What does your garden look like right now? Are you happy with the layout or are there areas you would like to change?
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Winter is the time to look at the overall structure of your garden – when all the leaves have fallen from the trees and the perennials have died back leaving the backbone of the garden. The only architectural interest is the hard landscaping of paths, patios, steps and pergolas and the soft landscaping of trees, hedges, evergreen shrubs - so it needs to be good.
Take a look at the overall layout and question:
• Are the planting beds in the right place, are there too many or would you like more?
• Is the patio in the right place or always in shade? Maybe you need a two sitting areas: one for morning and an evening one to catch the last rays of sun at the end of the day.
• Do your paths go in the right direction?
• Does your garden slope - would it be good to level it out and add some steps in?
• Do you need screening to stop your eyes always being drawn to something unsightly – maybe some pleached trees, hedging or a pergola?
• Maybe you’d like a new garden pond, some lighting or new vegetable bed.
In garden design the basic design principal is get the ground plan right. Closest to the house use straight lines for beds and patios to echo the geometric shape of the house – these straight lines can be softened with planting spilling over the edge. As you move further away from the house curves can be introduced for lawns and paths to soften things and blend with the natural landscape.
A garden plan is invaluable, either sketched out by yourself or for a larger garden drawn up by a professional designer, and will help a landscaper to provide you with a more accurate quotation.
Hard landscaping can be done during all months of the year subject to weather, while planting is best done from March onwards, when the soil starts to warm up, and can continue thorugh till November avoiding the frosts. However, beware of planting during the heat of summer when the sun is at its strongest and people are often away on holiday and cannot water new plants.