Coming Soon: A Modern Formal Garden

Coming Soon: A Modern Formal Garden

We have a few of last summer’s projects into their build phases at the moment. One of the largest is this formal, modern garden in Hilton, Derbyshire. We thought you might like a sneak peek at it.

Hilton plan

The owner of the property was having an extension built, as well as having some adjacent outbuildings converted into a swimming pool. We were asked by the owner to design a formal garden which would compliment the new buildings and provide some sheltered, family entertaining space.

Two pools
Two pools at night

Using the view from the extension as a centre point, we designed a raised lawn and planting area bisected by a formal, split level pool. The larger top pool is decorative and the smaller lower pool will be a fish pond. Both pools will be fed by water blade features. The upper pool will be crossed by three ‘floating’ pavers.

Behind the lawn area is a long wall. This will be planted with trees, shrubs and perennials, and topped with timber screens. Behind the wall is a service path which leads to an adjacent kitchen garden. The path will be lined with pleached trees to form a screen from neighbouring properties.

The pools and planting will be enhanced with subtle uplighters for some dramatic night-time lighting effects.

Before image

As you can see from the “before” picture above, the area of garden consisted of a dated lawn with some mature, shaped flower beds.

During construction

The construction work is well underway on the walls and pools. One of the benefits of working with a garden designer early on alongside any architectural work you are having done is that the groundwork and hard landscaping for the garden can be undertaken at the same time as the groundwork for the building. This saves the client money and time.

The road to your beautiful new garden starts here.

The first step is to book your free consultation* now – call Anna on 01283 217941, or use the contact form below.

* Free consultation is for gardens within a 25 mile radius of Ashby de la Zouch. For gardens further afield, a consultation fee applies.

What is the Best Aspect for a Rear Garden?

What is the Best Aspect for a Rear Garden?

I have been advising one of my clients on which house to buy. And no, we’re not branching out into estate agency.

As the advice is applicable to anyone else in a similar situation, I thought I’d share it out. The question is: if you get the opportunity to buy a house off-plan, or while a development is still being built, what is the best aspect to choose for the rear garden?

What do we mean by aspect?

Simply, if you stand with your back to the house, looking at your rear garden, which way are you facing? As we live in the northern hemisphere, south facing gardens receive the most sun. But choosing your plot isn’t quite as simple as that.

So what is the best aspect for a rear garden?

Your choice depends on how you’ll use the garden. If you are out at work all day and wish to make the most of the evening sun, you should think about a south or west facing garden. As the evening sun is lower in the sky than it is during the day, look out for adjacent buildings or trees and try to work out if they will obscure the sun late in the day.

Similarly, if you want morning sun, opt for a garden that faces east.

If you will be using the garden all day, a south-east to south-west facing garden will give the best chance of prolonged sun through the day.

A northward facing garden will mean your house casts a shadow over part of your garden for most of the day. This could be good for you if you love shade, but not so great if you like to sunbathe or want to grow vegetables. North facing gardens can also be cold and damp.

Aside from the aspect, another thing to consider when buying on a new development is the situation of your plot compared to other properties. Modern estates tend towards cramming the houses in like sardines, so if you don’t want to feel hemmed in, aim for a home on the outside of the development if you can.

Saving money with bare-root trees and shrubs

Saving money with bare-root trees and shrubs

The next time you are wrapping up against the cold this winter, spare a thought for the Alaskan wood frog.

During their hibernation period, 65% of the water in their bodies turns into ice. They stay in this frozen state for up to seven months, through temperatures as low as -20ºC. When spring finally arrives they defrost themselves with high levels of glucose, a natural antifreeze.

In the UK, we rarely see temperatures as low as that, but much of our wildlife still hibernates over the winter. And our deciduous trees and shrubs do a similar thing – except in the horticultural world we say they go dormant.

And how does that benefit gardeners?

When a young tree is dormant – in a sort of suspended animation – you can dig it up, remove the soil from around the roots, and plant it somewhere else.

This brings many advantages. The tree will be much easier to move and lighter to transport than a tree in a container. It will not require two people to lift, as it may do with a heavy root-ball or a pot of soil attached. And they are much quicker to plant, because you can put them in a smaller hole.

The same is true for hedge plants

Native British hedging plants – hawthorn, beech, privet, yew and blackthorn, for example – can all be purchased in bare-root form for planting as new hedges or for patching existing ones.

How much cheaper are bare-root trees and shrubs?

Prices vary per species, but you can reasonably expect to save 40-45% if you buy a bare-root tree against a comparable one that’s container-grown. And the savings don’t end there. If you are paying to have your trees planted you can expect it to take less time, possibly use less people and involve lower delivery charges.

So why don’t we plant bare-root trees and shrubs throughout the year?

You can only remove the soil from the roots while the plant is dormant, which in the UK is roughly between the end of November and March. In the spring the plant will come out of dormancy and will need the soil to enable it to grow.

Can you get bare-root trees in any size?

No – the largest bare-root tree specimens I’ve seen available are what is known as Extra Heavy Standard 14/16. This means if you take a measure of the trunk’s circumference at 1 metre up the trunk, it will be 14-16cm. Depending on species this would be a tree of between 3-4 metres tall.

Are there any drawbacks to planting bare-root trees and shrubs?

If you are not planting your trees or shrubs immediately after you receive them, you will need to store them in a frost-free but unheated place, like a garage or shed. If you are not going to plant them for weeks, you should heel them into a storage trench somewhere in the garden. You can see how this is done on this video from the British Hardwood Tree Nursery.

When you do come to plant, don’t set them too deep, and ensure you don’t leave pockets of air around the roots by heeling them in well. A great tip for hedge plants is to prune at least a third from the height before you plant. This will encourage vigorous, bushier growth.

Should I wait until winter to plant some trees or hedges?

It’s up to you, but if you can be patient you can expect to save yourself some money. If you want to establish a woodland or need lengthy runs of hedges the savings can become quite substantial.

And us gardeners don’t mind planting them in the winter. It might be cold out there but, unlike the poor Alaskan frogsicles, we’re never too far away from a hot cup of tea.

Our Garden Trends 2017

Our Garden Trends 2017

What do these people have in common?
James Anderson, England cricketer.
Liz Truss, Justice Secretary.
Guy Fawkes, leader of the Gunpowder Plot.

Give up?

At the time of writing (Saturday 5th November), they are all trending topics on Twitter.

Trending topics are powerful, as they reveal people’s interests and intentions right now. And as a gardening expert, I see and hear my clients’ interests and intentions on a daily basis. So I’m going to reach for my crystal ball and share with you what’s going to trend next year in the world of garden design.

Our Garden Trends 2017

Artificial grass - our garden trend number one for 2017

1. Faking it with artificial grass

The top of the list of my clients’ requirements is (at least 90% of the time) is that their garden be “low-maintenance”. That means different things to different people. Some are happy to do a day’s work in their garden once in a while. But others can’t find any time at all in their busy lives. And the one thing I’m getting increasing requests for is artificial grass.

Let’s face it, mowing the lawn can be a chore. Your garden might be an awkward shape or on a slope. You might have pets or children who leave things hidden in the grass. What seems, on the face of it, to be a routine task, can soon turn into a couple of hours’ hard work.

And then there is the waste to deal with. And the edges usually need cutting separately. And when you’ve got the lawn looking just the way you want it, two weeks later you have to do it all over again.

Good looks all year round

The attraction of artificial grass is not hard to work out. You just lay it and leave it. It doesn’t get damaged by pets. It needs no maintenance at all, except for sweeping up autumn leaves. We even have one client who cleans her artificial lawn with a hoover.

Today’s artificial grass has come a long way since it first appeared as a sports playing surface in the 1960s. Since the 1990s it has been used in residential settings – originally in places where watering was an issue. But now its lack of maintenance and relative low cost are key reasons why it’s my no.1 garden trend for 2017.

Employing a gardener - garden trend number two for 2017

2. Employing a gardener

Let’s face it. If you haven’t got the time to cut the grass, you probably don’t have time for the weeding, pruning, dividing and dead-heading that comes with owning a garden. So a lot of my clients are looking for help with ongoing garden maintenance. I have a number of gardeners on my list, and I’m keeping them all busy in my clients’ gardens.

Skills shortage

There is a proper skills shortage in this country for qualified gardeners. While it’s very easy to set up as a gardener, it’s also very easy to ruin a garden if you don’t know what you’re doing. The skills shortage is not helped by a general perception that gardeners are glorified odd-job men. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Gardeners are expected to know hundreds of plants by sight, as well as where best to plant them and how to care for them. They need to be able to recognise a host of common and uncommon pests and diseases and know how to treat them. Increasingly they need a variety of certifications for pesticide spraying and for operating power tools.

Good gardeners are anything but unskilled. So if you know of any, please send them my way!

3. Entertaining friends with pizza

The third hot garden trend on my list is the pizza oven. I’ve seen lots of interest in these recently, and we’ve incorporated three of them into gardens this year (like this one above, in Ashby de la Zouch).

Despite our weather, outdoor entertaining is becoming more popular. A pizza oven acts as a focal point in an entertaining area. We’ve designed them to fit into outdoor kitchen areas surrounded by ample seating.

Healthy, stylish, entertaining and fun

A pizza oven accomplishes two things – it heats up your entertaining space (ideal in a British ‘summer’) and can cook your pizzas even if it’s raining. Who of us hasn’t attempted a family barbecue under an umbrella?

You can get gas fired or wood burning ovens, and some can also double as slow cookers as they hold their heat for up to 24 hours. Built-in ovens can range from £500-£2,000+ and stand-alone ovens start at the £150 mark.

So those are my top three garden trends for 2017. What do you think will be trending next year? Let me know.

A New Perspective on Outdoor Living

A New Perspective on Outdoor Living

Outdoor living is not a new concept, but with today’s homes getting smaller and demands for space increasing, the option of extending your living space outside is becoming increasingly popular.

We designed this contemporary garden, which features an outdoor living area, in Ibstock, Leicestershire. Our clients built the garden themselves and then shot this photgraph using a drone. They have done a very good job – the garden matches the plans almost exactly!

For the whole story click here.