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Homes Extra: Digging a Design

How exciting, you have a garden to design! Whether you are taking on an established garden or working with a blank canvas, this is a wonderful opportunity to make your dream garden a reality

But where to start? It can seem like a monumental project and be a bit overwhelming at first, but break it down into stages, and it soon becomes manageable. The first question is, are you taking on the design yourself or are you getting in the professionals, or a mix of the two? There is a wealth of information and guidance available to help you, either way.

Once you have decided on who is leading this project, it’s time to have a really good think about what you actually want from your garden. Make a wish list of all the elements you would love to have in your outdoor space.

These might include:

• A lawn for children to play on

• A pond or water feature

• A kitchen garden for growing vegetables

• Low maintenance beds and boarders

• A shed/outhouse/greenhouse

• A lovely seating area

Of course, the list could be endless. You might like a secret garden with hidden areas to discover as you walk through, or a big open space might be more your preference. Perhaps you relish in the idea of an exotic garden – all hot colours, striking palms, and contrasting white paving – or it might be an abundant romantic English Country Garden that your heart desires, where you can sit amongst the aroma of lavender with a Virginia Woolf novel. Once you have your wish list, design a mood board. Here you can bring in the colours, textures, shapes, and features that catch your eye to provide you with inspiration for your garden design.

Now it’s time to get to the nitty gritty of the design. Measure your garden space and draw up some plans to scale. This allows you to proportion the garden correctly and estimate materials and plant quantities, helpful when you are costing your project. You could make cut out features that you can move around until you are happy with your design.

Things to consider when designing your garden:

• The size and shape of your garden

• Scale – be proportionate but playful • Positioning of paths, patios and driveways

• The areas of sunlight and shade in your garden

• Existing planting and designs – you may wish to retain original elements of the garden

• Practical features such as storage, access and security

• Your budget and how much time you have

Now let’s talk about planting. Do you have any particular plant or colour scheme likes or dislikes? You might want to consider the shape and texture of plants too – do you want to include leafy plants, seed heads, downy foliage, or swishing grasses? Think about all year interest; native plants; the time you have for high or low maintenance plants. Decorative plant pots make a great addition to all gardens as they can be moved around.

Don’t forget larger scale planting too; shrubs, trees and hedges. You might want to bring some fruit trees into your space, which not only have beautiful displays of blossom but will provide you with delicious fruit to nibble on as you enjoy your garden. Garden boundaries are another thing to take into consideration. Perhaps you already have fences or hedges, but you might be able to hide a plain fence with climbing plants or introduce some different variety into hedges.

And finally think about the longevity of your project. Plants develop and mature over time, years in some cases – try to imagine your garden evolving in five or ten-year’s time. Or is this a short-term project? Perhaps you are planning to sell your property, in which case you need an attractive garden design that can look complete and finished quickly, and that a potential buyer can enjoy but also put their own stamp on.

A classic design should be well thought out to allow you to add elements or reenergise as your requirements change over time. It’s well worth the effort as a beautifully designed garden will bring joy and cheer to every season.

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