Whatever the size of your garden - Part Two

It’s particularly important when you have a challenging garden. Last time we looked at long and thin gardens as well as sloped gardens and how you can enhance them rather than hide them. This week we look at smaller gardens, gardens that are in the shade as well as kid’s playtime and how to make your garden more private.

Last time we looked at the must have’s and the optional things you need to think about when planning your garden. It’s all about planning really and looking at what you absolutely need to maximise that outside room versus the nice but not essential items.

It’s particularly important when you have a challenging garden. Last time we looked at long and thin gardens as well as sloped gardens and how you can enhance them rather than hide them. This week we look at smaller gardens, gardens that are in the shade as well as kid’s playtime and how to make your garden more private.

Itsy teensy gardens

If your garden is only a few square metres you can still enjoy the outdoors and is one of the few instances where 100% paving or shingle is best, but ensure the paving stones are permeable so that water can seep through and not cause flooding. Containers and pots are the way to go here. You can move them around where you want and when you want. The style is up to you but it is best to minimise the different types of plant used and add colour and texture with your pots. A mixture of tall and short plants will give a sense of depth to the courtyard and make it appear larger than it really is.

In the shade?

This is often a problem in urban areas. The closeness of other buildings often shades the garden. But this need not mean that you cannot enjoy a lush garden full of exciting plants – you just need to choose wisely. Choose plants that thrive in shady conditions, there is a wide variety available for you to chose from and there are also some grasses that do well in shade. If in doubt speak to your local garden centre or the garden designer you have hired; the right mix can make all the difference.

Shady gardens and the right plant for the right place

Ready for the kids

If you have small children, ponds are probably not a good idea until they are older or unless you can install a fence and/or mesh.

Think of the kids

A sandpit is always fun, but these will need a cover and will need to be kept clean.

Smaller children do need some kind of green grass to play in but this need not be real, you can use fake turf. These days they are made the finest artificial fibres, http://www.artificiallawn.co.uk/ makes different types for all kinds of uses.

Ensure that if you are building a BBQ and eating area it is away from the children’s play area. As for the plants, there are some that are poisonous so check with your supplier; if you have hired a garden designer they will ensure that all plants are safe.

Overlooked?

If you have low fencing between you and your neighbours, why not extend the panels with trellising of some kind, plant climbing plants to screen further from prying eyes.

Hampton Court 2008 planting against fencing

Why not plant some trees and pleach them? You can trim them to the height and shape you want. Hornbeam is good for town gardens as it lends itself to all kinds of forms and can look both traditional and contemporary. Perfect!

Chelsea 2009 pleached trees

Permanent structures such as a brick garage, will require planning permissions so make sure you check with the local planning office first.

A mix of fencing and planting judiciously placed can provide an excellent screen from others and can greatly increase your enjoyment of your garden.

Builder’s rubble

If there is builders’ rubble because you moved in to a new house, you need to clear that completely or as much as is physically feasible. You can always use it as hard core if you are building a patio or need to put in a concrete slab for the shed or garden room.

Chelsea 2009 a dry garden on builder's rubble would work but you still need to put soil in!

Plants will struggle on bad soil and rubble, the cost of clearing and replacing with good top soil will be repaid many times over by not having to buy plants every year because they fail! Try to avoid changing the soil from acid to alkaline or vice-versa – you should garden with what you have. It’s too costly and is both time and labour intensive.

Françoise Murat & Associates are Architectural Interior Designers and Garden & Landscape designers working in London and the south east.

We specialise in period homes and historical gardens as well as contemporary new build or refurbishments.

We also run Grow your own vegetables and fruit workshops and Interior Design classes. For more garden and interior design information visit us at www.francoisemurat.com.

All photographs copyright Françoise Murat