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Febuary 2011
New Look With Garden Makeover


CHINESE New Year is always a time of great optimism when we look forward to a good year ahead. Out with the old and in with the new, as they say.

This usually means getting rid of things that hold us back, such as petty grudges, unproductive habits or nagging worries and freeing our minds for more positive thoughts. This tradition of renewal is also seen in the frantic spring cleaning a week before the celebrations, when all the clutter accumulated over the past year is recycled or given away.

When it comes to gardens, especially those that have grown over the years, how does one breathe new life into them? Unlike temperate countries with four distinct seasons when a garden goes through renewal every spring, gardens here grow steadily through the years, requiring constant maintenance.

After some time, even a well-maintained garden may look aged. You know it when you see it — the young tree is now two storeys high, shrubs are now “leggy”, parts of the lawn are exposed and rocky, and you don’t find your garden a pleasure anymore. Some find such aged gardens full of charm and character. But if you want to spruce it up alongside the new coat of paint for your walls and new curtains for your home, here are some simple ways to go about it.

First, consider your present location. Surroundings may change over the years. The empty plot of land near your house may have become a towering apartment block. Or a new highway may have sprung up. Next, think about your present lifestyle. Most couples buy a house when they get married and have a baby. But several years later, do you have growing kids without a garden to play in? Or perhaps the kids have left the nest and you want a more relaxing environment at home.

After your initial assessment, you can begin your garden overhaul project. You don’t require a complete overhaul. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trimming the large tree and thinning its foliage — you’ll be surprised how much more sunlight you’ll get. Or perhaps you just want a new look for your hedges — a row of bright heliconias would look stunning framing your fence.

However, if your garden has always been a flat lawn with scattered potted plants, or neat hedges, you may want to consider a more profound change in landscape. Why not consider a “designer look” that will transform your house facade dramatically? I can’t think of a better way to invest a portion of your savings than a home improvement project that will increase your house value. And one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to give your home a facelift with a new garden. There are lots of possible garden designs you can do on a shoestring budget but most are the DIY variety. You can’t expect to get a design from a glossy magazine for less than a few thousand ringgit. Garden ponds with water features are popular, even in link houses and the reliable ones cost over RM5,000 and up to 10 times more.

If you plan on having a more flamboyant garden, engage reputable landscape designers. They’re not cheap but you gain more in the long-term. You don’t want to fork out thousands of ringgit for an ill-designed pond or poorly planned garden that will become an eyesore in the future, do you? A well-designed garden is one where you enjoy spending time in, even if it’s a small link-house lawn. Consider a decorative garden lamp or two, or a knick-knack such as a birdhouse, or even a trickling fountain, if you can afford it. Then throw a little party to celebrate your new garden. Trust me, a pleasant garden may enhance the value of your home, but the personal pleasure that can be derived from it is immeasurable.




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