Landscape designer Franchesca Watson’s tips on how to make your garden work for you
a practical approach to large gardens
‘Make your planting less complicated – large swathes of the same plant; less fiddly bits with fewer species’
Keep it simple Think hard about anything that requires extra effort. don’t throw it all out but limit the elements that need more attention, such as mixed borders of perennials. Keep these elements only in high-impact areas – maybe close to the house and terrace. harden your heart and simplify the rest.
minimise The effort Make your plantings less complicated – large swathes of the same plant; less fiddly bits with fewer species. repeat good, easy ideas that you know work in your garden. You may have perfect conditions for hydrangeas, for instance, so extend the planting and combine it with an evergreen ground cover for the winter no-leaf times. Choose only easy, forgiving plants that perform well and you know how to keep happy. This should limit the amount of special feeding and pest control you have to keep up with.
Know your resources
By this I mean time, water, labour and money. do some serious planning and tailor the space to suit your maintenance resources. anything that is too much should go and be replaced with realistic elements so that you can keep the garden looking its best easily.
The aesthetic If you are serious about simplifying your garden, you may have to relax and let your preconceived ideas go in order to spend less time on frequent care and watering. While not entirely handing over to nature (although this is possible, too), if you choose plants that are suitable to the conditions of your area, they will eventually be able to look after themselves, with less of your time and intervention. The more you can leave things be and live with the shaggier, wilder effect, the less effort is involved.
fine Tuning Be aware when making decisions: deciduous vs evergreen trees – do you have time to clean up all those leaves? are you really going to edge the ground covers around all those stepping stones? don’t choose a surface for the terrace or around the pool that needs scrubbing down too often. how many pots do you really want to hand water? You get the idea.
water a good irrigation system with the zones well differentiated and drip lines where appropriate will save you water and a lot of effort. and you can then turn down or switch off those zones needing less care. Complicated water features are also a source of endless effort and frustration – again, select a well designed one and keep it as simple as possible. They can be as selfsufficient as a pot filled with water and a single water lily. Franchesca Watson % 082 808 1287 n 8 franchescawatson.com
Keep time and maintenance in the garden to a minimum by redefining lawned areas with hard surfacing, and limiting slightly more maintenanceheavy planted borders to areas around the home and terrace