We typically think about being out in the garden when the sun is out, but if you don’t have any lighting in your garden you’re missing out. Garden lighting is practical, allows you to use your garden for longer, and helps you create a better sense of space when you’re inside looking out at night.
Whether you have acres outside your backdoor or you’re trying to make the most of your courtyard space, we’ve got plenty of lighting ideas you can incorporate into your garden design that will turn your friends and neighbours green with envy.
You have a few different options when it comes to the how of lighting your garden, and the different ways will affect the results you get, too. Generally, you have 3 options:
There are 4 different “types” of lighting you can use in your garden:
Pergolas and gazebos create the perfect cosy spot to dine, relax with friends and a bottle of wine, or with a good book. Overhead pendant lights don’t just look good inside – take them outside, and they’ll wow you with the atmosphere they create. This idea can be used to create any style – go for art decor, mid-century modern, or even a luxurious chandelier. Just be aware that you may need to bring it in or secure it during bad weather.
This is a simple and easy way to add a little light to your seating area and is a good option if you don’t want to commit to a garden redesign yet without seeing if you’ll enjoy using your garden more or like the look of it from inside your home. Drape them over the back of your seating, along hedges and fences, or on plants around your seating area.
For those evenings and nights when it’s not quite as warm outside as you’d like, a fire pit can keep you warm and provide you with plenty of light. If you’re redesigning your garden, you can get a fire pit built-in (just make sure you use fire-proof concrete), but if that’s not possible you can buy fire pits in a huge range of styles.
Lighting your garden doesn’t have to be permanent – using lanterns and candles is an easy thing to do when good weather arrives and to bring in as the weather changes. Fill lanterns with candles (real or electric) or small fairy lights, and line your path or seating area.
Mixing lighting with foliage offers a dreamy, soft feel to your garden lighting. Try tucking small lights under bushes for an atmospheric glow, or use lights of varying heights in front–or nestled within–hedges. This is particularly beautiful with bamboo and other plants with tall stems.
Did you know light-up planters exist? They do, and they look far from cheap or tacky. You can add discreet soft lighting with “Smart” planters that light up and are controlled remotely.
We talked about pendant lights in idea #1, but another option that is a timeless classic is to use festoon lights instead. They’re like fairy lights but large strings of full-size light bulbs that emit a soft, gold-toned light (unless you go for white or colored, though the latter can produce more of a fairground effect!).
If you’re going to be redesigning your garden, consider building in lighting “below” your path. This can be simply done if your path will be raised a few inches above the surrounding path. You can then add LED strips or spotlights below the path to flood light out around the path at night – subtle, practical, and beautiful!
If you have a water feature in your garden, beneath-the-water lighting adds subtle lighting and, as a plus, makes sure no visitor forgets what should be stepped on and what shouldn’t at night. You can also angle lights up a waterfall to highlight the running water.
Similarly, adding lighting by water so the light reflects off the surface is another way to add more light to your garden and highlight a pond or stream. Look for dandelion-style lighting, another enchanting shape, or cover a nearby tree or bush in lights.
Try using small spotlights to bounce light off feature plants in your garden – this could be the base of a large tree, small topiary bushes, or even flowers like rose bushes or tulips.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a larger home that’s as beautiful to look at as its surroundings are, consider bouncing lights off the exterior walls. Not only does this make your home look grander, but it gives off plenty of diffused light for those relaxing in the garden after dark. Just make sure the lights aren’t pointed directly into any windows.
You can get a softer, less grand look by using fixed lights on the wall of your home. This is a good option if you live in an urban area and don’t have enough space to light up the entire house.
Returning to the more whimsical side of things, you can buy metal tea light holders online or at garden centres you can hang from your porch, garden structures, tree branches, or hanging basket hangers. Fill the spaces with lit or electric tea lights and for special occasions, weave flowers from around your garden through the chain.
If the majority of your plants are in pots, you can “plant” small flower-shaped lights within the pots for small spots of lighting. These small lights are usually small LEDs that are on flexible wires, so you can bend and style them to look more natural.
If you have large hedges around the boundary of your garden, try net lighting. These are essentially “sheets” of fairy lights you can hang on hedges so the entire hedge is covered in little lights like fireflies. This is a great way to light up the length of your garden and produce a sense of depth and height at night.
Buy trellis and some fairy lights and weave them around the trellis, then fix the trellis to a wall or fence. This alone is pretty, but the addition of climbing plants or even some artificial Ivy will soften the look even further.
Fairy lights in trees aren’t just for Christmas! Petite fairy lights in small trees, such as bay trees, olive trees, and apple trees look just as good and not-at-all wintery.
Floor spotlights can add additional light to small spaces without being another thing taking up space when you recess them in the patio or decking itself. If you’re short on space, place lights close to a wall and add artificial (or real) green wall panels to bring greenery and foliage without bulk.
Large overhead trees can feel like a burden on any day you don’t need the shade, but you can take advantage of the natural canopy to create a private space with hanging lights from the branches over a seating area. If the branches are too low – say 4-5 feet off the ground, you can still hang lights from the branches and it will create a romantic feel that lights up the garden.
So not all novelty lighting you find online or in garden centres will be to your taste, but there are stylish pieces out there – think monkeys swinging from string lights or parrots holding a light. The right pieces look high-end and playful.
Eye-catching globes sometimes called “Moons” gives a spherical glow and look like stone during the day. These look just as good on paving as they do placed between plants in a flowerbed.
22. Wrap Lights Up Tree Trunks
If your garden has large trees, use their trunks as a base for your lighting. Wind fairy lights up the tree trunk to illuminate dark areas and add height to areas that may feel cramped under the canopy.
23. Illuminate Stairs with Recessed Lights
If you’re planning to give your garden a makeover and there will be at least 2 levels, we recommend adding recessed lighting into the steps. You add these lights below each step or recess them into the wall on either side of the staircase. If you already have stairs but no lighting, you can add small lights, provided they don’t stick out too far.
It’s best to strategically place your garden lighting to add emphasis and draw attention to major features, where it’s necessary to make it safe to navigate and in sitting areas, and then leave the remaining areas unlit. This ensures your garden has a relaxing feel, rather than feeling like a lit-up sports pitch.
You can add any battery- and solar-powered lighting to your garden, but you should work with a qualified electrician and likely a landscaping company to install mains lighting. Your lighting needs to be suitable for outside use – an IP43 rating will ensure it is weatherproof.
If you’re landscaping your garden, it’s best to work with garden design professionals who can help you incorporate your garden lighting ideas into the design, so you won’t end up with lights spotted all over the place with no cohesion. A garden designer will also be able to consider your ideas, garden, and needs all in one to produce a show-stopping result.
If you don’t have the resources to work with a professional, add one idea at a time and live with it for a while, viewing it from each room of the house to ensure you love it.
Adding lighting to your garden is the very best way to make the most of your garden, both when you’re outside relaxing and when you’re inside. Most of us have glazed windows which reflect the inside light back at us, and so exterior lighting prevents that mirrored-wall effect and makes spaces feel more expansive.
If you’re planning to redesign your Essex garden to create an exciting and practical space that gives you plenty of room for entertaining, playing, and gardening, we’d love to help. Our Garden Design Team can work with you to bring your ideas into reality. To learn more about our garden design services click here, or if you’re not quite ready for that yet, grab our free eBook that provides you with everything you need to consider before you start redesigning your garden.
While not everyone has the luxury of having a sprawling garden to design, small gardens come with the bonus of requiring less maintenance. Small gardens can feel a little uninspiring, so today we’re going to share 14 small garden design ideas you can use in your own garden, or at the very least, spark your imagination for what you can do in your own small space.
Even the smallest of gardens can be arranged in a more functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing way. Small doesn’t have to mean limiting if you’re creative enough! Let’s look at 14 ways you can make the most of your compact garden, no matter where in the country you live:
Doing something that separates areas within the garden might seem counter-intuitive, but it can make a space look even bigger. By enlisting a design technique known as “zoning,” you can create visual interest and turn your garden into a multi-purpose area.
There are several ways to create zones within even the smallest garden: you can use potted plants, small, clipped hedges, walls, or screens to differentiate between areas. You can also use different materials from one corner to the next; not only will this create more visual space but it’ll also create the effect of several different spaces within one.
If you’re considering having decking installed in your garden, it’s best to have it installed horizontally to create a sense of additional space.
Use small lights on the floor, within a hedge, or overhead of a path to create depth. This lighting should be subtle – you don’t want to emulate the look of a football pitch! Soft solar lights can be underwhelming, but you’re looking for the soft glow they create.
For the sitting or dining area, a string of outdoor fairy lights around your sitting area or overhead creates just the right atmosphere when the sun is setting on a warm summer day and looks romantic when you’re looking out of the window in the depths of winter.
A typical garden has grass on the ground and a brick wall, but this design trick can make any garden look fantastic: try hardscaping with plenty of plants on the walls or fence, or use a hedge.
While this may sound strange at first, it’s a great way to reduce the cluttered look of a garden, making each design choice look deliberate. It also helps you reduce the amount of maintenance work you need to do. When possible, create multiple levels in the garden as it helps create a greater sense of space, and if you want areas for planting, raised beds add visual interest while also being more practical.
For your living walls, you can attach wall planters, allow climbing plants to grow up your boundary (just remember that this will put additional strain on your fence panels, or plant tall shrubs or small trees by the fence line. Fruit trees and bay trees are popular choices here.
If you’re partial to a little light gardening, you can use oversized planters around the edge of your garden. Here, you can use your imagination and choose whatever plants you’d like for your planters. Opt for lavender, rosemary, mint, and fennel for hardy herbs, plant foxgloves and cornflowers for color, or opt for something like bamboo for year-round beauty and privacy. Place or build-in benches in front of these planters to incorporate an area to relax and entertain.
A trend of using mirrors outdoors has emerged over the last few years, and for a good reason. The use of garden mirrors cleverly adds the sense of more space, with window- or door-like “portals” into another space. Garden mirrors are significantly cheaper and less prone to breakage than indoor mirrors, so this is also an inexpensive trick you can create with some trellis, a mirror, and a few climbing plants to add a natural “frame” effect. The result is well worth the effort!
Think of your favorite (or dream) holiday destination – do you remember your fondest weeks in the sun? You can emulate those memories at home. If your favorite place to visit is hot and tropical, consider replicating this look through the use of trees. A potted palm tree lends any garden space an air of exotic coolness, while an olive tree brings a sense of Mediterranean vitality. Small trees also serve as an excellent divider if you’re looking to create distinct areas within your garden. If you only have room for one statement tree, place it in a back corner and add decking around it, with a built-in bench for relaxing with a good book, cup of tea, or glass of wine.
When it’s warm outside and all you want to do is sit and soak up the sun, what better place to do it than your very own Zen garden? These Japanese-style gardens aren’t typically huge anyway, so you’re right on trend if you’re working with a smaller space. Use miniature versions of potted trees like Japanese maples, bonsai plants, and even apple blossom trees to create an oriental feel in your garden. If you’re not a fan of grass maintenance, consider replacing part of your garden’s grass with a graveled area. Pairing these Asian trees with simple bamboo furniture is an excellent way of making a small space feel airy and spacious.
Raising your dining area or seating space onto a deck will separate it from the rest of the garden, making it the ideal alfresco living space. If you’re struggling to decide which part of your garden to raise with decking, find a nook where you might like to eat, drink, or relax with a book without feeling too overlooked by your neighbors. If you can, raise it a full foot or two, but don’t go higher than that if your garden is short front to back – you’ll end up making your garden feel smaller.
By creating a designated seating area by your home, you effectively create an area to sit and relax, and the second area of your garden, beyond the seating, can be used for gardening, for growing vegetables, for a pond, pergola with a barbecue, or summerhouse. Make sure the seating reaches at least the ⅓ point into the middle of the garden, otherwise it won’t create enough of a divider.
It’s important to make use of every square inch of your garden if it’s on the smaller side. By making use of vertical space on the back of your house and the boundary, you bring the eye up, helping to prevent the temptation for the eye to run along the ground to the boundary.
If you’ve got access to a wall or strong fence, consider fixing planters or shelving to it for plants, lanterns, and tools. If you don’t have room for a whole shelving unit, you can always install hooks and opt for hanging baskets instead.
There’s nothing more relaxing than the sound of flowing water, and a water feature is a beautiful focal point in a small garden. There are endless possibilities here – from a long flowing channel with steps down for the water to flow over down to the end, a pond, a raised trough with spouts, a more traditional statue flowing down into a pond, or even just pebbles below.
Sometimes, an abundance of accessories, furniture, and plants, can make an outdoor space feel cluttered, but it can also work the other way. Combine ground-level beds and raised beds to add layers and height, suggesting that the space boasts much more foliage than it really does.
If you’re more of a potted plant person than a gardening aficionado, the selection of planters and pots is your time to shine! To create a nice blend of similar hues, go for pots and flowers within the same palette. For example, if you’re thinking of planting lavender and pink tulips, you can echo that pastel tone with baby blue pots or powder yellow outdoor accessories.
For a splash of excitement and variation, look out for plant pots with different patterns, textures, and tones. You can group your larger plants in twos and threes or space them out around the garden at varying height levels. The colors you choose for your plants and their hangers can either complement or contrast with the other colors you use for outdoor furniture, rugs, cushions, and lighting.
It can be tempting to stick to right angles in a small garden, but don’t be afraid to try curves. If your garden is square, try a sweeping path that takes you to a seating area in the middle, with a circular paved area under a pergola. Plant up around the curved path to the rear and lay the front of the seating area with a curved grass area, surrounded by more plants. Opt for low-maintenance plants and an artificial lawn if you want to keep things easy.
Whether you’ve chosen a home with a smaller garden because you don’t have time for maintenance or it’s simply what was within your budget, there’s always something you can do to make your outdoor space look great. You can create cohesion between your home’s interior and your garden or you can opt for something totally different.
By using some of the tips we shared above, you can turn your outdoor space into somewhere you’re proud to bring family and friends. With a new and improved outdoor area, you’ll soon have more options for entertaining on warmer days, where before you might not have had the space for guests. If you’re not sure how to implement these tips in your garden design, our design team can help.
If you live in Essex and are thinking of updating your garden, we’re here to help. Our highly skilled team has been transforming unexciting outdoor spaces into beautiful and functional gardens for years.
SE Landscapes specialises in garden design and build. So, if you’re ready for your garden to be transformed into something fantastic, click here to learn more.
For many, a garden is a great source of joy. It reflects a sense of pride in our home that goes beyond what’s indoors. Gardening can be a relaxing and satisfying practice, but not everyone has the time or means to take care of a large number of outdoor plants.
The act of successful gardening requires quite a lot of trial and error unless you’re with an experienced gardener who can advise you what’s best. It also requires patience and willingness to accept that not all plants, shrubs, and flowers will bloom or even survive the first time around.
Thankfully, there are plenty of low-effort plants and shrubs that will surround you with beautiful foliage and colour and won’t force you to develop a green thumb.
1. Hardy Geraniums
Hardy geraniums are much prettier and more delicate than the types of geranium you may typically have in and around your home but are actually more robust. This plant is almost indestructible and produces flowers throughout the warm months. You don’t need to do anything to help the plant survive in your flower beds, but cutting it right back after the first time it flowers will encourage it to come back with more abundant flowers before the end of the summer.
When to plant: Any time of year
When it flowers: April – September
When to prune: any time between October and March, plus once in July if you want to see the best from the flowers in August and September
2. Any Bulb Plant
Daffodils, snowdrops, tulips, crocuses, alliums, lilies, and nerines are all incredibly easy and will treat you to beautiful, colorful flowers throughout the spring and even the whole year if you embrace a few different types of bulb plant.
When to plant:
When it flowers:
When to prune: No pruning needed! Just clear away dead foliage to keep things tidy.
One of the easiest ways to get a blossom of color in your garden with little-to-no maintenance is to buy a wildflower mix and sprinkle it across a flowerbed or even a patch of lawn you don’t use. Unless you have a very prolific and hungry local bird population, it will soon erupt with wildflowers like cornflowers, daisies, ragged robin, corn marigold, bellflowers, betony, and others.
Wildflowers are a great choice if you have relatively poor soil.
Known for its bright scent and soft hue, lavender makes a gorgeous addition to perennial gardens with its upright flower spikes, silvery-green foliage, and tight, shrub-like shape. Despite having Mediterranean origins, growing in abundance in places like France and Croatia, English lavender got its name because it thrives in our cooler climate. Today, it’s a staple in herb gardens all over the country. Once established, this perennial herb is easy to maintain with little watering required, but you’ll want to prune it once a year. Lavender also offers the added benefit of being harvestable for potpourri, bath mixes, teas, and (if you’re feeling adventurous) cocktails!
When to plant: March – May or October – November
When it flowers: July – September
When to prune: August – September
Looking for something that will give your garden a tropical feel? Then look no further than this hardy member of the succulent family. The sempervivum plant gets its name from the Latin words “Semper” meaning “always” and “vivum” meaning “alive”. This is because it can withstand drought and extreme heat.
The sempervivum is most appreciated for its unusual rosettes of succulent, spiraling foliage and flowers between spring and summer. Each rosette is a separate, monocarpic plant, meaning it flowers once, dies, and is quickly replaced by new rosettes known as offsets.
If you’re aiming for a large spread of sempervivums, you can separate and plant up these new offsets, and they’ll grow into new clumps. Sempervivums can be grown in driftwood, bricks, and tufa rock as they can flourish in little compost. They’ll thrive in a sunny, outdoor position, in a well-drained compost with a layer of grit on the surface of the compost to prevent rotting.
6. Rock Roses
This variety of Helianthemum is a beautiful small shrub that stays low to the ground and produces plenty of flowers from May on. It will grow well in any kind of soil and is hardy, but may not survive a seriously harsh winter.
When to plant: May – September
When it flowers: May – July
When to prune: generally not needed
If you don’t mind its slightly spiky nature, Holly is a slow-growing evergreen that creates a pretty and dense hedge or can be found in tree varieties. There are many different varieties so you can take your pick – the Silver Queen and Silver Mermaid varieties are particularly striking.
Yew plants need very little care once they’ve rooted, just some pruning to keep in line once they are well established (you generally shouldn’t trim upward growth for a couple of years or you’ll find they will struggle to grow for some years).
This deciduous native of China is loved for its easy care and impressive bloom production. This shrub can reach 10 feet in height and is hardy to -34 degrees celsius. Between April and June, the weigela produces pink or wine-red tubular blooms that will attract hummingbirds. It’s popular among novice gardeners and those who don’t have the time to fertilize and spray as it’s essentially pest- and disease-free. The weigela plant has an arching growth habit when its shrubs reach maturity so hardly any pruning is needed.
When to plant: October – November
When it flowers: May – July
When to prune: whenever necessary; plant somewhere it has space to grow if you want to plant it and ignore it
Mahonias take up a lot of space but without turning into a huge mass – making them a distinctive and eye-catching plant all year round. The foliage resembles holly and turns from dark green close to the branch and turns light-green or yellow where there’s new growth. Provided you plant it in a suitable area, you can leave this plant to grow for years completely undisturbed.
Best used in gardens in the South of England, pittosporum has dark purple stems with light green leaves with veins of near-white – it’s incredibly unique and evergreen to boot, so an ideal low-maintenance large shrub. While it will thrive in the south, it is an incredibly hardy plant, growing well in any kind of soil.
6. Winged Spindle
This large shrub has foliage that turns bright red in the autumn, offering your garden plenty of autumnal shades. In the summer, you’ll find lime-green flowers on green foliage, with berries following. You won’t need to do anything for this shrub provided it’s healthy – just prune anything that looks dead or diseased in early spring.
Also known as ‘winter sun’, this evergreen plant has shiny leaves and spreading shrubs. These eye-catching clusters grow bright yellow flowers between winter and early spring. The flowers are fragrant and often compared to the lily of the valley. It then produces plump, deep purple berries in autumn. Mahonia grows quickly but is easy to maintain as it’s resistant to heavy rain and even snow.
When to plant: May – September
When it flowers: November – March
When to prune: Prune every other year as necessary
2. Shrub Roses
Shrub roses may be the flower of romance and luxury, but they’re one of the easiest flowers to grow. Pruning will produce fewer but bigger flowers that will bloom later than those on an unpruned rose bush. The earliest flowers will blossom on shrubs that haven’t been pruned in some time. If you’re a novice gardener or don’t have much time on your hands, pruning your shrub rosebush is optional; you can leave your shrub roses unpruned or dead-headed and they’ll still look fantastic.
When to plant: October – April
When it flowers: May – September
When to prune: rarely necessary, but do so between December – March when you need to
The abelia plant grows slowly but requires very little pruning. It’s a semi-evergreen shrub with dark green leaves and light pink tubular flowers during the summer. Abelias grow more flowers in a sunnier spot, but once you’ve planted it, there’s nothing extra to do in terms of maintenance. They’re also pretty frost-hardy and do well in almost any soil type.
When to plant: May or October
When it flowers: July – October
When to prune: prune as necessary in March or April
This flowering bush is also known as the red robin due to its vibrant red foliage. It’s a member of the rose family but is also a relative of the apple. Most species of photinia are evergreen, but some deciduous species exist, too. The red robin’s glossy, red foliage will grow brighter in a sunny spot, adding a warm hue to your garden.
When to plant: September – October
When it flowers: April – May
When to prune: rarely needed, but best in September or October when necessary
5. Japanese Spirea
Unsurprisingly, this flowering shrub is a deciduous native of East Asia and can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius. It’ll reach up to six feet tall and a maximum of seven feet wide. In sunny June and July months, you’ll see flat-topped clusters of pink flowers which butterflies and other pollinators are drawn to.
6. Ornamental Grasses
As we all know, grass grows almost anywhere throughout the year. With them, they often bring disease and pest resistance. Stipa tenuissima or Mexican feather grass is a great option- it’s compact and bears stiff, closely packed stems in a horizontal shape. In summer, lots of pale, feathery seed-heads will grow above the foliage. You can also cut and dry these seed-heads when they first open and create winter arrangements for table settings. Stipa gigantea or ornamental grass is another great alternative to pampas grass and does well in smaller gardens.
This shrub is another you can plant and forget – with dark green waxy leaves and white flowers that appear throughout the year, especially during the darker periods. While Viburnum can reach sizes of over a metre square, they are fairly slow growing so if you plant one that’s less than a few feet tall, you’ll have very little to do for many years to come.
When to plant: best planted November – March
When it flowers: December – April
When to prune: as necessary
Here are some tips to make your gardening even easier:
If you’re not sure how to design your garden with low-maintenance plants and you live in Essex our garden design team is here to help. We’ve been helping transform gardens in the area for over a decade, and we’d love to help you design an outdoor space you adore. To find out more about our garden design services click here, or download your free eBook on things to consider before designing your dream garden by clicking here.
Pergolas never go out of style – they have centuries of history behind them, found as early as medieval times, they have long captured the elegance of warmer climates where alfresco dining is a near-daily occurrence and you need a little shade to keep you comfortable until the sunsets. Whether you’re thinking of installing a large pergola over your patio or a simple arch over a garden path, this article will guide you through everything you need to consider and all the different ways you can incorporate a pergola into your garden.
Some of the best positions for a pergola are:
Most pergolas are made from solid wood beams, but you do have a few other choices. You can find metal pergolas which can make a statement in a modern garden. Aluminium pergolas have been very popular in recent times.
Some pergolas use brick posts with wooden beams overhead, which is a great option if you’re interested in longevity and have the space. The downside of these is they are usually too bulky for the average British garden.
Wooden pergolas are the best choice, but of course are subject to rotting over time, especially if they aren’t regularly treated or are anchored in the earth rather than concrete. Softwood pergolas are most common, but, if you’re willing to splash out, an oak pergola will stand up better to the elements and last longer. They tend to have a more robust look too.
Composite pergolas are also coming to the market, though aren’t as common here in the UK as they are in the US.
1. Keep your garden’s size in mind
Pergolas generally look best when they’re less than 25% of the size of your garden, so consider the overall size of your garden when planning the footprint of your pergola. If the main aim of your pergola is to gain privacy from overlooking neighbours, then you could go bigger, but be aware that it will be a little cave-like if you only have an opening on one side.
2. Tuck it close to the house
If your home has an extension or has a bump-out, tuck your pergola in the garden/patio space beside the extending room. This extends your living space, creates a transition to your garden, and gives you more options when deciding where is the most comfortable place to spend your time.
3. Use the frequency or railings above to give you more or less shade
Keep the gaps between the overhead railings on your pergola wide if you want to let some sunshine through or don’t want your climbing plants to create a roof over the top. Of course, you can also do the opposite – if you want a dense roof of vines, leaves and flowers or want to create shade without the use of a climbing plant, have narrow gaps between the overhead railings. Note that, generally, the thickness of these beams should also correlate.
4. Try an arched pergola in a small garden
If your garden is small, an arched pergola can help prevent the pergola from feeling too bulky in your space. The vertical head height will make sure it retains height while not taking up too much room or having a big, boxy look.
5. Use hanging baskets to add colour
This is a good idea if you don’t want to have plants climbing up your pergola or want some immediate colour and height when your climbing plants are young. This looks particularly spectacular on curved or circular pergolas.
6. Position it in your garden’s sun trap
Many gardens have that one spot that’s lovely to sit in when it’s in the early to mid-20s outside, but just scorchingly hot when it gets close to 30 degrees outside. This is the perfect area for a pergola as the addition of a pergola will keep you at a comfortable temperature when you most want to be outside but it’s too hot to sit in the sun.
7. Frame your outdoor kitchen
A pergola is an ideal way to create an indoor-outdoor environment for your outdoor kitchen. The smoke from your grill can easily dissipate or if your grill has a chimney, it can easily reach up through the gaps in the pergola roof. You can also use it to fix permanent lighting to, which makes it feel like a much more permanent and usable space.
8. Put it over a fire pit
Similarly, you can safely put a pergola over a fire pit provided you have plenty of ventilation and are mindful of common-sense safety. Make sure your fire pit uses fire-safe materials if you plan to have your own built, rather than buying a movable fire pit. You could even have a table made that fits over the fire pit (plus a little room for legs) so you can use the area for dining and for relaxing by the fire – just remember not to use them both at the same time!
9. Use it as a portal to another area of your garden
A pergola can help you transition from one area of your garden to another, especially when you’re using hedges, fences, or tall plants to hide the second area from view.
10. Over a sunken patio
One of the most interesting and unique ways to use a pergola is to place it over a sunken patio that’s lower than the rest of your garden. Surround the pergola and patio with densely planted flowering plants for privacy, beauty, and a strong floral scent.
11. Make sure there’s something to see through the pergola
If you have a pergola as an archway over a path, make sure you consider what can be seen when you are standing on either side of it, ready to walk through it. A pergola is a key opportunity to create intrigue or frame a specific view, so think about what you can do to lead people on or create a beautiful picture.
12. Choose your climbing plants intentionally
The climbing plants you choose need to fit in with the style of your garden and home, and your lifestyle. Some climbing plants will quickly take over your pergola and will require frequent pruning to keep under control once they are fully grown, while others are unlikely to fully cover the roof of the pergola. Here are some of the most popular options:
13. Plant around the base
Pergola’s can look a little top-heavy if all the plant growth is focused on the top of the pergola with nothing around the base. Consider planting a few shade-loving plants on the inside of the pergola or some bushier grasses or shrubs around the outside. If the area around your pergola will largely be paved, you can easily use potted plants, potted artificial plants, or put some trellis or fencing between some of the pergola posts so some of your climbing plants can grow along as well as up.
Unless the pergola is in an unusual or impractical place or is in disrepair, a pergola will likely make your home more desirable to potential buyers. If you’re thinking of adding a pergola but know you’re going to be moving within the next 3 years or so, make sure you consider what that future buyer may want.
If your home is likely to be purchased by a young family, putting a pergola in the middle of a small garden may not leave enough room for kids to play, and so they may not find the pergola all that desirable. This won’t matter if there’s just grass below the pergola, but if you’re also going to be laying a path or patio, this is something to consider.
You can’t have a pergola taller than 2.5m tall without needing planning permission if it’s against a boundary or 3m tall if it’s not. This is fairly tall so you’re unlikely to need to worry about bumping up against planning restrictions. If it’s going to be against your house, it’s usually best to have it around the height of the top of your ground floor. If it’s not, it’s totally up to you. A lower ceiling (around 2m) will give you a cozier feel.
Yes, you need to anchor it, and we recommend you have it cemented in. Burying it deep in the ground (like a fence post) is a good option if you’re in a relatively sheltered spot, are choosing lightweight climbing plants, and don’t want to use concrete, but consult a landscaping professional to make sure you’re making a safe choice.
A pergola is a beautiful addition to almost any outside space, but you do risk them looking awkward and bulky if you get the style or positioning wrong. They also need professional installation to ensure they’re safe and won’t be moved in strong winds. If you’re in Essex and are thinking about including a pergola in your garden design, we’re the professionals you can rely on. SE Landscapes can support you with everything from the overall garden design down to patio installation, so if you have any questions about how to incorporate a pergola into your garden, please don’t hesitate to contact us
In countries outside of the UK (think Mediterranean places like Greece, Italy, South France, and Spain) it’s common for families to cook, eat, and drink outside. Since they have the weather for it, it makes sense that these people would dine al fresco almost every night during the summer months. Here in the UK, we’re not as lucky when it comes to sunny weather, but that just makes a summer evening even more special.
If you, like many others, want to take advantage of those warm afternoons and evenings by cooking a delicious meal for your loved ones, then an outdoor kitchen is a great way to go. Since we’ve all found ourselves spending more time at home over the last two years, more and more people are transforming their gardens into multi-purpose spaces. For many homes, the garden is an extension of the house, mirroring the taste level, shapes, lighting, and furniture decoration. So if you need a sign to follow that idea and get the ball rolling on your outdoor kitchen project, this is it!
Read on as we take a look at some reasons an outdoor kitchen could transform your outdoor area entirely.
Who doesn’t love the idea of having an outdoor kitchen? It’s perfect for almost every homeowner: those who love to craft sumptuous meals with plenty of space, those who love to entertain, and those who simply enjoy the taste of barbecued food. Here are ten great reasons to build an outdoor kitchen in your garden:
1. An outdoor cooking area can increase the value of your home. A well-built outdoor kitchen often means that modellers can earn a high rate of return when the time comes to sell. It may seem strange to think about what something so far in the future as selling your home, but it’s always worth considering your plans for the future when considering a big change to your home or garden. A functional outdoor kitchen provides you with something to enjoy now and the security of knowing your investment was worth it in the long run.
2. An outdoor kitchen doesn’t take much maintenance these days. Unlike the barbecues of yore, today’s grills and patio appliances are typically stainless steel, which is easy to clean. Stainless steel barbecues also mean you don’t have to worry about them deteriorating as the seasons change. Plus, if you’re cooking in an outdoor kitchen, you’re afforded a more relaxed and laid-back cooking experience. The stakes are lower if you accidentally spill some of your marinade or drop some food on the ground (other than the fact that the dog will have to eat it!). You don’t have to be quite so particular about where the crumbs go or how thoroughly you’ve cleaned the surfaces because, well, you’re outside!
3. Building a second kitchen from scratch may sound like a daunting task, but with the right team behind you, it can be a hugely satisfying project. A second kitchen allows for more creativity and individuality. Many people end up with kitchens of a certain design simply because it was that way when they moved in. But if you’re starting from square one, and moving outdoors, you get to be as adventurous as you want. Think double grills, fully stocked cabinets, a weather-proof radio, and an outdoor bar with built-in ice makers. Or a simple and classy patio with a barbecue and picnic set. Whatever you choose, the design is up to you (though professionals will be happy to help if you’re not sure!).
4. It makes healthy eating so much easier. For many of us, the taste of high-salt, high-fat foods are far more delicious than plain boiled vegetables and dry-fried meat. But with an outdoor grill, your food can harness the delicious flavours of BBQ much more often. Grilling foods is one of the easiest ways to impart that quintessentially smokey taste onto your food without complicated cooking techniques or hard-to-source seasonings. Whether you’re a meat-lover and savour the taste of barbecued pork, seared steak, and succulent chicken, or prefer perfectly grilled vegetables, it’s all delicious. Not to mention easy! To keep things healthy and simple, add your favourites to a salad and enjoy!
5. It encourages you to stop eating out so much – you can eat out in your garden! Not only does grilling your food make it more delicious, but it also gives you restaurant-quality food without having to leave the comfort of your garden. This is particularly beneficial if you find yourself eating out twice a week, which can add up surprisingly quickly. Even if you only eat at restaurants once a fortnight, you’ll still save huge amounts of money by eating food that’s just as tasty at home. Plus, having more control over your food is great if you have certain dietary requirements that often leave you with limited choices at restaurants.
6. Cooking outside keeps smells out of your home. Have you ever been cooking something in the kitchen, thinking it smells delicious, only to leave and re-enter the room to realize that your hair, clothes, and furniture all smell like oil and meat? Certain smells are okay when fresh, but the smell of some cooked foods can linger in the house for days. By grilling and barbecuing outside, you can keep that lovely, clean smell in the home.
7. Having two kitchens makes it easier to entertain large groups. If your home has the space for big get-togethers, then why not utilize it to its full potential? If you have lots of friends and family over for a big birthday, the last thing you want is to have one person standing at the hob all afternoon. Having two kitchens means you could have two cooks and double the food at the same speed. This means one of you can pass out burgers and hot dogs to hungry kids while the other can prep, chop, boil, and roast in the indoor kitchen. Alternatively, take everything outside so the person cooking can still be a part of the party!
8. An outdoor cookout is a great way to entertain without having to think about running out of space or having too many guests inside. If you love to have the whole family over but can’t bring yourself to leave anyone out of the summer festivities, an outdoor kitchen extends the space you have to offer. With an outdoor kitchen, guests can choose to relax indoors or outdoors, or move between the two! It also means fewer people indoors and less clean-up afterwards!
9. Surprisingly, cooking outside is often safer. Even the most experienced, time-efficient chef makes mistakes sometimes. If you’re in a rush to make dinner and make a cooking error, you may end up with rising smoke that travels through the house, setting off the smoke alarm. When you cook outside, this issue is eliminated, leaving you calmer and more able to host your friends and family.
10. Keep heat out of the house. Unless you’re one of the few with an air-conditioned home in the UK, cooking anything in very hot weather is just no fun – your house is already hot and sticky, and adding the heat from an oven is only going to make that worse. When you have an outdoor kitchen you don’t have to rely on your microwave or ready-to-eat-cold foods, you can sizzle your way to a delicious meal and then sit and enjoy it in the shade.
11. With an outdoor kitchen, your home will be set aside from the rest. When your friends and family think about the parties, dinners, and barbecues you host, they’ll remember your food, your perfectly installed equipment; your outdoor kitchen. Your outdoor space will be special, and you’ll have guests begging you to host the next family cookout!
If you want to go for something extravagant and showy, you could consider things like a pizza oven, a garden-safe blender, outdoor heating, heated chairs or flooring, LED lighting, and a fire pit. However, the basics of an outdoor kitchen should include things like a barbecue or smoker, fridge, wine fridge, prep area or countertops, a sink, and a ceiling fan if it’s undercover. You can choose exactly how fancy or down-to-earth your outdoor kitchen will be.
You’ll also want things like outdoor cups, plates, cutlery, tongs, a meat thermometer, skewers, and some cleaning supplies. Remember, this kitchen doesn’t have to be as involved as your indoor kitchen, but there’s no reason you can’t make your life easier by having these things around.
As for design accessories, you’ll want to base your choices on the type of atmosphere you’d like to evoke. For example, if you’re going for a stylish and chic outdoor space, think of large glass tables, monochrome throws and pillows, palm trees, and oversized outdoor candles. If you prefer the idea of a cozy and inviting garden, think of wicker side tables, outdoor rugs, cozy outdoor blankets, and soft, plump cushions.
Consider things like the size of your grill. If you’re planning to cook for lots of people every other weekend, you’ll need something large, but if you’ll most likely just cook for your family, a smaller grill will do the trick. Size is also important when it comes to choosing a fridge. The same rule as with grills applies: if you’ll be storing large amounts of food, then go for something with a large volume. But if it’s just a couple of friends you’ll usually be cooking for, a mini-fridge will probably do you fine. Consider how far away it is from your kitchen when it comes to fridges – if it’s not far from your kitchen door, popping back in to get something may not be a problem.
You may also need some help with the design of your countertops and cabinets. You’ll want to make sure your countertops can withstand the changing weather and function properly without becoming damaged. Stone and wood are generally good options, but make sure you speak to an expert so you don’t make a mistake here.
Another big thing to think about is lighting. While the summer evenings are far longer and brighter than those throughout winter, you still want to make sure you can see what you’re doing as you cook.
When done properly, an outdoor kitchen can totally transform an entire home. Whether you’re passionate about food and want to take it to the next level or love spending time in your garden, an outdoor kitchen could be your next best idea. Cooking outside gives you the feeling that you’re in an exotic country, enjoying the weather and connecting with nature during the warmer months. Unless you’ve done this before and are extremely confident with home and garden improvement, your best bet might be to call in the professionals.
If you live in Essex and are considering making some changes to your garden, patio, or outdoor area, contact SE Landscaping. Our experienced and skilled team takes great pride in regularly transforming dull and unused gardens into beautifully functional outdoor spaces that wow you and all your friends.
At SE Landscaping, we specialize in hard landscaping, offering our valued clients a wide range of landscaping services, from artificial lawns and garden design to gravel driveways and decking. So, if you’re ready to have your garden remodelled into something glorious, why not reach out? You can contact us by filling in this form, calling us on 01245 697 688, or emailing us today!
Wondering if you should use a professional garden designer to design your garden renovation? If so, you’re on the right track! Using a professional garden designer can be one of the smartest decisions you can make when it comes to adding value to your life and your property, but you likely still have that lingering question, “should I just do it myself?”
We work on garden transformations all day every day, so we’ve seen the real difference our garden design team can make to a project. If you’re still not sure if working with a professional garden designer is right for you, keep reading!
While all of these people may have a part to play in your garden renovation and maintenance, they all provide different roles.
A garden designer is someone who has experience and training in how to design outdoor spaces by hand and with sophisticated digital tools. They understand spatial design and planting design, and often have a deep understanding of what plants work with different soil types and other environmental factors. While not all garden designers are traditionally trained, many have qualifications from the Royal Horticultural Society. They are responsible for the overall picture – they essentially have the same role as an architect in the build of a new home.
A landscaper is someone who understands how to modify the land to create different visuals from a practical aspect. While they often are able to offer design suggestions and know what looks good, their job is to make the design happen – they’ll move earth and water, stones and other hardscaping materials to get the most aesthetically pleasing results.
A gardener is focused on plants and while they can also offer planting design suggestions, they are generally focused on maintenance. They’ll maintain a garden throughout the seasons, ensure hedges and shrubs are trimmed, deadhead flowers, and replace plants as necessary. If you choose to incorporate a significant number of plants into your design or have a large garden, you may find it beneficial to hire a regular gardener to come and do the work you’re not interested in doing so your garden always looks spectacular.
A builder may be used to do any work a landscaper isn’t equipped to do, for example laying the foundations of a garden office. Many landscaping businesses also offer construction services (like ours), but some designs may require the additional help of a builder.
If you are struggling to decide what to do with your garden, working with a professional garden designer can help you brainstorm possibilities and land on an idea or several ideas that will work for you and your garden. Garden designers are able to look at your space and your list of needs and come up with endless variations until you find a design you fall in love with.
If you want your garden to stand out from the crowd and tick all your boxes, but still look like one cohesive design, it’s best to work with a professional garden designer. You may already have various ideas for areas of your garden and pictures of what you’d like them to look like, but it requires skill to create flow from one area to the next.
Designing a garden isn’t easy, even if you have a large flat blank space to work with. If your garden is on an incline, decline, or has an irregular shape, it is often difficult to envision how to work your dream garden into the one you currently have. Fortunately, a garden designer not only has the innate talent to see what can be done with any space, but also the knowledge of what can be done practically and within your budget to get you the design you want.
It’s difficult to design your own garden when you’re guessing how much each element will cost. Even pausing to research costs won’t necessarily give you a realistic idea of costs unless you have professional knowledge of landscaping and garden materials. When you work with a garden designer you can tell them your ideal budget and they can work with you to ensure you get great results with the budget you have.
A professional garden designer will survey your garden, discover its limitations, and then turn them into strengths. They can take a strange narrow corner and turn it into a feature you draw the eye to, instead of trying to hide it. They’ll survey the dimensions, soil type, natural light and shade, how much natural privacy you have (or lack thereof), the style and age of your home, inclines and declines, utilities, accessibility, and natural viewpoints from the house and garden entry points, and more to ensure their design is flawless.
One thing that often surprises homeowners is how much of the design is under the surface and things they’d not think about, like how the land drains. When you’re designing your own garden–and especially if you choose to complete much of the redesign yourself–you’re opening yourself to the possibility of costly mistakes down the road.
For example, if you fail to notice that the rain drains down toward the house but currently drains away underground due to a rise up to your back door, you may find your new patio that’s level with the base of your home is under three inches of water after each heavy downpour.
Simply leveling an area and putting down the paving you desire seems easy enough, but without the right knowledge and preparation, may leave you with a problem you need professionals to fix.
Whether you’re working with our in-house garden design team or an independent garden designer in another part of the country, your garden designer can work with you and act as a liaison between you and the landscaping team doing the work. This will ensure your vision comes to reality and if the landscapers find a problem that needs working around, the garden designer can help you find a solution without seriously disrupting the flow of the project.
Garden designers can ensure the most is made out of your space and that no area is without purpose. When we’re thinking about planning a garden design we tend to think about the finished look rather than putting the purpose first (unless you’ve read our free ebook guide!). However, it’s important to put purpose first in any garden design and then work on the aesthetics after.
How many gardens have you seen or been in that look green and lush but are virtually unusable? You’ll often see this in front gardens – people have to struggle up a narrow path with their shopping or wrangle their bins through a large bush once a week, while the majority of their space is taken up by large shrubs and enthusiastic plants. While it looks lush from the road, the truth is it’s impractical and in a back garden, ensures the space is only something looked at out the window, not enjoyed.
A garden designer can help you:
… all while ensuring that the garden looks most appealing from all the angles you see it from most. Of course, how much you can fit into your garden will depend on the size, but you’d be surprised how much a garden designer can fit in without the garden becoming crowded.
No one wants to spend hours researching all the different materials and plants they could possibly use in their garden to find what’s the best value, most suitable, long lasting, low maintenance, and so on. A garden designer has the knowledge to help you choose the right materials for your needs and design, and the right plants for your design, soil, and desired maintenance level. Not all plants work in all locations or soil types, and so it’s a godsend to have someone who can give you options so you can choose what you like best or leave them to use their expertise.
There’s no denying that a professionally designed garden looks leagues better than anything we can come up with on our own – that’s not to say that every garden designed by the owner looks bad, it just won’t stand out the way one a professional garden designer has designed. Whether a potential buyer currently uses their garden or not, seeing a well designed garden will inspire them and make them more willing to put in a good offer. They’ll be able to imagine themselves sitting outside with a cup of tea on a summer morning or entertaining friends on warm summer evenings, something they likely don’t do enough in their current home.
Have your heart set on a beautiful cottage garden, a traditional rose garden, or a sleek minimalist design? You can work with a garden designer who specialises in or is passionate about that type of design to offer you the best results possible. Some garden designers will be best at designing soft, natural gardens that focus on the use of plants, while others will be experts in hardscape with touches of nature to soften the appearance of hard edges.
Our in-house garden design team knows our landscaping team inside-out, but even if you aren’t in Essex and are thinking of using an independent garden designer, you’ll find they have connections with other companies they like to work with. This often means you get better results, faster results, and a seamless experience. The more you can have the “in-house” experience, the better.
Unless you’re willing to invest in expensive software, the designs you draw up for your own garden will likely be rough sketches on a spare bit of paper that doesn’t give you much of an idea of what your finished design will look like. As you’ll know from moving furniture around in your home, what something looks like in your head often looks completely different in real life. It’s far easier to move a sofa or desk back to where it was than trying to remove a patio or wall!
When you work with a garden designer you not only get the benefit of their expertise so this doesn’t happen, but you’ll usually get extensive sketches and mock-ups so you have a much more realistic idea of what results you will actually achieve.
The best thing to do is to look at portfolios of designers and landscaping companies in your area and find those that are producing work that looks like something you’d want in your own back garden. If you find a landscaping company you want to work with and they don’t have an in-house garden designer, ask them about garden designers they’ve worked with in the past and if they have any recommendations.
If you’re in Essex, you can work with our in-house garden design team to bring your vision to life or create the ideal design for you if you aren’t yet sure what you want. To find out more about how to work with us, click here.
While we’re known for having a lot of rain in the UK, we’re also known for our sweet, traditional English gardens, manor houses, and chocolate-box cottages. From the winding, narrow paths and the luscious flower beds to the perfectly trimmed hedges and the fine use of colour, traditional English gardens truly are a wonder to behold.
But they’re no longer reserved for National Trust houses and the homes of those who can afford a gardener! Nowadays, we’re all spending more time at home and more of us are investing the time and money into beautiful gardens.
If you’re looking for ways to create and maintain a traditional garden design, we’re here to help. Read on to learn all about traditional garden design and what to think about when planning your new outdoor space.
Back in the day, traditional gardens were all about aesthetics; they often featured water features, mazes, statues, fancy seating areas, and elaborately-shaped plants. All of this sounds great in theory, but gardens like these were difficult to keep up with and often required a whole team of gardeners and groundskeepers to maintain them.
Fortunately these days, you can achieve that same stunning traditional look with a much smaller garden and without spending quite so much money or time on maintenance! Today, our renditions of traditional gardens often involve things like herb and vegetable gardens and built-in fire pits or barbecues. While the pomp and overly-demonstrative elements of traditional gardening have somewhat dissolved for the everyday garden, the aim is still to create an aesthetically pleasing and well-defined outdoor space.
Traditional gardens tend to focus on real grass, flowers, and plants, but it’s surprisingly easy to create a low-maintenance garden that mimics the traditional style.
Focus on well-defined spaces with hardscaping to ensure you don’t have to do too much work weeding and pruning. You can use artificial topiary bushes instead of—or in combination with—real ones so you don’t have to learn how to prune your bushes or risk losing their shape if you don’t get around to pruning them for a few weeks in the summer.
Traditional garden lawns are often like a golf green – perfectly smooth and cut at all times. If you’re not planning to spend a few hours a week looking after your lawn for most of the year, consider installing an artificial lawn instead.
Artificial lawns allow you to have that perfectly manicured lawn look year-round and are perfect for the gardens that experience high traffic – that is, children and four-legged friends galloping around on a Sunday afternoon after lunch.
Planning any renovation can be exciting, but it’s important to make carefully considered choices before you do so. Here are a few important things to think about when you’re planning your traditional garden design:
The size of your garden and what you plan to use it for
The size of your garden will dictate your garden design, so get clear about the space you’re working with and what you need to work into your design. Do you need or want to:
Think about how you can fit all your needs into your space. If you have a large garden, you won’t have a problem finding the space, but if you’re working with a smaller garden you’ll need to be smart or make certain areas dual-purpose. (Our Garden Design service can help guide you here.)
Decide how much maintenance you’re prepared to do (or pay someone else to do)
Ask yourself how much time you’re willing to spend planting, fertilizing, watering, weeding, and mowing every week. A garden requires upkeep and a traditional garden often more so, so it’s worth asking yourself if you’re happy to do it yourself or outsource.
Some people find gardening relaxing and meditative, while others find it stressful and time-consuming. There’s also a temptation to romanticize it in our heads, getting everything set up beautifully but then failing to keep up maintenance because we don’t really like to spend our time gardening.
Even things like trimming hedges are worth considering if you’re going for a traditional garden design. Box hedges and topiary need regular trimming, so unless you’re confident with a pair of shearers, you’ll want to hire a gardener or opt for something artificial. This will help guide you on your design so you don’t go all-in with elaborate flowerbeds.
Choose your hardscape first
This is where you get to flex those creative muscles! Your chosen materials can play a big part in how your garden looks overall. For a sleek and classy look, you could opt for a patio. For something easier to maintain, gravel and stone are great options. If you want to stay true to a traditional garden design avoid decking and stick to stone, but if you have your heart set on a deck, go for it!
The materials you’ll use will also be influenced by your budget, so look into how much each material will cost before you start making decisions. Consider how you want each part of your garden to look, focusing specifically on texture and color.
Traditional gardens typically feature light-colored stones and gravel, either light browns and grey or sand colors.
If you’re unsure about making big design decisions, especially when it comes to landscaping, ask a professional landscaper. They’ll be able to tell you all about the materials you’re considering using, how much they cost on average, how well they’ll age over time, and how easy they are to work with. (Find out more about our garden design service here.)
Set your budget early
We briefly touched on this in the previous two points, but financial planning is so important that it deserves its own point! Budgeting is hardly fun, but neither is realising you’ve spent more than you can afford. While it’s not a huge deal if you go a little over budget, it can be so easy to spend more than this, so plan your approximate budget and then narrow down the finer details as the project progresses.
It goes without saying but hiring a full team to landscape your garden will rack up a higher cost than simply planting some new flowers and tidying up the bushes. Things like paving are fairly easy to estimate and can be a quick task in itself, but the ground preparation costs are trickier and can take some time. Excavating your existing patio, disposing of the waste, adjusting levels and installing a suitable sub-base and drainage tends to be where a large portion of the cost in installing a patio lies. That said, the costs will ensure you get better results than you ever could have achieved on your own.
Don’t forget how quickly the cost of new plants can rack up so make sure you’re aware of how much they cost. A single small rose plant can cost £15-£20, large lavender plants can cost £10-15, and shrubs are often £30-£100. The more established the plants and trees you choose, the more expensive they will be, but, will of course provide immediate impact.
Whether you plan to DIY your garden or leave it to the professionals will have a large impact on your end figure. Trying things out yourself might save some money initially, but in the long run, you may face far more expensive repairs if you can’t do the job properly the first time.
Assess your garden furniture
Traditional garden designs are well-known for their seating areas, so think about how your garden furniture will fit into your new space.
If you already own patio furniture, think about how you can work it into your new garden design. For example, rather than getting rid of the current furnishings and buying new ones, you could paint the existing table and chairs. If this isn’t an option, you can add outdoor cushions and tablecloths that match or complement the colours of your garden. For a traditional look, stick to neutrals and pastel colours.
Assess the natural lighting in your garden
The natural sunlight in your garden will affect how you choose to arrange your traditional garden. Traditional English gardens often feature rambling roses, lavender, peonies, wisteria, hydrangeas, and foxgloves. And these stunning flowers need some sunlight to grow!
If you’d like lots of outdoor space but have a north-facing garden, you might want to reconsider having your patio installed right outside your backdoor as you’ll only want to use it when it’s too hot to sit in the sun. To get the most out of your entertaining space, put it where the sun shines, and for a north-facing garden, that’s at the very back of the garden. Similarly, if you have a south-facing garden, think about creating some shade for particularly hot days.
It’s difficult to predict the level of sunlight in your garden throughout the year if you’ve just moved in, but you just need to be a little crafty and think carefully about where your garden is located.
Now that you’ve mulled over the amount of sunlight your garden receives throughout the year, it’s time to think about a different kind of lighting. Garden lighting is not only practical, but it can also make your garden a more usable and welcoming space throughout the year – even when you’re only looking at the lights outside the window in the depths of winter.
For traditional gardens, think of simple lanterns and floor lights, though you can use fairy lights for a more whimsical look.
Focus on balance
Balance, colour, and cohesion are all important, regardless of the type of garden you’re designing, but even more so for a traditional garden design.
You’ll need to balance angular shapes (neat squares and rectangles) with softer shapes, which is usually brought into the garden with soft, natural flowering plants. Symmetry is common in traditional gardens, so you can often lean on that if you aren’t sure how to divide your garden.
Traditional gardens usually stick to natural colours for their flowers and plants, so look to shades of white, purple, pink, red, yellow, and light blues. Avoid anything that looks too manufactured.
When it comes to designing a garden from scratch, there’s certainly a lot to think about, but it needn’t be overwhelming or stressful. It can be an extremely enjoyable process, especially if you’ve planned ahead. Of course, it always helps to call on a professional…
If you live in Essex and are having trouble deciding what to do with your garden, SE Landscapes is here to help. We’ll listen to your needs and help you create your ideal garden within your budget and as little time as possible. Whether you’re looking for a patio, decking, a gravel driveway, or an artificial lawn, SE Landscaping can help you out. Click here to learn more about our full range of services.
The way we use our gardens is changing – we no longer simply want a space to let the dog stretch their legs, barbeque a few days a year, or grow a handful of vegetables. If the pandemic has made one thing clear, it’s how valuable our space is! In 2021 we started to see people embracing the trend of creating outdoor living spaces in their gardens, but 2022 is set to be the year where these garden trends explode.
If you’re planning a garden makeover in 2022, read on to learn the top trends so you can work them into your plans.
We all longed to work from home prior to 2020, and of course, the pandemic brought that reality to the world. Whether you’re going to continue working from home permanently in 2022 or part-time, moving the home office outside is one of the top trends. Here are a few of the best ways we’re seeing home offices work in the garden:
Combine these ideas with a patio, a small water feature, and some relaxing plants like bamboo or lavender and suddenly the workday won’t look quite so daunting.
Forget the days of setting a small charcoal grill out on a wall in your garden, 2022 is the year we seriously update our outdoor dining. Whether you’re thinking of investing in a grill master-sized pellet grill or a purpose-built pizza oven, this is the year to do it.
Outdoor pizza ovens were once something only seen in warmer climates, but the delicious results have tempted us Brits to install them in our own gardens. There’s nothing quite like stone-based pizza, plus they provide a heat source so you won’t be running back inside in the cooler months.
Install an outdoor counter for a true outdoor cooking experience, and if you’re really thinking big, a mini-fridge installed beneath the counter takes everything to the next level. Add a potted kitchen nearby (herbs or salad leaves in terracotta pots of various sizes) to add fresh herbs to your recipes, or simply enjoy how it looks with your outdoor kitchen space.
Don’t forget the tried-and-true garden bar, either. While they’re not as popular as they were in 2020 (no one saw the trend of being unable to walk into a bar coming) but they’re still great places to relax and entertain.
Ideal for gardens that benefit from full sun, gazebos and similar garden structures are making a comeback. While wooden structures will always be tried-and-true, there are now aluminum options that are more durable and faster to erect. Just beware of cheap options – they won’t last as well as more permanent structures, but are a good option if you’re looking to put something up for a party and take it down again. Drape some semi-sheer curtains on or from your gazebo or pergola for added privacy.
While split levels inside will stay largely in the 60s and 70s for the time being, split levels outside are much more timely. Split levels in the garden help separate the spaces, which can be particularly beneficial in gardens that are large and flat, without much character, and those on a slope.
Steps that lead to patios help create focal points and sitting areas, and they help inspire a sense of curiosity and a reason to step outside the back door. Raising and varying the levels of your plants can also help, as it helps fill lines of vision from the house.
It’s also a great solution if the natural slope of your garden makes your garden too slippery and impractical to use in the colder months, because the flat paths and stairs make it much easier to navigate.
Similar to the trend of outdoor cooking, is outdoor spas. Hot tubs first became popular about twenty years ago, but technology has developed and now there’s more choice than ever before. Consider sinking your hot tub into the ground and surrounding it with a deck for a full spa-at-home experience, or add steps up to your hot tub to make sure it looks well worked into your garden décor.
Other outdoor spa options is to add a sauna pod to your garden – these are particularly popular in Europe in cooler countries like Austria and northern Germany, and certainly give your garden a luxury feel. Work them into a space with a patio, gazebo, plenty of seating and smart planting to ensure you never want to spend money on going to the spa again!
Making the most of your garden is difficult from late autumn through to early spring as the days become so short that it’s easy to feel cooped up inside. Fortunately, the addition of smart lighting can help draw you outside, or at the very least, help remind you that there’s a world beyond your back door.
Of course, in the better months quality garden lighting really comes into its own, making your garden spaces places you want to use all evening long. Thing about using string lights, fire pits, ground-level lights, and lights mounted in gazebos and along fencing. Just avoid the one-light flood-light look.
Turning your garden into multiple outdoor rooms means you need to be smart with how you plant – both so it looks its best from wherever you are in the garden, helps you divide spaces, enjoy your garden more, and spend less time caring for the plants you have. Consider gardening vertically instead:
Low maintenance climbing plants are always going to be best, though don’t forget that those that grow quickly and easily are also those that will need pruning, so try to balance ease with how much maintenance you’re willing to do down the line. Here are some of the best low-maintenance climbing plants:
Using raised beds is another trend that’s making gardening easier and more accessible – whether you want to create beds full of lavender bushes, perennials, or vegetables. Use them around the edge of your garden, to divide spaces, or to make your vegetable gardening more convenient. Raised beds are something people often don’t consider if they like dabbling in the garden but sing their praises of when they have them – they’re much easier on the knees, back and neck, no matter your age. Used railway sleepers are a common choice, but using red brick is another long-lasting option.
After the past few years and the trend toward busier and busier lives, most people are looking for more ways to relax at home (hence the outdoor spa we talked about above!) and the sound or sight of water is restorative and relaxing. While big fountains may not be your thing, small water features like water overflowing a decorative ball or flowing over rocks works well in any size of garden, but if you’ve ever thought about getting a pond, now is the perfect time to do so.
Of course, lawns are often an essential part of the garden, but caring for them can be more trouble than it’s worth. Artificial lawns have become better quality than ever before and fool most people, especially in the summer months. They’re soft, long-lasting, and durable, which makes them the perfect low-maintenance option for play areas for dogs, pets, and adults alike. If you choose an artificial lawn, just make sure you invest in quality – cutting corners here isn’t worth it. If you need more help choosing the right artificial grass, read our guide here.
If you have a small garden or simply like to create the illusion of more space, mount a mirror on the wall at the end of your garden path or behind a sitting area to create the illusion of more space. Tuck it within some ivy or behind some bamboo to give it that secret garden feel.
As we’ve been talking about throughout this article, gardens in 2022 are all about the different spaces you can create within your garden. Of course, having four different patios all with dining furniture is a missed opportunity. Instead, think about using different seating options, such as:
To overcome the cooler weather, many are turning to outdoor heaters and chimneys to keep warm while staying outside once the sun sets, or on those cooler days. Fire pits are one of the most popular options, but if you’ve got the budget, a cast iron or stone chimney (often called a chimenea or chiminea for the free-standing Spanish version) is a great option.
The good news about all these options is they’re all compatible with one another, provided you have the space. Don’t be afraid to divide up your garden as you would a floor plan of a home, creating different purpose-built spaces for different activities, divided by plants, trellis, or different levels. If you need help with your garden design, we’re here to help! We offer a full garden design service in Essex to help you create your dream garden. To find out more about how we can work with you, click here.
Your garden should be an extension of your home, but all too often, it’s a sad, drab jungle that causes you to sigh whenever you look out the window. We all love taking a walk around the incredible historic gardens we’re so lucky to have here in the UK, but they’re simply not something we want to maintain at home – even if they’re a tenth of the size!
If you’re ready to transform your garden into something you can’t wait to use but needs little in the way of maintenance, then a contemporary garden design is what you need. Read on to learn all about contemporary garden design and how you can create one at home.
Contemporary garden design is sleek and modern, leaning into our current love affair with sleek lines and ingenious design. Contemporary garden design doesn’t always mean it’s minimalist, but it does use clearly defined areas and shapes. Contemporary garden design leans into the use of hardscape mixed with carefully chosen greenery, often with raised beds to keep weeds to a minimum. Typically paving takes the centre stage, though a mix of different hardscape elements can elevate a contemporary garden design to the next level.
A lawn isn’t always used, but if it is, it’s neat and bordered by pathing or raised beds. Many choose to opt for artificial grass for their lawn because it’s so much easier to care for, and of course, it adds to the neat-and-tidy look of the contemporary garden.
The main aim of a contemporary garden design is to extend the living space. Think of the big, bi-folding doors that have become so popular in modern builds and extensions, that completely remove the separation between kitchen and garden. Contemporary gardens often incorporate multiple seating areas to give you different options and areas to use. The good news is you don’t need to have an ultra-modern home to gain all the benefits of a contemporary garden.
To achieve your dream contemporary garden design you need to consider:
First, consider how much space you’re working with and what you want your garden to do. Consider if…
Once you’re realistic about what you need your garden to do and how much room you have to play with, you can start getting into the nitty-gritty of planning your ideal contemporary garden.
The answers to these questions will guide you in how much space you should allocate for lawns, patios, decks, and flower beds or raised vegetable gardens. It may be that you envisage your garden to be primarily a place to entertain your friends and family with space for a wood chip grill or a pizza oven. If you expect lots of youngsters or four-legged friends to use it, then you need to consider making grass a priority.
On the other hand, if flowers and vegetables are your thing, then you’ll need to consider which part of your garden will offer the best growing conditions in terms of sunlight.
Be honest with yourself and this part of the design process should be relatively easy. Don’t have vast flower beds if you are not prepared to employ a gardener or put in hours of work yourself, but don’t put it all down to paving if you want to indulge the Alan Titchmarsh part of your personality from time to time.
How sunlight naturally lights your garden will have a serious impact on where you place your desired spaces in your contemporary garden design. For example, if you want plenty of space to entertain and relax on sunny days, but have a north-facing garden, then putting that patio directly outside the backdoor will mean you only want to use it when it’s over 28C outside. To get the most out of your entertaining space, put it where the sun shines, and for a north-facing garden, that’s at the very back of the garden.
For south-facing gardens, especially those that are relatively sheltered, think about those hot days. Is there any shade for you to get out of the sun for a while? If not, that’s something you need to consider.
You can’t control whether the sun comes out or stays behind clouds, but what you put in your garden will affect what the natural light does. Trees, pergolas, and outbuildings will all alter the way sunlight falls on your garden. You can work this to your advantage, but not if you don’t pause to think about it.
Most people want to increase the use of their gardens and this is where artificial lighting (and heating!) comes to the fore. Technology, particularly the use of LEDs and solar panels, means that the options available for lighting your garden after dark are enormous. Don’t ignore your neighbours though, they might not be quite so keen on floodlighting as you are!
This is a biggie and another area that requires honesty. How much time are you actually prepared to spend weeding, mowing lawns, planting, deadheading, and watering? Some plants need effort and lots of it, and grass needs cutting at least once every week from early Spring through to late Autumn, not to mention treatment with moss and weed control. For some, looking after their garden is a big part of the enjoyment, while others prefer to pay someone else to keep the garden looking at its best.
There are planting schemes you can choose that, together with a weed-suppressing membrane, will minimize the work required to keep your plants in tip-top shape. There are also artificial plants available that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing and require no looking after.
If you must have real grass but don’t want the bother of cutting it then you can buy robot lawn cutters that will do the job for you and are almost silent as well (though they don’t come cheap, leave an uncut edge around objects, and are best for small lawns, so do your research!). Or what about laying an artificial lawn? They look just like the real thing and stay in peak condition all year round with no care required.
Be realistic here – if you know you like the idea of gardening more than you actually like doing it, then just give yourself a few raised beds to play with and use pots and troughs for additional greenery. If you need to, you can always put more raised beds in later, but taking them out is a much bigger and more complicated affair.
This is one of the fun parts of contemporary garden design but can be bewildering. There are just so many options available to the garden designer: concrete, porcelain, natural stone, gravel, decking, you name it! A quick Google will show you just how many choices are out there. Take your time, what you settle on will have a major impact on the look of your garden.
Look around you, make a Pinterest board, and look at the general costs involved. If you plan to work with professionals to bring your vision to life, have a good idea of how you want each element to look in colour and texture, but be open to suggestions on the actual materials you use. In most cases, they’ll have more experience with the materials, how they are to work with, and most importantly, how they age.
The way you work with plants is also vital. What plants you choose and where you put them can’t be left to chance. Soil, climate, and light all impact your choices but so does the architectural impact of the plants, the colour, and the scent. This is another area of garden design where bringing in the help of an expert may be the best option. A professional will be able to suggest planting not only based on the environment and micro-climate of your garden but more importantly, how much work you’re going to have to do to maintain them.
Do not underestimate the work required to bring your vision into being. Hard landscaping is exactly that – hard! While some relish the idea of hiring a digger and getting stuck in, most will baulk at the idea of spending days or weeks shovelling soil and rock, and living with a constant building site. If you’ve ever embarked on a big renovation on your own (like replacing the floor or even your kitchen), you’ll know the feeling of the moment you wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
As with any other area of your property, don’t DIY something unless you’re confident you can see the job through to completion. Like the foundations of a house, ground preparations are key to the perfect patio. Get that wrong and you are looking at a paving disaster.
Depending on how money-minded you are, this may be the first thing you think about when you start planning your contemporary garden design, or you may have a partner who will look at your design and ask, “just how much is this all going to cost?”
Yes, considering the budget is boring! But no one has unlimited amounts of cash to spend on a garden makeover and if you don’t consider budget before starting, you’ll inevitably end up spending more than you’d like. You need to sit down, see what you can afford, and cut your cloth accordingly. (And then stick to your budget!)
Working out the cost of materials is pretty easy but the cost of ground preparation? In garden design, it is often the unseen elements that cost the most and certainly the thing most likely to be underestimated. Don’t make that mistake. Laying a patio is a fairly fast operation but preparing the ground is not. The work required to takes time and skill and that doesn’t come for free. Ground prep will likely cost more than the actual finishing surface.
If you are going to attempt going down the DIY route just make sure you know what is involved and don’t skimp. Be prepared for some pretty hard work and a considerable number of hours.
Don’t underestimate the price of plants either. You might not want to wait years before your planting looks the way you imagined it when going through the design process. This may mean going for larger, more mature specimens but they do of course cost more. You also need to get your plants from reliable and respected suppliers if you don’t want to face disappointment.
The best thing to do is read our article on budgeting here, plan your ideal contemporary garden design (or brainstorm some ideas), and then talk to the experts to get quotes so you can rework your ideas to best suit your budget, if necessary.
Designing and creating your dream contemporary garden is quite a project! There are so many variables involved and so many wrong paths you can go down. This is why it may be better to work with a professional design service that can streamline the whole process and get you the garden you want within the budget you can afford in as short a time scale as possible.
If you’re in Essex, our Garden Design service is your best next step. We’ll work with you to create your ideal contemporary garden. One that will add value to your property and give you a garden you can enjoy year-round, providing you with all the entertaining, gardening, or play spaces you need. To learn more about our Garden Design service, click here.
Your garden isn’t just an area outside your home; used right, it’s an extension of your home. Your garden should be an area for relaxation and entertaining, that adds comfort and value to your home. If you decide your garden needs a makeover, you can relax knowing that it will be money well spent, but how do you figure out how much it’s going to cost you, and how much you should spend?
If you have ever bought carpeting you will know that the cost of the Wilton or Axminster is not the whole story, far from it. Good carpeting needs good quality underlay, gripper track and careful fitting by skilled fitters. None of that is cheap. It is the same with gardens.
What lies beneath your paving, decking, and other areas and the preparation required is where a large portion of your budget will go. If you want your grass to grow or your artificial lawn, patio, driveway, or decking to drain well and look as good as when it is first laid for years to come, then you need to ensure the groundworks are correctly undertaken.
Whatever you spend on the surface is usually about a third of the overall cost. Think about what is involved in building the perfect patio.
The first step in any new patio project is to install an adequate sub-base. This will involve excavating the existing surface. The excavations will then need to be disposed of in an appropriate manner. Often vai skip or grab lorry.
Then a new sub-base typically consisting of 100-150m of MOT Type 1, on top of a layer of weed membrane will need to be installed. The sub-base is a crucial part of the longevity of any patio or paved surface.
Without this preparation, your project is likely doomed to fail. You can’t build castles on sand and you can’t build a patio without putting in the time and effort.
So don’t underestimate the cost of groundworks and installation and remember to factor in things like earth removal. You may be surprised how much earth needs to be disposed of from even the average-sized garden if a serious remodelling takes place.
Groundworks are the literal foundation of your garden providing a suitable platform for the gloss of hard and soft landscaping. It might not be visible when the garden is finished, but this foundation is vital for the long-lasting success of the project and well worth spending the money on to get it right.
It might not be fun to think about, but you’ll be glad you spent the money when your neighbour’s garden turns into a puddle after heavy rain, and yours doesn’t!
The surface is the easy part to budget for, though there are lots of alternatives to consider. Take your time before you get quotes to browse online, think about what you want your garden to look like, and the approximate cost of each option. Ideally, have a few different looks or finishes in mind so you can be open to the expert advice of your landscaping company. We also highly recommend visiting local landscaping and builders merchants to actually view the vast array of materials available in the flesh. Pictures are all well and good but they don’t always give a true reflection of the materials appearance. We’re also able to supply samples of most materials that you can actually take home to help you visualise how they might look in your garden setting.
Unless you’re incredibly green-fingered and know that your garden makeover will largely be focused on flower beds and shrubs, make sure you prioritise a low maintenance garden as you budget. If you want to include flower beds, consider raised flowerbeds made with railway sleepers, and consider using an artificial lawn instead of turf. This will make your life far easier in the long run, and low maintenance gardens are what the majority of homebuyers are looking for so you’ll also increase the value of your home if you decide to sell.
An estimate on the back of an envelope after a cursory look around your garden is not good enough for a final quote. The one thing you can guarantee about an estimate like that is that it is likely to be under the final cost, so make sure you have a buffer in the bank to allow for this. That said, an experienced company will be able to give you an accurate and honest quote and keep you in the loop as the project progresses. Use your quotes as a guide and then finalise your quote when you settle on a design with your chosen landscaping company.
At SE Landscapes, we always use fixed price quotations, so there are no hidden surprises!
The saying “you get what you pay for” is often true. The best companies are rarely the cheapest, but they have garnered a good reputation for a reason. They will have the resources to take the project from design to completion and leave you 100% satisfied with the high standard of workmanship and the quality of materials used.
SE Landscapes are the leading landscaping contractor in Essex providing expertise in all areas of garden remodelling, from patios to artificial grass, decking to brickwork. We pride ourselves on our customer service and know that the best form of advertising is personal referral.
Your new garden should be a lasting pleasure, somewhere you can entertain and relax whenever the weather takes you for decades to come. With the right preparation, budgeting, and professionals, your dream garden can soon become a reality.
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