Bringing a new garden to life
With several significant new home development sites across Cumbria, especially in the Eden valley, there are going to be plenty of people needing to add personality to a bare garden in the coming months. It’s worth thinking about this early if you’re buying a new home off plan as you may be able to influence that initial choice of fencing, paving and lawn!
Our Top Tips for a new garden
- Think ahead – check your soil and improve it with nutrients as much as you can before you start planting.
- Be bold – lose some of that new lawn at the back and plan your planting – shrubs and perennials as well as bulbs and herbs or a few vegetables.
- Add height – whether it’s a trellis on the fence or a willow sculpture or support or a raised seating area, break up that new-garden flatness with some structure.
- Check local gardens – even on a new development there will be neighbours with established gardens not too far away. Look at what grows well for them and it will probably grow well for you!
- Attract wildlife – just a few bird feeders and some careful planting will bring life to your garden and your garden to life.
Once you’ve checked the soil quality, you’ll probably need to add plenty of compost as well as creating a composting area or adding a compost bin so that you have it for future use.
Unfortunately, obvious compost bins and recycling areas can look out of place but planting isn’t the only way to disguise or hide them. Positioning them so that you don’t look out on them from the kitchen window is a good start but then maybe think about building a low wall or a seating area that looks away from them but also screens them. We’ve recently designed and constructed a log sofa that completely disguised the oil tank in a client’s garden.
The next thing to tackle is often adding height to a flat space. Planting a few climbers and adding supports or trellis to the fence will make a difference but you can also paint the fence or add an outdoor mirror and an archway to frame it, creating an impression of more space beyond the boundary. Willow sculptures and wooden structures can create height in the garden other than at the sides and are a good addition if you take out some of the turf and create bigger or more beds for planting.
If there is space, we’d also recommend planting a tree – something like a Sorbus vilmorinii or an Amelanchier lamarckii that won’t threaten your foundations with its roots or grow too tall but will give the garden some structure all year around. But it is worth checking any convenants or agreements about boundaries or maximum heights before planting.
Additions to the garden can also help to create virtual boundaries. We recommend planting shrubs such as Berberis and Ilex (holly) , which have spikes, as a deterrent for people and animals from using your open front garden as a cut through or a pathway. It doesn’t have to look as if you’re fencing off your space but a few plants in the right places will do the job without contravening any conditions for your new build.
A blank canvas can be wonderful but a clean sheet of paper can bring on writer’s block too. If you’re starting from scratch with a flat square garden, don’t rush in too much but build your garden gradually, using pots and planters in the early months if you’re missing colour. Watch what’s happening in your neighbours’ gardens and elsewhere in your community – you’ll find out what works, what thrives and what to adapt to create your own outdoor space.
And if you are completely overwhelmed, that’s when a Garden Designer can help!