How To Design Your Garden

"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas" - Elizabeth Murray

For those of you with a garden it will have been put to bed and the jobs that can be done outside are limited to winter pruning; pest and disease treatments; repairing and general clearing up. Use this spare time to review the previous year, plan new projects and order seeds and plants

For those of you who are looking at a blank piece of land and don't know where to start, this is a questionnaire to help you on your way. Just tick or highlight whichever apply

1.WHAT DO YOU USE YOUR GARDEN FOR?

Pets

Games/Recreation

Growing ornamentals

Eating

Livestock

Producing food

Children

Entertaining

Parking

2. WHAT IS YOUR SOIL TYPE

Wet

Sandy

Stony

Clay

Dry

3. WHICH PLANTS WOULD YOU LIKE

Shrubs

Bulbs

Herbs

Bedding / Annuals

Fruit

Alpine/Rock

Grasses

Trees

Herbaceous/
perennials

4. WHICH STYLE DO YOU WANT

Romantic

Minimalist

Cottage

Traditional

Foliage

Contemporary

Dry

Rock / Scree

Formal

Bog / Damp

Wild

Knot / Parterre

Colour Themed

5. HOW MUCH MAINTENANCE

Hours per week

High

Low

Medium

6. YOUR BUDGET

Furniture

Building materials ie sand/cement/ etc

Gravel/chippings

Plants

Tools & equipment, mower/shears etc

Ornament

Total

Hire of machinery

Stone / Wood

Labour

7. WHAT FEATURES DO YOU WANT

Lawn

Potager

Hard Surfaces - paving, decking, gravel

Games area -
Tennis, petanque, crouquet

Orchard

Pool

Lighting

Pet Area

Summer Kitchen / BBQ

Structures -
Pergolas, pavillions, treehouses

Children's Area

Know what You're Dealing With - How large is your plot?

Draw a scaled plan of your plot by measuring the external walls of the house. Then measure the distance between two corners of the house, then from both of these corners to a fixed point on the boundary.

Do this with all corners. Repeat the process to include fixed structures such as swimming pools, out buildings, trees and shrubs to be kept, entrances and exits etc. These triangulations will then give you an accurate plan. Be sure to include underground pipes and drains, septic tanks and inspection chambers.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of measure an area.

Simple Guidelines

Make a note of views to be kept, eyesores to be screened, orientation, sun traps, frost pockets and don't forget views from within the house, line up paths and vistas seen from windows.

Keep herbs and vegetables close to the house for easy access.

Consider your paths - hard surfaces are best for heavy traffic, especially near the house.

Allow plenty of space for outdoor living areas like terrace/patio/decking.

Keep functional things like washing lines, compost bins, plastic tunnels out of sight.

Identify the areas for your selections from 1, 3 and 7 above and fit them to your plan,

Make up a mood board using plants, colours, styles and hard materials. There are a lot of magazines that will give you a good range of ideas. Try Gardens Illustrated, English Gardens, Homes and Gardens and the excellent French magazine - L'art des Jardins.

Visit other gardens for ideas and talk to other gardeners.

Look at what grows in your area - if you've moved from wet Devon as we did then the plants that worked there will struggle here. You may get something to survive but it may not look lovely. Look for a similar alternative. Over the years you can spend a lot of time and money on trying to grow the wrong plants for this climate, so take your time and start right.

Be sensitive to your surrounding landscape -link the style and planting to your area.


Use the vistas - frame focal points like a lone tree or building in the distance.

Repeat shapes - the curve of the line of trees on the horizon can be echoed in your hedges. By borrowing the landscape like this you can give the illusion of more space.

As the sun is constantly moving, place seats in strategic places to catch it at different times during the day. Consider the view from these seats as well.

Remember, it does not have to be done all at once - you can have a 2, 5 or 10 year plan. Start with the hard landscaping, hedges and specimen trees and shade; the rest of the planting can be spread out over as long a time as you wish. A few packets of annual seeds will cover in one season while you are waiting for your permanent planting to mature

Finally don't forget art in your garden - sculpture in stone, metal, wood, resin or concrete, use them as focal points, inject some humour. Mirrors or lighting for reflection and mood change. Water, wind chimes or rustling grasses for sound. encourage wild life, feed the birds.

The garden is your space, use all of it, don't just look at it.

MoodBoard_LW
DSCF3898
garden-grass-lawn-lg_A2
garden-paths-17-lg_A4
garden contemporary