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Outdoor Room Planning for Your New Home

ONE of the many perplexing dilemmas faced by owners of new homes is what to do with the garden. It’s funny, in a tragic sort of way, how Malaysians in general are inspired in such creative ways at decorating their homes, but are at a complete loss when it comes to that little patch of earth in front of the house. It’s as if we have become so disengaged from nature that there’s always the awkward silence when asked what we plan to do with the garden.

“Cement up the garden-lah,” the enterprising contractor would typically suggest. “Can park your second car there. Maintenance also less”.

And invariably, that’s what many people would do. Or they’d turf it and leave it, content to forget about the small piece of real estate that came with the house. Well, why should it be so? Guess what, with a little effort and some professional tips, you can turn your little garden into a scenic entrance to your home, or an outdoor room for your family to relax in.

First things first...

So now you’ve bought a new home and are awaiting completion. First thing to do at this point is quite simple really: don’t forget to include your garden in the budget.

Yup, a lot of people tend to overlook the outdoors in planning their budget for renovations, furniture, and such. You might end up with a lack of funds to turf your garden, and have to contend with a bare patch for some months. Worst-case scenario is if you undertake extensive renovations on your house at the expense of your garden, it’s going to be too late to change your mind later if you decide on a designer garden.

We all know of people who tell us they regret cementing up their garden to accommodate bedroom or living room extensions. Their house feels like a fortress now instead of a home.

Our advice is to have an overall plan and budget for your new home at the onset.

Okay, so now you’ve got your house keys after months of anxious waiting. Now what? Here’s the fun part:

  1. Make sure to have completed all renovation work before starting on your garden. Ideally, you should focus on your garden after you’ve extended your kitchen or wherever, but before you move in your furniture.

  2. Get a good hoe and start dig up all the debris, lalang, and rubbish on your garden. If your house is newly built, there’s bound to be a load of construction waste strewn about your garden, especially if yours is a corner unit.

But please, don’t toss them over to the neighbor’s side!

  1. Next thing you need to do is to remove the topsoil, which is typically hardened earth. Dig about six inches deep. You’d be surprise at the amount of debris buried beneath all that earth. The idea of clearing out the debris is to prevent your garden from being waterlogged.

  2. Some housing schemes come with ready-made gardens, complete with grass and perhaps some red palm. However, if you suspect your garden may be waterlogged, prod the ground with an iron rod at least a foot deep.

If you hit upon an impenetrable object, it’s most probably construction debris buried by the contractor. Or a treasure chest.

  1. Cover your garden with any type of sand. This is sufficient for grass to be planted on. If you plan to grow trees, dig a hole and plant your tree first before covering the garden with sand.

  2. There are lots of varieties of grass available at nurseries. The common types are cow grass, pearl grass, carpet grass, and Bermuda grass. They are categorized informally as either lower-maintenance or more beautiful.

Your dream garden

Covering your garden with grass is only the first step. Next, decide on how best to use your garden to suit your own needs. A common trait with new house owners is that they would drive around the neighborhood looking at what their neighb

ors have done to their homes. It’s not unusual to see copycat renovation ideas in the same row of houses. If you see a quaint pergola, someone else down the road is going to copy that. Or if you see a fishpond, you’re going to see another house nearby with the same fishpond.

While certain additions may look nice in somebody’s front lawn, don’t be influenced to do the same for your home. Consider your needs or your family’s first. Do you have children? That’s always an important consideration. Do you have time or even like gardening? How you plan out your garden should reflect these characteristics. For families, you can opt for a neat lawn with a tree and maybe a small pond. For yuppie couples, or bachelors, try having a lower-maintenance garden, or have it landscaped prof


Whatever garden you have, remember, it can be used optimally to complement your home, and not left as a forsaken patch of property.

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