One of the trickiest decisions to make when you move house and inherit a garden, be it a new build or established one, is what to do with it. It is often pushed to the bottom of the list, but it is worth bearing a few things in mind – the garden is usually the first and last thing you see every day, even if only briefly, and each day it has the capacity to lift your spirits….or the opposite! It also makes economic sense to get a nice garden design done and to have a good landscape gardener build it – a quality and well-maintained outdoor space can add a massive 20% to the value of your property.
It can be quite daunting, however, knowing quite where to start, when looking to make changes in your garden. The good news is that you have some options. We will look at some ways to make changes yourself, but equally you can employ the services of professional garden designers and landscape gardeners to take the hard work out of it. If you are going to do it yourself then my advice would be to keep in mind that there is not really any such thing as a ‘finished’ garden – once you accept this it becomes a whole lot easier to look out of the window and see the wheelbarrow and spade waiting for you to pick them up again at the weekend! It’s a serious point however, and one of the wonderful lessons that gardens and nature have to teach us – there is no hurry, and the aim is not perfection!
First off, do what all garden designers do, and assess your site. A new build garden may well have a limited amount of top soil and nutrients, an old rose bed may be exhausted. Is that ominous looking tree one that is going to keep on getting bigger, and why is that area of grass struggling? These are all questions that may have simple answers. It is at this stage of planning as well that you need to decide what it is that you want out of your garden – do you want an outdoor room for entertaining, somewhere for the kids to play, or a space to grow veggies? Perhaps you want to fill it with flowering plants, or as much wildlife as possible? It is of course possible to combine a number of uses, but beware of trying to do too much.
Gardens require maintenance, and it is important to be honest about how much you will be able to realistically get done. A garden full of hard landscaping will cost a lot to install, but can potentially have minimal ongoing maintenance requirements. You want a garden full of flowers or vegetables – this takes work I’m afraid! How about a mixture of plant pots for your flowers or veggies on a hard surface as a compromise? Landscape gardeners in Glasgow and elsewhere area able to build any kind of garden for you, and all the better if they have a good garden design to work from.
If you are concerned about the state of your soil or lawn then this is something to address early on too. Sticky or clay soils do not mean bad soils, it is all about nutrient content and you can go from there. Rotovating or digging over soil and adding compost, manure or soil conditioner is a great start. Hard work but it pays dividends. Poor lawns will often give themselves away either in the winter by becoming boggy (insufficient drainage) or in the summer with brown patches (too sandy a top soil). It may be worth considering completely re-laying a lawn if things are really bad, but it is possible to make gradual improvements through regular aerating, scarifying and feeding.
When it comes to choosing the plants for your garden you can save yourself a lot of time, pain and expense by doing a bit of research about what will and won’t survive. Check out what works in other people’s gardens, and use resources like the internet to check on plants’ suitability. A good garden designer or knowledgable landscape gardener will be able to assist with this.
If you’re looking to do as much work yourself as possible, there is heaps of information available. At the most basic level you could just work off a hand-drawn sketch, and if your changes are all going to be soft landscaping (turf & plants), then this could be sufficient. It is worth having a plan though – nothing needs to be set in stone but it is best not to make it up as you go along. The alternative is to employ a garden designer who can provide advice or technical drawings, and if required can project manage a full-scale garden build for you whilst the landscape gardeners build the garden.
Angel Horticulture Ltd provides garden design, garden consultancy and soft landscaping services in the Glasgow area.
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