cottage Garden ideas. Looking through the hedge at the colourful garden with stone garden path.

When viewed through a cut out in a hedge, the spectacular and colourful cottage style gardens create surprise and delight.


A garden seat in a shady part of the garden. Cottage Garden ideas

Cottage Garden ideas. A garden seat in a shady part of the garden. Rustic Stone Garden paths.

Some parts of the garden are a little more formal with neatly trimmed path edges.


Roses are always a great Cottage Garden idea.

Cottage Garden ideas. Roses are always a favourite in the cottage garden.

The old garden looking back towards the house is a mass of cottage garden plants. Hidcote was the first purchase for the National Trust for the garden alone.


Garden Stairs terracotta roof tiles

Cottage Garden ideas. Garden steps made from hand crafted terracotta roof tiles laid edgeways. Hidcote Manor.

A great example of the use of quality craftsmanship is the garden steps created from hand crafted ceramic roofing tiles laid edgeways. Years of garden visitors has worn the edges of the tiles and given them even more character. These garden design features are typical of the arts and crafts movement.



Cottage Garden Pathway Design

Another more formal garden room. Dividing the garden up into smaller garden rooms makes it possible to explore different garden design themes within the same garden. Each room is like a small garden design in itself.




An example of a rustic stone pathway from the Arts and Crafts movement.

Cottage gardens have many different designs of garden paths. Ideally natural looking garden path materials should be used to create the cottage garden effect.  There are many different ways of laying out your cottage garden path. The path can be a single main path with an outer path, crossed paths with an outer path, a diamond shaped path, or as in the picture above, an oval shaped path layout with a garden in the centre.


Rustic Garden Path with overflowing border plants.



Crushed Rock garden pathway with overflowing border plants.



Gardens Separated by hedges

Gardens Separated by hedges.


An example of the craftsmanship is the garden stairs made from ceramic roof tiles laid edgeways. These stairs lead to a terraced lawn which is also laid out like a separate room.



Lawn Pathways with garden urns neat hedges and border shrubs

Lawn Pathways with garden urns neat hedges and border shrubs.



Garden Wall with herbaceous perennial border plants and crushed rock pathways.



Some of the later garden designs at Hidcote were a little more formal, but still have a cottage appeal.



A rustic hand crafted stone wall will give you cottage garden an authentic look. Note the use of complimentary flowers in front.




A garden gate helps to separate the garden into different rooms. Note the more formal garden with box hedges on the other side.




Formal box hedges. Later parts of the garden moved away from the arts and crafts style.




Manicured Hedges and lawn. The garden paths appear to go forever.




Cottage Gaden

A view through the hedges separating the gardens. Rustic Stone Garden paths.



Garden Rooms

The separated garden rooms alow the garden designer to explore a different theme in each one.




A small stream runs through the garden.




Garden Stream

A garden stream separates parts of the lower garden




Stone Garden Path

The Stone Garden Path crosses the stream with a well crafted stepping stone.




Yew hedges and garden rooms

Yew hedges and garden rooms. Rustic Stone Garden paths. Terracotta pots.




Yew hedges and garden rooms

The same view two month later. It is alway worth revisiting Hidcote to see the different seasons in the garden.




Magnolias and Daffodils Cottage Garden ideas.

Magnolias and Daffodils with a winding garden path.




Rustic Cottage Garden ideas

A Rustic Cottage Garden with stone wall, yew hedge and herbaceous perennials.




Hedge cut out Cottage Garden ideas.

Cut outs in the hedges provide vistas into other garden rooms.




Garden water feature with a view back to the house.

Garden water feature with a view back to the house.




The famous Hidcote Pillar Garden. Topiary Yew trees and hedges. Cottage Garden ideas.

The famous Hidcote Pillar Garden. Topiary Yew trees and hedges.




Click here for more information on the National Trust





© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne


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Sketch up for landscape design

Sketch up is a key tool for Landscape architects is features, usability, pricing and its ability to syn with other apps make it my number one choice in architecture software

  • Sketch up can combine with Lumon to create beautiful 3D renders
  • Sketch ups core routes are CAD which makes it a great tool for creating detailed engineering diagrams
  • Sketch up has a 3D archive with thousands of pre-made pools, spas pergolas, arbors, courts and buildings
  • using sketch ups tools you can download and of these pre-made objects, adjust and modify them into your desired piece. Then insert them into your drawing

How to use Sketch up

Step 1

  • After a meeting with your client, open google earth on crome and zoom in on your clients property.
  • Snap a screenshot of the property.
  • Edit the screen shot to just show the Clients property
  • Open Sketchup and import the screenshot image using the import feature under file
  • make sure the image is on layer 0 rename this to background

Step 2

  • Click create new layer under the default trey, call this layer Tracing
  • Proceed to trace your background image to your best ability the better you trace the better your drawings will be.
  • Be sure you have traced every last detail including property boarder. home, house, roofpitch lines, Driveway, curb and pathway.

Step 3

  • Click create new layer under the default trey, call this layer house,
  • proceed to create rectangles as each room of the house



© Reds Landscaping – Melbourne based landscape design company

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Quality Landscape measuring

Quality Landscaping Services

For quality landscaping services, at Red’s Landscaping and Civil, we pride ourselves in our workmanship. Excellent landscaping involves much more than the workmanship of our landscapers, concreters and horticulturists. Central to our quality system is our quality statement.

Landscaping Quality Statement

Craftsmanship is built into every stage of the landscaping project at Red’s Landscaping and Civil. From the quotation all the way through the design and to the project completion quality is built in to every process. During the initial quotation, and during the entire landscaping project, the voice of the customer as represented by our designs or customer drawings, customer specifications and regular site meetings is integral the landscaping quality process. Ensuring all of the requirements of the customer drawings and specifications are fully understood and met is of paramount importance. This is achieved by regular drawing reviews and customer inspection and sign-off milestones during the project. Red’s Landscaping and Design is committed to the principle of Kaizen or continuous improvement as well as our comprehensive environmental and OH&S policies. Our Landscaping Quality Manual is based on the requirements of AS NZS ISO 9001-2008 Quality Management Systems as well as the general landscaping specifications of local authorities. Our aim is to meet or exceed our customer’s specifications and expectations and deliver a quality outcome within budget and project timing.


All personnel involved in leadership positions and administration must be totally familiar with the Landscaping Quality Manual and associated Procedures and will ensure that they are maintained and observed.



Landscaping Quality Manual


Our landscaping  manual is based on the Landscaping specifications and quality standards published by local councils. Areas covered by the quality manual include the following;

  • Vegetation Management Plan
  • Tree Management Plan
  • Weed Management Plan
  • Native Vegetation Management Plan
  • Cultural Heritage Management Plan
  • Irrigation Layout and Design
  • Construction Management Plan
  • Site Management Plan
  • Environmental Management Plan
  • Litter Control Plan
  • Landscape Maintenance Plan
Quality Assurance Manual

Quality assurance manual with customer drawing.

Details included in the landscaping  manual covers such items as the correct staking of trees, and the quality of materials brought onto the site. Some examples of this are our requirements for garden topsoil to Australian Standard AS4419 “Soils for Landscaping and Garden Use” with a requirement for materials to be free of weeds and other contaminants.

Quality Landscape Suppliers

The suppliers we use for topsoil, concrete, mulch and especially plants are the ones we know from experience are able to meet the high standards required by landscape architects for urban spaces. We use these same high quality suppliers for our residential projects ensuring a lower garden maintenance cost in the long term. Soft landscape materials and suppliers are an important part of our strategy.


Qualified Landscapers and Horticulturists

Our experienced landscapers and horticulturists have the necessary Australian qualifications to ensure a quality outcome. We are experts in plant identification, nutrition and care. Our experience in creating detailed designs and drawings as well as working with landscape architects has greatly benefited our quality processes. We are now in a position to use this experience for landscaping Melbourne gardens in the same way we have delivered great public spaces. Fast, accurate , high quality and with attention to detail. Our rapid approach to landscaping projects and our advanced planning using Gantt charts ensures landscaping costs are kept under control.

Quality Landscaping Services in Melbourne


For examples of our workmanship take a look at our landscaping portfolio on our project page to get some landscaping ideas.


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil commercial landscaping Melbourne


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French Landscape Design

French Landscape Design

  1. French Landscape design

French landscape design were said to originate in 1662. It was during this time that King Louis XIV imprisoned the then superintendent of finances Nicolas Fouquet for embezzling royal funds. Fouquet’s ambition to build his own private and luxurious Chateau at Vaux-le-Vicomte had led to his disgrace and allowed King Louis XIV to shift his attention to the Gardens of Versailles. It was here, and with the aid of Fouquet’s architect (Louis Le Vau), painter (Charles Le Brun) and landscape architect (Andre Le Notre) that the Gardens of Versailles would become one of the largest and most remarkable gardens in Europe. 

Gardens of Versailles

The chateau’s expansion followed shortly after the gardens, with both having tours carefully managed. In bringing this space to life existing Bosquets and Parterres were enhanced and new ones were designed and built. The most significant and influential creations at this time were the Versailles Orangerie and Parterre. It was this attraction where the architectural talent and creativity of Louis Le Vau’s design symbolised both the building itself and the parterre, becoming an irresistible attraction to visiting diplomats and foreign royalty, even to liking of King William III.


The Versailles Orangerie was first completed in 1663, then in 1678 a ten-year growth plan was decided to create what has been described as Jules Hardouin-Mansart crowning achievements, replacing the Louis Le Vau design of 1663. The Orangerie doubled in size and was modelled on theories from master gardener and horticulturist Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, whose writings discuss a detailed system for protecting exotic plants from the harsh cold without the use of any artificial heating. 

Aerial snapshot of Versailles

Trees of Versailles

As Louis XIV lived out his reign in Versailles, he became allergic to the perfumed flowers and developed a preferred smell of citrus trees, his favorite being orange trees which he had potted in silver tubs and placed around the Palace. After the Fouquet’s incident, Louis had over 1,000 orange trees removed from Nicolas’s property and transferred to the Orangerie, by the 1790’s there were several thousand trees. During the winter, the trees were sheltered in a cathedral like space and the gardeners would burn fires during the coldest months which were cleverly designed to heat the housing of the trees. 

French gardeners were able to keep the citrus trees blooming throughout the year, by withholding water, valuable nutrients and using pruning techniques. It wasn’t until a visit from John Locke, who described the peculiar appearance of the trees as small heads and thick trunks, as a consequence of the planters not allowing correct rooting into the soil below. Gardener Valentin Lopin created an extremely useful device in 1689 to assist with the transportation of the larger citrus trees which were originally shipped from Italy. 


French Garden popularity

The Orangerie parterre covers over three hectares and during the reign of Louis XIV was ornamented with several sculptures, which are now housed in the Musee du Louvre museum. It’s said that French landscape designs are seen as an extension of the existing architecture, creating a series of rooms within the garden by using compact hedges and bodies of water to execute the meticulous, elegant and rich designs. Today, the French gardens still have a strong influence and presence in our society, being one of the most popular and hard- to-perfect designs. The french landscape design also has a very strong popularity in Melbourne inner city and south eastern suburbs, such as Toorak, Malvern and Armerdale. Where you can find beautiful french provicial homes with classic gardens inspired by the versailles orangerie 


It is easy to be tempted into driving straight into a design for your landscape. It is advisable to take time and plan your landscape design properly before you start. While at it, consider the plants that are likely to perform best in the climate of your area and the purpose of your landscape among other things. For more inspiration on Landscape design please refer back to our blog where you can find many more articles on Landscape design



© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

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Salvia Leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage

Salvia leucantha or Mexican bush sage.

Salvia leucantha or Mexican bush sage an Autumn flowering perennial which can add colour to your Melbourne garden in early May. Salvias are generally drought tolerant and can handle subtropical as well as temperate climates. This makes them a good plant for temperate climates like Melbourne with its with warm to hot summers, mild and sometimes balmy springs and autumns.

Salvia Leucantha or Mexican bush sage is an Autumn flowering perennial. This evergreen small shrub which can grow to around 1.3m high.
Leucantha or Mexican bush sage is an Autumn flowering perennial. This evergreen small shrub which can grow to around 1.3m high. It is suitable for dog friendly gardens in Melbourne.

Salvia leucantha belongs to the family Lamiaceae which is part of the sage genus. The significant sage genus, contains more than 920  species of woody and herbaceous plants of the mint family (Lamiaceae). These belong to the order Lamiales. Whilst they are attractive garden plants, many members of this genus are also important for culinary purposes such as flavouring, teas and food crops.

Mexican Chia (Salvia Hispanica)

Salvia hispanica, more commonly known as Mexican Chia, is one of the most important food crops from the mint family. The seeds of this annual herbaceous plant are known for being high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Salvia hispanica is native to the desert regions of Mexico which makes it a very drought tolerant plant.

Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.
Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.
Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.
Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.

Many Salvia species are native to tropical America. Wagner’s Salvia also known as chupamiel (Salvia wagneri), is probably the most spectacular of these. This shrub is really more like a tree are as it can grow over 4 metres tall in ideal conditions. Not only is this a huge shrub, but the 300mm long flowers appear as scarlet spikes with magenta calyxes.

In the hills of southwest of North America Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea) displays its bright blue flowers after rainfall.

The bright blue flowers of S.farinacea or Blue Salvia, also known as mealycup sage.
The bright blue flowers of S.farinacea or Blue Salvia, also known as mealycup sage.

 Vanguard (Salvia splendens) is native to Brazil. The dark green oval leaves provide contrast for the spectacular dense spikes of bright red flowers and bracts. This compact, erect annual grows up to 300mm tall and flowers from summer to autumn.

Splendens is native to Brazil. The dark green oval leaves provide contrast for the spectacular dense spikes of bright red flowers and bracts. This compact, erect annual grows up to 300mm tall and flowers from summer to autumn.
Splendens is native to Brazil. The dark green oval leaves provide contrast for the spectacular dense spikes of bright red flowers and bracts. This compact, erect annual grows up to 300mm tall and flowers from summer to autumn.

Salvia and Sage as food flavourings.

Salvia officinalis is an aromatic perennial native to the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean climate has some similarities to the Melbourne climate, which means Mediterranean plants often thrive in Melbourne. This Salvia is  cultivated for its leaves, which can be used either fresh or dried to add flavour to your cooking. These shrubs grow to around 60 cm tall.  Sage has slightly stimulating properties and the leaves have been used for making tea for centuries. It was thought that the tea helped to improve wisdom and memory. In fact the name sage comes from the old French sauge which comes from the Latin salvus meaning healthy.

S.officinalis is a bushy, spreading evergreen sub-shrub to 80cm tall, with very aromatic, finely veined, greyish-green leaves and short spikes of beautiful pale blue flowers in early summer.
S.officinalis is a bushy, spreading evergreen sub-shrub to 80cm tall, with very aromatic, finely veined, greyish-green leaves and short spikes of beautiful pale blue flowers in early summer.

Another popular flavoring herb is the Salvia Sclarea. A biennial herb, this variety can grow a little taller. The hairy heart shaped leaves have a powerful aroma giving cooking a distinctive flavour. Its white flowers and leaflike bracts are violet or pink. Both of these species are native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, and so you can expect them to be reasonably drought tolerant in climates like Melbourne. In many parts of the world, this plant can grow wild.

Field of pink flowers Salvia sclarea
Field of pink flowers Salvia sclarea


Landscaping Ideas with Salvia


Pet Friendly Gardens

As with most culinary plants, salvia will not generally be a problem with your pets. The good news is that you are unlikely to need any snail pellets to protect your salvias. A good variety for snail resistance is salvia x superba.

Garden ideas for Saliva

These versatile plants are great for commercial landscapes, residential landscapes and coastal and beachside gardens. The plant can be used as either garden beds or borders as well as vegetable gardens. Most importantly, the salvia is also a must have for any ornamental garden Australia wide.

Salvia is great for garden borders and garden beds.
Salvia is great for garden borders and garden beds.

Sage and Salvia Varieties for your Melbourne garden

Salvia Amistad is a Herbaceous Perennial which flowers all the way from early summer until the frosts start. Beautiful dark purple flowers with a calyx so dark it is nearly black. Great for sunny garden beds or borders.
Amistad is a Herbaceous Perennial which flowers all the way from early summer until the frosts start. Beautiful dark purple flowers with a calyx so dark it is nearly black. Great for sunny garden beds or borders.
The Salvia Amistad with its very dark purple almost black calyx.
The Amistad with its very dark purple almost black calyx.
Salvia × jamensis is a bushy shrub to 100 x 50cm, evergreen in mild localities like Melbourne, with aromatic ovate, toothed mid-green leaves. Suitable for both Beds and Borders the wonderful flowers can be Bright Red, rose-pink, salmon pink, orange or creamy yellow. Flowers in summer and autumn.
Salvia × jamensis is a bushy shrub to 100 x 50cm, evergreen in mild localities like Melbourne, with aromatic ovate, toothed mid-green leaves. Suitable for both Beds and Borders the wonderful flowers can be Bright Red, rose-pink, salmon pink, orange or creamy yellow. Flowers in summer and autumn.
Salvia Uliginosa or Bog Sage is, as its name suggests, ideal for that damp of moist spot in your garden. It grows in clumps and is a perennial that loves moisture. With clear blues flowers from late summer to mid autumn, it will grow up to 2 metres tall with a spread of around 1 metre.
Salvia Microphylla Pink Blush. is an evergreen shrub with light green, aromatic, ovate leaves and deep red flowers in terminal racemes in late summer and autumn.
An alternative to lavender. Salvia lavandulifolia or Spanish salvia is a compact shrub or woody-based perennial, to 60cm tall and wide, with narrow, grey-green, downy leaves that can be used in cooking. Spiky racemes of violet-blue flowers in summer.
An alternative to lavender. Salvia lavandulifolia or Spanish salvia is a compact shrub or woody-based perennial, to 60cm tall and wide, with narrow, grey-green, downy leaves that can be used in cooking. Spiky racemes of violet-blue flowers in summer.
A variegated salvia will add depth to your small garden. ‘Tricolor’ is a spreading evergreen sub-shrub with oblong grey-green leaves variegated with cream and flushed with purple on the youngest growth; light blue flowers open in early summer.
A variegated salvia will add depth to your small garden. ‘Tricolor’ is a spreading evergreen sub-shrub with oblong grey-green leaves variegated with cream and flushed with purple on the youngest growth; light blue flowers open in early summer.
For striking gold varigated leaves, the herb ‘Icterina’ is a evergreen dwarf shrub with aromatic, oblong leaves 3-6cm long, greyish, variegated with gold yellow and pale green. Two-lipped pale purplish-blue flowers 2cm long, in terminal racemes provide great colour contrast.
For striking gold varigated leaves, the herb ‘Icterina’ is a evergreen dwarf shrub with aromatic, oblong leaves 3-6cm long, greyish, variegated with gold yellow and pale green. Two-lipped pale purplish-blue flowers 2cm long, in terminal racemes provide great colour contrast.
Purple Sage is an aromatic perennial herb with purple grey foliage It grows to a height of 60 cm and will spread to around 45 cm. Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered location.
Purple Sage is an aromatic perennial herb with purple grey foliage It grows to a height of 60 cm and will spread to around 45 cm. Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered location.

Garden Care for your Salvia

Salvias, like many Australian native plants, have evolved to grow in fairly poor soils. Apart from the alvia Uliginosa or Bog Sage, soil needs to be reasonably well drained.  Apply a soil conditioiner like a very dilute solution of Neutrog Seamungus occasionally.


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