Tuesday, 10 March 2015

More on Gardens

I recently moved house from one with a very mature garden to one which is effectively a blank canvas. My housemate did a great job digging to provide a border and planted daffodils and tulips which look fabulous. He also started on a patch we could grow vegetables, and have a lovely area full of mint, thyme, parsley, chives and rosemary.

It is also that time of the year when plants start to stir and the weeds make themselves known - though some with glossy green leaves may look like lush planting!
While it is too easy to pop along to a garden centre and buy everything you like the look of, a bit of planning helps to ensure your garden looks lush all year round. After all we are talking exterior design, not much different from interior design.

So pen and paper at the ready, sit down and take some time to sketch and identify what you want from your outside space.

The first thing to consider is sunlight. While some plants are happy to be kept in shady spots, others need full sun. Identify where you want your outside seating to be positioned, after all that is one of the perks of having some outside space.

Is there a shed to be built at some point in the future?

Start with the big shrubs or trees. These are your main items of "furniture". Are you happy for all the leaves to fall in autumn, or would you like those shrubs to remain evergreen.

Draw out a basic shape of your garden. This is when you can position paths and areas for planting or lawn. Access to your shed or a path to your table need to be defined. What about a pond feature or somewhere for vegetables. Gardens can take a while to develop so be in no rush if your budget means only some areas can be completed in one season.

While some exposed brick walls look great, some fences may need some covering. Clematis, ivy and vines are perfect. Ivy will stay green all year, while clematis will add leaf and floral colour in summer. They are also not too heavy against fences.

Now the fun part, buying plants. When buying plants opt for ones that are supplied locally as they will generally favour the type of soil in your area which could either be quite sandy, acid or heavy with clay. One tip is to never buy a plant that mostly flourishes 50 miles south if not available locally.

Early spring plants like daffodils inject that bit of colour in borders before other shrubs and plants come into their own. It is always best to group plants for maximum impact. And ask about whether a plant is annual, biennial or perennial - the length of a plan's life.

Consider grasses too, some look green in summer turning a vivid red in autumn. Monbretia is a lovely plant. Be bold with the bigger plants, allowing the little ones to add that little extra pop of colour.

Most garden centres are excellent for those hanging plants or containers. They seem to last all summer when watered regularly.

Will your garden need heating or lighting? Most of the ones used tend to be moveable, although you may want some low level wattage fixed lighting.

The important thing is that you enjoy that space, whether to look out onto, or sit and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine.

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