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
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.
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.
Patios have become a must-have feature for homes across the country as they help create a low-maintenance space that’s not dependent on the weather or season, and easily extends the living space of your home. It’s a great place to relax with a good book, dine out, set up the barbecue, and chat with friends. Better still, a quality patio will improve the value of your home.
However, even the most perfectly-laid patio needs a little TLC to keep it looking its best. With a little care, your patio will not only look as good as the day it was laid, but it will also last longer, too. As experts who install patios and driveways day-in, day-out, we know exactly what it takes to keep a patio in top condition for decades. Read on for some of our best tips to help you extend the lifespan of your patio.
Most patios need more than a monthly bucket of water and some dish soap to keep them looking their best, so here are a few simple cleaning tips to help you increase your patio’s lifespan:
1. Thoroughly sweep your patio every other week or so. This will remove all the dirt and debris while preventing moss and algae from building up.
2. Jet wash your patio on a low setting, ideally using patio cleaner attachment (if your patio has been sealed, check with sealant care information before you use a jet wash) to remove ingrained dirt. If you’ve ever seen jet washing videos online, you’ll know just how satisfying this can be! If you don’t own a jet wash and don’t want to invest in one, a local handyman (or woman) will be able to do this for you regularly.
3. Use a vinegar wash to get rid of stubborn patches. Mix water and white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio, with more vinegar for stubborn stains. Pour the mixture and let it work for 30 to 60 minutes before scrubbing at stubborn patches and rinsing to clear away debris.
4. Keep an eye out for weeds growing in the cracks of your paving and pull them out. If you use a weedkiller, ensure that it has been specifically developed for this use to avoid your patio from becoming stained or discoloured. If you find plants growing up through cracks and joins, make sure you repair them so they cannot continue to do so. You’d be surprised how tough weeds can be, and they can cause more damage over time.
5. Treat your patio with a specialist cleaner, depending on how quickly your patio gets dirty.
6. Move your furniture from time to time. If you have furniture, pots, or anything else on your patio, move it around regularly or put it away in your shed or garage when it’s not in use, if possible. This will ensure you don’t get algae build-up and other moisture issues under your furniture and decor.
7. Seal (or reseal) your paving. Before you do this, check with your paving supplier and ensure you have the correct sealant as there are different sealants suitable for different types of paving. You won’t need to do this often; an application of paver sealer should last you between three and five years.
8. You may also need to repoint the patio slabs if they come loose. This involves removing residue of the jointing compound around the loose paver with a hammer and chisel, then refilling the gaps with fresh joining compound, grout or mortar. It’s best to outsource this job as it takes knowledge of paving to do well.
9. Avoid using harsh de-icers and chemicals, as these can harm the sealant or even discolour your paving. If you need to de-ice your patio, salt is the safest way to do so. If you have snow, avoid using a metal shovel to move it off your patio as you may accidentally scratch your paving stones.
Cleaning, washing, and sweeping your patio is an excellent way to prevent moss and weed growth and should be done three to four times a year at a minimum. While these are all great ways to extend the lifespan of your patio, it’s worth noting that some of the best ways to ensure your patio lasts is to have it installed properly. If your patio is past the point of repair, it may be time to think about having it replaced.
A new patio will ensure you can safely use your patio, increase your satisfaction with your home and garden, and increase the value of your home, so it’s well worth the investment (click here to find out more about how much your new patio may cost). We specialise in hardscaping and so we know the value of good preparation. The best thing you can do to extend the lifespan of your patio is to ensure the right drainage is installed and quality, hard-wearing paving is used. A quality sealant can seal the deal and ensure you don’t find yourself weeding your patio after just a few months of it being installed.
Whether you’ve just moved to Essex and are ready to give your new garden a makeover or simply want to give your patio a new lease of life, SE Landscapes is here to help. We install garden paving that will transform the appearance of your entire home. Every patio we install is uniquely designed to match each client’s requirements and suit their garden’s surroundings.
Choose from slate, natural stone, block paving, brick paving, porcelain, Indian sandstone, York stone, concrete slabs/flags, cobbles, and many more. We also offer a wide range of colour options, so all you need to do is tell our team your requirements, and we will make your dream garden a reality. Click here to find out more about our patio and paving services.
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.
Request your free consultation today.
The idea of maintaining a garden can feel overwhelming – many of us live busy lives even without an added list of outdoor chores. But with a few clever tricks, you can achieve a beautifully low-maintenance garden without sacrificing class and style. Whether you’re retired and spend all your time with friends and your grandkids or have a busy work life, your outdoor space can still look amazing without all the hassle.
Read on to learn our top tips on how to design your low-maintenance garden.
1.Use a variety of materials for your lounging areas.
Add a variety of different seating areas or “outdoor rooms”. You could have a patterned parasol, umbrella, or gazebo beside a sofa made with reclaimed wood and decorated with soft cushions on a deck in a southern corner, and a timeless bench and statue on a paved area in another.
2. Invest in some hardy furniture.
This doesn’t mean you have to buy ugly, industrial-looking furniture. Garden furniture made from metal, teak, or is low maintenance as you can leave it outside year-round. With outdoor furniture, you can echo the style you’ve chosen for your living and dining room. You can also use the furniture as an opportunity to flex those design muscles and create something entirely different to the interior of your home! Just make sure your furniture is from a reputable company that specializes in long-lasting outdoor furniture.
3. If you want to use your garden extensively, install a patio
You can choose from natural stone, cobbles, porcelain, Indian sandstone, block or brick paving, and slate among several others. A patio provides a sleek and clean look, bridging the gap between the great outdoors and your cozy home. When you trust SE Landscapes with your patio, you can also trust that you’ll have something truly unique. Every paved garden and patio we install is designed to match each client’s requirements and the space they have at their disposal.
4. Install a deck so that you no longer have to worry about keeping the grass tidy!
Decking is one of the best ways to keep a garden low maintenance. You can still add large potted plants for a verdant garden look, but your foliage will be as controlled and intentional as you want it to be. Decking also adds a sense of class and comfort. When done right, decking can add value to a home and can be a great way to make use of sloped or uneven terrain, while making the most of any view you have from the back of your home. With steps and stilts, we can create levels within your garden, giving a uniform feel. We also offer various design extras such as pergolas, balustrades, and privacy screens if you want to take your deck to the next level.
5. Soften hard landscaping with plants and flowers.
Paving, fencing, and decking generally all stay clean without looking dull, but if you’re worried about it looking uninteresting, you can create a contrast with luscious flowers and plants. Few things go better together than a hard and sleek surface and a luscious bush of stunning perennials. Ferns, hibiscus, and geraniums are some of the best low-maintenance flowers if you’re happy to have a relatively soft scent. If you want something that smells a little more herbaceous, you could also go with some rosemary or lavender for a year-round splash of color and a beautiful botanical scent!
6. Install artificial grass
With artificial grass, you can maintain the look of a luscious garden without the effort! Our artificial grass is pet-friendly, child-friendly, allergy-free, and UV-stabilized. It’s soft and springy yet hard-wearing. It won’t turn yellow or wear out over the years, plus it’s water-resistant, flood-proof, and self-draining. And on the few days when England sees the sun, your artificial grass won’t scorch or burn. Artificial grass promises longevity without the mud and mess!
7. Transform the outside of your home with brickwork to complement your garden.
The walls that surround a garden are almost as important as what’s inside, and a brick exterior lends a classic feel to any home. It’s a perfect long-lasting solution as a boundary fence and will give you a stronger sense of privacy.
8. If you have a large outdoor space, build walls, fences or screens to create distinct sections.
Walls, fences or screens can be used to divide your garden into an eating area, a storage area or even a flower bed with somewhere cozy to sit at the end of a summer evening. Retaining walls constructed from sleepers or brickwork can also be effective in a sloping garden where you can create levels and even add height to your garden.
9. Revamp your driveway so it matches the beauty of your front garden.
A home’s driveway is often overlooked even though it’s the first thing we see when we enter someone’s home. Whether you’re worried about weeds taking over your garden or want something easy to maintain, block paving is ideal for your driveway. Block paving is durable, cost-effective, and attractive, not to mention the variety of driveway paving you can choose from. Every block paving driveway we create is custom designed and tailored to upgrade our clients’ homes and property value.
10. Keep your garden private with a classy fence.
You can choose any color, style, and height you’d like. The main thing is that you’re keeping your beautiful garden to yourself!
At SE Landscapes, we install various fencing options including:
11. Go all in and have your garden redesigned.
A well designed and built garden can add up to 15% to your home’s overall value. There are limitless options when it comes to design and the materials to choose from, it just depends on how extensive you want the garden redesign to be. We take care of everything, from concept to completion. We conduct a site survey to identify topography, sun and wind patterns, and existing site conditions. Our design team can then develop a suitable 2D or even 3D design, taking into account hard landscaping elements like fencing, paving, decking, patios, and soft landscaping elements. We then begin transforming your garden, promising to leave it clean and tidy so you can enjoy it straight away!
If you love entertaining and feel like your garden needs a fresh start, reach out to SE Landscape Construction Ltd in Chelmsford. We are a multi-award-winning, Essex-based landscaping and paving contractors. Our experienced landscaping team transforms dull gardens and outdoor spaces into beautiful spaces, ideal for barbecues, family gatherings, and relaxing.
We specialise in hard landscaping and are proud to offer various landscaping and professional design services. We can work to develop your dream garden, from the first idea to the finished product. We work with paving and driveways, proudly serving our clients throughout Essex. For more information or to contact us about your project, click here.
A compost heap is a great way to recycle waste products. The compost that is created as these materials decompose can be used to drastically improve soil; making for ideal growing conditions. Making your own compost is easy and there are a wide range of compost bins to choose from at very affordable prices. Although it can be just as easy to make your own bin using the steps outlined below
• Make a bin at least 1.25m (4ft) square out of stout posts and wire netting in shady, sheltered corner of the garden. You can also use timber or corrugated steel, although you will need to ensure there are adequate air holes to allow the heap to ‘breath’.
• Mix up the waste products as you put them in and keep the heap firm by trampling on it.
• Throw a piece of sacking or old carpet on the top to prevent the heap from drying out (in dry weather you may need to water the heap to keep it moist). You may also want to add powdered compost accelerators, although these are not compulsory.
• Within 3-6 months the compost will be brown and crumbly, depending on the time of the year. Once it reaches this state the compost is ready to be used. Well-rotted compost does not have to reach a state where it is indistinguishable from soil; it is fine for it to contain a few coarser components.
It’s a good idea to have 2 or 3 heaps so that after 3 months you should achieve a proper rotation which will keep you provided with compost continuously throughout the year.
If you are looking to use pesticides on your garden you will need to take certain precautions as the chemicals used for spraying plants can be poisonous to both humans and pets, especially in their undiluted form.
Every time our staff use chemicals we adhere to strict rules to eradicate themselves, as well as anyone else who comes into contact with pesticides, from any potential harm. If you are looking to use pesticides yourself, here is a list of safety precautions you advised to keep to, to avoid any possible safety hazards.
• Use chemicals only when they are absolutely necessary and look at the labels to make sure you have the correct product
• Always keep packets, tins and bottles locked up, away from children and pets
• Never store plant sprays close to any foodstuff
• Never turn them out of their original packaging into another container
• Always read the instructions carefully before use and follow them closely
• Do not exceed the recommended concentration. Too strong may not be effective anyway
• Mix only as much spray as you need and do not keep any that is left over
• Do not spray or dust in windy weather
• Wear protective clothing whilst spraying
• Wash hands thoroughly after use
• Clean all equipment thoroughly after use
• Do not keep diluted chemicals; they deteriorate quickly and may damage plants
• Never put chemicals into containers that might mislead people, especially children, into thinking they are safe to eat or drink
There are many causes of plant damage and not just those caused by pests or disease. Sometimes it can be due to natural causes such as wind or frost and other times it may be that your plants are being incorrectly fed or watered. In this article we are going to explore a few different causes of plant and tree damage in your garden.
One of the most common causes of damage to plant pots is either by under or over watering. It can be difficult to diagnose exactly whether the plant as had too much or too little water as the symptoms can be very similar. If a plant does not receive the correct level of water then the plant will tend to be subject to either leaf curling, stem drooping or leaf drop. Both conditions can also cause leaves to turn yellow or brown. We recommend that you check the soil in pot plants and if it feels dry, it will need watering.
Plants should be fed little and often. Large doses of feed all at once can cause various problems including leaf decolouration, plant vigour and the ability to flower and produce fruit. We tend to use a general feed that includes trace elements as it is unlikely that the plant is deficient in just the one nutrient and by using a general feed, you should cover all bases. If you need to replace lost elements quickly then a foliar feeding with liquid seaweed extract is recommended.
Frost is particularly problematic to east facing plants as the morning sun can cause the frost to thaw quickly, which in turn ruptures the cells and kills the flower. Fruit tress can also be badly affected and you might want to hose over the frozen flowers to ensure the tree defrosts slowly. For plants that have been damaged by frost, time is the only solution and eventually new, unaffected growth will appear. Dead, frost damaged stems should be cut back to live wood just above healthy shoots.
Due to the scorching that can be created by wind, plants will lose water through their leaves faster than it can be replaced. This causes leaves to have shiny or scorched looking marks, a grazed or bruised appearance or they may turn brown. Plants most affected by the wind tend to be woodland species such as Acer palmatum cultivars, therefore, this particular plant should be grown in a sheltered area of the garden. There is no need to worry if a plant is occasionally subject to wind as the damaged leaves will eventually be replaced with new ones.
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