The Starting Point


Our first challenge was to find a starting point on the layout of the designated area. This image shows the site of the Essential Garden before any measurements were done and areas marked out.

Essential Garden looking north-west, just prior to marking up

The starting point was determining exactly where the centre of the pathway was to be. This was judged from a variety of positions; from the front of the proposed garden, the back, from height and so on. Once we had determined the exact positioning, it was then just a matter of marking out from our drawings from this central point.

This part, as I was at pains to explain to anyone within earshot, is vitally important. The last thing you want is to complete the garden only to find that from a certain angle or vantage point the layout is not straight or is skewed. So take the time to get it right, it’s much easier to move a few stakes and string at this point than to change the whole thing after you’ve finished.

With a (correctly positioned) central line down the middle of the site, we knew the paths would be 1 metre either side of this line to create our 2 metre pathways. We knew the 5 metre wide sunken area for the covered pergola was 2.5 metres either side of this line and similarly we knew how wide the raised planter beds needed to be in order to fit into their designated areas. With a geometrical site, measuring becomes easy once you know your starting point.

Armed with our tape measure, a few stakes, lots of string and a can of fluro spray paint the layout was completed in no time. A final check of the positioning from a couple of vantage points helped assure us the garden was going to look amazing.

For anyone who loves to build things, reshape things, grow things; creating a garden is such a pleasurable experience. Don’t be put off by the time it takes to create, it is the journey that is enjoyable not necessarily the destination.

Once we were happy with the layout, it was time for the big boy’s toys!


When you enlist the help of friends for a project such as this, it pays to have some serious toys for them to play with. But a word of warning, make sure you offer the job to someone who knows what they’re doing. You can waste an awful lot of time and money correcting the errors of those who are more interested in play than work.

We were fortunate enough to have Paul work our hired digger and complete the excavations. Although a desk-jockey now, in a previous life he has operated just about every type of machinery and was not only confident, but competent with it.

His young son Carter ably assisted, proving that you’re never too young to learn the ropes.


With excavations come spoil and while we have plenty of places to spread it, right in the garden seemed the most logical.


At the end of a long, hot and dusty day, it’s great to be able to sit back, sip on a cold beer and begin to enjoy seeing the fruits of your labours.

Alasdair Scott