Archive for the ‘Garden Design’ Category

Designing a Low Maintenance Garden

It seems that in this current day and age, particularly with the economic slump, that nobody has much spare time. If they do, people don’t want to spend much of that precious free time on the DIY jobs that maintain house, home and garden. Of course we all like to enjoy our homes and spend time relaxing in the garden so having a low maintenance yet stunning outdoor space is the key to this challenge.

Spend a minimal amount of time maintaining your luscious back garden and more time enjoying it with a glass of your favourite wine and your closest friends and family. For this to happen you have to design a low maintenance garden in the first place. Obviously this is easier said than done but with expert designer help it is possible to get this balance right and end up with a maximum beauty for minimum work.

In your low maintenance design firstly think about the elements of gardening that take a long time to complete and those elements of gardening that you have two repeatedly do, such as weeding. Spending hours on your hands and knees removing weeds every weekend is perhaps not how you would like to spend your day off. So why not speak to a designer about potential ground coverage that helps to diminish weed growth. Most commonly people use some form of breathable fabric layer on top of soil that is then covered with decorative wood chip bark. The breathable fabric layer allows water through to the soil below yet prevents sunlight reaching any weeds. Without sunlight they simply cannot grow, yet the fabric can be shaped or punctured where necessary to allow the plants you want to flourish access to sunlight.

Large flower beds or enormous borders can also mean many hours of maintenance. Have you considered designing and creating some form of rock garden instead of the traditional border? Rock Gardens again cut down on the amount of weeding and suitable alpine plants used in decorative rock areas are also hardy and incredibly low maintenance.

Even adding the two simple solutions mentioned above can greatly reduce the amount of time you need to spend maintaining your outdoor space. However the design and placement of a rock garden and the use of wood chip as soil coverage takes careful consideration. Simply placing these elements anywhere in an outdoor space can cause a real eyesore. So ensure you work closely with an experienced garden designer that can get you maximum results with minimal work.
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Best Way to Design a Garden

So you’re looking out on your garden, perhaps it is completely basic, perhaps it is wildly out of control or perhaps it is beautiful but simply not how you want it. At this point you’re probably thinking just how you can change your garden so it looks just how you want it, but what is the best way to design a garden and just exactly where do you begin?

Well just like any other building, design or refurbishment projects the whole thing can seem very daunting and almost impossible when you’re standing at the beginning of the project. However try not to get confused in all of the fine detail as this doesn’t have to be your task and it certainly shouldn’t be your task right now.
At this very moment you should be thinking about the end result, the way you want your outdoor space to be, the way you want it to make you feel and exactly what you want it to look like. It’s time to get creative so why not grab some blank sheets of paper, your favourite pencil and start sketching. Your sketches don’t need to be scale drawings, but do outline the basic shape of your garden and begin drawing in some of your ideas.

Perhaps you want the seating area for entertaining friends and family, include this in your birds eye view sketch with a simple outline. What shape you want your seating area to be? Will it be perfectly laid and regular slabs, maybe smaller block paving or even a wooden decked area? Again your sketches don’t have to be too detailed just outline your ideas.

Repeat this process for other areas, think about features that will draw your eye, think about some basic planting areas and what type of look you are going after. You don’t need to know exactly what plans or trees to include just yet, you could simply think about colours, height and shape. Do you want all year round colour from your garden plants? Would you like tall strong trees or more delicate ornamental ones?

Just begin to sketch and let your imagination run free, because the next step is where it gets even more exciting. Now is the time to contact the garden designer, where they can come and spend some time with you in your garden. Show them your sketches and talk about the dreams you have for your property. From your simple paper and pencil plans they will instantly be able to see what you want at the end result.

Give them a few days and they can turn your sketch into a detailed design plan, in full colour. All of the fine details, plans, scale drawings and project management will be handled by a professional designer, leaving you to simply enjoy the end result.

Chelsea Garden Design UK – Top Design For A Top Location

Chelsea is undoubtedly one of the most favoured spots in the universe, or at least for urban gardens. Once filled with orchards and market gardens which fed the great market at Covent Garden, it retains, even now, many of the properties that made it so fertile, an excellent climate, a relatively high water table even in dry years and soil which was once richly fed from all the stables in London. Above all, for the student of garden history it possesses, in the Chelsea Physic Garden, not only London’s oldest botanical garden but one of the world’s earliest and most serious attempts to study the medicinal qualities of plants. Open to the public on only a few days of the year, including the May bank holiday, it remains a secret garden full of treasures that will undoubtedly flourish in this area.

It seems a pity therefore that much of Chelsea has followed the modern minimalist patterns in garden design, with much use of stone, artificial lighting, and bamboo, grasses and twisted box pyramids. This is fashionable, and like all fashion will prove ephemeral while the neatly laid out rows of medicinal herbs in the Physic Garden have a distinctly timeless quality.

Is there any reason why Chelsea gardens could not follow in this fine tradition? Neat rows of herbs, possibly culinary rather than medicinal, rosemary, thyme, basil, fennel, parsley, coriander, chives, bergamot, lemon balm, clove carnation, sage and sweet bay – the list could go on. Grow them in beds with paths of slabs of stone or heavy Caithness slate in between, to satisfy the fashion for a sculptured garden. Grow hedges of lavender round the edges of the beds.This would be very delightfully in keeping with Chelsea’s traditions while giving enormous delight and a minimum of trouble.

Obviously everyone loves the ultra modern garden design, with clean lines and innovative planting. So have you ever considered mixing the modern with the classical? Could converge the idea of scenic lighting with that of medicinal herbs? Can you marry the two worlds of a cutting edge social space with feel of a secret country garden that hints towards times one by?

I certainly think this is popular and this is perhaps the type of design that many leading garden design experts would love to dive right in to. After all how many back gardens (or front) have you seen combining the old with new in a more unique and innovative way?

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London Garden Landscape Design – From The Suburbs to the City

William Cobbett describes his journeys into the centre of London through the hedges, fields and orchards which supplied Covent Garden, those same hedges, fields  and orchards which now lie under our sprawling suburbs. 

A little still remains but modern gardening tendencies have moved onto a more sculptured, less country, landscape. The many gardening programmes and the huge business of the garden centres have produced, unfortunately, a certain sameness in our suburban gardens. City gardens have moved in a rather different direction.

The modern tendency in city gardening has been one of a sculptured landscape, of stone paved areas,  of formally clipped or twisted box, of bamboos lit at night and water running over clean marble blocks. A sense of rest, of peace, of serenity, of unchanging seasons, of cleanliness perhaps, even of sterility?  Definitely a style that has a valuable sculptural and architectural role to play, but it could, of course, be in any city in the world.  It is a city landscape design, not a specifically London landscape.

What would be a London landscape garden? What could be done to help in the battle for cleaner air, for preserving our native wild garden birds, for returning to a sustainable environment?

We could, in London, have an apple tree or a pear tree in every garden, however small or difficult a garden it is. You can buy a fruit tree that will only grow to 6 feet or 10 feet, that will grow into a rounded shape, or a pyramid shape or grow as an espalier on a wall. You can buy one that will grow in a damp dark spot or one that will grow in a large pot. We could fill London with blossom every spring, with just enough shade for a hot summer day and with fruit every autumn. There could be a blackbird singing from the top of every tree.

We could have hedges where little birds could nest, not of the ubiquitous privet, but of of hawthorn, sloe, holly, rose, all bearing flowers for the pollinating bees in spring and hips, haws, sloes, holly berries that will last through the winter. These are the plants of our native hedgerow, thousands of miles of which have been destroyed by agribusiness. And hedges do not need to be boundary hedges – for boundaries a wall or fence is probably a safer, dispute-free option. Your whole garden could have winding paths bordered by low hedges of these old hedgerow plants.  They are unbelievably cheap to buy, they will not flop over and die nor get nasty diseases, they are easy to clip and maintain and they will give you patches of privacy and shelter throughout your garden.

None of this is revolutionary, none of it would be difficult, every garden would be different and the country would come back into London.

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Ideas For a Luxury Garden Landscape

A luxury garden landscape means water, always provided there is room for it. If our luxury is confined to the back garden of a semi in Croydon, then think of something else.

But if you have space to put in a formal water garden in the middle of a sweep of lawn, this is the epitome of a luxury garden. Water plants, especially  the water lily, have long held a deep fascination for many people, partly because of the way in which they disappear completely through the winter and are then resurrected from the mud in spring, which is why, in some eastern religions the water lily is a  symbol of immortality. Let’s face it, to have a symbol of immortality in the garden is pretty luxurious.

A serious designer making a water garden will want the pool for growing aquatic plants to be made using concrete as the base. Early autumn is the ideal season for doing this as it gives time for the concrete to dry before the winter frosts and to mature before planting and filling in the spring. (This is a relatively long term project but it will then outlast its designer!)

A final depth of about 18 inches is plenty which means an initial excavation of about two feet, but plan a lip around the edges to give an area of shallower water. At this point, when you have planned where it is to go, call in the professionals, unless you feel very confident.

Once the concrete has had time to mature, lay a layer of heavy loam, free from roots, on the bottom. Mix in a small quantity of  bonemeal. The empty pool is now ready for planting.

Aquatics plants are best planted in late spring and early summer. Water lilies can be planted in the loam at the bottom before the pool is filled provided that the crown of the plant is immediately covered by a little water. As the plants grow, keep adding more water until the pond is full and the lily leaves are floating on the surface.

Add a number of oxygenating plants, which grow entirely under the water, to the pond. These not only help to purify and clean the water, they also provide cover and nesting places for fish.  In the shallow areas round the sides of the pond, plant the little iris laevigata, marsh marigold, water forget-me-not, arrowhead,  bog arum and other shallow-rooted water plants.  These will break up the hard lines of the edges and give a focal point. 

The water plants take six to eight weeks to become established and you can then introduce fish to the pond. Goldfish, a distant relative of the wild Carp, are by far the best choice of decorative fish as they are hardy, even in cold climates,  and swim close to the surface where they can be easily seen. Don’t try eating them for dinner, not even as a luxury.

For more exquisite designs and to view the work of one of the UK’s best garden designers click here – Garden Designers London

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Ideas For a Summer Garden Landscape

Landscape sounds rather splendid – sort of Capability Brown stuff with great avenues of elms shading you from the summer sun  – or was it Capability Brown who had all the great avenues cut down so that the grand houses had an uninterrupted view?  Can’t quite remember.  Either way, it sounds rather grand and not really applicable to the 12 paces by 16 paces plot you are looking at. You could not be more wrong. 

The landscaping of small areas are what separates the sheep from the goats (neither of which you want in your particular small area).  It is the creation of a picture, a landscape, on however small a scale, that not only is a delight to look at, but makes you want to step straight into the frame and wander round this “landscape”.

This is what we are aiming at for the summer garden. Except that for a summer garden, there most definitely has to be a shady spot in which you can stop all this wandering round and sit down with a cool glass of beer or white wine. How do we do it? 

If you already have a fifty  year old spreading cherry tree or weeping willow under which you can put your chaise-longue, then your summer garden is already perfect.For the other 99% of us, a shaded swinging seat is perfect for the summer garden. A good wooden one will last a lifetime, look stunning, and survive the winters.

Obviously, if you spent the winter busily putting in lots of lovely perennial flowers, little flowering trees, or even the odd fruit bush, then you can now lie back and enjoy it all.

If, however, your garden efforts either didn’t happen or were directed towards a stunningly impressive Yen garden with not much in it, you may find that your landscape is a tad bare. That, I’m afraid, is what garden centres are for. You can, by ignoring the contempt of “real” gardeners, buy yourself a ready made garden. 

You want it for this summer, so choose plants that are already beginning to flower.  Ignore the advice of the pundits and transplant them.  Shove  in the contents of a few bags of compost if there isn’t much soil. Soak the plants in their pots in a bucket for a few hours and, in the evening (that is vital) carefully tip them out of their pots and put them in the soil. Water them well in and shade them with newspaper from the sun for he first couple of days. Keep watering them for a week – they will do fine.

Add a couple of lavender bushes in pots to put by the swinging seat; the scent is wonderful and every nice fat bumblebee in London will arrive to give the authentic hot summer day in the country sound.

For more exquisite designs and to view the work of one of the UK’s best garden designers click here – Garden Designers London

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Kensington Garden Design – Stand out from the Crowd

We have done the yen garden, the rose garden, the oh-so-boring privet hedge and bedding border garden, the single cherry tree over a carpet of spring-flowering bulbs garden, the little white lights through the trees garden, and even, horrors of horrors, the gnomes garden.  What comes next to make sure that your garden is unique and different from all the others?

An informal and free-flowing herb garden.  Herbs have everything. There is an enormous variety of shapes, heights and textures, they have scents and blossoms, they positively like poor soil and no feeding, they need very little attention and they will self-seed and spread as much as you want them to.  Formal herb gardens are neat and tidy places and have much charm, but they are relatively common.  The informal garden gives an impression of wild abundance, of winding overgrown paths and nature run wild (although it requires every bit as much planning as a knot-design garden).  The advantage of the informality is that it gives an impression of much greater depth and space than the garden actually has.

The initial preparation for transforming the entire garden into a herb garden is relatively simple.  Ideally, you want a layer of  sandy, weed-free, gravel for the herbs to grow in, particularly if you expect them to self-seed – herb seeds get washed down and rot in soil but can germinate easily in sand and gravel.  But they will grow on almost any soil provided it is not too waterlogged.

Use plants that will grow into all-season bushes or small trees to conceal the boundary walls or fences;  rosemary, bay and witch hazel all provide height and year-round interest. Have winding paths carpeted with chamomile and creeping thyme, both of which benefit from being walked on and release heady scents underfoot. Fill all the empty spaces with perennial herbs grown close together.

Use the contrast between heights so that the lines of the garden are broken up.   The taller herbs – fennel, angelica, evening primrose, lovage – are focal points, while the mid-level can be tightly filled with lavender, marjoram, wall germander, bergamot, hyssop, clove carnation, and a variety of thyme.  All of these are flowering, bee-friendly plants and can form a useful contrast to leafy herbs such as sage, sweet cicely and savory. None of these herbs are difficult to obtain and, planted in the spring, they will delight the senses throughout summer and have spread into a thick carpet by the autumn.

For more exquisite designs and to view the work of one of the UK’s best garden designers click here – Garden Designers London

A designer who can transform your garden and outdoor space into something you couldn’t even imagine!

Best Garden Designers – What you should look for

Employing a garden designer is a task that can be fraught with difficulties.  In the London area there are literally hundreds of garden designers to choose from.  How do you choose and when you have chosen, how do you know that you have chosen the right one.

First of all, this is a highly competitive market and so they should most definitely have a website with descriptions and photographs of previous projects.  If they are not capable of displaying first-class photographs, then they are lacking the creative skills which you need.  On their website they should offer a wide variety of  completed projects with details of the type of location – rooftop terrace garden, courtyard garden, patio garden, town house front garden. 

Some garden designers are garden-oriented and some are architecture-oriented.  From their photographs, you will be able to see which kind you prefer and choose a style that you are comfortable with.  Award-winning designers will advertise their awards.  Check what the awards were by looking independently – not all are of value and there are many excellent designers who have never won anything!
When you have provisionally chosen a designer, invite him to come and discuss the project.  At this point you are looking for someone who can translate your ideas and visions into a proper plan on paper.  If you don’t have any ideas and visions, you are looking for someone who can provide you with a number of alternative plans, one of which you should immediately recognise as being just what you want.  (If you take an immediate dislike to the designer, no matter how irrational it may be, it is better not to proceed.)

The designer should survey the site on his first visit, making an on-site sketch.  Following discussions of what you want, he should then be able to provide you with a detailed plan to scale, an inventory of the materials that would be needed and an itemised estimate of the cost of actually making the garden, including the cost of the design.  You should also discuss with him the future maintenance of the garden – there is no point in having a design that will involve you in more work than you want keeping the garden up.  The designer should be sensitive to this.

If the designer is vague about any of these stages, he may not be the correct designer for you.

For more exquisite designs and to view the work of one of the UK’s best garden designers click here – Garden Design London

A designer who can transform your garden and outdoor space into something you couldn’t even imagine!

London Based Garden Design and the City Influence

Forget the Chelsea Flower Show, the Grow-All-Your-Own-Food-in-a-Bucket movement and old Uncle Alan Titmouse and all.  This elusive creature, the London fashion, is moving into minimalism in gardens.

How very stylish some of these gardens are.  Cool grained marble slabs combined with the clean lines of clumps of green bamboo and built-in hardwood benches.  A waterfall over granite rocks, clumps of dripping ferns, pale grey limestone slabs, a topiary corkscrew yew.  A central thick-glass-covered pool of clear water above blue tiles, warm honey-coloured sandstone slabs, and a single grey-green olive tree.  These are all descriptions of award-winning gardens, although gardening had very little to do with them.  All are carefully enclosed and screened – completely private.

 Another Designer of the Year award-winning garden on a roof terrace outside a penthouse combines smooth pebbles, hardwood paths and slate slab seating areas together with formal planting of palms, grasses and bamboo to create an extraordinary sense of being on top of the world.  No need of screening for privacy here and one of the best views of the city.

The more exciting London garden designers have moved towards a much more austere concept.  This is in keeping with modern trends in architecture, where pure functionalism has at last been banished and deceptively simple classic lines are once again making London one of the finest cities in the world.

The strict architectural elements, the use of water, the carefully controlled and sculpted, and rather sparse, vegetation, have nothing at all in common with the English concept of a garden, the exuberant, slightly lawless, flower-filled embarras des richesse. The more recent London garden is not a recreation and even less is it a green space dedicated to mowing and  keeping the stomach muscles in trim.  It has little to do with gardening and a great deal to with art. 

This is the cultural centre of the world.  London is where fashion begins, but, as always, London fashion is a distillation of all that the great city garners from other cultures.  These gardens have faint memories of the great enclosed gardens of early Islam. They owe something to Japan.  But they are neither Islamic not Japanese gardens.  There is a new originality in these designs, with their use of smooth stone, empty space, curving walls, sculptured plants, and above all – lack of clutter – that is very modern London.

For more exquisite designs and to view the work of one of the UK’s best garden designers click here – Garden Design London

A designer who can transform your garden and outdoor space into something you couldn’t even imagine!

Urban Garden Design UK – What’s working in the UK?

Gardens in London are increasingly extensions of the living space outdoors. D.I.Y. decks and patios are now commonplace in suburban gardens together with the ubiquitous barbecue. Few of these gardens, however, are the restful oases of calm that they should be. The move to a more outdoors style of living and dining has not been universally accompanied by a sense of style. In some circles, however, there is a growing awareness that it is not enough to extend the house with a hardwood deck. It also needs landscaping.

There is a reaction among busy city workers against the high maintenance garden, with grass-mowing every Sunday, weeding and flower bed digging. Londoners are going for low maintenance outdoor spaces, designed primarily for entertaining in. At the same time it is recognised that to live and entertain out of doors, the surroundings need to be something more than an empty space and a view of the neighbours’ washing. This is increasingly leading, amongst those in the know, to a courtyard garden style.

Designers are using stone slabs, concrete paving or hardwood decks to give a maintenance free surface. A combination of wood and stone or slate can increase the feeling of space. Lush planting round the edges with tall bamboos, palms and grasses is quite possible in the London climate and not only helps to enclose the garden but lends an exotic atmosphere. The planting is minimal, but the plants themselves are generous in their proportions.

The use of a water pump to create a splashing fountain or rill adds to the feeling of remoteness from the city. Smooth pebbles with water flowing over them in a raised channel or around a fountain add to the relaxing and calming effect.

Contemporary outdoor furniture, in modern steel, glass, or hardwood, is chic and stylish as well as practical. Discreet lighting is now a normal part of the garden design. The bamboos and palms or other surrounding greenery are lit from below. Light plays on the water, often also with lighting from below through glass blocks.
These London gardens are a far cry from the high maintenance cottage garden style so beloved of English gardeners. These are gardens in which all the work is in the initial landscaping. Once done, there is a minimum of effort and a maximum reward.

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