By garden designer Mary Newstead
If you are creating a garden from scratch or re-designing an existing plot this series will help you. It contains useful tips on the intricacies of garden design. It’s not rocket-science - all you need is heaps of enthusiasm and patience.
It’s a good idea to read as many gardening books and magazines as you can, to familiarise yourself with plants that you may have heard of. And, don’t forget to visit gardens and flower shows for ideas.
Get to know your garden
If you have just bought a well-established garden, live with it for one year i.e spring, summer, autumn, winter. If you move in summer you will not be aware of winter-flowering bulbs. Similarly, in mid-winter summer perennials and spring bulbs will not be visible yet.
During this first year, identify your plants and learn about their preferred growing conditions and how to prune and propagate them. Walk around and look at it from different angles - an upstairs window is a useful vantage point. Take photographs as they act as reminders of what your garden looked like. Make a note of the areas of sun and shade, which will vary throughout the year.
Think about what you want to use the garden for - entertaining, children, vegetables. Make a list of essentials that have to be catered for e.g a washing line or dustbin. Plan your garden on paper and don’t be afraid to change your mind before you come up with the final layout.
Get to know your soil
It is important to thoroughly investigate your site. If it’s a new plot, it may contain rubble or builders sand, which will need to be removed. The whole site may need to be thoroughly dug over and new soil imported.
And on the subject of soil - you should know whether yours is acid, alkaline or neutral so invest in a soil-testing kit before you begin any planting. Remember to test soil from different areas in your garden as it can vary within the same plot.
Next article: Choosing a style