Journey through a garden
FIRSTLY I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who entered the garden design competition. We were blown away by the response and received many deserving entries.
It was very difficult to choose a winner but eventually we decided on the entry by Mrs Gray, of Burton-Upon-Stather. Congratulations Mrs Gray.
I am now in the process of helping Mrs Gray plan a garden that will be a monument to her husband who sadly passed away recently and had always taken great care of their garden.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about some of the common garden issues that arose in entries we received for the competition and offer some solutions.
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It's much easier to know where to start by just figuring out what things you don't like about the garden. Discontent that people had with their garden tended to be largely related to issues of clutter and maintenance or associated with dull and uninspiring spaces.
The garden can become something of a burden to people who either don't have the time or physically struggle to carry out the work necessary to get a garden into good shape and keep it that way. Unfortunately, it's not something that can be ignored because left unchecked the problem only grows.
Maintenance can be made easier in a number of ways which don't consign your plot to a boring patch of concrete.
Simple additions such as installing metal lawn edgings that will function as a mowing edge to give a neat appearance without hours with a pair of edging shears in hand.
The correct choice of plants is most crucial to a manageable garden.
Get the planting working for you instead of against you.
Things will grow in your garden if you want them to or not so you can either spend half your life weeding bare soil or you can use plants that will naturally fill the spaces to save you a lot of work.
For a really easy yet full looking garden stick to mostly evergreen shrubs with slow growing compact varieties near the front interspersed with ground-cover perennials.
A use of exclusively hardy plants will cut down on the work caused by winter damage especially if they are situated in their ideal growing conditions. Accessible borders make tending to your plants far more practical as well.
Dull and featureless gardens are at the other end of the spectrum and seem to be a safe solution to the fear of overgrown plants and fussy landscaping.
These types of gardens, which are often just grass and hedges or fencing with a postage stamp patio outside the back door, are common on new-build estates and they are admittedly easy to keep tidy.
But what is the point of a tidy garden if it has no interest and you are left to just stare out at a lawn and fence?
What's needed here is to disguise the boundaries with interestingly shaped borders and a use of focal points and hard landscaping to lead your eye around the space and to encourage a journey through the garden.
The correct use of these techniques will create plenty of interest in the smallest and dullest of plots and will also produce a much greater sense of space and depth.
Above all else your garden will be most successful if it is planned around what you want to use it for – be it relaxing, producing food, entertaining or encouraging wildlife, the possibilities are endless.