Create a whole new garden with your unique design preferences.BaoHa September 18, 2023 by Bao Ha Leave a Comment Before you start, think about how you are going to use your garden and what you need to make that happen. The first thing to think about is a seating area with some pretty garden chairs – preferably this should be near the house and if possible facing south west. You may need space for some everyday practicalities like storage for toys or a washing line. Do you want a vegetable garden? What about space for your children? Any kind of garden will require compost, and serious gardeners might want a shed. In a city garden, you will want to work out where you want to sit when you come home from work and whether you are going to have a garden full of plants or a simpler garden with elements such as beautiful paving and water, with either a wall or beautiful fence or planted boundaries. If your garden is small, then try and work out your basic needs and stick to a simple design with one or two wow factors. Keep the planting simple, using grasses or roses with evergreen shrubs and plant pots overflowing with all your favourite seasonal planting. If your garden is large then take some more time to envisage your space, working out what goes where and how you can divide up the space. Try to be bold and think about playing with scale. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Disney’s Live-Action Simba Was Based On The Cutest Lion Cub Ever LEARN MORE Work out where the sun sets and plant accordingly so that the light of the evening sun catches on plants. Pictured: Jinny Blom’s London garden Brent Darby 2/17 Consider the soil The single most important thing you can do for your garden is to consider the preparation of soil. Think of the wonderful soil in Monty Don’s garden and aim for that: no compaction, good drainage, and pliable soil rich with nutrients. Your plants will love you for it and give you a healthy garden for years. Compost and good soil are two of the first steps towards a wonderful garden (see our guide to how to make compost for more information. Pictured: the Woolhouse in West Sussex Clive Nichols 3/17 STYLE: The formal garden Symmetry and balance are two of the most important dimensions in a formal garden, along with geometric shapes within a simple planting design. Decide on your shape and keep repeating this shape throughout the garden, whether it is flower beds, paths, water, or the space between these elements. Fill your garden with topiary and some well placed container planting and you will have a wonderful clean look which is hopefully easy to maintain. Keep your planting palette fairly restrained, for example, stick to a pale palette of yellow, creams, whites and lime greens; or a range of blues, greys and deep reds. These will all relax the eye and nothing will compete. Clip your trees into formal shapes, such as hawthorn, hornbeam or lime and if your garden is big enough, plant some of these trees further out and let them grow naturally. A formal pool (see above) should be very simple and the shape of this pool will be replicated throughout the garden. Pictured: a country garden by Angel Collins Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Who Will Take On The Iconic Role Next? Bond Casting Rumors LEARN MORE Eva Nemeth 4/17 The informal garden Informal gardens on the other hand can be wild and loose, avoiding the straight lines and repeated shapes of the formal garden. Where possible natural materials are used and areas of grass are kept longer and filled with bulbs. Paths tend to flow through the garden between organically-shaped large borders filled with perennials, shrubs, roses, grasses and other planting. If you have pathways, try to create curving, meandering shapes. Emulate the countryside by planting poppies and plants such as Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’, and Cenolophium denudatum, similar to the wild umbellifers found in the hedgerows. Let plants seed across paths of gravel and grow rambling roses up trees to create a romantic effect. Pictured: Libby Russell’s garden in Somerset 5/17 STRUCTURE Once you have decided where you are going to sit and relax in your garden, you need to think about structure. Are you going to have a hedge, a fence, arches, gates, sculpture, containers, or topiary? If your garden is small, think less is more. Try to avoid clutter by just incorporating three or five really good elements from the above list. Hedges, walls and fences If your garden requires a tall hedge, you need to decide whether it will be evergreen, in which case yew is a wonderful choice. Yew needs good drainage so plant it very carefully and if you are on heavy soil you would need to backfill the planting hole with at least 200mm of grit. It also likes to be fed in the winter so feed it throughout the year and you will have a good hedge within 3-4 years. If you prefer a deciduous hedge, then hornbeam is good on clay soils and beech on lighter soils. Rugosa and other roses make beautiful hedges too. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES 6 Best 90’s Action Movies From Your Childhood LEARN MORE In larger gardens, if your garden slopes downwards, a good idea is to make the most of the slope by adding a dividing line where the level changes. You can then create another ‘room’ which might open up to the countryside. The division can be a wall or a hedge, and it will probably also act as a windbreak. If your garden slopes up away from the house, it might be better to have an open view of the garden, but with shorter divisions such as retaining walls and low hedging. With small gardens, sometimes you can make your garden feel bigger by cutting off the view of most of the garden using hedges or fences, but using a mirror at the end to make the garden appear longer. Other structural elements can be particularly decorative. Arches add romance to a garden, especially if you grow roses up them. You can also have an arch with a trained crab apple tree each side to create an apple bower. A good height for an arch is 2.4m with a minimum width of 2m. Rosa ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is a good rose for an arch as the flowers hang down. Gates make excellent stopping points and the more decorative the better. If your garden is shady, then paint your gate in a light cream colour. Farrow & Ball’s ‘String‘ is a good one, and I also like the darker ‘Downpipe‘ for garden gates. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Macaulay Culkin’s Own Version Of The New ‘Home Alone’ LEARN MORE Fences come in all different shapes and sizes and don’t necessarily have to block off views; a decorative fence can allow you to still see through to the landscape beyond. Pictured: an Oxfordshire garden by Angel Collins, where hedges have been planted diagonally to create a sense of width in a narrow space. Clive Nichols 6/17 Topiary A striking structural element, topiary is most often found in more formal gardens, and is an effective way to create a sense of symmetry. Three topiary cones or other shapes running down each side of a small garden will give it maximum impact for minimum maintenance. You can plant them in the lawn if your garden is wide enough, or in the border (as above) if your garden is narrow. The symmetry and geometry will immediately make your garden feel a comfortable, grounded space. Typically box and yew are the best choices for topiary but Osmanthus burkwoodii and Phillyrea angustifolia are great alternatives, as is Euonymus japonicus. Pictured: a country garden by Angel Collins Rachel Warne 7/17 Pathways The hard landscaping details of your garden are probably the most difficult to get right. It’s important to look at your house and decide what colour stone or gravel will suit it the most, and then stick to a maximum of three different elements. For example, choose gravel, stone and brick, or gravel, metal and wood. I like grass and gravel paths in most gardens, although paths in vegetable gardens are best made out of brick or breedon gravel which is very flat. It’s usual to use stone in areas around the house but be careful, it can be slippery! Consider the style of your garden when laying out the paths – you want soft, wavy shapes for a romantic garden, but try to retain straight lines and symmetry for a more formal one. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Is The Movie “Danish Girl” A True Story? LEARN MORE Pictured: Sam McKnight’s London garden Rachel Warne 8/17 Focal points Build on the good points of the garden. For example, if there is a lovely cherry tree or magnolia in the garden, then emphasise it by underplanting it with spring bulbs. Camassias look lovely with later-flowering cherries and narcissi work well with magnolias. I also love planting alliums and tulips in long grass. Choose a point of interest if possible in the distance and open up the garden to that vista, making sure of course that you are not creating a wind tunnel at the same time. If you have a view, then enhance it by framing it with an avenue of trees or large shrubs. Find ways to create vistas within the garden itself. You can make your own focal points, whether they are urns, or wall fountains, benches, troughs or a specimen rose, shrub or tree. It is always a good idea to light these up at night. Architectural structures such as arches and pergolas also play a big part as focal points in the winter garden, when they are covered in snow or frost. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Where Are They Now? 9 Ex-Actors Found Unexpected Career Paths LEARN MORE Pictured: Joanna Bird’s west London garden MOST POPULAR Why box beds and bed nooks are the most efficient (and charming) solution for a small bedroom 95 ways to decorate a small flat By Charlotte McCaughan-Hawes A once-dilapidated wreck in the glorious Tuscan countryside brought beautifully back to life By David Nicholls 9/17 BASIC ELEMENTS OF THE GARDEN Grass Lawns are a practically essential feature of an English garden, and there is nothing like a freshly mown lawn to provide the perfect background to all the borders and areas of longer grass. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES The Truth Will Finally Set Gina Carano Free LEARN MORE If you do have areas of long grass, why not create a meadow-like garden and plant it with bulbs, snowdrops, crocus, camassias, tulips and alliums and even roses? The bulbs need to be increased every year by fifty per cent after the initial first year planting. This can be a really good way of creating a low maintenance garden as well as encouraging all sorts of wild flowers and insects. If you create uniform shapes and mow between these patterns, you will find the area will look tidy and natural. If you want wildflowers, then you need to start a five to ten year regime of sowing the seeds of yellow rattle. Yellow rattle is a plant which survives on grass roots. It therefore thins grass in order for wildflowers to become more prolific. First of all, the areas of long grass need to be scarified in the autumn to reveal bare patches, and sow the yellow rattle. It needs eight weeks of cold in order to germinate, and you can resow in February. If possible ask kind friends for seed. You need to sow the seed every year for five years in the areas where the yellow rattle seed has not grown. Pictured: The parterre meadow at Angel’s home planted with tulips and alliums, with pillars of clipped hornbeam providing structure. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Are Gigi And Leo Really Dating? Here’s All You Need To Know LEARN MORE Eva Nemeth 10/17 Borders For most borders, start with the principle of the front, middle and back row, where you have three different height requirements: tallest at the back, shortest at the front. Next choose three perennials for each row which flower at different times of the year and repeat these in groups of three or five plants, making sure they are not in lines but groups. There is a danger that this could look overly neat, so try to encourage a bit of a wriggle in your planting–it doesn’t matter if your group merges into a different row. Alternate spikey flowers with round flowers between the rows. To add romance add roses and for all year round interest add a shrub such as winter flowering viburnums or Magnolia stellata for spring. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Why Fans Went Crazy Over Him In The 70’s LEARN MORE For a border to look good all year round, you need to have a strong base of perennials among which you thread the stars of each month. Tulips for April, alliums for May (to cover up the ugly allium leaves you need to plant a perennial with good leaves such as astrantia). Roses will start to flower in June, taking you on to mid-July when dahlias will arrive. In amongst all this you want to aim for reliable filler plants: Nepeta, salvias, amsonia, alchemilla mollis and stachys, for your front row, salvias, astrantias, knautia or perovskias for your front and middle row, with campanulas, delphiniums, fennel, and thalictrums weaving in and out of veronicastrums and asters. Remember to use contrasting shapes as well as contrasting textures of the flower heads and leaves. I particularly love Thalictrum ‘Elin’ which gets very tall, Delphinium ‘Faust’ and Delphinium ‘Elatum’. There is also a wonderful new Veronicastrum called ‘Red Arrows’ that I recommend. When you choose your plants, try to buy a plant which has AGM (Award of Garden Merit) by its name. This means it has been tried and tested and it thoroughly deserves a place in your garden. Pictured: A border at Alasdair Cameron’s Devon garden, in which grasses and perennials, including Verbena bonariensis, flow around yew domes and taller shrubs. Promoted content BRAINBERRIES Who Will Be the Next James Bond? Here’s What We Know So Far LEARN MORE Simon Brown 11/17 Containers Containers are the icing on the cake in a garden. They come in all different shapes and sizes, terracotta, stone, wooden, ceramic, basket, zinc and metal. Plant pots tend to be placed quite near the house, so choose materials that suit the style of your house. For smaller containers, group them in threes. I always try to have a container planted with an evergreen such as Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ for the scent by the door. This can either have a planting of spring bulbs around the outer edge or a permanent planting with hellebores and euphorbias. Another easy permanent planting is Rosemary ‘Miss Jessop’s Upright’ or ‘Tuscan Blue’ underplanted with Erigeron karvinskianus. Spring bulbs are also a great choice for containers; tulips are better in pots than they are in borders because you can lift them easily and grow them again the following year. Tulips and wallflowers look great together and a good combination would be the strong and long lasting pink Tulip ‘Menton’, Tulip ‘Jan Reuss’ or ‘White triumphator’ and Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’. Daffodils and snowdrops signal the start of spring and this year I planted lots of pots with Narcissus ‘Thalia’ and Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’ which flowered forever. Once the spring bulbs are finished, it’s time to think about summer planting, where I like to organise it around one central plant: Salvia ‘Amistad’ is everyone’s favourite for this as it grows so well. Around this, I like to go for verbena, felicias, geraniums, cosmos, orlaya and diascias. A good tip is to leave the central plant in the pot but cut the base off, so that the roots of the plant go down, not out. This means that all the other plants will have the space to grow well. Always feed and deadhead your summer pots once a week and you will reap the rewards. Pictured: Butter Wakefield’s London garden Promoted content BRAINBERRIES This Movie Is The Main Reason Ukraine Has Not Lost To Russia LEARN MORE Clive Nichols 12/17 Water Every garden should have water for the birds alone, but it also produces a calming effect in any garden and can be useful if you live by a road or train to have a fountain which muffles the noise. Water needs to be simple and in perfect scale with its surroundings. In country gardens an oval-shaped very shallow pool edged in brick and painted black looks very effective and is easy to maintain. It only needs to be 200mm deep. Long rectangular pools are a classic choice for a more formal garden. Raised pools are good for sitting on and safer for children provided you have a water grill just below the surface to catch anyone who might fall in. MOST POPULAR Why box beds and bed nooks are the most efficient (and charming) solution for a small bedroom 95 ways to decorate a small flat By Charlotte McCaughan-Hawes A once-dilapidated wreck in the glorious Tuscan countryside brought beautifully back to life By David Nicholls 13/17 Growing fruit, vegetables and herbs Wigwams of sweet peas, runner beans, climbing courgettes, gourds and rows of onions can be just as beautiful as roses and shrubs. This year in particular, we have all gone mad for growing vegetables so if you have room in your garden, your hard work will be rewarded.