The Summer months are often a vital time of year for making big garden landscaping decisions. Sitting outside eating meals, and enjoying the work you put in during the Spring, gives you the time to look around realise your successes and where you feel you could do better. Making bold changes to a garden can be daunting, where potentially for a long time, your garden will look dramatically different. Whether you are cutting down a large tree to make room for some fruit trees, or digging up your prized green turf to lay a patio, it’s important to focus on the long term goal!
A garden pond as a new feature is a big decision. Choosing the right place to put it a pond is crucial if the pond is to succeed in the years to come. Once it’s there, it’s not something you can pick up and move. Therefore understanding if the location in the garden is suitable for wildlife (in and out of the pond) is important. The digging process for ponds (depending on size and depth) will be extended if you have to battle with tree roots and large clay deposits, a typical problem for many of us living around London and the Home Counties.
If your pond is to be very big/deep, it may be worth considering hiring a local contractor to undertake this type of project. Once completed you’ll have a great feature in your garden to relax around and enjoy the various creatures that it encourages into your garden. Combined with garden lighting, your pond can be a beautiful part of your garden in the evening as well as the daytime but don’t expect instant results, whilst the hard landscaping can be achieved inside a season (easily), it can take several years for your pond to ‘mature’ and look like part of the overall intended landscape.
Perhaps during the long winter, you noticed parts of your garden that stayed particularly wet, and you felt unable to use them? If not, you were/are lucky! When the weather is warmer, you have a great opportunity to build paths and routes through your garden so that you are ready for any future long periods of inevitable bad weather. There are a huge range of options for building paths into your garden. You can keep a rustic feel to your paths by combining layers of thick bark to the surface of a path so that you can walk on it with large logs on the edges to hold the bark in place, and give it shape. If you want more permanent hard wearing paths, you can arrange sandstone and granite rocks to use as borders without the need for any bricklaying skills. Decent reclamation yards and builders merchants can help with sourcing hard landscaping material like this and many will deliver on the back of a ‘grab’ lorry for free.
If ground conditions really control the use of your garden, you could consider developing parts of it into a patio or decking area. This will provide you with a space for pots, garden lighting and decorations that you can enjoy all year round. Changing such a large part of your garden in this way is a bold move but something you can quickly see a return on, as the weather no longer controls your garden enjoyment and you can move ornaments, pots and furniture to suit the conditions or time of year. Excavating ground in and around your house may require some pre-project advice from professionals, so that you don’t accidentally damage water/electricity supplies or the walls and foundations of the building. It’s always best to check before you start anything!
A very popular garden project in 2010 that you may also consider undertaking is to raise some borders so that it gives your plants extra height and helps sections of the garden stand out more (as well as helping keep the ground slightly warmer in Winter and Spring). The main concern when raising any borders is the well being of existing plants, which can hinder, or prevent the whole idea from being completed.
The best and most logical approach before tearing up your garden with a spade or digger, is to make a list of the plants you have in your designated border and research them individually to see how they cope with being uprooted (some may benefit, and others need dividing every few years anyway). If you are lucky, and all is ok, you will need to temporarily move the plants into pots of open topped bags, so that you can undertake all of the heavy garden landscaping without damaging any of them. To hold the raised ground of the borders in place, you could use granite, sandstone or green oak sleepers, choosing timber also gives you the option of using certain types of wood stain and exterior paint, to bring in additional colour to the area.
If you feel you want to get rid of planted borders altogether, but would still like plants to decorate your garden, you could consider replacing borders with gravel gardens. Instead of soil and mulch you can have a thick layer of gravel on top of ground sheeting (to prevent weed growth) with a collection of planted pots. Pots are easy to maintain and move about, and when combined with some garden lighting, or stoneware features, provide a perfect place to sit in the warmer weather, and can still be accessed when the wet weather has set in! This form of garden design was very popular at this years BBC Gardeners World Live show in Birmingham and also at the Chelsea flower show.
These are just a few great garden landscaping ideas to consider whilst the weather allows you to get them completed, and so that you can make the most of all of you summer garden creativity! Be bold when designing and don’t shy away from hard landscaping ideas because unlike making structural changes to your house, changes in the garden are often easier to ‘put right’ if you make a mistake, and with less dire consequences!