Where to start
At a basic level, garden areas should be clean and clear of clutter, so prepare for a cleansing Spring clean-out and trip to your recycling centre. Beyond this, a range of annual remedial works might be required, for example a check whether the fencing and paved areas are in good condition? Are trees and shrubs neat and tidy? Are lawn areas green, groomed and refreshing or simply jaded weeded patches? Apart from the remedial works, the rejuvenation of the garden area will ultimately be achieved by the attention to details such as the lawn and patio areas, tree and shrub planting, as well as water features and atmospheric lighting. All these elements will collectively determine the value of the overall experience and how we enjoy the ‘outdoor room’.
Lawns – should be in good condition, evenly cut with crisp well-defined neat edges, weeded and clear of all fallen leaf and grass cuttings. Pale looking lawns can be restored to vivid green with the application of fertilizer. If problems are more serious and lawn is infested with weeds, consider replacing the old lawn with new roll turf. Whatever the area size, a well maintained level and groomed lawn makes a very
striking impression whilst coordinating all the other aspects of the garden area. A natural stone cobble edging (set in sand and cement and approx 25-mm below ground level) not only provides a practical mowing strip but clearly defines the lawn profile.
Patios – can show results of ‘greening’, particularly if they are located in north facing sites, which tend to be shaded and damp during winter periods. This greening, along with any residual grime, moss, and weed, can be removed by power washing, which will restore the stone like new. Also available now are very environmentally friendly stone treatments that can be applied annually to prevent the greening effect. For some added visual interest to Patio areas, a few strategically placed colorful planters can
have a dramatic effect. For optimum colour, it is probably best to use locally available seasonal planting. Other areas that would benefit from some colour include recessed areas which can be overlooked as well as driveways and entrance and exit points.
Fencing – can be in need of repair or part replacement of broken boards or panels. A fresh coat of paint will work wonders for the overall appearance. Colour here can be used creatively; use light colours for natural or discreet backgrounds, while an ebony black will emphasis plant forms and colour, and create a more contemporary and urban look.
Shrubs, Trees and Herbaceous flowers – all require trimming and pruning. You should dead-head (i.e. remove) faded blooms and old flower heads; trim and prune trees and shrubs, especially low hanging or overgrown branches around windows or over footpaths. If there are obvious or unsightly gaps amongst the existing plants, consider carefully the importance of colour when selecting possible replacements. To bring out the best in colour and impact, consider planting in groups (block planting). Do not overlook the importance also of scent within the garden. Effective ways of experiencing scent throughout the garden include planting in patio areas, near windows and along footpaths. Popular scented plant varieties include Lavender, Rosemary, Santolina, Helichrysum, and Daphne.
Water Features – add a fourth dimension to any garden and there are a wide range of styles and sizes from which to choose. Although ponds require much more regular maintenance and upkeep, all water features should be in good working order and clear of any debris. Water features are always eye catching and because of the mesmerizing and soothing qualities of running water, they can be an invaluable addition to any garden. The best position for locating water features tend to be where people sit and congregate, such as the patio where all the beautiful sights and sounds can be enjoyed. With the addition of some architectural planting and subtle lighting, water features can take on a different role at night. Garden lighting that illuminates the water gently cascading over stones can make for a stunning focal point during darkness.
Garden Lighting – can be eco–friendly while illuminating select garden areas. Despite their low lighting capability, Solar lights only play a relatively small role. For more impact, albeit at low energy usage, the popular choice to light trees and shrubs are the energy efficient.For more general lighting, LEDs are increasingly becoming an alternative lighting source. Colour lamps can be used creatively to highlight particular plant forms. For gardens with large mature trees, cool touch metal halide lights, which are recessed at ground/soil level, can be used to up-light a tree with dramatic effects. Gardens are invaluable outdoor rooms for relaxing and living with family, entertaining with friends and playing with the children or pets. Before undertaking any major rejuvenation of the garden area, it is very important that the design clearly defines the area in terms of structure, form and character throughout the year. Ideally, you should consult with a professional garden designer before undertaking any drastic decisions. Otherwise any improvements might just be piecemeal and incremental and an opportunity for greater enjoyment and lasting satisfaction is lost.