While The House Is Built

If you are getting a house built you can feel lost with not much to do between the contracts being signed and being ready to move.

Here are some suggestions for you to be doing during the wait.

Inspect Progress

I have always made at least weekly visits to inspect progress during construction.

It’s surprising how it gives you a better idea of what’s behind the walls. Y

ou might even discover some mistakes at an early stage and avoid time wasting corrections being needed later.

Growing Plants

With a new garden you will probably need lots of new plants.

One we way we saved money was by buying lots of plants in 50mm pots, some compost and 100mm pots.

We then replanted all the new plants in the larger pots and refilled the smaller pots with either seeds or cuttings from our garden.

To make it easier to water them I set up a very basic spray system.

By the time we were ready to move we had over a hundred reasonably sized plants ready to go.

Making Garden Features and Furniture

I quite like making mosaics so for our last house I made a number of mosaics on concrete paving slabs, which were then set in paths around the house.

These made interesting features.

I also used mosaics to make a small garden table.

Another project could be to build wooden benches and garden tables.

Start a Worm Farm

With most new houses by the time the builder has finished there isn’t much good soil left.

Although you can buy compost and top soil there aren’t many worms and other organisms in it.

Starting a worm farm can help.

To make mine develop faster I used to collect the coffee grounds and tea bags from the kitchen at work to add to the stuff from home.

You could also used paper from the shredder or ask you favourite café to save you their coffee grounds.

Build a Dog Kennel

If you have got a pet that spends part of its life outside you need to be sure its got somewhere to keep out of the weather.

You are getting a new house so why not make sure your pet gets looked after.

Make Pelmets

One way of keeping the heat in the house is to fit pelmets above the windows.

These, together with Curtains, stops the heat being drawn down the cold windows at night.

These can be reasonably easily made before your move and fitted as soon as you get possession.


What things have you made, or wished you had made, before you moved into a house?

Also see Settling In

6 Reasons For Not Having A Pool

With the first month of summer some people are thinking about swimming pools . . . . . Not Me! and here’s why:

Safety  –  Last year 43 Australians drowned in swimming pools (RLS Drowning Report) including 18 children under 5.  For every death there is at least one more child left with permanent brain impairment.

Cost  –  Not just the initial cost, but serious ongoing costs of around $1000/year for the average pool.  These include; power to run the filters, heating (even with solar heating you need to run a pump), and chemicals .

Poor Investment  –  It’s very unlikely to increase the value of your house.  The presence of a pool will actually put plenty of people off!  If you are planning to rent out your house you will probably still need to pay someone to maintain the pool, as most tenants will probably not be interested.

No Exercise Benefit A push off the wall and a couple of strokes to get to the other end, you will get more exercise walking round the block.

Limited Use Most pools hardly get used after the first year. Even if you have got children who want to use the pool have you got the time to supervise them properly (see Safety above).

Maintenance  –  Leaves, dead birds, mice, insects, spiders you can find them all in the filters. If you don’t clean them out regularly, and check the chemical balance, you are going to have a nasty looking pool.

If you do decide to get a pool make sure you keep it clean by checking out this cleaner guide by Globo Surf


Don’t agree . . . . .why not leave a comment?




I think a Shovel, as well as a Spade, is a worthwhile addition to your tool collection for your new home.

You should be able to buy a ‘Concreters’ Shovel like this for $25 dollars, or less, so it shouldn’t break the bank!

As well as concreting it’s a good shovel for loading bark. topsoil, or any other loose material into a Wheelbarrow.

If your partners is helping you having both of you shoveling, one with the shovel, and one with a spade, will get the job done a lot faster.

The same goes for cleaning, as with a spade, make sure you clean it after every use.


The Settling In Section contains lots of advice on what

to do after you have moved in your new house


Improving Soil After A New Build

Guest post by David Limburg of Online Garden Design

With most new houses, the garden is often the last aspect of the new build that is considered. Often the soil is left in a terrible state by the construction process. Below we outline how to improve your soil after the builders have gone.

What’s Needed

Improving the quality of the soil is necessary for healthy plant growth. Making certain that the soil is of good quality will provide the necessary nutrient for roots to grow which depend on the soil quality.

Soil of very good quality is often denoted as loam; it contains sandy and clay partials in such case, the soil has enough porosity and drainage such that it can hold fertility, nutrients, and moisture in abundance.

Improving The Structure

A nice friable loamy soil is achieved through two main functions:

  • Good, thorough aeration of the compacted soil.
  • Addition of LOADS of organic matter such as compost.

Organic matter will not only improve the soil structure, but it will also enable the soil to retain more moisture and nutrients and provide an excellent medium for plants roots to thrive.

Testing The Soil Quality

Testing the soil is to determine the pH level and nutrient content, factors essential for good quality soil. Too much or too little nutrient, such as phosphorous or potassium, is detrimental to plants. The correct quantity is necessary for best plant growth.

The pH offers an indication of the concentration of nutrient in the soil and has values from 1 (most acid) to 14 (most alkaline).

Testing the soil to determine whether it is perfect for the type of plants that you want to be growing in your garden is very simple by the use of test strips.

Generally vegetables and ornamental prefer soil that is little acidic with a pH of 6 or 7.

Soil that does not have the correct pH prevents plants from acquiring the necessary nutrient, even if they are present in the soil in high amount. Low pH may also increase the solubility of certain minerals to toxic levels like magnesium.

Online Garden Design custom made unique landscape designs – Landscape design packages and do it yourself landscape guides. Landscape designs/garden plans for new house builds. Online Garden Designs Australia wide including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart


Tree Selection – Fail

The sight of this Norfolk pine towering over this single storey house caused me to stop the car!

And the tree is only half grown.

It breaks RULE 2 of suburban tree selection – “Don’t get a tree that grows to more than 50% taller than your house.” 

(Rule 1 is “Read the label”)

Getting Rid of Unsuitable Trees

Removing dead and unsuitable trees and stumps safeguards your landscape so that you can replant and redesign the space as you please.

To ensure you are working with a healthy landscape, ensure you have inspected the area and identified all trees or stumps that may need to be removed.

Tree and Stump removal requires a high level of expertise and is not recommended as do it yourself.

Enlisting a professional removal service like Daryl’s Tree Care and Surgery is essential to identify potential hazards in your garden and to safely undertake the removal process without disturbing the rest of your landscape.”


For more Unusual Houses and Fails see What the………………….?


No Lawn, No Water Garden

Lots of people seem to think…….

  • You have to have a lawn in your new house.
  • You need a full scale watering system.

Here are some pictures of the last garden we developed that has neither. We planted the garden near the house with clumps of native grasses, succulents and flaxes along a dry stream bed.

Further back, along the fence we used native shrubs and some palms.

When we plant I water the plant in and then water about a week later,. After that its on its own……if it dies it gets replaced with something hardier.

In case you think this is in a tropical area you would be wrong.

It’s in Werribee the driest Melbourne Suburb (40% less rain than than eastern suburbs).

The garden was planted in 2006 and the photos were taken in 2010 after 4 years of Victorian drought.


Also see Guerrilla Gardening


Tree Roots in Sewers and Drains

If  you are wondering what this photo is about, its been taken from the inside of a 100mm sewer pipe with a CCTV camera.

What it shows is the pipe is almost completely blocked with roots that have penetrated the pipe joints.

If you think all these roots are quite thin then have a look at this Root that has been cut out of a sewer, compared with a 50c coin.

Just remember these photos before you plant a big tree in that Easement in your property.

Most water authorities produce guides of suitable things to plant near sewers and drains, Thia is a link to: Melbourne Water’s Guide.


Modern Bird House

Just moved into your new modern house and would like to encourage birds in your garden?

Think all the bird houses look old fashioned?

How about this?


It’s called Camera Shutter.

Or this?

It’s called Right Angle.

These bird houses and several more interesting designs can be bought online from Twig and Timber


For more Unusual ‘Houses’ go to What the………………….?


Pebble Gardens

Stone Mulches, Dry River Bed, Desert Gardens, they are all variations in having a garden covered with stones rather than having soil or an organic mulch.

It’s popular as a low maintenance finish to your new house garden.

I have used the technique a few times including back in 2006 when I went the Dry River Bed look.

Here is what you should know:

  • Give the whole area a good dose of weed killer first.
  • Put weed mat on the soil first, not plastic sheet. You want the soil to ‘breath’ and have water seep through to get to the roots of any plants you put in.
  • Don’t skimp on the stone, you need a thick layer to make sure you cover all the soil.
  • Don’t think its ‘No Maintenance’ It will probably be relatively weed free for the first couple of years than dirt and seeds will get blown into the gaps. If you don’t then keep on top of the weeds the whole area can start to look scruffy, like this photo below!


For similar posts see Garden


Hiring a Dingo Loader

Spreading a lot of topsoil or levelling a large garden yourself?………….One of the best tools is a ‘Dingo’ or ‘Kanga’ loader. These can usually be hired locally at very reasonable rates.

Can be a bit scary driving the dingo off the trailer. Just go slow and you should be alright. You will be jerky and wobbly at first but I found after 10mins I got the hang of it and started enjoying it.

These machines are narrow enough to go through most gateways (Less than 900mm wide), but as I was on a corner block so found it easiest to take out a fence panel.

As well as the basic machine some attachments that may be worth hiring at the same time are:

  • A bucket with teeth if you are planning to dig compacted soil.
  • A large capacity bucket for moving compost and mulch.
  • A rotary auger if you are putting in posts, or even preparing to plant trees or large shrubs.

Safety Warning:
Even though it’s fun its a heavy powerful machine that needs to be treated with respect so:

    1. Don’t try to climb too steep a bump or sudden hill on the ground, go too quick or do anything that will put it off balance or tip over. You don’t want it to roll on you.
    2. Make sure that pets and children are well out of the way.
    3. Don’t allow people to get behind you
    4. Take your time as you will feel like you are a cowboy riding a bull if you go too quick.
    5. Rest if you get tired.
    6. If you are crossing a footpath get some cones and rope to keep pedestrians away.

A final piece of advice “Don’t let the wife have a go or you will never get her off it”.

What piece of Hire Equipment have you found useful?


The Settling In Section contains lots of advice on what to do after

you have moved in your new house.