Winter is the best time to start preparing a re-design of your garden. By planning early you have a better chance of booking a garden designer and contractors if required. Additionally you will have time to organise your planting schedule.
Do you need a garden designer?
We recommend employing one if you have a large area to renovate or if you have very limited experience of gardening. A garden designer can take a lot of the stress out of the experience as they understand all the seasonal aspects of a garden design. Additionally they should be able to recommend reliable contractors to carry out the work if necessary.
Employing a landscape designer will increase the cost of designing your garden because of the expertise they provide. We suggest searching for a local designer first as this will keep travel costs lower. Furthermore ask to see their portfolio and if possible talk to a previous client.
If you’re looking to create a lower budget DIY project then take a look at our top tips for designing your garden.
Where to start?
If you are planning to design your garden, the best advice we can give is to think of what you like doing best in your space and concentrate your scheme around that. This could be anything from somewhere to grow fruit and vegetables to an area to sit and relax.
This doesn’t mean that has to be the sole focus, but it is good to decide what the majority of your space should be allocated to. You can then work out what other elements you would like to feature in your garden design.
Magazines are also a great resource and titles such as Modern Garden feature gardens created by their readers. Therefore you can see what is achievable when you are creating your own.
We also suggest visiting parks and gardens as it can help to see how things might look in real life. Remember to take a camera so you can record the things you like.
All of these sources can help shape your garden in terms of colour, style and accessories.
Decide on a colour scheme
From the images you have of gardens you like there should hopefully be an emerging colour scheme. By now you should know if you favour cool contemporary tones or bold and bright colours.
Additionally if your garden is designed to be an outside room and therefore an extension of your house, you may want to replicate colours you have used interiorly.
Knowing the colours you want to use will make it much easier when deciding on the hard and soft landscaping.
Dividing up your garden
Creating a plan of your garden (complete with measurements) will aid in allocating space to each area. It will also help to visualise how the garden will look and you can check everything will fit.
Mark on your plan which parts of your garden receive the most sunlight as an area for seating or a vegetable patch should be located there.
If you are planning to dig down deep, check the location of any underground pipes or cables. You can rent a CAT (cable avoidance tool) to assist in this and ensure these are also indicated on your garden design.
Planning your planting
Checking the type of soil you have is vital before you start thinking about growing anything in your garden. Some plants survive better in ericaceous soil (acidic) while others prefer lime (alkaline) soil. There are various different kits you can use to test the soil in your garden.
You could also talk to neighbours about what plants they have found grow well in your area.
However if your soil isn’t suited to what you want to grow there is always the option of using pots and tubs filled with topsoil. Alternatively you can add compost, topsoil or organic material to the earth to improve the quality.
All planting is seasonal so the sooner you decide what you would like in the garden the better. You can then create a planting schedule so you know what needs to be planted throughout the year.
Choosing your hardscape materials
If you want a seating area, again there are a huge range of colours and styles available. Choose something that compliments your colour scheme and fits your space.
Paving or decking work well under seating areas and both are easy to clean with a power hose if there are any spills!
Starting your garden
Once you have the plan for your garden and have sourced all the materials then it is time to bring your design to life.
You may want to do everything yourself or hire contractors, either way check with your local Council Planning Department that there are no restrictions on altering your garden.
Also any work that involves moving or installing gas, electricity or water pipes must be carried out by a professional.
The main thing is to enjoy your garden makeover! It may seem like hard work at times but hopefully the pride you feel in completion will make it worth all the effort. Furthermore you will have your dream garden!