This week we take a look at Successful Garden Design student, Pamela’s garden.

She lives with her husband, two young children and 2 dogs in the regional city of Orange, NSW, Australia.

This is the garden that they started out with.

I will now pass you over to Pamela to tell you more about their garden…

We have lived in Orange for 11 years and despite our best efforts with the garden and lots of money spent trying to improve it, things were still a long way off perfect.

I was inspired to do Rachel’s course after watching an intro video that popped up on my facebook feed one day. We had already realised we needed some professional assistance with the design and were loath to pay a huge amount to a landscape architect.

The main problems with our garden were:

  • the large size that was covered in a poor quality mix of grass
  • already established trees dotted around the garden
  • no focal points or nice views from the windows
  • we already had some pathways, deck etc in place

The nearly finished garden

Garden 4 months AFTER completion!

Using the ‘shape first method’ that Rachel encourages really removed the overwhelming fear I had about where to start when designing the garden.

We still needed a decent sized lawn for the kids and dogs to play on but by using 2 circles in a figure 8 shape with a path around it, suddenly everything became connected.

By creating large beds, we could incorporate the already existing fruit trees into the border, we moved a couple to new locations and re-seeded the lawn where we had gaps.

By moving some of the already established plants from other spots in the garden into the beds our finished design looks far more advanced than had we used brand new plants everywhere, the planting is only 4 months old.

Digging out all the grass took the most time (everyday for several months), we laid the steel edging and made the path ourselves from crushed granite and then used a whaka paka to compact it.

We added new top soil to the beds, got the plants in at the start of Oct (spring in Orange) and then mulched everything with wood chip. I prefer this chunky version as the birds don’t disturb it as much as the finer stuff so it stays in place better.


We found doing all the heavy labour ourselves made the garden re-design amazingly cost effective not to mention satisfying.

My top tip for other people embarking on the course is to consider a good mulch for the areas that are not lawn or path – the mulch covers a multitude of sins (great for under trampolines, around sheds etc and ties everything in the garden together. As well as helping the soil retain moisture, it also makes the green lawn and plants really pop with the colour contrast.

Bark and gravel mulches

Reducing the lawn area has been great as we now only have a smaller patch to aerate, feed, mow etc and can put more effort into getting it looking really good.

I am so thrilled I did Rachel’s course and I’m looking forward to starting another garden re-design project in the autumn at another house.

Congratulations to Pamela and her husband for a great job, all their hard work has certainly paid off :o)

**UPDATE – a year later…

Pamela has kindly kept in touch and sent in these…

The whole garden has grown really well in the last year making it look a lot more established.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pamela Harrison (@cottagesinorange)

Learn garden design yourself…

If you’d like to do the same course Pamela took then take a look at the Fast-Track Garden Design Formula

And if you’d like to view the FREE web class, you can sign up here: 




Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    7 replies to "Pamela’s Garden Design – 2022 UPDATE"

    • Vince Ward

      Thanks, love Pamela’s garden!


      WOW Pamela – What a great garden you have now. Using established plants is always a good idea if possible. I can see your family, including the dogs 🙂 will be enjoying the garden for many years to come. Congratulations


      Pamela I love the garden design you decided to run with. Knowing where to start is always a problem. We are currently doing the course and although we have other projects inside the house to finish and it’s winter here, we hope to start soon and make as good a job of it as you have done. Well done, you have made it a garden to relax in and a space for the children and dogs to play too.

    • Francesca Dixon

      What a transformation. It looks really good. It just goes to show that we all have it in us to be good gardeners and better designers. All we need is some proper targeted help to release the creativeness in us.

      • Rachel Mathews

        Hi Francesca,

        Yes, absolutely! Once you know how design works then you can get great results :o)

    • Ingrid Waymark

      WOW – what a wonderful achievement. Your garden looks amazing. Congratulations!

    • gadenah

      It looks so beautiful and attractive. Such a great transformation!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.