The typical garden was once a lawn and a few flowers, with perhaps a potting-shed at the end. Today it’s an essential part of your home’s living-space, but how many of us have time to keep it up to standard?
You don’t have to be Monty Don to have a great garden. If you follow a few tips from landscape architects Liz Lake Associates your outdoor living-space can look great without much maintenance.
A Child-Friendly Garden
The garden was traditionally a place for the kids to play and, although you’ll have other uses for it, that’s still crucial. Top playground designer Günther Beltzig considers that “a perfect playground…works like a theatre stage, where you can change the scenery and — more importantly — discover what lies behind the curtain.”
The garden as playground can interact with its other uses. Elements like water features or space underneath decking can be a goldmine to a child’s imagination — as long as they’re made safe, needless to say. It can also be a place where children learn about the where their food comes from, with them joining in on growing fruit and vegetables.
What Kind of Surface?
A large lawn is traditional, but mowing it can be a lot of work and you may be tempted to go for an artificial surface like paving, decking or gravel. They all have their place, as well as potential problems that have to be addressed.
Paving or decking are ideal for entertaining, taking meals al fresco or just chilling, but make sure a patio drains away from the house, not into it, while wooden decking is unsuitable for barbecues. Gravel makes great paths and brings a zen-like feel to the garden, but lay a woven polypropylene landscaping material beneath it to keep out weeds.
If you want a lawn, a regular shape will be easier to cut, or you could ditch your mower and go for good-quality artificial turf. And, of course, it’s not either/or. You can mix and match surfaces, to give different areas of your garden individual identities.
What About the Flowers?
A garden needs flowers, but even the Royal Horticultural Society acknowledges that sometimes low-maintenance is the way to go. Shrubs and perennials can give a beautiful display without too much work, and the Telegraph suggests enhancing the effect by coordinating your flower colours with fences, garden furniture etc.
A Balanced Garden
A garden should be balanced, not only between its parts and the uses you put it to, but with the natural ecology, whether the shape of the land or the trees you may find growing there. An ideal garden is a dialogue between your needs and the demands of nature, to create an outdoor space for living.
What is your garden like, and do you think of it as another room?