Design a Garden for 2019 Early in the Year
The key to having a great looking garden is to plan ahead, so right now is the time to settle yourself down by a warm fire with a note pad and pencil and begin to plan your 2019 garden. Whatever the size of the garden, take your time. It is far better, and you will be much happier with the results, if you first assess the various factors before springing into action later this year.
What are the things you want to keep in your garden?
Firstly, make a note of your garden’s strong and weak points. With the trees leafless now, and most herbaceous plants out of sight, you can see the ‘bones’ of your garden. Before you begin planning in earnest, sketch out your site on graph paper. Nip outside with a tape measure to take accurate measurements of your garden and the boundaries in relation to the house. Make a note of any fixed structures, such as the shed, existing patio areas, or trees. There’s usually something you will want to keep in a garden. In a new development, there are often existing fences and paths, add them all on your plan. Use a compass to make a note of the aspect of your garden (which way it faces in relation to the sun.) Aspect determines what time of day your garden gets the sun, where the sun reaches and for how long each day. If you have a choice of where to build a patio or seating area, site it in a west-facing position, where the last of the afternoon sun reaches. If you have a north-facing garden don’t despair! With a bit of thought, planning and careful plant selection a shady garden can be every bit as lush as a sunny one, and even more intriguing. Foxgloves, ferns and campanulas all look very natural under the shade of a tree.
Most gardens, whatever the size, contain a lawn of some sort. A common mistake is to create a rectangular lawn with flower beds around, giving no reason whatsoever to venture in when you and your guests can see the whole thing from a window. If you have a long thin garden try an oval or circular shaped lawn to make the garden appear larger and use plants to break the area up into different sections. Play around with different shaped lawns on your plan until you are pleased with the overall look on paper. It’s much less expensive to make mistakes at the planning stage and it’s important to get it right.
Hedges can be used to screen eyesores, such as an ugly fence, and trees for obscuring views from neighbouring properties. Many shrubs are suitable for creating a hedge but please try and avoid the ubiquitous Leylandii, which can quickly outgrow the space if left unchecked. If you want a formal, clipped evergreen hedge, the Holme Oak, Quercus Ilex, is a relatively well-behaved alternative. A good informal deciduous hedge can be created with the Ramanus Rosa, Rosa Rugosa. Its highly fragrant flowers and hips that last well into the autumn, give two seasons of interest and the prickly stems are an effective deterrent against intruders.
Creating pathways in the garden is a great way to give it function and form. Try to avoid making the path go Straight from A to B, instead let it meander around the space and be as generous as you can with the width. Allow for two people to walk comfortably side by side. In a sunny garden, Lavender planted at either side of a pathway, gives scent, colour and attract bees in abundance. An archway, with scented climbers over a path creates a great division and focal point, leading the eye of a visitor on and into the rest of a garden.
Once you are happy with the basic structure of your garden on paper, you can consider the stars of the show – the plants. There should be something of interest to see in a garden whatever the time of year, so avoid the common mistake of rushing off to the local garden centre this spring and grabbing the plants on dazzling display that day. Instead, go armed with a carefully considered list of plants that cover all seasons and only buy those that are on your list. By doing a little advanced research on the eventual height and spread of plants, good colour combinations and choosing species that will thrive in the amount of sun or shade they’ll be receiving, you will reap the rewards later in the year.