DESIGN & PLANNING

Because of the sheer amount of hard landscaping and integrated features, lighting and water involved in a contemporary garden, planning couldn’t be more important. In fact, it’s really more of a design job first, and then a planning job.

First you need to decide what kind of design you like and what you want to use your space for. Then you need to know exactly what’s going into it and where everything’s going. There’s a lot to think about – materials, shapes, structures, lighting, water features, plants – but you must do it.

You don’t want to get halfway through and discover you’re missing something vital or you’ve dug a big hole in the wrong place.

Equally, you don’t want to waste money buying things you don’t need.

So, look in magazines, read books, search online and visit other gardens for as much inspiration as you can get. Then grab a pencil and a few sheets of paper - squared will make measuring things out easier – then draw out the space you’re working with and start plotting what you’d like to go in it and where.

Start with the big things, that might require building, knocking down or laying, then move onto things like beds, plants and their positions and then finally any finishing touches like furniture and lighting.

Before you plant anything in your garden make sure your beds are well prepared with all the right drainage and nutrients. This will give your new plants the very best conditions while they establish themselves and will help them thrive in their new homes.

If you’ve got sandy soil, dig in as much organic matter as you can to encourage a strong and healthy root system in your plants. This will help them become hardier and more able to cope with the drier conditions of this soil type.

With heavier clay-based soil it’s more difficult for plants to get their roots into, so add some horticultural grit as well as compost. This will open up the soil and enable the roots to grow deeper in search of water, making them all the stronger for it.

The good news for gardens is that you’ll probably have a few raised beds built in to your landscaping and they’re much easier to adapt to the conditions that your chosen plants will like. Many gardens tend to be the sort of spaces you can walk around in without ever getting your feet muddy. So instead of leaving soil exposed, use ‘clean’ mulch materials like gravel, pebbles, slate chippings or even more modern materials like coloured glass and rubber to cover it up. Not only does it look great, it’ll help keep weeds down and retain moisture in the soil making your garden even easier to maintain.