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Garden Design

With Christmas already a distant memory and spring on the horizon, winter is a great time to be thinking about those important changes you’d like to make in your garden this year. If conditions aren’t ideal for planting due to rain or snow there is still plenty of planning to do for the year ahead.

Winter is an ideal time to consider the design of your garden, the bones of most gardens will be obvious, with deciduous trees and shrubs leafless and most perennials retreating underground. In winter it’s possible to assess the garden both in terms of hard and soft landscaping.

Whether you wish to develop some aspects of your garden yourself or involve a professional for a full re-design, we’ve put together some topics you can start by considering.

The function of your garden

What sort of garden do you want or already have?

- Purely ornamental or a productive one with fruit trees and vegetables?

- Is entertainment important? Do you need a patio, barbeque and furniture space? One of our customers planned their garden around drink stops - morning coffee, afternoon tea stop and an early evening drink bench, for maximum sun, shade trees and seclusion respectively!

- Is encouraging wildlife important? This will influence plant selection. You may wish to consider the benefits of Native hedges, or other features such as a pond.

- You may already have a well-designed garden, aside from one area you wish to improve.

How much time do you want to spend on maintenance?

- You may be retired and want to spend all your time in the garden or you may  work full-time, have a family, and only have a few hours at the weekend free.

- You may even just want to just sit in the garden when you have the opportunity and keep maintenance to the absolute minimum!

Do you need Screening - from other houses, pedestrian or vehicular access or unwanted views?

- What height do you need screening at? Do you want evergreen screening all year round, or is summer the most important time to screen?

Hedges can offer privacy and structure to a garden, you can even create ‘rooms’ within a garden for interest or function.

Is there a particular style you like in a garden – Cottage garden? Formal? Japanese? Mediterranean?

- Have a look in some gardening magazines for ideas of the type of garden you aspire to having.

What must you make room for?

- Do you need areas for a greenhouse? A garden shed? A compost area? Or a swimming pool? A summer house? Seating in the shade? Seating in the sun?

Perhaps you’re only focusing on a single area of the garden? Even the best borders may need a rethink after a few years. Some shrubs or perennials may thrive at the expense of others and need a prune, or perennial plants may need splitting and moving. This may offer the opportunity to re-design your borders to achieve the colour, form and seasonality you require.

Also consider containers and their place in the garden. These can be moved in different seasons, with plants introduced into paved areas. For example, you could add a style – topiary either side of an entrance.

Do I need a garden designer?

Once you have decided what developments you want you may have projects you can do yourself, but if inspiration, knowledge and time is in short supply you may want to get a designer in.  Sometimes taking photos, planning on paper and researching plants is half the fun, though obtaining the services of a professional designer may provide unique, workable ideas you had never thought of.  You may need a design plan before you carry out the practical work yourself, or may wish to plan a new border design yourself and get someone else to plant it out.

I need a garden designer!

Most garden designers will provide a range of services, from suggestions on re-planting problem borders to whole garden designs, and everything in between. By getting under way in January most projects, depending on the size, can be designed through the dormant winter period and be scheduled for construction and planting in time for the coming summer.

The main stages in the garden design process are usually as follows, however, most designers will be happy to adjust the services offered, based on the client’s requirements:

Initial visit and consultation - after which the designer will be able to provide a quotation for their services

Survey - a vital tool for the designer to provide clients with an accurate design. Depending on the size and complexity of the project the designer may undertake the design or suggest a professional surveyor

Outline design - this is the first draft of the design, incorporating many of the requests provided by the client at the initial consultation, along with suggestions from the designer. This should be viewed as a working document, and is generally subject to revisions

Final design and construction drawings - the final design will include all of the information required to build your garden. Contractors can use this plan to price, set out and construct the garden. If detailed drawings of specific features are required they will be included at this stage, though there may be an additional fee required for this service

Planting plan - depending on the size and complexity of the project, plant information can either be included on the final design or on a separate plan. An accompanying schedule will usually be provided, which will list recommended plants, sizes and quantities, and is used for costing, supplying and setting out the plants

Project management - to ensure your garden is built accurately and to your satisfaction, garden designers will often be available to monitor all aspects of the construction. A separate fee is usually charged for this service

Planting - after the garden has been constructed most garden designers will be able to source, supply, set out and plant-out the plants detailed on the planting plan

Aftercare - it is quite common for follow up visits to be arranged, in order to review the development of gardens, when specific advice can be given on garden maintenance and plant care. A separate fee is usually charged for this service.

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