How to create the perfect garden

The weather in the UK can be a little harsh on our gardens and patios, but with a little simple TLC, you can create a perfect outdoor space in no time without spending a fortune. You don’t need to be Diarmuid Gavin to come up with a few simple garden design ideas, in fact, trust me when I say this, I can guarantee that you’ll find that the whole process is actually pretty rewarding.

Alice Round 4 Seater Garden Table

First things first, if you’re planning a new garden or simply updating the existing design, start by creating a list of all your ‘wants’. Determine from the off what you want to do and what you need to achieve the desired end result and if your working to a budget, prioritise and look to spread the work out over a number of years if need be. Stand in every corner of your existing garden and look around you in every direction. It is critical at this stage that you establish what’s worth keeping in situ, what’s worth moving around to another part of the garden and what should be removed altogether. The view from inside the house is important, but you also need to consider what your house will look when you are in the garden looking back at it, and whether it can be improved with say a deck or planting.

Once you’ve decided what it is you actually want to do, you can sketch out a site plan. Measure your garden and draw a basic plan that you can then follow. Size, shape, aspect, existing boundaries, slopes and the current soil conditions will all form the vital framework of your garden and so, whether or not they will be changed, you need to take them all into account. Identify any areas where the soil is poor, where the sun is a various times of the day and where the shady spots are. Also, establish where you feel secluded, where you feel exposed to your neighbours, and any areas that are difficult to maintain.

Be realistic about what you will be able to achieve within your existing time, space and budget, and to save money, try to avoid changing the infrastructure (e.g. pathways, drainage, services, relocation of manholes etc) of the garden too much. And if you’re pretty happy with the layout/design of your garden, but feel its looking a little tired, then we have the following tips to help you bring your outdoor space back to life…

  • Get a paintbrush in your hand
    Probably one of the easiest ways to brighten up your outdoor space is with a lick of fresh paint. Your garden shed, fencing, decking, garden furniture and even a bit of concrete can be instantly revived with a fresh coat of paint. The materials in your garden, be it metal, timber or stone for example, need to stand up to both the elements and general wear and tear, so make sure you use a good quality paint that is fit for the purpose you intend to use. If you need masonry paint then buy specialist masonry paint such as Sandtex or Dulux Weathershield. If you’ve got any unsightly retaining walls or concrete, a fresh coat of paint will not only look fantastic and really liven up you garden, but it will also give you a little extra protection against damp and seeping water.
  • Invest in new garden furniture
    Comfortable, stylish furniture is the key to decorating any room in your house, and exactly the same applies outside too. No garden or patio area is complete without garden furniture. And even if your budget is limited, with a little TLC you can easily bring your old patio furniture back to life at a fraction of the cost. With the never-ending credit crunch, it makes sense for us Britons to spend a little more time in our own gardens as travel spending is cut. Now is the time to make the most of the outdoors and garden furniture is the key component.
  • Light up your garden
    British weather permitting, your garden can be the perfect place to relax in the evening with friends and family, and you might not be ready to move inside when the sun goes down. To avoid sitting in darkness, consider investing is some patio lighting. From path sconces and post lamps, to string lights and spotlights, there are many different ways to keep your outdoor space lit and ready to entertain. You might even consider some energy-saving solar models for an easy and eco-friendly solution. And its not all about simply providing light for you to use the garden. Carefully thought out lighting is also fab when you’re not using the garden. It can be used to add interest when sat inside by illuminating features and planting.
  • Take a trip to your local nursery
    Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural gardener, adding some interesting plants to  your garden can real make a difference. Container plants offer the opportunity for a little vibrant decoration on your deck or patios, and are perfect for those who live in apartment buildings or have limited outdoor space. A quick visit to any home and garden center will help you find the perfect additions for your garden and patio. Read the labels and identify plants that will grow in the environment you plan to plant them, and if in doubt, speak to a member of staff or pick up a copy of a gardening how-to book to find the right plants for you.
  • Look into ways to increase the amount of time you can spend in your garden
    With a few simple additions, you can easily extend the time you can use your patio long into the evening when the sun goes down and during the milder days of late spring/early autumn. Some require a little more investment such as a roof or heat lamps, but others are a little kinder on the pocket, such as candles and creating a natural screen with bamboo. Enclosing it with a fixed structure, awnings, patio heaters or a natural screen etc will help to keep it a little warmer and provide shelter from the wind. A fire pit is also a great low cost addition to your outdoor living area. They are relatively in expensive to buy, the fuel is cheap and they really give off a lot of heat. You might not have the space or permission if you’re in an apartment for a large fire pit, but there are smaller and enclosed versions available to fit any budget. From cement pits to cast iron table-tops, there’s a wide variety of styles and materials that will ensure you’ll find the perfect match for your outdoor space and your pocket.

Taking the time to design your garden makes all the difference between creating a beautiful garden and a haphazard growth of trees and plants. To create the perfect garden, the most essential part of the process is always the design. A garden is dynamic by nature and as we all know they change, grow, spread, and die over time.  It really is a wonderful sense of achievement knowing that perfect garden was designed and created by your own hands. Anybody can pop to their local DIY store or garden centre and purchase bedding plants, but if you don’t carefully plan and design your garden, then you could just end up with a mix of plants that grow to different heights, or flowering times and all your effort will count for nothing as they will not thrive. Take a long hard look at the space you want to plant up, you may want containers and hanging baskets, beds full of colour, so think about what you want to plant and buy container plants that will deliver what you want them too.

Don’t be afraid to use your imagination and creativity, coupled with a few simple garden design ideas it will look fantastic. Choose plants for your garden that’ll grow according towards the direction of where the sun shines in your garden and pay attention to the colour scheme. This is an important component of good garden design. You can opt for colours that will blend well with the existing landscape, keep things neutral, calm and simple. Alternatively, you can make use of more vibrant colours such as dark purple, red or orange to make a real statement, or go for green, blue, pale yellow or light purple to keep things cool and understated. Plants should be planted to follow the shape of your shape.  You could complement a focal point in your garden by planting plants outward and forward in descending order of height and this will further help to draw the eye in.

When it comes to garden design, whether its a cottage style garden, formal garden, rock garden, city garden or kitchen garden they all follow the basic principles of garden designing. Garden design is simply the process of creating plans for the planting scheme and layout of your garden, nothing more complicated than that. And the internet is a great place to start, do your research, join discussion forums and make use of the free design software you can now find on many of the leading garden sites. If you’ve got the money then by all means bring in a landscape designing professional, they’re are trained in horticulture and have more of an expert knowledge on designing planting schemes etc. But for me, there is no knowledge like personal experience and the only way you can learn by putting in the time and effort in their own garden. However, there’s a few basic principles that you should always try and follow if you want your garden to be perfect:

  • The natural layout of your existing garden such as walkways, water features, native plants and patios etc need to be looked at carefully and incorporated into any new plans before you start making any modifications.
  • The unique characteristics of the plants need to be looked at in conjunction with your design so that you can decide what to encourage and what to remove from within your garden.
  • Think about how you you and your family plan to use the garden, is it purely for style and appearance or do you plan to use if for entertaining?
  • Location is essential, it will influence the entire garden design, especially when it comes to identifying a suitable location for plants.
  • Incorporate the natural boundaries and any view beyond to add impact to your garden design.
  • A planting scheme is essential when designing a new or revamping an existing garden.
  • Natural elements such as weather conditions and lighting should be carefully considered as they’ll form an integral part of your final design.

About Lazy Susan

About Lazy Susan

Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit www.lazysusanfurniture.co.uk to find out more and view our complete product range.

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