How To Landscaping

Turn your garden’s dead space into an eye-catching feature

Written by Lisa Witepski

The bad news is those dead corners in your garden, where nothing can be coaxed to grow, are usually a sign of poor soil quality or too much shade – which means that even hardy plants will battle in these areas. The good news? There are plenty of options for turning those corners into beautiful nooks.


• Dead zones often crop up under trees. If this is the case in your garden, Mimi Rupp of SmartStone Port Elizabeth suggests using timber or concrete to create a wrap seat around the tree, while cobbles and paving stones will pretty up the surrounds.

• If the area under the tree is sizeable, and the tree is strong, hang a swing from the branches and – voila – it becomes the kids’ play area. Add a climbing frame and you have an instant playground.

• The kids will also be thrilled if you transform the area into a fairy garden, suggests Christa Otto of Cottontree Landscape Architect Consultancy – simply add a few fairy figurines and pebbles where the fairies can take their tea. These areas also make the ideal site for a wendy house, which can be used as the kids’ reading room or art studio.


• The shady nature of dead spaces means that they’re the perfect spot to hang a hammock. “A single bench or even a small table and chairs could also be introduced to create a calm patio environment away from the main house,” says Rupp.

• Instead of trying to cover up the area, turn it into a feature: combine elements like pots, wood and feature rocks, or perhaps a rockery. “Alternatively, experiment with rocks, gravel, circular features and pavers. It’s not about making a concrete jungle, but using complimentary products to enhance an otherwise wasted space,” Mimi says. Use hardy ground covers like pennyroyal, variegated dymondia and mondo grass, which work well in shaded areas, to introduce some natural elements.


• If the area is in a sunny patch, use plants or built-up plant beds to make a herb or veggie garden, Otto says.

• If you’re determined to have that patch of green no matter what, consider using artificial turf. According to Otto, a piece measuring 12m x 4m is usually sufficient.

• A deck is always an asset in an outdoor area, especially for entertaining.



Lisa Witepski

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