A garden design is the first step to transforming your garden into a space that’s great for spending time with friends and family. It’s exciting to consider all the different ways you can use your garden space, whether it’s for a party entertaining area, a play space for your kids or a town garden with a haven of flowers for the bees and butterflies.
During times like the 2020 COVID-19 coronavirus, many of you are no doubt spending many more hours than usual at home, which is likely to pose a variety of new questions. What do you want your garden space to be like? What do you need from the space? There are things you can do immediately yourselves that may be manageable DIY type tasks, however, if you are considering a more elaborate redesign of your garden, you’ll want to read this article. We look at all different things to consider in a good garden design, how to go about it and what to watch out for. With all this time to spend thinking and planning for the next stages of ‘Life after Coronavirus’(!), it’s a great time to develop those plans for your garden too. In fact, if you ask our team at Gardens for Good to come up with some ideas for your garden designs now, you could have your garden ready to get started as soon as lockdown is over!
Joe Francis is the award winning garden designer behind Gardens for Good. You can see some inspiration for your own garden designs here in our portfolio with the gardens Joe has created, and on the BBC here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07fvjl1/p07fvcgf
The answer depends on many things:
In this article, we are going to share the many garden design elements we consider when working with you to create the space of your dreams.
As a general price guide, our garden design projects vary from £10,000 to £250,000 with the average being around £30,000 – £40,000 start-to-finish. We are also happy to advise on projects below £10,000 so please do feel free to get in touch to discuss your requirements.
We know that many of you want your garden to look fantastic all year around though you may be concerned about the upkeep of a professionally designed garden. However, a great planting scheme doesn’t mean it has to be high maintenance, quite the opposite in fact. We believe that you should spend more time relaxing and enjoying your garden rather than having to maintain it. As such, we always approach the design of your garden (particularly the planting) with a philosophy of “maximum enjoyment, minimum effort”. And to maximise that seasonal appeal for year-round interest, we consider all types of plants to include not just flowers but berries, Autumn colour from leaves and even making it edible without a fuss.
Our garden designs consider the feeling of space as well as the form, colour and texture. For an effective planting display it’s best to employ simple design techniques such as putting tall plants and shrubs at the back of a design away from a path so it doesn’t feel cramped. If we’re designing your front garden by your driveway, we consider things like obstructing your view when coming to or from your property.
How much lawn should you have? Luscious green lawns look amazing and feel great under your bare feet, they’re also an excellent way to use the space in your garden to create a foil for the more decorative parts of your garden. Lawns can also be good for wildlife, as there is a complex relationship between the sky (rain water, leaves from trees, birds and insects) and the ground (drainage, decomposing organic matter, worms, bugs and creatures large and small). It’s important to nurture this relationship, particularly as nature has a hard enough time with us humans as it is! There can be a temptation to try to make life easier by installing artificial grass but we often advise people away form this for a variety of reasons, partly because of the environmental impact (which happens on a variety of levels) and also because they still require a significant amount of maintenance. So we’re big fans of lawns, and our favourite being a species-rich variety that has lots of different types of grasses and flowers, these types of lawns really are beautiful!
Trees can provide helpful wind or sun shielding, or greenery year round. Choosing the right types of trees, for the right place and purpose is as important as considering your budget and how long you want to wait for a tree to reach a certain height. Since we want all our Gardens for Good designs to be thoughtful, we’ll also consider your neighbours, so they don’t get tons of autumn debris or a sudden shade affecting them.
We know catching your hands on a thorny rose can hurt but did you know you can get thornless varieties that look good and smell great too? If you want to see which plants we recommend to have colour all year round, read our Gardens for Good Colour All Year Guide.
Wildlife. If you love the birds, bees, butterflies and occasional hedgehogs we can design your garden to help these beautiful creatures find sanctuary in your home. We’re big on wildlife and on making gardens more wildlife friendly, so much so that we created an award-winning garden for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show called ‘The Power to Make a Difference’, you can see more on that here: https://gardensforgood.co.uk/projects/hampton-court-flower-show/
Looking for a garden that feeds you and your family too? Whilst most of us aren’t living on smallholdings or trying to emulate “The Good Life” TV series, it’s nice to pick fresh strawberries, raspberries, salad leaves or even apples from your garden. Many fruit trees look stunning as they blossom in spring and smell sweet in autumn. If you love colourful tomatoes and peppers, we can design your garden to include all these things, so they fit with the rest of your garden design needs.
Garden irrigation. Do you travel a lot? Can’t be bothered with watering your garden but want it to survive and thrive? Don’t worry, we can design your garden to water itself with bespoke irrigation systems for any type of requirements.
Do you want a garden that is super easy to care for, requires less time labouring and more time relaxing, or one that simply involves less bending? Perhaps you want your garden to be low maintenance because you have a busy life or you don’t have the energy or mobility to care for a complicated garden. Here are some solutions we’ve created for other customers that will make looking after your garden a doddle.
When the sun shines, we love to be outdoors in our gardens enjoying the space. Top of the list for garden design ideas for entertaining spaces is rattan sofas, garden tables with parasols and barbecues. In our designs, we recommend having a metre of space minimum around garden furniture for guests to easily get up from the chair or sofa and mingle. We love gardens to be usable all year around. Awnings, sail shades and gazebos add colourful features that also offer weather protection.
Did you know that our own Joe Francis has created a unique seat called The Fern? It nestles beautifully into your unique garden design, offering a place to sit and relax and creates a feature worthy of a good conversation with your garden party guests! You can see more information here: www.thefernseat.com
If you are seriously considering making your garden a place to spend many more happy hours, it’s important to consider garden lighting. Even in cloudy parts of the UK, solar powered lights can provide enough light for a pathway or fairy light decorations for entertaining. If you have a higher budget, we can plan in suitable cabling and outdoor sockets for lighting that can be switched on as needed, or come on automatically at dusk and when you pass nearby. Here’s an example of lighting we’ve done in a previous client’s garden…
Water features in your garden provide a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of busy life. If you spend a lot of time in your garden, work from home, or are near noisy roads and aircraft flight paths, water features can provide both a happy distraction for both your sight and sound. Most of us love the soothing sounds of flowing water.
There are many types of water features that are easy to install and care for, depending on how big and integrated it needs to be in your garden design. In broad terms, the bigger the feature, the more work will be required to build or install it, the more expensive the garden feature will ultimately cost.
Here, at Gardens for Good, we want water features to be good for you and, if you love wildlife, for them too.
A garden is most often the largest ‘room’ in a home, as such, you may find you’d like to divide it up into more specific areas for different styles or uses. You can divide you garden into areas using a simple change in ground material, such as lawn, flowerbeds and gravel paths, or you can use features like fencing, decking, pergolas, sleepers or walls to split it into separate rooms.
Paths. We all use the paths in our gardens to get to and from doorways, driveways, the shed or maybe to our summer house or garden office. Paths can be simple gravel walkways, stepping-stones or laid stone. Curvy or straight. But good garden designers consider things that may not spring to mind straight away. For instance, if your path crosses a lawn, it needs to remain easy enough to mow without kicking gravel everywhere. Or if you have tall plants on the edges of a path, you’ll want a wider path of 3 feet (about a metre). We make garden paths look good, drain water well and are steady for your feet when walking around your garden.
Steps. Helping you go up and down your garden requires some understanding of ergonomic design. Gardens designed with easy to climb steps are typically 6 inches high per step and 14inches deep. If your steps go around a corner, we typically design in a flat midway area called a landing to ease your walk up and down. Steps can be crafted from stone, gravel, bricks, timber decking, railway sleepers and many other materials. These impact the look and sometimes the cost depending on the materials choice.
Using Railway Sleepers in your Garden Design. You can use railway sleepers to create a raised bed or perhaps raised planters, or even use them as a retaining wall or steps. Whether you use reclaimed or new railway sleepers, you can dramatically change the look of your garden design using this lovely natural material. Hardwood sleepers (typically oak) can last years and are less labour intensive (and therefore cheaper to use) than brick wall alternatives because they are relatively cheap to buy and install.
Pergolas…these beautiful timber structures look great in a garden. They can be a super way to add a vertical dimension to your garden, creating a feeling of seclusion on a patio or even growing climbing plants over for ornamental effect. Pergolas come in all manner of different shapes and sizes, indeed, we love designing bespoke pergolas that compliment your garden design perfectly.
Decking… this has had a bad press over the years as there a was a phase where the popularity of decking saw many cheap, poorly designed and installed decks being installed. The result being years (not many in some cases!) later a sorry collection of cheap decking planks that had become slippery, neglected and falling apart. It’s no wonder many people have fallen out of love with them! However, a well designed, well constructed and well specked deck can be a great asset to almost any garden space. Particularly with the dawn of composite deck boards (many now made from 100% recycled materials) that hardly weather and never rot, decking can now be installed as a reliable surface that can last indefinitely.
It may not surprise you that a stunning garden space can seriously improve the value of your home when you come to sell, as well as providing you with a much happier place to spend time whilst you’re living there.
People love garden designs that include entertaining spaces with storage for the cushions and garden tools, a place for a barbecue, somewhere shady for hot days, the aroma of some herbs or flowers, easy to walk paths…maybe even a garden office. So many people are working from home these days, either because of the coronavirus or simply because their employers allow them to have a few days at home each week. Having a separate space to work with your garden as a view is good for the soul, your mind and your productivity (assuming it has been well designed and is a joy to look at!).
So you’re probably asking what value you might add to your property? Well, don’t hold us to this, but if your house is worth £750k in a desirable area and you landscape your garden with the top in trend design features, spending £50k, you could potentially add something like £150k to the asking price. As with all property valuation questions, it’s subjective to having the right buyers at the right time and right place, but if you’ve done the hard work, a buyer can imagine their new life and lifestyle in your garden space. That’s often worth more than the investment you put in.
We want to ensure that any garden designs we do for you are created with ease and enjoyment meaning you can relax and enjoy the process every step of the way. Having helped hundreds of people transform their gardens over the 15+ years we’ve been in business, you can be sure we have the right experience to carry out your project in an efficient and effective manner. We work closely with you and really listen to what it is you want and need from your project. We always use your input as the primary guiding factor in our design process, bringing our experience and creativity in to create a design that has you saying ‘wow’ whenever you look at your outside space. Not only that, we want you to say ‘wow’ throughout your experience of working with us, so much so that we have developed a seamless process of designing and creating your garden space which all starts with a simple call or email. So get in touch today to have an informal chat (no obligations whatsoever) to see how we can help you transform your garden, for good!