So you’ve moved house – and inherited someone else’s garden! What to do?
First of all don’t rush into anything – live with your space for a while to get acquainted with the plants that are already there. In addition to getting to know the existing plant life and discovering what you like and don’t like, it is also important to take note of the surrounding features like trees in your neighbours’ gardens and the extended views beyond your property that you would like to keep.
What you plant in your garden needs to allow for seasonal change and beauty year round.
Here are some simple yet important things to think about BEFORE you make changes to your newly inherited garden.
1- What you would like to do in your garden and how can you make it unique to you? i.e. What are your hobbies or interests that could be incorporated to make your outdoor space zing? Would you like to play table tennis, host yoga sessions outdoors, meditate or have your children’s friends over to play? Would you like raised beds to avoid bending down to the ground too much?
2- Would you like to experiment with temporary movable elements such as light tables, chairs and benches that you can put in different places to see how it feels to spend time there?
Think about sunny spots for that morning cuppa and where to watch the sunset at the end of the day. Which parts of the garden catch the winter sun and where is the shade for hot summer days?
Fun idea: Create temporary barriers using beach windbreaks to see how it feels to compartmentalize the space if you are thinking of creating smaller, private spaces within a large garden.
3- Think about your micro-climate. Where does the wind funnel through? Make sure your sitting spaces are not in that area. The wind from the north or morning winter sun from the east can damage tender plants so bear this in mind when choosing plants.
Where does the frost collect? Take note. Where does it bake dry in the summer? I can judge many of these issues when I visit your garden but it is great if you can get to know your space yourself first.
4- Keep your eyes open for cheap or free plants and materials. Look around and see what is doing well in your neighbours’ gardens. A local gardening group may have regular plant sales – a great way to source cheap plants.
Fun idea: we made a great circular patio with stone from an old fireplace that a friend was getting rid of and seats from unwanted bed-frames. If you are renovating the house first, save surplus materials or rubble that may be useful and try to confine the storage of building materials into a small area to avoid compacting the soil, especially underneath tree canopies where you could otherwise damage roots.
Of course I recommend getting advice from a garden designer – you wouldn’t build a house without seeking advice and you will get a much better garden if you work with someone who has experience of putting ideas into reality and how they can evolve into the future. I am more than happy to come for a quick and easy short look-see at your garden to point out any gems and / or discuss any problem areas before getting into a full design at a later date.
Book your initial consultation with me here.
And obviously there is a budget to think of – you can easily spend thousands of pounds to create a modern contemporary design that may be pretty sterile and boring. I have several tricks for creating great gardens on a budget. You don’t have to do the whole garden at once – you can have a masterplan to work to that you can implement in stages. Invite family and friends over to help – many hands really do make light work and with a pot luck feast you can enjoy their company afterwards.