New de­signs on your out­door space

Bored with your garden? Han­nah Stephen­son has some ideas to help get you started

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Gardening -

It may still be a bit nippy to be do­ing many jobs in the garden, so now’s a per­fect time to re­lax with some of your Christ­mas leftovers and make de­sign plans for the year to come.

What­ever you de­cide to do, whether it’s cre­at­ing a new bed or mak­ing rad­i­cal changes with hard land­scap­ing, work out how much time and ef­fort you’re pre­pared to spend on the project and the sub­se­quent main­te­nance that will re­quire.

Think about where you are go­ing to site any new project. If you’re plan­ning a raised bed for veg­eta­bles, make sure it’s go­ing to be in a sunny spot with not much shade from over­hang­ing trees, or you won’t be able to grow a huge va­ri­ety in there. And re­mem­ber that veg patches can be high main­te­nance too, as weed­ing, wa­ter­ing and feed­ing is likely to be a reg­u­lar re­quire­ment.

If your garden is dry, shady, or you have clay or acid soil, you need to work with it. Don’t try to fight it by chang­ing the makeup of the soil be­cause no mat­ter how much or­ganic mat­ter you add, even­tu­ally the orig­i­nal type will come through. If you want to grow acid- lov­ing plants such as aza­leas but have al­ka­line soil, you’re best off grow­ing them in pots of er­i­ca­ceous com­post.

Other prac­ti­cal­i­ties to con­sider when cre­at­ing a new area in­clude drainage, stor­age space, avail­able elec­tric­ity and­wa­ter. If the garden’s on a slope, you may need to level the site or in­stall a drainage sys­tem. If you’re plan­ning a paved area, make sure it’s level but with enough cam­ber to drain ef­fec­tively or you’ll endup with pud­dles you don’t want.

Think out­side the box and you may come up with a more in­ter­est­ing de­sign. Never, for in­stance, make nar­row bor­ders along boundary fences, be­cause fol­low­ing the boundary lines will just em­pha­sise the shape of your garden and make it look smaller.

If you’re cre­at­ing a new bed or bor­der, the min­i­mum width should be 1m ( 40in), and even that will re­strict what can be grown.

Strong shapes are im­por­tant and need to blend with your house, keep­ing ev­ery­thing in pro­por­tion.

The gen­eral rule of thumb with pro­por­tion of plant­ing and features to open space is onethird plant­ing to two- thirds space. With­out the space, the plant­ing and features within the garden can­not be seen to best ad­van­tage.

Even if you have an awk­ward-- shaped garden, you can cre­ate spa­ces within it which can be ex­plored - it might be a cir­cu­lar lawn or a wind­ing path, fringed by plant­ing and fo­cal points to give it depth and struc­ture.

You may want to cre­ate a change of level in your garden to de­fine spe­cific ar­eas, us­ing ter­rac­ing, or in­stall points of in­ter­est along the way such as a water fea­ture, seat­ing or an eye- catch­ing statue. Con­sider light and shade, which can also be used to change the shape of a space by cre­at­ing the il­lu­sion of depth and dis­tance.

Most of all, when plan­ning, work out what you want the garden for - is it to re­lax, to ex­per­i­ment with gar­den­ing or to use as a fam­ily- friendly play area? If your chil­dren are reg­u­larly play­ing foot­ball in it, for­get a bowl­ing green fin­ish or plant­ing del­i­cate plants around the lawn.

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