Planning a Succulent Garden


Part of my objective when designing a new succulent garden bed is to ‘direct the eye’ to different sections of my garden. I do this by creating pathways that lead the eye to either a raised garden bed, a feature plant or some other garden feature like a succulent wheelbarrow.

There are no straight lines in nature so most of my raised garden beds are either long bending lines or circular structures. I really love incorporating bromeliads in my succulent gardens as they can also live in the same substrate as succulents, both needing a well draining mix. My bromeliads are actually used as the ‘thriller’ plants in my garden, let me explain… Any good garden will have a ‘thriller’ a ‘filler’ and a ‘spiller’ and will use different heights and textures in contrast with the plants they are paired with. As I have some mature bromeliad specimens, they create an instant focal point for my garden bed.

Rocks can make your design 'Pop'

Before and after planting and top dressing

Rocks are also a major part in any well designed garden bed. They give the eye a break from foliage and also help direct it to other ‘interests’ in the garden. Using smaller rocks of different colours and textures, you can create tapestries of colour that lead the eye.

To create height without having to buy mountains and mountains of soil and rocks, I add various terracotta pots throughout my designs. These also become focal points in my garden. It is important to remember it is not just a good design we are after but also a perfect home for each and every plant we decide to include. It is worth studying your selected piece of land you wish to create your succulent garden design on. Firstly, where is the sun first thing in the morning? For how long does each section of the garden get full sun? What is the existing soil like? Does it need to be altered for a more free draining soil mix?

My garden bed starts from the edge of our verandah and stretches out as a half circle almost 8m in width and about 6m in length. The plants closest to the verandah get full morning sun and as the day progresses to late afternoon is then in bright indirect light. Seasons can also play a huge part in deciding which plants to plant into the ground and which are easier to manage in potted arrangements. Your morning and afternoon sun can change dramatically throughout the seasons (as I have learnt the hard way over the years) therefore you will sometimes need to move your pots and plants around throughout the seasons.

The Front Section of my Garden Early Autumn

I believe that a garden is always evolving, a gardener is never really ‘finished’ with their work. What I like about succulents is that they can be uprooted and moved quite easily, and reworked into any new design. Cuttings can be taken from one section and added to another to create a new look. Follow your heart when designing and you really can’t go wrong… if you do, well, you can just go ahead and change it around until it feels right! 

Happy gardening!

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