Thursday, 21 June 2012

How to Landscape a Garden

When you’re landscaping a garden you’ll need to start with a great plan.  I know I would say that, but how will you know what you’re spending your money on if you don’t have a plan?  If you’re building a house or having an extension you’d have a plan prepared.  Landscaping a garden is a complex piece of engineering and requires a plan.  You are creating an outdoor space to suit your specific needs, that it multi-functional as well as looking great and being useable all year round.  Preparing a plan allows you to visualize the space on paper and make amendments before undertaking costly hard landscaping.  

Contemporary Sloping Garden Landscaping

Clients often do not want to pay to work with a garden designer when they are landscaping a garden, but it really is worth the investment.  A garden designer will help you shape your ideas and translate these into a workable design that fits your budget and your requirements.  A garden designer will prepare the plans and 3D visuals of the proposed new garden which will give you a really good idea of how the garden will look and feel before the landscaping work is carried out.  Any good garden designer will also be able to recommend reputable landscaping contractors.  This is very important as the standard of landcapers work can vary widely and you often do not know what you’re getting until you’ve paid and it’s too late.

 Large Sloping Garden Landscaping with Stone Faced Walls

There are many things you’ll need to decide when you’re working out how to landscape a garden.  It’s essential that you do some research and get a good idea of what you want, need and like in a garden.  Use a checklist and then decide what is possible and affordable for your own garden landscaping project.  

 Small Shallow Garden Landascaing with Slate Clad Walls, Water Feature & Pergola

The first thing to consider is how you want to use the garden.  If you have lots of parties you’ll need plenty of space for a big dining table, plus plenty of informal seating.  If you have young children they’ll need safe preferably flat spaces to run around.  If you have elderly or disabled visitors or residents they will need special consideration when you’re landscaping the garden.  The amount of time you have to maintain the garden will dictate how much and what type of planting you should have.  Do you want or need a boundary fence, if so what type – fence, hedge, wall, railings, or a combination of these.  Do you want any water in the garden?

 Small Steep Courtyard Garden Landcaping

Next you’ll need to consider the site and its idiosyncrasies.  If the garden is on a slope and you want a terrace and a flat lawn, you’ll need to construct retaining walls.  If you want privacy and are overlooked by neighbours you’ll need obscure them with some kind of structure.  If the site is boggy your garden landscaping will need to include drainage.   

 Contemporary Garden Landscaping

Now you’ll need to decide what materials you wish to use to construct the various garden elements.  There is a bewildering array of paving materials – Sandstone, Limestone, Granite, etc.  Walls are usually constructed from concrete blocks which are either rendered (plastered), or faced with brick or stone.  Pergolas can be constructed from many different materials for example, timber, steel, bricks, blocks, or any combination of these materials.  There are a number of different materials that you can use to create a driveway – see this piece on creating a driveway.  The final choice of landscaping materials is usually a trade off between personal preference and available funds. A garden designer will be able to help you with all these decisions and give you samples as well as options.  

 Garden Design Landscaping Plan for Steep Garden

If you’re doing your own landscaping work there are many on-line resources to help you.  You’ll need to find out how to lay a sub-base for paving and the correct depths for each type – driveways, patio, path, etc.  Walls require a footing and this varies depending on the height of the wall and what, if anything, it is retaining.  Mortar for paving is different from mortar for brickwork.  Pergola and fence posts will need to be set into the ground deep enough for stability.  Building a deck is a feat of engineering, but can be done if you follow some basic rules and have good carpentry skills.  There is a correct way to lay turf. 

 Garden Landscaping Model for a Steep Garden

Before you can create the landscaping plan for the new garden you’ll need to do a thorough survey of the existing garden.  I wrote this article on triangulation and this one on taking a simple level survey which should help with this. 

I’ll write some more specific articles on how to landscape a garden covering in detail some of the broad topics I’ve touched on in this article. 

If you need help deciding how to landscape your garden  please get in touch.  You can visit my Web site for all contact details, or email me and I’ll be happy to help. 

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