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Minimalist philosophy in gardening

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
02 April 2016   |   2:56 am
If you are thinking which landscaping style is best for your garden, consider carefully which school of thought you want to follow- formal or informal garden design.
Landscaping  ideas  for  small  back  garden  with  lawn,  retaining  walls,  lattice with  cheap  fencing,  screened  porch  plus  patio  pavers,  hammock  and pea  gravel.

Landscaping ideas for small back garden with lawn, retaining walls, lattice with cheap fencing, screened porch plus patio pavers, hammock and pea gravel.

If you are thinking which landscaping style is best for your garden, consider carefully which school of thought you want to follow- formal or informal garden design.

Before you begin, you want to be sure that the design will truly reflect your deeply felt convictions on the subject and will also make sense on a practical level.

If the need for low maintenance is one of your foremost considerations, seriously consider minimizing. If your desire is for a “natural landscape” (I place quotation marks to show that although heard often, this terminology can be deceiving.”

There is some work involved in maintaining a well-groomed, yet natural looking design; it doesn’t come naturally. If your motivation is to get closer to nature, make sure this is truly your conviction. Remember, “imposing our will upon nature” isn’t all bad: we would still be living in caves if our ancestors thought so.

Philosophically speaking, it could also be argued that a minimalist design too will bring you closer to nature. The cottage garden style may offer the feel of a “natural look,” but it is not a minimalist design. You can easily spend as much time on a cottage garden as on a lawn (especially when you factor in the installation).

If you feel comfortable with a lawn that is less than perfect, then lawn care need not consume much of your time. Of course, the true lover of cottage gardens will want to spend a lot of time working in one.

 Contemporary  minimalist  garden  with  pool and  dining area.

Contemporary minimalist garden with pool and dining area.

If saving time and cost on maintenance is a major consideration, your best bet is a minimalist design, more so if you have come to the realisation that despite your best efforts, you have a serious black thumb when it comes to keeping anything planted alive, whether planted in pots or in the ground, everything seem to thrive for a week or two before they inevitably bite the dust.

Not only that, this lack of gardening cost hours of agony, as you desperately try (in vain) to nurse each plant back to life, but end up spending far too much money on all of the things planted.

Seriously, think of ‘minimising’ and for low maintenance.

Minimalist gardens are best for those looking for a low-maintenance, enjoyable garden that is incorporated into your surrounding. Perfect, especially if you live in an urban area, the garden is designed to serve multiple uses simultaneously.

The concept of the minimalist garden follows the ideas of the modernist architecture of the 20th century, when concrete glass and steel buildings required unadorned surrounding landscape and also takes lead from the Zen gardens of Japan.

Essentially, a minimalist garden is one that focuses on pure form and clean lines. Minimalism itself is rooted in modernism, interior design and architecture and minimalist gardens follow the same train of thought.

Minimalist gardens have become popular with those who prefer order, with simple lines, restrictive planting, combined with the benefits of low maintenance. This style can be defined by the use of ‘clean’ lines, with focus on hard landscaping materials- stone hardwood, rendered wall, glass and steel.

Important design elements of a minimalist garden include using plants to define spaces, using water to complement the live features of the garden and creating a space that is inviting organised as a retreat for relaxation and entertainment.

Minimalist  garden  in  scattered  geometric  design.

Minimalist garden in scattered geometric design.

Some of the themes found in minimalist garden design are the use of space, pristine hardscaping, restrictive planting and formal water features.

Minimalism in architectural design featured pristine interiors composed of carefully chosen decoration blank walls, functional furniture with clear work surfaces and no clutter.

In recent years, the minimalist design has moved beyond interior design into the garden. The introduction of the “room outside” style of garden design in the 1960s led to us to the small garden in a different way. Rather than a separate part of the property, the garden became an extension of the house.

The introduction of patio doors with large areas of glass, and later bifolding doors that slide back to remove any barrier between the interior and exterior, has forged a way for the creation of the minimal garden.

Using the same flooring material inside and out, a smooth transition is created between the spaces. For the real source of minimalism, we should look to the Zen Gardens of Japan.

The perfectly placed rocks set in immaculate gravel, raked into swirling patterns are pure minimalism. Japanese gardens were created in pursuit of spiritual balance, but in the western world and beyond, this has become a garden style, one that is immaculate, serene and calming to the senses.

Space is possibly more important in a minimalist layout than any other individual defined features. The balance between the areas or zones is vital in creating oneness with the complete design and nothing should be allowed to ‘distract’ from the creation of ‘minimalist perfection.’

The design is simple and formal, maintenance is low, there is little or no ornamentation and planting is restricted. Each area of the garden is well defined, be it dining zone or relaxation. With fewer plants used in this style of design, each plant has to be carefully chosen to perform the task required of it- as a focal point or as a visual partition.

Restricting the range of plants allows the planting to soften the hardness of the design, yet not detracting from the structure and line.

Plant maintenance should be simple and not time consuming. Minimise watering by adding water retention granules to planting composts, and use automatic irrigation system on timer. Slow release fertilizer pellets can turn feeding into just an annual job.

Planting style should be bold, but simple, with the use of drifts of one or two plants that repeat throughout the design. Grasses are a very popular choice for this style of design.

Water features can alter the mood of this style, which can be rather sterile or austere. A reflective pool can help achieve a calming atmosphere, while the soothing sound of a waterfall or fountain brings a further dimension.

Any water feature used in minimalist designs are perfect in construction and maintenance care is taken with water levels and pond hygiene.

If a little meditational relaxation is the order of the day for relief and a getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then minimalists gardens will provide a serene calming atmosphere.

Minimalist designs allow interiors and exterior to become one and create wonderful synergy.