Whether you’ve just moved in to your home and want to make it your own or you’ve been in your home a while and fancy a change of scenery the garden is a great place to start. The creation of your perfect garden is a process. And it’s as personal to you and your family as your house itself.
So where do you start?
First have a think about what it is that you actually want to do. What is it you really want from your garden? If you are you a keen gardener, perhaps you want somewhere to be creative or you might just want something low maintenance and practical. A garden could be a great place for the kids (or the dog) to play, or a place to entertain guests of an evening. Perhaps both? Or would you just want it to be a sanctuary where you can enjoy nature?
Once you have a basic idea of what you want from your garden then have a think about what you’ve got already. How far away is it from what you want? You may feel you need to change the whole garden layout; or it could just be a case of ‘tidying up’ and adding some finishing touches.
Have a think about the boundaries, is there enough privacy? This will help you decide if you need more fencing, hedges or large trees. Also have a look in the garden at various points in the day and note down what areas get the sun (or shade) at which times. This will help you figure out where to put certain plants and even where you might want to have a seating area.
What makes a nice garden
If you know you want a ‘nice’ garden but aren’t quite sure what that is for you; here are a few ideas:
- Think about having a variation of levels.
A raised or sunken pergola, deck or patio can create an increase in privacy and separation of purpose and things like an archway or obelisk covered in climbing plants, raised flowerbeds, rockeries and tiered planters can be aesthetically pleasing.
- Use colour.
A mix of colour throughout the year is sure to brighten up a garden (and a mood!) – try evergreen plants or even artificial ones; or add in a colourful feature such as a bright painted bench or bird bath.
- Create the illusion of space.
Having paving right up to the edges or boundaries of the garden or laying slabs on the diagonal in a diamond shape can make the garden look bigger. You could also create the illusion of space by softening any walls with climbing plants and using potted plants rather than flower beds.
- Divide up your garden.
If you have a larger garden it can be useful to divide it into sections. You could have a patio or pergola area where you can sit and entertain guests, a lawn area and an area for flowers.
- Add a feature.
You could include a pond, other water feature or statue but a feature doesn’t have to be anything large - perhaps you’d just like a bird house or a fire pit, or make a feature section out of your seating area using lighting or plants.
Once you have decided what you would like to do sit down and plan, plan, plan. Remember you might not be able to afford to do everything you want to do in one go but it’s important to get as much of what you want down on paper before you start – compromise can come later!
Start by measuring out your garden and writing down the measurements; if you know exactly how much space you have you can reduce your risk of buying too much (or too little) and having to spend more.
Draw out what you want or even find a free design tool online. It doesn’t have to be to scale to start with (or even good!) but it’ll give you an idea of what you might need and where to start with your project.
A scale drawing will help you calculate the amount of materials you would need.
List your materials. Perhaps start thinking from the outside in and consider the order you would need to do things in; for example there’s no point in planting a bed of beautiful flowers if you’re going to have to stand in it to paint the fence. It may be worth painting and laying borders, paving and building any structures first before you’ve even bought any plants!
Costing and Budgets
If you are considering landscaping it might be worth getting a professional to draw it out for you properly so you know exactly what you’ll be getting before any work is done.
Hiring a professional landscaper can be very expensive, though; in the thousands just for a design so definitely get a number of quotes before you decide.
Before you buy anything make sure you do some research. Have a look at different product options and figure out which would be the best value for its purpose.
Shop around; even if it’s just window shopping for a bit or just looking online. And write down any costs (and where you found that item). That way you can get an idea of what you would need to spend before you start.
Have a think about how the work will be done. Are you able to do it yourself (or with friends or relatives) or will workpeople have to be factored in to the costs?
Remember you don’t have to buy everything at the same time (or from the same place) and perhaps consider taking advantage of click and collect services or home delivery – that way you’re less likely to be tempted by other things in the shop!
Can you afford it?
Once you have an idea of what your garden design would cost, consider how much you can afford to spend and what your budget might be. Remember to add a buffer for extras you’ve not already thought of or for any hiccups that may arise.
Does your budget match your costings? If not and you don’t want to compromise on what you want for your garden have a think about where the extra funding might come from. Is it something you can cover with your savings or if you can afford to do you think you might need to borrow more on your mortgage?
If you would consider a compromise, could you reduce your costings by not doing certain things at this point? Perhaps you could you reduce your costs by using different materials or doing the same things but in a different way.
Ideas for renovating with a smaller budget
- Think about recycling things you already have – such as furniture. That old coffee table that you’ve got sitting out in the garden anyway? Make it look like it’s supposed to be there: paint it with outdoor / waterproof paint and put some pots on top. Or even old draws, tins, soiled mugs, plastic bottles, even old shoes and boots used as plant pots.
- Gravel is more affordable than paving and easier to do as DIY. Or try some stepping stones and bark chippings. Be sure to lay a permeable membrane or weed net underneath to stop the weeds growing through!
- Lighting can make a difference. There are plenty of inexpensive outdoor lighting options available; many solar powered which will charge during the day and look lovely on a summer’s evening.
- Invest in garden storage. Garden tools and household junk left in the garden can be unattractive to look at. An obvious option for storing your belongings in the garden is a shed. Unfortunately, though, sheds can be expensive, they take up room in a small garden and can be difficult to construct without help. However, there are many alternatives you could use – for example storage boxes that double up as garden furniture.
TIP: If you do have a lot of garden tools and equipment and you are storing these in the garden do ensure that your home insurance covers them.