Those of us who watch internationally celebrated landscape designer, horticulturalist and author Jamie Durie work his magic every week on The Outdoor Room often feel equally inspired and frustrated. It's fun to watch him turn a barren backyard into a lush paradise in a matter of minutes. But how can those of us without a crew and expense account do the same? We picked his brain about the basics, trends and ways to have more Jamie in our lives.
How can readers do what you do on a smaller scale?
All great gardens start with a great plan to sort out what parts of the yard to focus on first. Many of us get overwhelmed when we look at the whole project. Prioritize and plan your projects in phases.
What does the term "outdoor room" mean to you?
The garden should be more than an arrangement of pretty plants that you look at through the window; it should be used and lived in like any other room in the house.
Everyone understands the concept of ceilings, walls and floors, so think of these elements for the outdoor space, and create it with a combination of plant and man-made materials. Then furnish the "room" the same way as you would an interior room; with all the same creature comforts from inside the house so you can relax, entertain and spend as much time as you like outside.
How do you create a natural flow from your house to your garden?
Connecting the architecture of your home with your garden is the key to grounding your space. Back doors often feed from the living room or kitchen. Repeat that function in your garden. The spaces that are the most convenient in your garden are the ones that are used the most.
Create a kitchen area close to the house so food can be easily transported from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor kitchen.
If your living room has doors, extend that space by creating a lounging patio or deck out back.
Use similar materials, colors and textures that extend from inside your home to the outdoor space. If you have timber floors in the space that opens to the outside, continue timber as a decking surface for the outside. If you have tiles inside, choose a tile or paver for the outside.
What's the best plan for readers who feel overwhelmed about starting from scratch this spring?
Compartmentalize your outdoor space into rooms. What rooms do you use the most inside the house? What can you imagine yourself doing outside? When you create a sanctuary with different destinations in your garden it creates interest and encourages people to explore. How you want to use your garden will affect what type of plants you use, the style of furnishings and the overall feel of the space. Once you've decided on this, just work on bite-sized parts of the overall design, breaking it up into the lounging space, the dining space, etc.
What are some easy fixes to spring planting mistakes?
Once you have decided where those walls and ceilings should be, choose the right plant for the right space. Pay attention to light requirements and the mature size of the plant. We often over-plant our gardens for instant impact.
What are some big trends in spring gardening this year?
Edible gardening is still very popular. There are dwarf edibles hitting the market called Brazelberries that are blueberries and raspberries for container gardens. Also, low-maintenance and water-wise gardening is a top priority for young gardeners. A new line of petunias called Supertunias has hit the market from Proven Winners. They're very low maintenance, water wise and have a lot of impact per plant.
How can we channel you in our gardens?
I created the app Garden Design with Jamie Durie to demystify the process of designing an outdoor living space and make my "how-to's" accessible to everyone. It has great inspiration and handy design hints, plus a plant finder tool to locate the perfect plant for the right space.