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How to design and maintain a Southeast Asian style garden

Even if you go deep into the rural areas of many Southeast Asian regions, a general garden design and maintenance style very quickly becomes apparent. Very distinct characteristics make gardens in this region a pleasure to maintain and these distinct characteristics come to the fore whether there is ample or limited space.

Often the space is indeed limited, with the public-facing side of the typical Southeast Asian home suggesting that there might not be any space at all for a garden. This is what makes Southeast Asian gardens so magical, but it goes beyond just trying to make the space as green as possible, complemented with some very bright colours. It’s more about honouring the traditions that developed a considerable amount of time ago, which are deeply rooted in making full use of Mother Nature’s flora fighting very hard to grow and flourish.

Different types of planters

Because of limited space, or the general belief that space for “showy” gardening should be allocated as close to the building structure as possible, the typical Southeast Asian garden heavily features different kinds of planters and plant pots.

Outdoor garden furniture will often be found located out in the patio, balcony or even right by the side of the road, complemented by flowering plants that are located in different types of planters. Portability is not necessarily the order of the day, because some of these planters are made of concrete and are heavy, with some of them built right into the building structures. So you might see a wall that has some planters built into it.

Making use of the plants’ adaptability

Plants have proven, time and again, to be extremely adaptable. In other parts of the world the ones, we nurse and nurture appear to be a lot more fragile and frail though, but in Southeast Asian gardens even the most beautiful of flowering plants often need to be trimmed and pruned so that they don’t grow out of control. Trimming and pruning the plants will give you a great view to enjoy from any outdoor garden furniture you have.

A preference for functional crops over lawns

Even in the case that a particular family might have a sizeable plot of land to work with, you’ll seldom, if at all, see something like a lawn. There’s a preference for functional crops over those that just take up space to make the garden look beautiful, although they do manage to make it look great. So you might have fruit-bearing trees planted or something like a pumpkin patch, watermelons, etc. The main building usually takes up most of the space with what people in other places in the world would refer to as exotic trees, like palms, bananas, etc, complementing the main building structure.

Man and nature coming together

A typical Southeast Asian garden is one which is designed to encourage the coming together of man and nature. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see a topless homeowner enjoying their compact, shaded outdoor space, on some great-looking teak outdoor garden furniture. The shade is a combination of natural shade from the trees, shade form the building structure and perhaps some extendable, covered garden furniture pieces.

katie
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