Real Homes -Real Gardens May 2011
Real Homes – Real Gardens May 2011Planning a garden project this summer?’
Real Homes expert and garden designer Matt James offers his advice on where to start
and how to make the most of existing features
What does your garden already have to offer? The first step to successful garden design is looking at your space and making considered judgments – both positive and negative – on what is there before you implement any changes. You’ll often find that ripping out everything and starting from scratch isn’t necessary. Wander around on a sunny day and identify what works for you and what doesn’t in the garden.
Draw up four columns headed ‘Must remove‘, ‘Should remove‘, ‘Could remain’ and ‘Must remain’ and, bearing these in mind, move slowly around your space, making notes on everything from the boundary fences and planting to the garden shed. Note how you and your family use the garden – where you sit, relax and play. Also write down the short-cuts you use to get from one area to another, as it might mean moving or creating a path later. Be particularly critical of the hard landscaping because this is difficult and 8 costly to replace once the planting is done. If the walls and paths are in a good condition, keep them – unless they don’t meet your needs, and you’ll probably wish that you had replaced or resurfaced them.
Even a blank canvas of a space offers plenty of design opportunities, it just takes a little more time to tease them out. A simple slope miqht inspire the idea of terraced outdoor garden rooms – each one subtly screened from the next one. An all-lawn Garden requires no costly clearing, but by simply cutting into the turf with an edging iron you can create new shapely and attractive beds and borders. Defining a lawn by giving it a simple bold shape -like a sweeping curve – will help bring unity to disparate elements and create a new cohesive look. it will also cut down on awkward-to-mow areas. Try not to see your garden in isolation. Take into account the landscape around you, especially the gardens on either side. Overhanging trees are part of your garden and can be ‘borrowed’ free of charge, making your own space feel bigger.
Do you have a wonderful view that could be incorporated? A church spire or cityscape could be framed by pencil junipers, making this distant feature part of your own design.