Getting started with a new garden or changing part of your existing garden can be overwhelming and frustrating.
Especially if you’re keen to get going but don’t have the ideas to get going.
Let me assure you this is normal.
So, which one of these situations are you facing?
- The garden is completely new with wall-to-wall grass.
- The garden is ok but boring.
- You’ve done the house and now it’s time to tackle the garden.
- You’re faced with someone else’s idea of a nice garden which you don’t like.
- You’ve just had an extension done which has changed the garden.
- The demands on your life have changed and you don’t have so much time/more time to look after it.
- The garden is looking tired and needs revitalizing.
Although you may not think so now but finding ideas is easy. It’s making sure that they are the right ones for you, is the more challenging part so the purpose of this guide is to help you find the best ideas to get you started with your garden.
I believe there are 3 foundation steps that every beautiful and enjoyable garden is based on, which you should take into account when considering ideas for your garden.
What you like to do in the garden
What physical conditions already exist in the garden
Maintenance implications of the ideas you like.
I will explain why you need to think about these things and how to apply these steps to finding the right ideas for you. By following and applying these 3 steps, you will also ensure that you don’t end up with ideas for your garden that take up too much time to look after.
I call this process The Garden Equation because if you equate the amount of time you have available with the amount of time it takes to look after the garden, the result is a lovely garden that is easily manageable and therefore enjoyable.
And it all starts with the right ideas
Just imagine being in the garden on a summer’s evening, relaxing, looking about at your garden. You can see, smell and enjoy the colours, scents and textures of the flowers, the fish swimming in the pond and the lawn that looks neat and tidy.
Perhaps you’ve got friends round for a BBQ or you’re just outside with a good book but whatever you’re doing, you’re taking delight in being there. It is this feeling of contentment and enjoyment in your garden that I am ultimately aiming for with The Garden Equation and I cannot emphasis enough that this starts with the right ideas.
What do you want to do in the garden?
The 1st step
The first step to finding the right ideas is to ‘Know what you want to do in the garden’. This may sound like a very basic thing to do but in my experience it is the step most often left out or rushed. You need to work out exactly what you’d like to do in the garden and what you must have to make it work on a practical front. The way to do this is to sit down and take a few minutes to really think about what you like doing outside.
Make a list. The list will be divided into two sections, the first being of all the Practical things you need in the garden to make the space work. If your garden doesn’t work on a practical front it will be a constant source of irritation so it is worth getting this bit right. Most common examples are the washing line, rubbish bins and sheds.
The second part of the list is about all the things you like to do outside. For example, many people like to eat outside, to entertain or just to relax at the end of the day with a glass of wine. I expect that you enjoy all these things too but if you don’t identify them, it is impossible to create the kind of space that will facilitate this happening
List the top five most
important Practical things
you must have in the garden
Now list the top five
things you love to do
in the garden.
Consult and discuss with anyone else who uses the space with you.
The 2nd step
The second step to identifying the best ideas is to ‘Know what physical conditions already exist in your garden’. Work out what the physical growing conditions in your garden and aim to work with nature rather than against it. All these things will dictate the types of plants you can grow successfully and which part of the garden they will do best in.
What have you already got in your garden?
It is much easier to look after the right plant in the right place. The information gathered in this step will also dictate where certain areas are that you’ve identified in Step 1. For example, if you want a patio where you can sit and enjoy a glass of wine and watch the setting sun, there is only one place that this can happen i.e. in a western facing position.
Essential characteristics you need to know about are:
- Soil type (clay, silt, sand or loam)
- Soil pH (acidic, neutral or alkaline)
- Sheltered and exposed areas
- How much annual rainfall your garden recieves
- Sunny and shaded spots are
- Orientation and prevailing wind
Don’t worry if you feel you need some help with these, we have some tips and techniques on our website on the Toolkit page (Click here) and there is also plenty of information available on the Internet.
The 3rd step
The third step is to ‘Know how much time you’re REALISTICALLY got to give to looking after the garden’. Once you know this, you can look at the ideas you like and make a decision, sooner rather than later, whether you actually have the time to look after it.
An example would be a wonderful herbaceous border you’ve just seen at a National Trust garden, which you’d like to have elements of in your own garden. However, you don’t have much time to give to the care of your garden because of the demands of your lifestyle, so it would be preferable to work out that a large herbaceous border would not be practical at this point before you put it in and work this out the hard way.
How much time have you got
to give to looking after the garden?
Where to find ideas.
There are sources of ideas everywhere!
- Printed material: – Books and Magazines
- Broadcasted material: – TV and Radio
- Physical gardens: – Public gardens e.g. Royal Horticultural Society gardens, historic houses, the National Trust garden, Flower Shows, private gardens, gardens open under various schemes such as the National Garden Scheme
- On-line: – Internet – just search for the aspect you’re looking for.
What to do with the ideas you like.
I personally like going to gardens to find my inspiration, rather than look for ideas on the internet, so decide which means of research you prefer. I find the wealth of ideas available to be very overwhelming so I jot down the main areas that I want inspiration for and then look for ideas for one thing at a time.
It does take a bit of discipline to do so but it is worth it in the long run.
How to use The Garden Equation to find the right ideas.
The goal here is to use the answers to the three Garden Equation questions as a FILTER to help you when deciding which the ideas to keep for further consideration and which to discard. Each idea you like or are attracted to should be considered in the light of the three Garden Equation questions.
I believe that the third question is almost never considered at this stage of the process but just remember that when you feel on top of the maintenance, then you will be able to really relax and enjoy the garden.
Have a think about the three Garden Equation questions outlined above and don’t rush the process. The more thought you give to this and time you spend on at this stage, the better the garden will be. No garden is created without spending time, effort and money so make sure that you do not waste any of yours on mistakes or regrets
Why you should go to all this bother?
In the first instance, you will save yourself a lot of time but in the long run you will also save yourself money and energy. However much you like an idea, let it go if it does not get three positive answers to The Garden Equation and save yourself a lot of stress, waste and hassle.
Get someone to help you – use our Garden Ideas Package
Alternatively, you prefer having someone else to ‘bounce’ ideas off or to have a bit of help in coming up with things you hadn’t thought of, we offer a fixed price Garden Ideas package which involves one of our designers coming to your garden and talking through ideas with you. To find out more, click here now.
Or if you have any questions just ring us on 01904 623 343 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org