When it comes to garden design, planning should take place during the colder months to allow the greatest reward in terms of enjoying the garden during the hottest months of the year,” says Michael John McGarr, director and garden designer at Warnes McGarr & Co.
Spring is a season full of potential for both the plants about to spring to life in your garden, but also for homeowners to lay the seeds of their garden design planning ideas.
The arrival of spring also means that summer is just around the corner, so take the time now to really think about how you want to transform your outdoor space.
“I encourage you to ask yourself the question: do you use your garden enough or is it an afterthought? By properly planning and executing your garden re-design in spring, it is feasible to extend the time you spend in the garden, cooking, eating and entertaining while encouraging wildlife to thrive, as well as increasing the value of your property.”
Here, Michael summarises the top things to consider when planning a garden redesign.
- Reduce your lawn size
“While we Brits do love our lawns, reducing the size of your lawn is actually very liberating,” begins Michael. “Unless you really love mowing your lawn every two weeks all summer, why not spend that time actually enjoying your garden?
“By creating more planted areas and beds, you can create much more visual interest to your planting, which can be enjoyed from both outside and inside the house too. Bonus points if you add in wild meadow planting to encourage more wildlife.”
- Think about a room outside
“Posh sheds and man caves have become de rigueur over the last few years and with good reason,” explains Michael. “Useable garden rooms can add serious value to your outdoor living space.”
Whilst the unpredictable weather can affect when and how we enjoy our gardens, the great thing about garden rooms is that they can be used all year round, and enjoyed whatever the weather.
Michael adds: “By building at the bottom of the garden, you can create a real sanctuary for peace and stillness, and ultimately, enjoying your outdoor space throughout the year.”
“Rather than jet washing the old worn paving, think about something new and exciting like large-format porcelain paving,” Michael suggests. “Porcelain absorbs no water so requires less cleaning than traditional type of paving meaning less pressure washing and much less hard work when multiplied over future years.”
What’s key here is looking at how your existing garden meets your property as Michael says this is a real area that homeowners can add value to their properties.
“By ensuring your paving is the same level as your indoor flooring, you can blur the lines between the interior and the exterior of the property,” he adds. “This gives a better flow of movement from your property into the garden, extending the living space of your property and inviting your garden into the property.”
However, remember that care must be taken to allow the property’s brickwork to breathe where the paving has been raised to avoid interior wall problems, so always seek the advice of a professional.
- Invest in a wood-fired oven
“Eating outside is great British pastime, but it doesn’t always work in practice,” Michael explains. “Wood-fired cooking has become quite a hobby of mine over the last couple years and I have experimented with pizzas and kebabs right through to baking brownies and bread which is all highly achievable.
“The cooking area should create a focal point with the garden design and be the point where guests can congregate and enjoy the space.Wood-fired ovens can be quite expensive, but it really is worth getting the best model you can afford for the best outdoor cooking experience.”
Pictured above is a high spec Alfa wood-fired oven from Michael’s award-winning garden at the BBC Gardeners’ World Show.
- Create planting for wildlife
“Planting is the key to a great garden space and we encourage homeowners to keep nature firmly in mind when creating your planting scheme,” Michael advises. ‘It is important to look ‘over the garden fence’ in order to work with nature wherever possible.
“This isn’t to say that your garden should be full of bracken and brambles but boundaries to properties should be carefully thought out to allow the garden to flow into open countryside and take influence from its surroundings. There will be plenty of opportunity to create formal areas close to the house using containers and formal hedging where a manicured and cleaner look is more desirable.”
He adds: “The area where your garden meets your neighbouring property or the countryside is a great opportunity to create wildlife amenity using plants. For it is at this point that there is real opportunity to extend the wildlife corridor effect along neighbouring boundaries, allowing hedgehogs and all manner of creatures the ability to flow freely.”