Indigenous landscaping & garden design
in Johannesburg & Pretoria, South Africa

Maximising a small space (African Birdlife)

  • Maximising a small space (African Birdlife)

    As published in African Birdlife, May/Jun 2018

    This article was published in African Birdlife, Mar/Apr 2018. Visit Birdlife SA for copies and to learn more about birds and birding in Africa

    In recent years, many homeowners in South Africa have, for various reasons, down-sized from expansive properties to smaller, more manageable homes in secure complexes. In many instances these are new complexes that have been developed in the vicinity of major urban areas, whereas in others large existing properties have been subdivided.

    The end result has been a move away from sprawling gardens to far smaller ones that may be only 30 to 200 square metres in extent. Although this may seem to limit the options for creating a bird or wildlife sanctuary, these smaller areas can in fact be converted relatively
    easily into wildlife gardens and allow homeowners to create attractive and tranquil areas in the midst of a busy city environment. With the correct design, plant selection and placement, it is amazing how quickly the local wildlife will respond to these mini ‘ecosystems’, with
    insects, birds, lizards and even amphibians rapidly choosing to find a home in these small spaces. In their own way, the gardens become mini-extensions of natural greenbelt areas and help to enhance the biodiversity of our country.

    The garden featured here is one such example. It is situated in the heart of Ferndale, a bustling central area of Johannesburg, but by using
    specific design features we managed to create a haven for the homeowner. It not only provides peace and tranquillity after a long day at the office, lends itself to being used for entertainment and effectively muffles noise from the nearby main road, but it also acts as a harbour
    for wildlife.

    The garden space is 200 square metres in extent and as it had not previously been developed, it was neglected and weeds proliferated. The new homeowner enlisted our services and requested a garden with an entertainment area in the form of a firepit, as well as a koi pond
    and, most importantly, an indigenous, lawn-free garden – a landscaper’s dream! Doing without lawn would dramatically reduce maintenance costs as there would be no need to mow or for an irrigation system, which might unnecessarily raise his water bill.

    We began by first selecting the appropriate locations for the firepit, the koi pond and the access pathways to these areas. Because of a natural slope in the garden, the layout lent itself to positioning the firepit near the top of the garden, with the koi pond directly beneath it – this provided an elevated view over the pond and lower parts of the garden.

    Next, a primary access pathway of modern flagstone steps was built along the northern boundary wall, with sufficient planting space to create adequate screening from the neighbouring property. An additional informal pathway of stepping stones was designed behind the firepit to serve as a tranquil walkway through the indigenous woodland at the back of the garden. Two mini ‘exclusion’ zones were then fashioned in corners of the garden where human access was not required, but where wildlife – and birds specifically – could shelter, forage and nest in relative peace and quiet.

    Once the primary hard-landscaping elements had been designed, it was time for the plant selection. We focused on using species that occur naturally within the greater Johannesburg area but also incorporated additional southern African species that would work well in a Highveld garden. Perhaps the most important aspect was to select trees that would not in time have an adverse effect on the space by potentially
    damaging boundary walls or paving. However, one exception was made as the homeowner wished to include a fever tree in the centre of one of the exclusion zones. Apart from this, the primary tree species included lavender tree Heteropyxis natalensis, cheesewood Pittosporum
    viridiflorum, false olive Buddleja saligna and sand olive Dodonaea augustifolia var. augustifolia. These species were then accompanied by river indigo Indigofera jucunda, lemon-thorn Cassinopsis ilicifolia and September bush Polygala myrtifolia.

    Once this primary ‘layer’ of trees had been selected, we concentrated on the smaller shrubs and groundcovers, selecting crane flower Strelitzia reginae, yellow iris Dietes bicolor, wild garlic Tulbaghia violacea and wild dagga Leonotus leonurus. A number of small aloe species were included to provide food for birds during winter and a few water-adapted plants were added to enhance the natural feel of the koi pond.

    The addition of garden lighting provides a wonderful atmosphere in the evening, allowing the homeowner to experience the full beauty of his garden both day and night. Crucially, no irrigation system was installed, which meant that once the plants were established, the garden would make use of natural rainfall. It would be watered manually only as and when required. Indeed, during the drought in 2017 the
    garden continued to survive despite the lack of water and, with the recent rains in 2018, it is flourishing again.

    The result is a garden that is a natural wildlife haven with a constant stream of avian visitors, including nesting pairs of weavers and sparrows and regular visits from Dark-capped Bulbuls, Grey Go-away birds and mousebirds, to name just a few. It is a serene space that requires minimal maintenance, but also helps to increase the biodiversity of the area. And what do the neighbours think? Well, their only complaint to date has been the raucous croaking of the frogs and toads that have naturally found their way into the garden!

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    • Vida Opperman, EdenburgVida Opperman, Edenburg

      Ryan, Glenice and team turned my messy overgrown hell scape into a grasslands oasis. Thank you for giving a bit of nature in the middle of Sandton...

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    • Janice Walker, FairlandJanice Walker, Fairland

      Working with Grounded Landscaping was just a wonderful experience all round. My beautiful indigenous garden is just over a year old and gives me daily joy. Ditching the lawn was the best decision I ever made! Grounded Landscaping still provides support, as and when I need it. Glenice is the consummate professional with oodles of knowledge and experience. I thoroughly recommend this company

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    • Derek Tedder, SandownDerek Tedder, Sandown

      I was very lucky to come across Grounded landscaping; it was an absolute pleasure to deal with people where the client comes first! From the first discussion to the finishing off, the service was great and nothing was too much. The knowledge and suggestions were first class and the results speak for themselves, very happy ????

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    • Candi Smith, LonehillCandi Smith, Lonehill

      It has been an honour to meet Glenice, Ryan and the Grounded Landscaping team who have completely transformed my garden into the most joyful and serene space with beauty and interest around every corner. Glenice has an inspirational passion and knowledge for gardens, wildlife and the environment and working with Ryan and the team, provided a very professional end to service from the garden design and installation of plants, hard landscaping, lights, veggie garden and a water feature. Glenice and Ryan share their vast knowledge and experience to educate people on the plants, animals and insects that share and enjoy the garden, with interesting and relevant advice on how to care for it. This was more than a project; it has been a fascinating and exciting experience. I highly recommend Grounded Landscaping to anyone looking to transform their home and environment.

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    • Eric & Amelia Kleijn, ParktownEric & Amelia Kleijn, Parktown

      We would like to place on record our sincere thanks and gratitude for the outstanding service we received from Grounded Landscaping. The enthusiasm displayed by all your staff was a delight. It was so refreshing to work with knowledgeable people who clearly love what they do; and more importantly, are very good at what they do.

      We have no hesitation in recommending Grounded Landscaping. They genuinely care about their work and take great pride in it. And it shows! May they grow from strength to strength!

      All good wishes,

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    • Charmaine Lack, WendywoodCharmaine Lack, Wendywood

      Glenice, Ryan and the team are absolutely superb! They are professional, efficient and always provide excellent service! My garden is now a safe haven because of them! Thank you so much Glenice, Ryan and the team!

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    • Leila Akahloun, AthollLeila Akahloun, Atholl

      Ryan and Glenice are experts at indigenous gardens. They provide designs and costings up front and are great thought partners on garden design. They manage a highly professional crew and they were quick , cost effective and efficient. I highly recommend their services. Top notch professionals!

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    • Kathy & Peter Strehler, Wilro ParkKathy & Peter Strehler, Wilro Park

      Once again thanks so much for all your hard work last week on our garden makeover. Your layout, plant selection and advice are appreciated and especially thanks for just being the special person you are. We are thrilled with the result and can’t wait to watch everything grow up and grow tall and lush.

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    • Penny Allen, BroadacresPenny Allen, Broadacres

      Having had Glenice create a garden from scratch for my daughter to helping me with my garden on several occasions I cannot speak highly enough of her and her team. Glenice has a real understanding and love for the work she does and it SHOWS !! She has taught me a lot which adds to the overall appreciation of one’s unique space and opens one’s eyes to little aspects of nature that previously were not in one’s awareness. We need more of her in our world. She is an asset to nature.

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    • Carel Robinson, RandburgCarel Robinson, Randburg

      Excellent client service. Glenice is focused to deliver a complete service to her clients. Attention to small details was done to the T.

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    • Gordon & Sue Morrison, The Bush House, Madikwe Game ReserveGordon & Sue Morrison, The Bush House, Madikwe Game Reserve

      Glenice, Ryan and the team from Grounded Landscaping have been an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish. Bearing in mind we are in the middle of a game reserve and so far away from Johannesburg, the planning and execution has been exemplary. In the seven days they were with us Glenice and Ryan were completely hands on, always available and totally involved with this large project. Everyone on the team was completely professional and friendly and it was a wonderful way for our staff and ourselves to learn so much with this hands on approach. Nothing was too much trouble and it was a project that had a “feel good“ effect. Our guests have been delighted with the result and we are doubly thrilled that due to this project we are saving 22 500 litres of water a week. Sincere thanks.

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    • Julia Blitz, MooikloofJulia Blitz, Mooikloof

      It is no surprise that this is an award winning company. It has been an absolute pleasure doing business with them as well as watching them work on my garden landscaping and planting. This is a professional team that works together, is passionate about the work that they do, and understands indigenous ecology at a deep systems level. I look forward to watching my new bushveld garden establish itself - the birds and butterflies are already appreciating it!
      I highly recommend this company and look forward to their maintenance visits over the forthcoming years.

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    • Natalie Skoutellas, BedfordviewNatalie Skoutellas, Bedfordview

      From the moment I contacted Grounded Landscaping I received professional yet personal service from Glenice. Upon our first meeting I knew I could trust Glenice to give me the look & feel I wanted & I was right. Glenice goes the extra mile to make sure you’re happy. When she saw I had small kids eager to play outside, she pushed her team to work faster. We ended up needing extra work done like piping, drainage & irrigation & yet the job was completed before the time she initially quoted us on.
      Thank you guys so much. You’re an amazing team. My garden looks awesome.

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    • Keith Coyne, Property ConsultantKeith Coyne, Property Consultant

      I think this should be used as a show garden to other residents with practical use of space by planting mainly indigenous species that will not get too big for the space and the limited use of exotic species intermixed with good herbs and veggies.

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    • Alex Dohm, FerndaleAlex Dohm, Ferndale

      Thank you to Ryan and his team for our garden makeover! From the word go, Ryan was professional, punctual and so easy to work with. He always made sure to take our ideas and requests on board while adding his knowledge, creativity and experience to ensure a superb end result. Our questions were always answered promptly and advice was always just an email away. Ryan constantly supervised his team during the project and delivered exactly what was promised. We would highly recommend Grounded Landscaping.

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    • Mike & Irina, BryanstonMike & Irina, Bryanston

      We found Grounded Landscaping on the internet and we were really satisfied with service provided from the initial planning consultation, through to site work and after sale services. The whole team was professional, hard working and extremely reliable. Ryan Ebedes kept us informed of the progress and any difficulties were dealt with ensuring minimum delay to the project. The whole project was implemented in an efficient way, with outstanding quality, stuck to the budget and schedule outlined from the beginning. As we were away from home, the after sale services provided by the team were really appreciated. We can definitely recommend your services in future to our friends and wish you much success with the business!

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    • Andrew & Melanie, WoodmeadAndrew & Melanie, Woodmead

      We have done extensive renovating and building in the past and I can honestly say that Grounded Landscaping provided us with by far the most professional and knowledgeable service yet. It’s easily apparent that Ryan and Glenice are passionate about what they do and this translates into a beautiful and considered final product. We love our garden renovation and the fire pit. The team working with Ryan was courteous, polite and hardworking. Ryan was on site all the time (unheard of with most jobs) and was always obliging and happy to help and give advice. This is a wonderful group of people who we couldn’t recommend more highly.

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    • Kimon & Shernon Triantafillou, BedfordviewKimon & Shernon Triantafillou, Bedfordview

      The entire process from initial consultation through to installation and post sales was excellent! Very professional and would highly recommend Grounded Landscaping.

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    • Christelle Dunn, Highlands NorthChristelle Dunn, Highlands North

      Glenice really listened to our specific needs for the garden. We wanted a simple, low-maintenance garden with indigenous plants and a French look. Glenice delivered on all our requirements! She carefully considered all aspects of the garden and gave us regular feedback during the installation process. She also left us with a maintenance plan. Very professional service!

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    • Lindy-Ann & John CunhaLindy-Ann & John Cunha

      For anyone looking to redo their garden and entertainment area, I can’t recommend Grounded Landscaping enough. They are an award-winning Johannesburg based landscaping company, headed up by Glenice Ebedes. They specialise in indigenous gardens, and focus on quality and attention to detail.

      Glenice and her partner Ryan make the most amazing team. They are so kind and gentle but fiercely professional too. They are uber efficient and super talented. Last year we briefed Glenice to design a beautiful but low maintenance garden for us, and right off the bat, we were impressed.

      I have never had a garden before and my green thumb is more a consequence of painting than gardening, so I really didn’t know where to start. Our designs were presented as professional layout renderings with full descriptions and explanations for the flowers chosen and trees selected. So much thought went into what plants would go where and why.

      Fast forward 6 months and our little Eden has really begun to take hold and flourish. I am so very proud of our beautiful garden and spend as much time in it as humanly possible. It has been perfectly designed as low maintenance as requested and as Glenice put it so perfectly, “this garden has been created for the birds, bees and butterflies” and I couldn’t be happier.

      *excerpt from https://itsacolourfulworld.com/2019/03/18/grounded-landscaping-gauteng/

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    • Kamanie Moodley, MidrandKamanie Moodley, Midrand

      From day one..from the initial meeting with Glenice, to the design stage and finally the installation; the entire process was hassle free and smooth sailing. It's exactly what I wanted - a hands on person who took charge at every stage to ensure her team were on track and keeping to design needs.

      Glenice was on site the entire time, keeping to deadlines; and always on time which is so unusual in this line of work. Her hands on approach and eagle's eye for attention to detail gave me alot of confidence. I have learnt so much from Glenice, in terms of what works for a garden and she has challenged my thinking on a few topics. I love her passion for indigenous planting as well as creating a space that attracts wildlife. I put in my first sisal nesting log last week; and waiting patiently now for barbets to occupy the nest. Thanks to Glenice for that! Next is the bee hotel!

      Ryan, her husband helped us with advice on the irrigation system so we have more efficient watering.
      They are a perfect team, listening attentively to the client's needs and patiently giving advise.

      Phase 1 of my garden is done. Now I can't wait for Phase 2 to begin!

      I highly recommend Grounded Landscaping to transform your garden into a haven. God knows, we all need something to revive our spirits during this Lockdown.

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    • Steven Green, GreenstoneSteven Green, Greenstone

      I was truly blown away by the service, in my experience there are very few companies now days that do as they say, not only was the job completed earlier than estimated but little things such as sourcing paint for the walling and replacing broken walkway steps from the original manufacturer were sourced and delivered within a few hours. I was expecting to have to do it myself. I can definitely recommend this company to anyone for all landscaping requirements, by far the best service provider I have dealt with in a very long time. Thank you Ryan and Glenice it was a pleasure working with you!

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    • Barbara Devine, BlairgowrieBarbara Devine, Blairgowrie

      I found Grounded Landscaping through Google and liked what they were offering. I called, and they were very professional and efficient. Ryan came to quote and sent the design within 24 hours and the I received the quote within a week. I thought the price quoted was very reasonable. The work on the garden commenced as per agreed date and I am very happy with the final garden. Ryan kept me updated daily and the work carried out was professional and efficient, whilst being friendly and helpful. Once the garden was completed, Ryan and Glenice came to take me through the care of the plants and presented me with a book on indigenous plants which was a really nice touch. The small things make all the difference. A thoroughly enjoyable experience and I am very happy with the outcome and would definitely recommend Grounded Landscaping.

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    Grounded Landscaping is an award-winning landscaping company specialising in indigenous, wildlife-friendly gardens. We are based in the Cradle of Humankind, a world heritage site and part of the grassland biome of Southern Africa. We service most areas of Gauteng, including Johannesburg, Centurion and Pretoria.
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