Building a better future through sustainable garden design

“By spending time in nature and gardens we are able to go back to the basics of who we are as humans.”

A sustainable led approach should lie at the heart of any landscape design if you wish your garden to flourish and thrive. Here at Mashamba Design, we have been working in a Mediterranean climate for over 10 years, so we have first-hand knowledge and experience of the limitations and opportunities that our local ecology presents. As designers, we always endeavour to uphold our commitment to protect the environment – creating gardens and terraces that are sanctuaries for our clients as well as for the birds and the bee’s!

The Balearics averages between 450-500mm of rainfall annually, with as little as 5mm per month during the peak summer months. Given the current changes we are all experiencing with our global climate, it is not unusual these days for the thermostat to hit highs of over 40 degrees Celsius. Soil preparation, correct irrigation and choosing primarily native plants are all essential given how precious a resource water is here. In the early years of a garden establishing itself, water usage is always more than perhaps you may anticipate – but once the plants have established themselves and given you have chosen your plant types wisely, there is no reason why you cannot create your own oasis filled with colour and life. 

As we always try to work with nature, we also look to work with your existing landscape – always keeping any well-established tree’s or plants that fit with the design brief.  Many of the island’s native trees and shrubs, such as the Olea europaea and Lentiscus are the perfect definition of sustainable in the sense that they require absolutely nothing to survive. If you already have these sturdy evergreens on your land, it is important to make the most of them as they can be cleaned up and shaped however you like, bringing large mature accent points to a garden.

“At Mashamba, we create spaces of great beauty where you can relax, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of what life is really all about.”

Building A better future, one sustainable garden at a time

We are exceedingly fortunate that there is a myriad of Mediterranean plants to choose from that are both beautiful yet resilient.

One key thing to consider if you want to create a sustainable garden is limiting the amount of lawn – they need a lot of water in order to stay looking good over the summer months.  Of course, grassed areas can be incorporated, just not necessarily in the typical rectangular layout we are all familiar with. Think about smaller areas of grass blended into the planting scheme, not as a standalone feature.

Dry gardens are another concept that works particularly well here. Using gravel as ground cover reduces the amount of evaporation of moisture from the soil beneath and done well, can look spectacular.  This style is most often associated with succulents like Cacti but can be adapted to suit any planting scheme.

Tips for thinking sustainably at home

Whether you have an established garden or are thinking about how to design your outdoor space, here are a few basic tips to help your plants thrive.

  • Prepare your ground, soil provides the nutrient building blocks for your plants, a depleted soil will not produce healthy, sturdy plants.
  • Water less frequently but for longer. This helps the water go deeper where it will be less susceptible to evaporation, and the roots will follow it, making the plants considerably more drought tolerant than if the roots are shallow.
  • Place a gravel or compost over the topsoil. This helps considerably to retain the moisture.
  • Use a dripline irrigation system as opposed to sprinklers.
  • Avoid using plants that require heavy treatments. For example, the Phoenix Canariensis requires regular insecticide doses just to keep it alive. The same can be said for fungicides, although there are exceptions to the rule such as Cypresses that should be sprayed three times a year.

At Mashamba, we have the greatest love and respect for nature. So much so that nature itself is our biggest inspiration when it comes to our garden designs and respect towards it is one of the keystones in our ethos but also the secret to a long lasting and happy garden.