For best results, go with nature's flow
WE ARE asked to come up with designs for lots of gardens and although many people already have ideas about how their garden should look, others don't and we work together to get inspiration.
Some gardens need a complete overhaul, but we often find gardens that dictate to us, rather than the other way around. It's common to make big changes in the hope that they will create a much better look, but sometimes working with a garden's existing character is best.
In the Bristol garden pictured, we were asked to come up with ideas for change. From the back of the house, the garden sloped up to the end of the garden.
The client's idea was to level the space, so their kids had a flat place for playing. This would have involved taking away about 30 lorry loads of soil. Instead, we laid a level sandstone patio at the back of the house with a bank of lawn rolling up to a level area of lawn beyond, where kids could still safely play.
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The bank was close to the house and easier on the eye than a brick retaining wall, which would have had the effect of enclosing the space. From the lawn, a curving, rendered retaining wall was built and the space on top populated with a mixture of plants, providing a colourful backdrop.
The combination of the patio, sloping lawn and sweeping wall meant the garden flowed and was both practical and attractive.
In another Bristol garden, we were challenged with finding plants for a lot of different areas. Like most gardens, there were shady corners, dry patches and areas prone to retaining moisture.
It seems obvious, but in order to get the best from plants, it's important to place them in areas where conditions best suit them.
In one area of the garden there were a few established trees. Rather than removing them all, or taking out a few, which would have meant the trees collectively lost their shape, we planted ferns underneath. The ferns thrived here and provided a different environment to the rest of the garden.
People often struggle with maintaining lawns under a tree, where it can either be dry and full of roots, or even quite mossy. It's often better to re-shape the lawn away from the base of the tree and create a new planting area.
For a particularly difficult area, for example a steep slope where it's difficult to maintain plants, a water feature is often the perfect solution. A bank or a terrace lends itself to a waterfall, perhaps with a pool at the bottom.
For information and garden ideas, visit www.secretgarden web.co.uk or email email@example.com.