A Garden for the House Sounds Nice

a garden for the house

When driving through most residential areas, it quickly becomes apparent how the yards and landscapes all blend together. It seems that the homeowners all selected similar trees and flowers, typical yard ornaments and other props creating a dulling repetition of immaculately tailored lawns. But, still, a garden for the house does sound nice doesn’t it?

In such a sea of sameness, it is always easy to appreciate a compelling landscape effort that takes the road less traveled. There exists an almost infinite array of plants, features, pots, and props to make a garden for the house project truly unique. Creating that one-of-a-kind landscaping effort is a challenge limited only to your fertile imagination and available budget.

Work With Nature

Whatever features you propose to implement, never fail to keep the peculiarities of your house and property in mind. The best landscaping efforts will always work in harmony with existing surroundings, enhancing strong points and drawing attention away from any problems. In other words “it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”!
Also be honest about how much time you will have to maintain your planned oasis. It serves no purpose to install a dazzling and enticing landscape only to watch it die or become overgrown from lack of attention.

Garden Features are Many and Varied

In the case of garden features there is lots of to think about. In and of themselves they can seem quite ordinary, but a properly executed landscape design and location can reveal hidden qualities highlighting the features you install. Garden cascades, ponds, wall mounted fountains, labyrinths, mazes, fencing, patios and a myriad of alternative garden features can create a landscape like no other. Something as simple as installing a mosaic walkway rather than the bland, boring cement squares can create a stunning and unusual feature.

If your garden is designed with an over-arching theme each feature should compliment that theme. As an example of an Asian theme, your pathways may well be constructed of bamboo instead of stone or concrete.

When designing a garden for the house including a garden water feature, whether large or small is tempting. If included, make it more interesting with a unique stone bridge or an unusual plant such as an Amazon Lily pad to compliment it. An interesting garden bridge might be as simple as large flat stones above the water’s surface. Or, perhaps, a formal painted and lacquered structure with room for a table and chairs. Does this take both work and money? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes!

Garden Walls are Great for Privacy

Where privacy is a concern garden walls will add a lot of interest to a garden for the house. Walls can be installed along your property’s boundary lines or they can be used to separate areas within the yard itself.

Walls can be constructed by any number of materials to compliment your vision. You can even use plants as borders which will keep your space all “green”.
Garden accessories run the gamut from rustic to formal. Scour local flea markets for plant supports, containers or anything which may be adapted to resist the outdoors. Old wine racks may also be transformed into elegant plant stands Even old discarded headboards or even bed frames can work. Wrought iron pieces of furniture, the older the better, will work in any style garden.

Location, location, location!

How you place your plantings will do wonders to transform your garden into a one-of-a-kind landscape. Rather than a neat hedgerow, plant a small garden maze with a center for a distinct feature like a statue or other theme appropriate accessory. Rather than a plain square bed of flowers, think about a flower clock or flag comprised of colorful plants.

Pleached features, topiaries, and other strategically pruned plants will certainly draw attention to areas of your landscape. Fill containers and window boxes with plants not often seen but still easily grown in your area. Geraniums and petunias are safe favorites. Try some other plants for a more interesting transformation.

Do some research and look at some gardening history books for concepts to make your setting more of a standout. Take your time to design your garden with unique features. You will find more fulfillment and satisfaction from your surroundings.

Doesn’t A Garden for the House Sound Nice?

Designing a Perfect Garden

designing a perfect garden

Steps to Designing a Perfect Garden

By Linsey Evans

Designing a perfect garden is not just the ability to create a beautifully illustrated plan, although this is one of the many outputs of the garden design process and arguably the most exciting. A garden designer’s role is to find creative, practical solutions to the many technical challenges presented by an outdoor space. A good garden designer can make a garden that is useable and suitable for a specific set of requirements as well as being beautiful and a pleasure to spend time in.

It would not be possible to describe fully how to design a perfect garden in a single article. A great deal of training and experience is required to understand how to obtain the correct ratio of mass to void in a garden design scheme, or how to create rhythm in a garden design, or working with shapes to ensure the garden flows and feels comfortable to use. So, the following paragraphs outline major steps in the garden design process and I will go into more detail about each phase in separate articles.

1. Decide on the requirements for the garden

Before considering aesthetics it is necessary to understand the practical requirements for the garden such as how it will be used, by whom and who will look after it. Answering a series of questions is the best way to arrive at the requirements. These are the kind of questions that need to be answered to arrive at the requirements:-

• How much time is available to look after the garden?

• Will a professional maintenance company/garden be looking after the garden?

• Will the garden be used by pets or children?

• Does the garden need to cater for elderly or disabled visitors?

• Will the garden need to cater for users with mobility problems?

• Will the garden be used for eating and entertaining?

• How many people will want to use the garden at one time?

• Is the garden owned by a keen, knowledgeable gardener?

The aim is to arrive at a list of requirements which forms the basis of the design process.

2. Get inspired

Experienced garden designers know the value of regularly looking at all forms of art and architecture in order to keep their ‘visual vocabulary’ up to date and get inspiration for their designs. Inspiration can come from a shape in nature like an old, gnarled tree, an architectural detail on a building, a combination of shapes and colours in a painting, almost anywhere if you are looking with a creative eye.

Look at materials, interior and exterior. Textures and patterns in wall and floor tiles, stone cladding, marble mosaics, etc are a great source of inspiration and can result in a piece of detailing that lifts the garden design scheme out of the mundane. Visit landscaping supply yards, reclamation yards and interior design suppliers like the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour in London.

Visit some gardens, look in gardening books and magazines, go to some garden shows like the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Flower Show and look at the show gardens.

3. Take the site survey

Take a thorough site survey and analysis. Measure the house including the position and height of all doors and windows. The survey should show steps, drains, manhole covers, chimney breasts, and anything else that will affect the final garden design.

A garden is rarely square or flat. Use triangulation and offsetting to plot in the garden boundaries, and the location of all plants, garden features and buildings. Make a note of things outside the garden like overhanging trees or a fabulous view as they will affect the eventual design of the garden. Survey any level changes in the garden and mark these clearly on the survey.

Take a soil sample for analysis. It’s important when planting to know what the ph level (acidity or alkalinity) of the soil in order to choose the correct plants. Some plants prefer a soil that is more acidic and others will only grow in a more alkaline soil. It is also necessary to identify boggy places, shaded areas and other potentially troublesome parts of the garden.

A note must be made of what lies beyond the garden boundaries. If the garden overlooks a great view this can be used as part of the new design – this is called ‘borrowing’ the view. However, if there is something ugly outside the garden like a derelict building, or the garden is overlooked by neighbouring properties these will need to be screened out as part of the garden design.

The site survey must be drawn up to scale, in ink on a piece of tracing paper large enough to show clearly the new design and put in labels – most gardens will fit onto an A1 sheet.

4. Designing the perfect garden

Using the requirements and site survey the new design is created using a series of interconnected geometric shapes. The final design should create a pleasing picture on paper and each element that comprises the design should be the correct size for its intended purpose. For example, if the terrace needs to seat 6 people for dinner it must be large enough to hold a table of the correct size with room to pull out chairs so that people can sit down and stand up comfortably.

The design must addresses any sloping parts of the garden. If flat spaces are required for lawns, seating areas, etc and the site is sloping retaining walls will be required -these should be shown clearly on the plan.

The new design should be drawn to scale in ink on a piece of tracing paper. Everything must be labelled clearly including wall heights, paved areas, lawn, edgings, pergolas, planted areas, walls with their heights, water features.

5. Choose construction materials

Select materials for constructing each area and make sure these are labelled on the plan. There are many different construction materials available and these vary greatly in price and quality. Research DIY stores, garden centres, and landscape and building suppliers to find materials that suit the intended purpose, and fit the budget.

6. Create the planting plan

A planting plan is required that shows the location, type and numbers of plants clearly labelled with their Latin names for each planted area of the garden. Planting should comprise a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, herbaceous plants and bulbs that will give a year-round display of colour and scent. The plants give the garden structure and that important quality of seasonal change.

7. Create the construction plan

The construction plan helps remove margin for error and ensure the garden is constructed correctly to a high standard. The construction plan is a technical drawing that shows contractors how to construct specific features in the garden such as steps, pergolas, fences and retaining walls. It should contain details of required paving patterns and sections showing how paving is to be laid, how footings for walls are to be constructed, how edgings are to be laid.

8. Create the setting out plan

The setting out plan is another technical drawing that enables landscape contractors to construct the garden accurately. This plan shows the dimensions and location of all features in the garden. The central point of any circular features such as seating areas and lawns will be shown as a measurement from a fixed, measurable point such as the corner of the house. This plan will also show angular dimensions, wall heights relative to finished paving height, and the finished ground level of any terraced areas.

The setting out plan enables landscape contractors to quickly mark out the garden before they start building the garden. This allows them to check there are no errors in the design or survey and that the design will fit correctly into the space. It enables adjustments to the plan, if necessary, before construction work starts, thereby avoiding expensive mistakes further down the line.

Linsey Evans is a garden designer who specialises in designing sloping gardens and tricky spaces.

Visit the Linseysgardens Web site today and get in touch if you need help designing your garden.

Designing a Perfect Garden

Landscape Design Basics

landscape design basics

Landscape Design Basics

What You Need To Know To Landscape Your Yard
By Cheryl D. Jones

You’re certainly not alone if you feel overwhelmed when you think about how to approach your home’s landscaping. It’s probably safe to assume that most homeowners who do DIY landscaping projects have felt the same. We’d like to take a moment to help you gather your thoughts and help you focus on some simple essentials that will help you organize your landscape design basics so that it’s not overwhelming. Escape the landscaping runaround with these simple suggestions!

Get your motivation focused! You can do this by organizing your thoughts in a fun way. Pinterest is a great website and app for organizing ideas. You can organize ideas into categories, such as examples of landscape styles that you think you like, to types of plant cultivars that may suit your area and your tastes. If you’re not comfortable using an app to organize your ideas, a simple folder with print out ideas and magazine cut-outs of ideas is essentially the same thing and can be a lot of fun to put together- especially over the winter months. Involve your family, especially your children! Organizing ideas first before you begin planting will help you feel a lot less overwhelmed.

Start really small. You don’t necessarily have to landscape your entire property in one single go. In fact, breaking your landscape design basics into mini-projects is advisable because your property is going to have different types of mini-environments, and will all be seen and used differently. Getting to know your property before you plant it will help you be more successful and avoid problems later on. For example, if curb appeal is important to you, start with the foundation planting areas around your main front entrance. Get to know the site well by noting how much sunlight and shade the area gets, how moist it is, how prevalent winds affect the area. This is the time to learn about what your USDA hardiness zone. This will help you know what plants can survive in your area.

Once you’ve gotten to know the first area you want to landscape, couple it with the ideas you’ve gathered on Pinterest, or in your folder, or how ever you’ve organized your initial ideas. For example, if you’ve fallen in love with the idea of planting lots of white blooming plants and your front area is mostly shady and dry, start making a list of shrubs that have a white bloom that do well in dry shade and are hardy in your area. Keep your list handy for when it’s time to shop for your plant material.

When it’s time to shop for plant material, using an online mail order nursery can be a real help in making your project a lot easier. You don’t have to travel to nurseries and haul heavy plants around. You can take your time using a well-working search function to narrow down your plant choices which will make your shopping experience easier. Trust in an established nursery company that has a good record of excellent customer service and offers the best plants and supplies plus stands behind their products.

Cheryl D. Jones, shares gardening tips and landscape ideas through her blog, newsletters and her nursery’s website. Visit https://www.GreenwoodNursery.com/ for a full line of plants including trees, flowering shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses and ground covers. Join the Greenwood Gardeners Club free to receive Greenwood Nursery’s weekly newsletter, seasonal promotions and 10% off your first order.

For more learning on landscape design and information, check out our article on [https://www.greenwoodnursery.com/page.cfm/89148]Landscape Design Basics. Information on budgeting, planning, ideas on adding hardscape elements, and much more are included here.

Landscape Design Basics

Tips for the City Gardener

city gardener
Gardening in an urban setting

Tips for the frustrated City Gardener

If your garden space is located in a city, or urban, area it is more than likely that your space is bordered by walls or fencing of the adjacent homes. If so, then you will have some different challenges than gardens in more rural, or open, areas.

A Warmer Environment

For one, if they are close, the surrounding structures will have a significant effect on your garden’s climate. Hard surfaces reflect both heat and light which will raise the air temperature for your plants in both summer and winter.

To some degree, this effect can be reduced by introducing climbing vines onto the surrounding walls. If they aren’t yours, the same effect can be achieved by putting up a simple wood trellis in front of the wall and growing the vines there. Of course, any vine you use must be able to thrive in warmer temperatures. Many times Ivy is a good choice but care must be taken to ensure that it doesn’t invade your neighbor’s property.


A smaller space will also present challenges to the city gardener in both design and plant selection. In a larger area it is pretty easy to designate certain areas for certain plant groupings but a city garden requires a lot of forethought before you start planting.

In a small area it is important that your design be “clean” throughout and not jumbled. If you have enough room, installing a path with stone or gravel does a great job of adding interest, dimensionality, and depth in even a smaller area.

Choose The Right Plants

For the city gardener, plant choice is critical regardless of the garden size but even more so as the available space gets smaller. More care must be taken to choose plants that have similar water and space requirements. If you choose plants requiring a large space to grow it is easy to quickly run out of room before you get everything in.

Gardening is Fun!

Don’t allow these considerations to prevent you from trying a small city garden. After all, if you don’t like the look or results, changing it won’t be difficult. A large part of the fun in gardening is trying new plantings and plant groupings. Get out the paper and pencil and start on your new small garden design soon!

Finding Your Green Thumb

finding your green thumb

Finding Your Green Thumb Isn’t That Hard

It is a myth that some people are born with a green thumb while others are just inept when it comes to gardening. Just like anything else, gardening is first a labor of love and something you can master with enough effort. If you really want to be successful with gardening, finding your green thumb is essential.

Planning A Garden

There are many good places to start, but developing a plan for how your garden is going to look is a great starting point. If your goal is a low maintenance garden, planning is even more important.

What is the surrounding landscape

Every garden, no matter how big or large is most likely going to be located within a larger landscape. When planning your new garden space take into account what landscaping surrounds it. A lot of your plant choices are going to be influenced by things like how near is your neighbor’s house, are there overhead wires, is there an exisiting fence, and so on. Once you have a firm location selected and know the surroundings, only then is it time to start plant selection.

Llook to the Trees

First, we will focus on giving your new small garden some spatial dimensions by selecting different kinds of greenery and I am going to start with trees.

Choosing the right trees to frame you garden space will help your garden standout against the rest of your landscape and, if you choose, can even become a focal point. Probably the easiest way to include trees is to site your new garden area close to any already existing on your property. But, if there are no existent large trees in your garden then you can choose some fast growing trees that will begin to offer shade in one or two seasons instead of 5-10 years.

Both the Hybrid Poplar and the Willow Hybrid are good choices. The Willow as an annual growth rate of 6-12 feet and the Poplar 8-10 feet. Both trees will reach as much as 70 feet when mature so be sure you have the room for them to grow! Trees with less vertical height are varieties of Crape Myrtle, Quaking Aspen, and Mimosa.

Of course you will have to do some research to determine which type of tree is going to be the best choice for your individual situation and location. But don’t despair, there are dozens of trees with fast growth to choose from.

The all important shrubbery

Once the trees have been selected next comes some border shrubbery to give your new garden space some depth and outline. There are many, many varieties available and, again, you will need to do some research to choose shrubs that will thrive in your particular location and conditions. Some varieties you might want to consider are Cherry Dogwood, Smoketree, Silverbush, Witch Hazel, and English Holly. Your choices will, in large part, be dependant on what grows well where you live.

The small but still important flowering plants

Last but certainly not least are the smaller plants that you add to your garden. These are normally perennially flowering or succulents. These smaller plants can require more care than any of the other plants you have acquired for your garden so pay attention to how and where you plant them because you will be spending quite a bit of time caring for them.

Other points to consider;

  • Hard-scapes like paths, sitting areas, patios, decks, and garden walls can add a great deal of interest but also a great deal of cost
  • Likewise, a properly installed water feature is hard to beat for creating a sense of tranquility but does require a lot in terms of installation and upkeep.
  • Vertical features like pergolas and trellises are a cost effective way to get height into your garden and also provide a home for climbing vines.

It will take some work

Finally, don’t forget about the effort that taking care of your garden is going to require. Finding your green thumb also means pruning, weeding, pest control, and other mundane tasks. For the garder, these efforts are most often a labor of love but they are labor. Be honest with yourself about how much effort and time you are willing to invest. While there are gardening techniques that will require less effort, there is no such thing as an effortless garden!