If the idea of landscape gardening sounds rather daunting, don’t worry. You don’t need to be an owner of a large estate and a have a team of gardeners to plan and execute a garden makeover. Landscape gardening is simply taking time to plan what you want to use your garden for, what you’d like in it, and where.
Here are a few things to think about as you design:
Lawns, borders and paving
Most gardens will incorporate a combination of lawns, planted borders, pathways and paving. If you have children or grandchildren and you might want more space and a larger lawn for ball games. If barbecues and entertaining is your thing then a large patio area or decking might be required. If you love planting and caring for plants you’ll want extensive borders and beds.
From an ornamental fountain to a simple bird table, features can be a delightful addition to any garden. The key is to keep these to a minimum. Too many and you risk not having anything as a focal point. A good example of a ‘signpost’ feature would be a bird’s drinking fountain at the centre of the garden where two paths cross.
Flowers, shrubs, plants and trees
To help you work out which flowers, plants, shrubs and trees will best flourish in which part of your garden, you’ll need to take into account a number of things:
- How much light does your garden get? Is it in the shade? Is it north or south facing?
- What type of climate is it - wet, dry, humid?
- What type of soil do you have? Clay, sandy, chalky, peaty?
Once you’ve assessed the conditions in your garden it will be much easier to determine the types of plants that will really thrive. The BBC gardening site is a great place to discover a list of plants based on factors such as soil, lighting, colour and climate.
The next stage of landscape gardening is to think about what’s going to go where. With borders, gardeners often start with the simple premise of tall plants, shrubs, grasses and flowers at the rear, cascading down in size to the edge of a path or lawn. Feel free however to experiment; the classic English garden is often a more informal jumble of sizes, colours and shapes.
Putting it all together
To begin with, map out an aerial view of your garden. You don’t need to measure to the exact centimetre, but do try to be as close to scale as possible. Take time to look at a variety of aerial garden designs. You will notice that many incorporate curves and crescents, which balanced with straight lines and corners make the garden layout easier on the eye. Map out how you’d like to combine and balance all of the above.
Take time to budget for your landscape gardening so you have an idea of how much the final cost will be. It is probably best to see your garden as a long-term project allowing you to spread the cost and the workload over time.
You can also call in the professionals. Your need to employ a professional gardener or ground-keeper will depend on the size of your garden and the finances you have available. Fees, skills and services will vary hugely, so take time to shop around to find the best person or business that can deliver.
Whatever you do, remember that after all your hard work (and expense) it’s important to spend time in your garden and really enjoy the fruits of your labour.