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    Creating a rainforest garden

    Create a slice of tropical paradise in your own backyard

    Hannah | Oneflare

    No matter where you live, you can add a touch of the rainforest to your garden. Typical rainforest elements include tall, dense trees covered with profuse green shrubbery at the base. You can create the same effect even in a city garden by choosing the right trees and plants.

    Your rainforest garden can include palm trees, elegant tree ferns and other plants that are heavy with foliage. By adding these, you’ll not only attract birds into your garden, but you’ll also provide your flower beds with shelter and shading during the hot weather months.

    Source: GreenCare Garden Services

    Planning your rainforest garden

    Before you start shopping for trees and plants, its a good idea to make a sketch of your existing site and design your garden from there. Add all of your proposed water features and pathways to the drawing to get a better visual idea of the layout.

    To determine the types and numbers of trees and plants you’ll be able to have, youll need to assess the size of your plot. If it’s large enough you’ll be able to have taller trees, which conversely would overwhelm a smaller garden. Rainforest varieties especially thrive in a northerly aspect that gets good sunlight, although some areas of groundcover will need sufficient shade. Youll also need to factor in how much sun you get during the winter, and whether it will be enough for your rainforest species.

    Rainforest trees and plants thrive in soil that is clay, sandy or loamy, and also do well in mixed sandstones. Consider the content of your soil before choosing your plants and trees.

    Your local nursery should have a variety of rainforest types that will grow in your garden. In addition, you’ll want to add a bit of colour, such as a bright flowering hibiscus. These vivid colours, combined with the deep greens of your plants, trees and shrubs, will make your rainforest garden even more authentic.

    It’s also crucial to understand how to select the right plants depending on the local climate. For instance, easily grown fruit trees in Melbourne, like citrus trees or stone fruit trees, are a great addition to any garden.

    You could also consider adding a number of water features such as a pond, a waterfall or water wall, or a stream or mist fountain. These will set off your tropical plants beautifully. You’ll also want to install pathways for walking, or even a pavilion, but be careful not to add too much clutter. Also, consider adding a sloping plot, which you can use for terracing or for installing a retaining wall. If you don’t want the wall to be visible, surround it with plants.

    Planting your rainforest garden

    Here are a few tips to help you in planting your rainforest garden.

    Thoroughly loosen and then mulch the soil with organic items such as straw or leaves.

    • Make sure the soil is moist.
    • Select large-size plants with developed roots
    • Plant the tallest trees first, at two or three metres apart.
    • When the trees have established themselves, add shrubs around them.
    • Last, add groundcover varieties such as palm lilies, ferns, orchids and climbing plants.

    It’s important to water your rainforest garden regularly. To avoid getting the soil waterlogged use a fine misting sprayer and mulch the area to hold in the moisture.

    The area should be fertilised annually.

    Planting canopy trees

    Providing valuable shade and extensive privacy, canopy trees are an excellent addition to your rainforest garden. Regardless of the size, there is a canopy tree available to suit all requirements.

    The term “canopy tree” refers to a tree that is grown to create a canopy over its surrounding environment. Also known as “shade trees,” the outer layer of the leaves (canopy) creates a dense growth that blocks incoming light.

    Some of the most common canopy trees include oaks, maples, elms, poplars, beeches, ashes, and lindens. Other trees that fall under the canopy category are waratah, tilias, tulipwoods, golden robinia, crepe myrtle, ornamental pear, Japanese crab apple, flowering plumb and birches.

    Source: Shutterstock

    How to Select a Canopy Tree

    When searching for a canopy tree, there are several considerations that will affect your decision. First, if you decide upon a deciduous tree, it will provide shade during the summer and allow for light in the winter. Keep in mind that it may take several years before the canopy is large enough to begin providing shade.

    You’ll need to ensure that the tree will not cause damage to the foundation or running pipes. Issues are most commonly caused by the underground root systems. You should also avoid planting in close proximity to chimneys because sparks can ignite the leaves, resulting in a fire. Although these trees offer excellent privacy, they can also cause dampness when used in cold areas.

    Setup and continued maintenance

    Once you have decided on your tree, there is not much maintenance that must be followed. In the first year, the tree will require deep watering on a regular basis to ensure that it develops a healthy root system. A small amount of pruning may be required throughout its lifetime and occasional fertilisers are the norm. The time for the canopy to become established and develop depends on the type of tree.

    For more advice on how to create a rainforest garden, talk to a landscaper or expert at your local nursery.

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