After a long cold Winter, Spring has finally arrived and the warm sunshine is tempting us back out into our gardens. However, our first forays outside are also the time when we start to notice those neglected patches of garden that we always said we’d get round to replanting or landscaping last year.
Now is a good time to make a start on that transformation to turn your garden into a beautiful and useful space, so that you can enjoy it during the months we all love to be outside.
But before excitedly heading off on a spending spree to the garden centre, it’s worth putting aside a little time to plan and design your garden. This simple act will help focus on what you need from your garden and save you time, energy and money in the long run.
1. Draw up a list of practical considerations
Your first task is to decide on such practical considerations as how much time you have to look after your garden, what you need from the space and how many people you need it to accommodate.
In thinking about what you want from your garden speak to others who are going to be using it in order to decide whether you need areas for:
- Entertaining people and if so how many.
- Growing vegetables both in beds and in a greenhouse.
- Kids to play safely.
- Relaxing and grabbing a bit of peace and quiet from work and family.
- Storing gardening tools, bicycles, outdoor furniture, kids toys.
- A work space or outdoor office.
- Bins or compost that might need screening from sight.
- Privacy away from nosy neighbours.
- Washing lines.
2. Then create your personal wish list
Now you’ve decided on how you need your garden to function, you can then think about what you want from your new outdoor space.
Think about the shapes, colours and styles you like. Look for inspiration in books, magazines and the Internet. Another great way to pick up ideas is to visit local gardens and garden shows and take photos of anything you see that you like. Most public gardens also label their plants so you can easily start compiling a list of your favourites.
Consider the atmosphere and mood you want to create in your space. For example, planting for a relaxed, romantic atmosphere would be very different that used to create a vibrant, energetic mood.
Just as important as deciding what you do like, consider what you really don’t like and make a note of this too. This will keep your plans and planting scheme on track and tailored towards your tastes.
3. Be clear on your budget
When shopping for planting, landscaping materials and outside furniture it’s all too easy to get swept up in the excitement of the moment and splurge vast amounts of money. Set your budget and stick to it.
Careful planning alongside a resourceful approach to stocking your garden can see even the smallest budget go an extremely long way.
Besides, the beauty of a garden is that it’s a work in progress that can be added to and changed over the coming years as and when more funds become available.
4. Measure up
It’s extremely important to get an accurate idea of the size and shape of the garden area you’re working with. Taking the time to measure your garden will provide you with a scale plan that helps you understand your space and decide how to split it up, plant, landscape and furnish it.
5. Track the path of the Sun
Knowing where the sun comes up and goes down everyday in your garden will give you a much clearer idea of where to position things. If you’re favouring sun loving plants they’ll need to be planted in a south or west facing border. Whereas if you’re someone who prefers to sit in shade your patio will work best on a north or east facing aspect.
6. Know your soil
Understanding the pH balance of your soil is essential when choosing what plants to purchase. Plants such as magnolias, azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons grow best in acid soil. Whereas lilac, lily of the valley, lavender and honeysuckle thrive in an alkaline soil. If your soil is neutral then you have a broad range of popular plants that will grow successfully.
Soil testing kits are readily available from local garden centres and are simple to do and give you quick results.
7. Get your design down on paper
Once armed with all the information you need you can start to map out your new garden on your scale plan. Section off areas for entertaining, storage and planting. Add paths to connect zones to one another. Place outdoor lighting to illuminate patios, guide people through the garden and highlight garden features.
Then fill in your design with details of landscaping material and plants to give you colour, texture, height and interest throughout the year.
If you need a hand with any of the above, simply call in the garden design experts who will help you through the process – and do the hard work of landscaping your garden too! Thames Valley Landscapes have helped many homes transform their gardens into beautiful spaces. Speak to them today to find out how they can help yours. Call 01628 629720.